A Pastor’s Wife on Pastor Appreciation Month

You should know I count my dear wife, Margi, as the greatest gift God ever gave me besides salvation. Brave, strong, kind, true, generous, never quitting, dedicated, hard-working, smart, fun, funny, and beautiful. She asked me to share this with you… Please use the share buttons below if you’d like to encourage the pastors and ministers in your life.

October is pastor appreciation month. I am a pastor’s wife. I grew up in church. I came to hear the sermon, which sometimes I loved, sometimes I criticized and sometimes I daydreamed through. I came selfishly to hear what I needed to hear to carry me through the week. I actually never once gave a thought about what the person delivering the sermon had faced that week, that month or that year. Until I married a pastor.

I now know that my husband has to deliver his sermon extolling God’s goodness and grace, His provision, His love and kindness – no matter what.

  • When there is financial pressure and he wonders how he will ever retire, he still needs to preach that God will provide.
  • When there is bad news from the doctor for him or those he loves, he still needs to speak of God’s great love.
  • When illness hits and there seems to be no relief and no response to prayer, he still needs to teach God is the Great Healer, Jehovah Rapha.
  • When his wife cries and wonders why God doesn’t seemingly answer prayers, and his heart breaks watching her struggle with this, he still needs to preach that God answers prayers.
  • When he is sad, he must still declare the joy of the Lord.
  • When his children are hurt or wounded, he continues to preach that God loves the little children, even though it would be easy to not find love.
  • When unspeakable loss is suffered, he still proclaims that God will restore.
  • When it seems that God is taking forever to answer a prayer and he becomes impatient, he must still utter words declaring patience and longsuffering.
  • When he wants to be angry and bitter in spirit, he must reflect God’s kindness and caring.
  • When he has been hurt so deeply by someone, especially someone close to him or someone in his congregation, he must set aside pettiness and preach that vengeance is God’s and forgiveness is needed.
  • When his heart’s prayers for mercy seem to find no answer, he must still trumpet amazing grace.

Dear churchgoer, stop and take a moment to consider the person that feeds you from God’s Word. He is not a super human. He is human. He suffers the same losses, fears, sadness, uncertainties, questions that you face. He does not have a “you are godly” shield accorded to him so that the ills of life bounce off him or his family. He is not immune from the trials of life. Indeed, Satan would love nothing better than to see an effective leader stumble and fail.

In truth, I have learned that the man of God that stands before you week after week is a sensitive human being who silently faces the battles of life and bows his head and prostates himself on the mercies of God because sometimes he can no longer function under his own power. He is not immune from the battles of life that scar the soul and wrench the heart. He just needs to get up week after week and summon the Holy Spirit to speak through him to encourage, educate, challenge, mobilize, and yes, sometimes even amuse you.

This October please take a moment to thank your pastor for the incredible calling he/she answered. It is a calling that requires more than most of us would ever really give thought. It is an honor, and yet an incredible challenge. Pray for those men and women who serve God’s call. Show your love and care. Who knows? Maybe that person that has served you for years desperately needs to be encouraged and uplifted in prayer. Satan is a mighty adversary. Maybe that the man or woman that is called to meet your needs now needs your hand to lift him up and your shoulder to lean on.

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13, NKJV).

~ by Margi Giovannetti, Facebook.com/Margaret.Giovannetti

October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month and the 2nd Sunday of each October is Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Encourage those who encourage you. Sharing is appreciated.

 

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Non-spontaneous baptisms?

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Click this for the kids/youth schedule this weekend!

God blew us all away last weekend, when a huge crowd came forward for baptism. (See the previous two posts for the awesome stories.) By the way, we baptize by immersion. That means we dunk you all the way under water.  So this is a pretty big deal.

For this coming weekend, we’re facing 2 big issues:

1) Integrity with regard to youth/children/minors — it has to be their choice, they have to understand the significance of baptism, and their parents or guardians most likely want to watch it! So last weekend, you had to be 18 or over. But not this coming weekend (details below, so stay tuned)

2) Crowd control –– because our 10:45 service had about 5 empty seats, and that’s it! If we open that service to young people, and you invite aunts and uncles and grandparents, we’ll have some very disappointed people!

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About to be baptized together as a "double."

Remember… this weekend will not be our last baptism service ever. If you don’t fit the guidelines below, please know we care about you and can’t wait to celebration your public declaration of faith in Jesus. We’ll schedule a service just for you soon, so please be patient!

GUIDELINES:

Students (12-17) can get baptized if you bring your parent or guardian with you, backstage, when we give the invitation.  They’ll check you in, and then return to the auditorium to watch you get baptized. You have two choices (only): Saturday at 5:00 or Sunday at 12:30.  Bring all the family you can!

Students (10-11) can get baptized if bring your parent or guardian with you AND if you have completed our Kids’ Baptism Training packet with your parents.  (There’s one exception, below).  Same choices: Saturday at 5:30 or Sunday at 12:30.

Families (down to age 10) can get baptized without completing the Training Packet, if another adult in your immediate family with be baptized with you. Please make sure you child understands the meaning of baptism: it doesn’t save, doesn’t wash away sins, doesn’t open up heaven. It is a symbol of your faith in Jesus as your Savior, and of your union with Him. Same choices: Saturday at 5:30 or Sunday at 12:30.

It sounds like something Congress would write, I know.  But integrity with kids, and crowd control, loomed big in our minds.

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There are TWO people under the water here!

Looming bigger, however, is the powerful hand of God at work among his people!  Pray for this weekend. Pray for our gospel messages (Bill in the Celebration and Classic services, Todd at the Well). We’re going to invite people to receive Jesus, and then get baptized.  PRAY!  The devil hates this, an

d we’re on a battleship!

See you this weekend! I can’t wait to see how God shows up!

Photos of each person getting baptized (more to come; we have some extra processing to do), click here.

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Jim Botts, Baptism Hero

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The Incredible Jon Lepinski and our Awesome Band

Our Next Baptism Tank Will Be A Triple-Wide

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Baptism tank is in the upper left corner...

So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41, NAS95).

Okay, so maybe we didn’t baptize 3,000 souls, but we’re still buzzing about 174. Hopefully, God is setting us up for 3,000 some time in the future… that would be our prayer!  In yesterday’s post, I shared about our Surprise Baptism Service at Neighborhood Church. Today, I’d like to share some memorable stories… vignettes that capture a little bit of what God was doing.

I’d also love it if you could leave some of your own stories in the comment section… a kind of “stone pillar” for future readers of this blog.

  • dunkfest1A young guy named Garrett approached me in the crowded hallway. He said, “I need help.” I asked why. He said, “I’ve never received Jesus and I need to!” I shared the gospel with him, and right there he prayed to receive Jesus… and a few minutes later was baptized.
  • A newly engaged couple, going through the line to change and get baptized said something like, “This completes our engagement.”
  • A 77 year old gentleman sat with Ken Jones during the commotion to get changed and Ken led him to the Lord. He was the last person baptized at the 5:00 (Sat) service. The next day, he flew home to Wisconsin.
  • Jim Botts, our Community Life Pastor, baptized people for 4 services. Dave Hall joined him for the 10:45 service.  The rough counts looks  like this (these figures may change as we process baptismal certificates).
    • dunkfest2Saturday, 5 pm: 44 people
    • Sunday, 8:00 Classic: 1 person (baptized at 9)
    • Sunday, 9:00: 38 people
    • Sunday, 10:45: 70 people
    • Sunday 12:30: 21 people
  • Jennifer and Darrin Beaver spent their date night on Saturday shopping for extra shorts and clothing.
  • Teams of volunteers helped sign in and process happy, nervous people at every service.
  • A young woman told me she wasn’t sure she was saved and wanted to make sure. I asked her what she was counting on to connect her with God and get her to heaven. She said, “Because I love him.” We talked about the difference between pointing to our own works (“I love God”) and pointing to Jesus and his finished work on the Cross (“He loved me enough to die for me”).  Who are you going to point to? She prayed to receive Jesus and went public a few moments later.
  • dunkfest3We know of four people who received Jesus in preparation for baptism. Any more stories of this?
  • The bathrooms and back stairway quickly became slippery. Dedicated volunteers kept mopping and towel-drying (by hand) the stairways and floors all through the services!
  • We ran out of shorts!  So we had to recycle them.  People got baptized, returned to change, and handed off their wet shorts to someone else. Go church!
  • At the 10:45 service, we did “double-double” baptisms.  Four at once. I don’t have pictures yet, but I will post them soon. A husband stands behind his wife and holds onto her.  The both get laid backwards into the water together.  Two couples do this, side by side, at once.  A double-double, four people at once.  It was the only way we could get through 70 people… Jim and Dave had a tough time keeping their heads above water for this!  Great job, guys!
  • The energy in the hallways and changing areas was ELECTRIC. People were high-fiving, excited, happy, nervous.
  • The water was warm, about 80 degrees, and we floated a pool chlorinator in it. It still turned greenish and ugly, because of the dye from the unwashed shirts and shorts.  Jim Botts started shivering uncontrollably at 12:30… way to take one for the team! (80 degrees is still lower than his core temperature…)
  • dunkfest4When you are baptized, we have to shove you under the water, because you float.
  • A number of veteran Christians was baptized… for whatever reasons they never got around to it before, and told us how grateful they were for this opportunity. I was so proud of these guys for standing up strong and proud for Jesus!

ALL THE PICTURES WILL BE POSTED FLICKR… THIS ALLOWS YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT AS MANY AS YOU WANT!!! As of this moment, only 5:00 and 9:00 have been uploaded. We hope to have the rest uploaded by Thursday.  Here’s the link:  Neighborhood Church Photostream.

I’m only scratching the surface of an amazing work of God. Thank you, Lord, for letting me witness your mighty hand with my own eyes, and for letting me be a part of it.

What stories have you heard?

dunkfest7Some links:

Our sermons at Neighborhood Church

Pictures of each person getting baptized… find your own & make a t-shirt!

A Christmastime article I wrote about not letting your Inner Grinch steal another Christmas (please share this with friends via Twitter, Facebook, email, etc)

Easter Sunday

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I am blown away by an indescribable feeling of excitement and joy generated by our incredible team for our Easter Services. It can only echo how those earliest disciples felt when they heard rumors of the Risen Savior. I’m still pumped.

In my opinion, a correct response to the Resurrection of Jesus should be LOUD, EXCITED, EXUBERANT, AND OVER THE TOP. Our team made that happen, and I’m still flying high. Please address complaints to me!!!!!!

At the risk of forgetting some names (after all, it’s 5:30 a.m.), which I’ll pick up in a follow-up post, here are some people I am extra thankful for today:

  • eastermusicJon Lepinski… Awesome worship leader. You brought that moment in history to LIFE through the words, the enthusiasm, the joy, the beauty, the excellence, the corporateness of the music you led us through. I’m so glad God brought you and your beautiful family to Redding.
  • Ron Largent… Amazing job leading the worship choir, and bringing out the energy of the Resurrection.
  • Jackie Martin… Smooth-flowing guest services from the Usher Cafe to helping the crowds find seats to taking care of all the details of welcoming and greeting thousands of worshippers.
  • Rachelle Busby and Ben Gurczynski… phenomenal job with the kids ministries. An incredible amount of set-up and materials movement to reset our kids’ stuff in a rented auditorium.  Great job.
  • Les Faires and Scott Davis… Fist bump on the technical stuff and program flow. You assembled a wonderful team.
  • Drew VanderWerf… fantastic audio mix, and humble spirit throughout a really tough weekend.
  • Dinah Vaughn and the BryanBakers (one word)… Loved the stage set and lighting… really set the tone for the worship.
  • Jennifer Beaver… picnic by the river?  Egg hunt?  Excellent idea and way to pull it off!  Tell your kids I say thank you for filling 2,000 eggs. Ha!
  • Bob and the Staff at Redding Convention Center… you guys were amazing hosts, and really dedicated to making our even a success.  Thank you for your amazing expertise and for going above and beyond the call of duty.
  • My bride, Margi… for holding down the fort during a long weekend. Love you babe. LOVED the prime rib…
  • Everyone who prayed and served… Thank you. God sees.

Highlights for me:

  • In Christ Alone! What a hymn… No power of hell / No scheme of man / Can ever pluck me / From his hand… Hallelujah!
  • What a Day! Awesome solo vocal w/choir by Jon L.  Brings me to tears.
  • easterkidsYou are the Light of the World… our beautiful children’s choir… featuring my two fantastic kids. Thanks guys for leading us in worship. Loved the glow sticks.
  • People… Watching thousands of people worship God, and express their love to him… a beautiful thing.
  • Salvations… seeing hands go up all over that auditorium of people who prayed to receive Jesus….

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:33, 34, NKJV.

I copied these pictures from Donny Pauling’s iPhone blog. Visit there for a couple more pictures of the service…

Great Worship… then Great News…

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Great worship service last night at Neighborhood Church.  Worship led by Mike Baldwin… our assistant worship director who just took the job as lead worship pastor at CrossPointe Church.  Congratulations, Mike!  We appreciate all you’ve done, and are excited with you for this new stage in your journey.

Our regular worship pastor, Jon Lepinski, delivered the message. He hit a home run in his sermon called Your True Greatness, based on God’s call of Gideon. I’ll link to the audio/video once it’s online.  Jon has 3 more times to preach today, so pray for him! It’s nice for me to hang with my family and to have such confidence in the team…

Jon gave an invitation, and about 3 or so people put their faith in Christ!  Nice job, everybody. Dozens more indicated a rededication of their lives to Christ.

And don’t forget Jennifer Beaver, our new Community Life Director, who gave the announcements for the first time on stage.  Great job, Jennifer!  Personable, and fun. And you didn’t even talk too fast!

fourletterMargi and I got home, thinking about the powerful worship and the great message… and an email arrived from my book agent, Janet Grant.  Odd, to get an email late Sunday night from her. She gave me the great news that my publisher had just accepted Four Letter Words and would issue a contract by mid-April!

We’re super excited, and grateful to God.  Thank you for your prayers.  You can continue praying for me as the really hard work begins now… writing, writing, writing.  Pray that God uses this book, along with Inner Mess, to strengthen, encourage, and equip his church worldwide.

PS… I’ll be at a book signing at another new Christian bookstore. They have a full line of books and Bibles, and I hope we can support both Christian bookstores in town. So, you’re invited!  Here are the details:

  • Where: Holy Family Books, at Churn Creek Rd and Hartnell Ave.
  • When: Saturday, March 28.
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.
  • What:  just come in and browse, have some coffee, visit, browse, and maybe buy a book or two or ten!

P.P.S… I’ll also be signing books at Barnes and Noble, on April 25… and I’d like us to have an excellent testimony there. Detail to come.

Christmas Services Last Night

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I was blown away by our church Christmas Eve Eve services last night. What a blessing! Great job putting it together by Jon Lepinski. And great job by Mike, Liz, and Connie working through the logistics. 

Jesus was uplifted and glorified. Jesus was the theme of our song. One highlight for me was the totally joyful rendition of Go, Tell it On the Mountain, with kids, choir, Jon, Liz, and the band, leading to a perfectly celebrated finale… and I don’t really even like that song! We truly have a message to tell on the mountain and everywhere, that Jesus the Messiah is born. Hallelujah.

Another highlight was Ken Jones, one of our pastors, singing a beautiful Christmas song and accompanying himself on the piano. Beautiful, lilting, and meaningful song–he wrote the song, by the way–followed by a heartwarming, and encouraging Christmas message. Great job, Ken. 

I can’t skip the awesome bluegrass band singing Away in a Manger, the kids’ choir, Abbie on violin, Ken on sax, Ben on drums… I’m gonna get in trouble now by skipping somebody, so I’ll stop. 

I’m so thankful for all you guys. Grand Slam!

We packed out all three services, especially the last one, which was standing room only… estimates hover around 1,900 in total. Many thanks to our volunteers who showed up at 2:00 and ministered till 8:30 p.m. We love you guys, and you did kingdom ministry.

img_0963Looks like we’ll have a white Christmas. Since we live above the valley floor,we occasionally get snow while the rest of our town gets rain. We’re on a ridge at just under 1200 ft elevation… the city sits at 500 ft.  It’s snowing now, 6:00 a.m. Christmas eve morning. Big fluffy flakes. The ground is already white. The kids are gonna go crazy! We have a small hill for sledding right next to the house. The snow will be gone in two or three days, so we can still gloat to our Chicago friends.

img_1027My mom and dad are spending Christmas with us. We’re so happy for that; our kids are super excited. It’s colder than their Florida blood can handle, so we’re keeping the fireplace cooking. My dad has found his happy place… a comfy chair next to the fireplace. My mom, too, has found her happy place… cooking pasta, sausage, and homemade tiramisu for our company today. It was a special treat for me to watch Monday Night Football with my dad. Us lifetime Chicagoans watched the Bears beat the Packers… winning ugly is still a win, right?

We’re having another houseful today–a total of nine kids. Snowmen, snowomen, snowballs, and snow angels will give way to hot cocoa and lots of noise in the playroom. It’s especially cool for my son, who shares his birthday with Jesus (we throw his big party in 6 months, and he’s good with that…)

We are blessed, the Bible says, with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. I can only add an Amen, and echo St Paul: Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

Merry Christmas from the Giovannetti’s

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I received a fresh supply of Inner Mess books on Monday… all ready to go. Click the link on the top right to order an autographed copy. I’m so humbled by the excellent response and the encouraging comments I’ve received. Please pray for the book to touch many lives with the matchless grace of our Great God!

Monday Stuff

Our church offers 8 “services” each weekend.  I speak live at 4… this wears me out.  Then 2 services offer my same sermon via the miracle of technology (video) on the same weekend, and one offers the service a weekend after I preach it (45 minutes away–we can’t get the video there in time…).  At the Well, our service for young adults, Todd Skinner is the regular speaker.  Except for this current series–they’re sticking with the videos thru our ministry expansion campaign.

I spoke on the centrality of the gospel.  Click here to see it, hear it, or read it.  Sermons are posted usually by Wednesday.  I gave an invitation to receive Christ, and 21 people responded!  

It’s Monday, so pardon me for being discombobulated.  Oh, I think the Bears won!!! Woo-hoo!

This video is just for fun, from Dick A.  

Powerful Worship Service

Last night, I attended one of the most moving worship services of my life. At Neighborhood Church. Don’t miss it today at 9:00 and 10:45 if you’re in northern California! Great time of music, praise, prayer, testimonies, and cardboard testimonies. Thanks to Jon, our worship pastor, and the whole team, and especially to those who put their hearts and pain out on the table with such courage and grace. God is doing amazing things among us.

Here are some comments from email I’ve already received:

  • ” I wanted to let you know that tonight’s service led by Jon Lipinski was one of the most amazing services I’ve ever attended at any church—and I’ve seen some amazing services. I use to think it would be hard to top many of yours personally till tonight. The power of testimony in real people, in real life, that others can relate to is absolutely nothing short of astonishing…”
  • “The Lord helped me to get 9 people there tonight – all struggling with something that was testified to –and they have been calling me all night thanking me! A handful of us went to dinner together and two of the non-believers were able to hear more personal testimonies from the other 3 of us, and they were just in awe. There are six more invited to tomorrow’s service, and I’m not sure who will actually show up, but this was just such an amazing praise both to God and to the people of Neighborhood for stepping out in faith to share their stories. WOW and double WOW! I’m still leaking in the eyes off and on as I think about everyone (myself included) that God has worked through at Neighborhood! “
  • “I attended the service earlier tonight. That was one of the most powerful services I have ever attended. My spirit is overflowing. Thanks for your leadership roles at NCR.”

    When the “cardboard testimonies” started, I just felt tears streaming down my face. God’s at work!

    WARNING: The 10:45 service might be jammed; we have overflow seating in the video cafe, but for this service you want to be in the main auditorium. Come early!!!

    Here’s my kind of Labor Day:


    “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13, NKJV).

Easter and Our Church

The air was electric at Neighborhood Church this Easter Sunday. Over 3,000 people filled the Redding Convention Center (twice!).

Here we are on the evening news (I’m in a salmon colored shirt outside, and then again preaching).

Highlights:

  • A powerful worship time led by our new Worship Pastor, Jon Lepinski. Jon has an anointing to bring people together in worship. We received awesome comments from all ages–young and old.
  • The two musical highlights: the Choir leading us in “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and a solo/with choir & band, led by Jon, called “What a Day.” That song talks about that day we meet Jesus. It gave me goose bumps.
  • Two different Redding Convention Center employees commented to two different people from our church that we were the most organized, clean, and purposeful groups ever to use the convention center. That was really important to us, because our testimony in the community is so important. It also showed the fantastic job our team did: kid’s ministry, ushers, greeters, worship, info table, choir, band, technical, audio, video… Everybody rose to the occasion.
  • The focus was on the Resurrection of Jesus. And how his resurrection frees us from the “tyranny of performance.”
  • I’ll put up more pictures and links as soon as I get them.

Here are some emails we received:

  • It was an awesome morning, and you all had it planned to perfection! If there was any problem, it did not show. What a great bunch of leaders we have at Neighborhood church. We are so encouraged and blessed to know all of you.
  • I loved your Easter Message. I grew up in a similar church background and I think one of my Inner Mess personas loves to whisper to me that I haven’t done enough/am not good enough and it’s my fault too. Anyway the visual of my sins being shredded was very uplifting.
  • Sunday’s Easter Worship services were Glorious.
    Glorious in that Christ was lifted up! Our guests were elated with what they heard and saw that morning.
    As a traditional couple in our 60’s, we are open to music of all types.
    Our personal preference is Southern Gospel or traditional church music, as well as any other that
    points us toward Jesus.
    We are deliriously happy with your leadership in worship.

My sermon was based on Matt 23 and was the 4th in a series upliftingly called “Woe to You? Silencing the Voices that Crush Your Spirit.”

I’ll post a link when it’s available. I used a prop–I won’t give it away–all I can say is it didn’t work. For some strange reason, our church loves it when stuff I do doesn’t work. Just like God, right?

Here’s the link for the Easter Sermons online…

Happy Easter

woepic.jpg“Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that he was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach.” 2Ti 2:8.

If you’re in the Redding, CA area, I’d like to invite you to join our Easter Worship services.  We will not be in our regular location.  Here are the details:

  • Date:  Sunday, March 23.  Sorry, no Saturday service this weekend.
  • Place:  The Redding Convention Center (seats 2,000!) (click here for a map)
  • Times:  9:00 and 11:00 a.m.  (2 identical services)
  • Childcare:  A special program for kids thru kindergarten on the lower level.  Kids older than that will join their parents in the auditorium;  we’ll have an activity pack for each one.
  • Dress: casual.  Whatever makes you comfortable. We’re happy however you come, just join us.

I’ll be preaching the last message in a series called:

Woe to You?  Silencing the Voices that Crush Your Spirit.

It’s based on Matt. 23 and the day Jesus really nailed the Pharisees.  I hope to see you there; BRING A FRIEND!  Join us to worship our risen Jesus!  And if you can’t make it here, I hope you can join a church in your area.