July 22, 2008

Time to Start Recruiting!

Mary Southerland

 

Today’s Truth

Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

The lakes in Florida are beautiful, but relatively shallow as well. Over the years, they fill up with the silt and mire that wash off the shore. In time, they accumulate two to three feet of mire and decaying vegetation at the bottom. Soon that mire begins to deprive the lake, plants and fish of valuable oxygen and eventually the lakes literally die. In order to halt this process, a program has been put in place to drain the lakes periodically and expose the mire. After it is exposed, workers come in and dredge the mire – restoring the lake bottom to its original condition. The lake water can then be raised and soon the lake, its vegetation and fish are thriving again.

 

Our lives are much the same. We need to regularly expose and eliminate the "mire" or sin in our lives since peace is always realized in a right relationship with God. How much power we receive from Him and how much peace we experience in Him depends upon how right our relationship is with Him.

In the key verse, “admonish” literally means “to warn, instruct or correct”. Paul is talking about obedience that is guarded by accountability. As John 14:23 (NCV) states, how much we love God is measured by how much we obey God. “Jesus answered, "If people love me, they will obey my teaching.” Obedience is easier in an atmosphere of accountability.

 

Dan and I learned countless life lessons while he was the pastor of Flamingo Road Church in South Florida but one of the most important lessons was in the area of accountability. Hardly a week passed without a distressed phone call from some pastor or pastor’s wife, asking for help in their marriage, their ministry, or their personal lives. The problems ranged from drug addictions and alcoholism, to extra-marital affairs, prodigal children, mishandling church funds or…well, you name it! Every phone call served as a reminder for Dan and the pastoral team to be diligent in their efforts to maintain integrity. Wooden office doors were replaced with glass doors. A professional counselor was hired to handle the mounting demands and need for ongoing, personal counseling. Weekly staff meetings always included a time of holding each other accountable for time spent with children, dates with spouses as well as blunt conversations concerning potential temptations or struggles. Paul says we should correct each other, warn each other, and instruct each other. In other words, we are to make ourselves accountable to one another.

 

One Tuesday morning, I decided to stop by the church office to see Dan. Seated in the waiting area was a beautiful young woman, almost wearing a very short and very tight dress. She did not seem happy to see me, judging from her “drop dead” glare. Warning bells went off in my spirit, so I quietly asked the receptionist who the woman was waiting to see. “She is waiting to see Dan. Her marriage is in trouble.” When I asked why she wanted to see a pastor instead of our staff counselor, the receptionist’s eyes said it all. “I made that suggestion when she called, but she only wants to see Dan.” I don’t think so!

 

I headed for my husband’s office, walked in unannounced, interrupting a meeting with our executive pastor. I did not care. “Honey, I will be glad to sit in on your next appointment,” I sweetly but firmly offered. He knows me well and immediately realized that my suggestion was, in reality, a statement of intent. I went on. “Or, I can check with Terry to see if he has an opening in his counseling schedule.” Dan smiled; not fully realizing what was happening but knowing there was a good reason for my suggestions. When Terry agreed to see her, the woman quickly decided she really didn’t need an appointment after all. I rest my case.

 

Affairs are neither scheduled nor planned. I have never met anyone who woke up one morning and thought, “You know, I think I’ll have an affair today.” Over the years, I have personally confronted women, warned Dan about a dangerous emotional attachment I saw that he didn’t and, while teaching a series on marriage, stated from the pulpit that Dan Southerland is off limits to any woman except me. I believe the statement went something like, “Dan belongs to me. I am the only right sexual option for him and will be glad to remove anyone who differs with that fact.” I know. I am not the typical pastor’s wife. Celebrate the truth that even if the world is not the friend of marriage, God certainly is.

 

Let’s pray

Father, I want to be a woman of integrity in every area of my life – especially in my marriage. Help me to be alert and watch for the tactics of the enemy. Thank you for my accountability group, Lord. Bless them for the love, time and energy they invest in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now it’s Your Turn

  • Make a list of your closest friends.
  • Call a few of them and ask if they will be your accountability partner.
  • Ask these women to not only love you and pray for you but to hold you accountable as well.
  • Do not surround yourself with friends who will only say what they think you want to hear or say nothing at all. Silence is agreement and it is dangerous.

 

More from the Girls

Wives, a personal word to you on this point: one of our privileges and responsibilities in marriage is to be the guardian of the home and the marriage relationship. Do not underestimate the enemy. His goal is to destroy your home, your marriage, and your family and he will do it in any way he can. Dan and I hold each other accountable and invite others to do the same. Be wise! Maintain integrity by being accountable. Need some help? G-Harmony is a message that Dan and I taught together on building a successful marriage. Check it out!

 

 

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