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The Women of Good Friday

By Pat Witman












On Good Friday, the focus is on Jesus and the men who are present (Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, the centurion, the thieves on the cross) and those who weren’t (the disciples). But as throughout the Gospels, women play key roles on this most momentous of days.

There are the women whose words are recorded in the Gospels:

The Servant Girls: The first two of Peter’s denials are sparked by the words on unnamed servant girls. Despite the fact that they are women and the some of the least on the societal ladder, their words “You also were with Jesus of Galilee” (Matthew 26:69) and “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 26:71) sets in motion the fulfillment of Jesus’s warning to Peter: “I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (Matthew 26:34)

Pilate’s wife: As Pilate is trying to determine what to do about Jesus, he receives a message from his wife: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” (Matthew 27:19) According to Biblegateway.com, some historical accounts believe Pilate’s wife may have been a follower of Judaism and had some knowledge of Jesus. She also appears to have influence with Pilate to have sent a messenger to her husband while he was performing his official duties. Pilate, already believing in Jesus’s innocence, takes his wife’s message seriously. He attempts to have Jesus released by giving the crowd a choice between Barabbas and Jesus. When the crowd continues to call for Jesus’s crucifixion, Pilate is unable to show the conviction that his wife has demonstrated.

And there are the women whose actions speak louder than words:

His mother Mary: Present at the cross, there is no record of any words from Mary. But the anguish she felt, watching her son crucified, must have screamed inside her. The baby son she had given birth to; the little boy she had raised; the man she had watched perform miracles, being taken from her, with each precious drip of blood. As she watched him breathe his last and saw the Roman soldier pierce his side with a lance, did she her mind flash back to His dedication in the temple? Did she remember that Simeon prophesied to her, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35) Mary Magdalene: Since Jesus had driven out the seven demons which possessed her (Luke 8:2), she had been His devoted follower. Along with others, she travelled with Jesus, supported the ministry financially, and ministered to the needs of Jesus and the apostles. Present while her Lord was crucified, she stayed to the end and followed Joseph of Arimathea to see where Jesus was to be buried. The last of his followers to see Jesus after the crucifixion, she had no idea what was to come on Sunday.

The Women of Galilee: This group of women includes Joanna; Mary, the mother of James and Joses; Salome, the mother of John and James; Mary, the wife of Clopas, and others. All these women were followers of Jesus and, along with Mary Magdalene, helped to support the ministry financially and minister to the needs of Jesus and the apostles. When all his disciples (save John) fled, it was the women followers who stood at the cross, refusing to abandon Jesus in his suffering.

Pursuing God in Selfies

By Pat Witman












Do you take selfies? I do, or at least I try to. I’m not very good at them. But I love it when my daughter and I take selfies together. She has the knack of getting the proper angle. It probably helps that she is several inches taller than I am and has longer arms. Even better, she always seems to capture the joy of the moment. Last night, I was thinking about pursuing God. How does one do that? Well, if God were physically present, the way Jesus was with the disciples, one way might be to take selfies together, to capture the moment. And then I started to think about how God is reflected all around me. So here are the kind of selfies I am looking to take:

1. Me in the world -- With a sunrise or a sunset or the beach (especially the beach) behind me. God’s handiwork is painted across the sky each morning and evening for us to see. Even the storm clouds paint a picture of God’s power and might. And the beach….well the beach brings God close to me in a way nowhere else does: the sparkling ocean, the soothing sound of the waves, the gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun on my skin. This is where I can truly feel the touch of God.

2. Me with nature -- The trees, the flowers, the animals. All of them created by God to be unique, just as I was created to be unique. Take a picture with two different roses and you have two different pictures. And yet each reflects God’s wisdom and attention to the smallest detail. A reminder that He cares and is attentive to the smallest detail of my life.

3. Me with other people – Of course, every selfie taken with a friend is a picture with God as we are all made in His image. But even more so, the pictures taken with strangers, with those in need, with those who are very different from me, because within those unfamiliar faces, I will see facets of God that I cannot necessarily see in my everyday life.

4. Me -- Just me I don’t really like taking pictures of me. However, it is time that I look at myself differently. Not with what I see through my human eyes, but with what God sees through His eternal ones. After all, He is here, right next to me. if I could see Him, He would not be staring at my flaws or shaking His head at my mistakes. He would be exclaiming over my strengths and focusing on my possibilities.

Maybe what keeps me from pursuing God, from taking those selfies, is that I don’t think I belong in the picture: not pretty enough, not wise enough, not kind enough, not good enough. Maybe I fear that if I pursued God, he would turn me away or turn away from me. Because I only see myself as the world sees me, not as God does. A friend of mine posted today, “When God looks at you in the mirror, He never wishes He was seeing someone else in it.” A lovely thought to hold onto as I continue to pursue God.

12 Things I've Learned About Being a Pastor's Wife

From our Pastor’s Wife, Jesly George












On the 17th of July, Matt and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary - which also means 12 years that I have been a Pastor's wife!


This thought has actually been on my mind for the past few months and I realized I have learned so much about what it means to be in ministry these past 12 years. Just a bit of my background - for the first 7 years of our marriage, Matt was a Youth Pastor at an Indian church, the next 4 1/2 years, we planted a (multicultural) church (which was one of the most exhausting and rewarding experiences!), and for almost 1 year, Matt is the lead Pastor of a church that has existed for 50 years. We also have 4 kids between the ages of 6 and 9.


1) It is one of the most rewarding experiences ever!
When we first started our church plant and we saw people getting saved, baptized, and changing their lives - there are no words to express the joy we felt. We get to journey and walk through life with people at their highest highs and lowest lows. We get to extend an arm of compassion, grace, and love to others. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus - honestly, I can't think of anything more wonderful!


2) People expect you and your family to be PERFECT
Now I'm sure you heard this before - but I didn't realize how true it was until I faced it. I remember the time when someone sent me an email saying, "but you're the Pastor's wife, you're not supposed to feel that way." They took something that was innocent and made me feel like I wasn't allowed to have feelings.


3) You will get hurt!
This is a guarantee, especially if you are leading a church. I remember spending hours praying for people and pouring into their lives and they would hurt us by saying mean things or simply leaving without saying anything at all.


4) Very few people will ask how you're doing
In our journey, I felt like I was always investing in others but few people took the time to invest in me. It may not have been intentional but I felt like everyone else ALWAYS had a problem and we were glad to offer support but it was rare when someone would say "How are you doing? Can I pray for you?"


5) There are people who want you to fail!
I know this doesn't sound very comforting. This is a hard truth about people in the ministry confront. Sometimes they are people who claim to be part of the Kingdom of God!! A scary thought, I know.


6) Don't take it personally
This has been hard for me. I am a people pleaser so it really bothers me when someone is upset with me or our family. However, I'm learning along the way that most of the time, it actually has very little to do with us!.


7) Don't try to compare yourself to other Pastor's wives
God has called you for a specific purpose and He will hold you accountable only to what He has called you to do. There are some who can lead worship, there are some who can preach, there are some who head children's church or the women's group and there are some who can do it all! Each of us is unique and special. And don't be concerned when others compare you to the previous pastor's wife, or the pastor's wife down the street. God made YOU the way you are for a reason!


8) It is possible to have friends in the church!
I always heard that Pastor's families couldn't make friends in the church. But personally, it is very possible to have friends, and some close ones! But I never discuss church matters with them. We talk about other things that are going on in our lives and I'm really thankful for these friends, who I consider priceless gems!


9) It's so important to find a balance
Church can eat up every ounce of time and energy you have. But it's important to put limits. It might not be possible to attend every service or special event. I know people might not believe it, but Pastor's families do have lives outside of church!


10) Never forget who called you
I believe being a Pastor's wife is a calling just like Matt has a calling to be a Pastor. I knew I was called to be a Pastor's wife at least a decade before I even got married. God called us - not man. Remember that everytime you feel discouraged, hurt, broken and frustrated, when someone doesn't think you measure up, and when you feel like quitting (and you will!). I love this saying "God doesn't call the qualified, but He qualifies the called." If He has called you, then don't worry about the rest!


11) Invest in your marriage and your family
The enemy will do what he can to break apart your marriage and your family. Matt and I try to do weekly date times. We need to. When our marriage is strong, then we can go forward in ministry in unity and love. When our marriage is on shaky ground, it's hard for either of us to focus on anything else. We feel discouraged. We have an agreement about how we interact with the opposite sex, not because of lack of trust, but because we know we have to guard our marriage no matter what. We invest time in our children. We spend time with them. We go to their little and big events. We talk to them. We love on them!


12) It's all about Jesus!
It always has been and it always will be. It's never about us or our skills or what we do. If we lose focus, this is our reminder. It's our go to. It's our mission/vision/family/ministry statement. If it ever stops being about Jesus, then we know it's time that we quit/step down/do something else.

Summer

From our Pastor’s Wife, Jesly George

Hello! I'm so sorry for my absence in writing these past few months. I realized that I need to schedule these posts on my calendar like I do other activities that I have planned!

The month of June always brings an excitement for me. I know that it signals the official start of summer and of course summer vacation. I loved summer vacation as a child, like most kids. And now as an adult, I love it because I still get to enjoy summer vacation! Woohoo! It's so nice to sleep in, stay up late, not have to worry about lesson planning, or helping the kids with homework and helping them study for their zillion tests.

However, one of the things I noticed the past few years was I get so much less accomplished during the weeks that I'm off from work. I usually have some big projects that I have scheduled to do before summer break ends and if I'm lucky, I get one done! Now, I could make an excuse and say that I'm so busy keeping my 4 kids occupied but that would be a LIE. Yes, the kids do take up a good amount of time, but at this age, not only can they do things independently, but they also could help me with the projects. So I have come up with a theory. And the theory is that I'm being LAZY. I work so hard during the school year - trying to manage everything at work, home, with the kids, and even church that I just crash during the summer. But 8 weeks is way too long to crash!

So, this summer I hope to shake things up a bit. I'm one of those people who do REALLY WELL with a schedule. I can follow a schedule to a minute every day and absolutely love it. I really don't care for adventure and last minute things. Actually last minute changes drive me a bit crazy! So I'm going to create a schedule not only for myself, but also for my kids! I'm going to incorporate times for reading, getting work done, time for fun activities, and of course I'm going to schedule time for REST. And most of all, I hope to schedule time to not only read the Word of God but to study it. I plan to give the kids chapters that they can read as well so we could discuss it. I will also create a list of few bigger projects that I need to get done, especially organizing the kids closets and all their clothes (remember that I have 3 daughters!). And we still have some things to organize from when we moved almost 2 years ago! I'm sure my hubby will try to add a few things on my list as well!

I hope that your summer will not only be relaxing but productive as well! I will keep you updated on how we do. I'm sure the accountability will help me

Oh, and speaking of summer, don't forget that we moved to a new service time at Levittown. We'll meet at 9:30 for some bagels or donuts & coffee, Sunday School will start at 9:45 and service will begin at 10:30 AM. This Sunday (6/12) and every 2nd Sunday, our women's ministry LIFT (Ladies in Faith Together) will meet immediately after the service. I hope I'll see you this Sunday!

The 'Bully' Fish

From our Pastor’s Wife, Jesly George

Recently I was sitting in our living room and looking at our fish tank. We have African cichlids of all different colors and sizes. We had a tank for years, but the maintenance got difficult with little kids occupying ALL of our time! Recently, the kids have been asking for a pet. Although I know they really want a dog, I’m not ready to add on another big responsibility (probably for me) to have a dog. So we decided to have a fish tank again. We have 15+ fishes and the kids literally know each one by name!

Sometimes I like to sit back and look at the tank because it’s relaxing. On this particular day, I noticed that one of the fishes wouldn’t let any other fish into the little tree trunk cave which is on the tank bottom. Every time another fish would come near, it would scare it away by chasing it away from the tree trunk. After a while of watching this, I noticed that this particular fish, who I will call the “bully” fish, wasn’t even the biggest fish in the tank! I’m sure one of the bigger fish could have fought back if they realized their advantage over him.

I was reminded that sometimes we as Christians view the devil like in the same way. We think he’s a big, strong being that can control us. But I have news for you: he’s not! The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be watchful and control yourselves. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to swallow up.” The key word there is “like.” The devil isn’t a roaring lion, but he simply acts like one. He tries to act like the king of the jungle. But we know that Jesus is the real King who is the “Lion of Judah” and the King of all other Kings! Isn’t that awesome!James 4:7 says “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That’s right, if we resist the devil, he will flee from us! That’s an amazing truth that we often forget. But how do we resist the devil? The wonderful thing about God is that He gives us the answers in His Word. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of God. Verses 13 to 17 say “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” By putting on the armor of God daily, we will be able to resist the devil.

Like the “bully” fish in our tank who tries to limit the other fish from where they can or cannot go, one way that the devil does that to us is by telling us lies about our own freedom. Lies that says that we’re not good enough or smart enough or talented enough to do all that God has called us to do. But don’t forget that they are all lies. God created each of us for a purpose and God will supply us with everything we need to accomplish it. Please don’t believe those lies and let the devil bully you around. I’m writing to myself here also! You are special and bought with a price! The devil also tries to trap us with temptations. I don’t even need to list the numerous temptations out there because each of us has been tempted in many ways. Thank God we have a wonderful example in Christ, who faced every temptation but was without sin. I love 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” That’s right friend, we have no excuses! We cannot be tempted more than we can handle and God WILL give us a way out – we just have to look for it.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where the devil is trying to bully you around, think about this picture below of our fish tank. See that little fish that’s in the tree trunk cave? Well he thinks he owns it. He thinks he can scare away those other fish. But he’s not in charge. And in your life, the devil is not in charge. God is! And who do you think is more powerful?

1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

ReJOYce!

From our Pastor’s Wife, Jesly George

It feels as if I just wrote my post on September and now it’s already October! I’m really excited for this week because it is our Philadelphia Metro district’s ReJOYce meeting! I was able to attend the ReJOYce meeting in Reading this past Friday and what a great time it was! It got me even more excited for our coming event.

The purpose of encouraging women’s meetings in each district is to create an atmosphere of fellowship. So many times, we walk through life not really having the time to get to know others. I’m sure many of us don’t even know what other churches are in our district! I think especially as women, we need to learn to be united and know we are all in this journey together. Often times, I see a lot of competition and jealousy between women and cliques, even in the church. Rather, we should be uplifting each other in prayer and encouraging each other!

Sometimes I go to a store and I see a mom with a couple of young kids trying to keep it all together while the baby is crying and the toddler is throwing a tantrum. What bothers me most is I see that poor mom get glares, many times from other women. I don’t understand why! Having 4 kids, I can tell you that each of my children are extremely different. I know that when they were younger, there was one or two I could take to the store with no problem. But then there were one or two who didn’t like it at all. Just because I’m a mom and my child didn’t do that, doesn’t mean that I’m a better mom or that my child is better. We have no right to judge someone else if we’re not walking in their shoes! I try to offer an encouraging look or open the door for the mom or let them skip me in the checkout lane. I might even says “you’re doing a great job!,” “or “I’ve been there!” I think it helps to know that you are not alone.

And that is why I’m so excited for these district women’s ReJOYce meetings. It’s a wonderful time to get to know other women, fellowship with them and worship the Lord together. The Philadelphia Metro District’s meeting is this Friday, October 9th @ 6:30PM. It will be at 1837 Davisville Road, Willow Grove, 19090 (Christ Centered Church). We will have some time of fellowship & snacks at 6:30. Shortly after, we will spend time in worship. Pastor Lola Munroe, a Pastor from our very own district will be ministering the Word. I encourage you to come out and join us this Friday.

I know I’m looking forward to it!