Archive for February, 2009

10 Things I Like About My Church

After recently being at another church, I started thinking about what felt different. Why would it matter? Isn’t being in one house of God the same as being in another? And in the past few months, I’ve had several people ask me for my church’s statement of faith which has felt like a basis of my friendship. Can’t believers just be friends without “one upmanship” over churches? Do we have to wage a war to figure out who’s church has more authority over the other? If Jesus rules over Heaven and earth, doesn’t He have all authority? So as long as we are believers in Him and the salvation we have through Him, isn’t that what matters and not flexing our church muscles?

After thinking about these types of questions, I learned that I have mixed feelings. So, instead of writing about it in the way I had originally done, I’ve decided to rewrite it and just state what it is about my home church that I like. This way, hopefully people won’t try and flex those muscles and knock each other out.

What I like about my home church:

1. Our Pastor and his wife know us by name.

2. It is easy to get involved. Really, all someone has to do is show up and ask.

3. We are not clones. Each person is different and no one tries to copy our Pastor, worship team, and other church staff members with their hair, clothing, or accessories.

4. We don’t go out on weekends and try to sell “time share” from our church to those who attend a church other than ours. In other words, we don’t try to make other’s feel that their church is not a good church. We don’t make people feel like ours is best and that their salvation will be “greater” if they attend our church or “less” if they don’t. Our church is open to anyone who is seeking Jesus and to those who don’t know what they are seeking yet. We just meet needs and point people to God.

5. Our church teaches and believes the word of God exactly as written in the Bible. And, we learn ALL of it-the easy to hear stuff and the hard to digest, (gulp-I need life change) teachings. In other words, our Pastor teaches it like it is, but he does so with grace, humor, and reality.

6. Jesus is King in the church. Not our small groups, not our staff, not our programs.

7. Our worship is not too glitzy or over the top, so it is easy to keep the focus on praising God. Yet, it is also fresh and exciting enough to allow us to clap, dance, and show our excitement and JOY to praise the King-because we are so full of joy! It’s a good balance.

8.Our church promotes and models the importance and health of a personal prayer life in addition to worship and praise.

9. My church is where my closest friendships started. The people are not just members of a church, but members of a church family, members of a prayer family, and people I can count on like family.

10. It’s the first place I learned to read my bible and learned about Jesus at 37 years of age. I was a late bloomer in my faith. And, no one laughed when I looked for Genesis in the back of my bible instead of knowing it was the first book.

There are so many things I like about our church. And while not perfect, it’s the House of God I like to call home. And like home, it’s where I go to rest, be protected, learn, grow, be nurtured, comforted, strengthened, encouraged, and taught. But, it’s also the place for me to give these things as well. And just like belonging to any other family, it’s where I have responsibilities to contribute and do some of the chores to make it run like a successful household.

Yep, that’s home. That’s my church.

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Learning To Live In God’s Time Zone

(This was written February 22, 2009…. Update: As we approach 2012, I am celebrating three years smoke-free, without relapse, no cheating, and complete peace. Thank you, God 🙂


Five days ago, something significant occurred. I drove to our church to meet a small number of individuals who were attending a conference together in Texas. We each had our small suitcases jammed with three days worth of clothing and necessities. We each also had a sack full of goodies for the road. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, except my backpack was packed with three times more goodies than the other folks’, so what was of such great significance? That I had more candy? Hardly.

I hadn’t told anyone but my family. In fact, my kiddos were the first to know! But, my church family hadn’t a clue. I put my suitcase in the van, buckled my seatbelt, and grabbed a book I packed to read along the way. Mum was the word! I knew that I had a couple of very long and challenging days ahead of me, and I didn’t want to send everyone in the van into a panic. Therefore, I chose to remain quiet about the significant event taking place at that moment.

The first day came and went. On the second day of the conference, I decided about 10:30 that morning that I needed an ice cold Pepsi. During a break, I looked at the line to the coffee shop and knew I’d never get through it in time to return before the break ended. I spotted a “greeter” and made my way toward her friendly face. I thought that she would certainly know where I could find a pop machine.

I asked her where the nearest soda fountain or machine was located in this massive facility, and her response nearly sent me into cardiac arrest! She said, “We don’t have soda on the premises at all. There isn’t even a coke machine in our break rooms. But, we do have coffee and tea with caffeine in them.” I think the look on my face was more than desperation. It was total DES-PER-A-TION! No soda? Are you kidding me? What place on planet earth doesn’t have soda/pop/Coke/Pepsi/carbonated stuff? Apparently, I found it. In Texas. And too top it all off, it was during this significant event in my life! (All of the sudden, I wondered where my trust in God went?)

I knew that coffee and tea were not the answers. Number one, I hate coffee. I only drink it at certain times, and it can’t be just regular coffee. It’s nasty. Two, tea is for when I’m sick. No, I do like tea, but again, when I want a Pepsi, I need a carbonated beverage. Tea isn’t a substitute. Imagine going to McDonalds and ordering a combo meal-Big Mac, large fries, and a hot tea? No, you are expecting the Coke. So, if you’re only choice is tea, it’s really awkward.

I walked back in to the main area. It was suggested I drink coffee to cure my “lack of caffeine” headache. “Oh well, no big deal!” Say what? No big deal? I had to disclose the significance. At that moment, I told the few who were around that I had quit smoking, and it was not a headache from lack of caffeine. I needed the Pepsi to counteract the need for a smoke break. I was doing fine, but when I didn’t have pop all of the sudden, it was like taking EVERYTHING away all at the same time! It’s kind of like dieting while you quit smoking. It’s not going to work if you give up eating and smoking at the same time. Work on them one at a time for maximum success, right? It requires focus!

I was seriously so ready to walk to the nearest store which was probably 10 miles away. No, I wasn’t going to buy tobacco. I just wanted the pop! Is that not crazy or what? I had no desire to walk and buy cigarettes. But, I was in a triathalon mode to get pop. I would’ve ridden a bike, run, and swam forever just for a Dr. Pepper! It had me wondering, what is my true addiction here? Pop or smoking? I’m obviously giving up smoking before cutting out any pop.

I realized that once the group understood the significant event that was taking place, there were some very kind and understanding individuals who worked with me to get the keys out of the locked center, so we could make a pop run at lunch. Let me tell you, when desperation sets in, creativity just flows! And I wasn’t the only one who was needing a pop. There were a few surprised individuals upon learning that soda wasn’t available! Longer story short, we found a store and got everyone’s soda. And just for future planning, I bought a 12 pack to leave in the van. Yes, even when it seemed bleak for me, there was a way to get the pop. And then I was fine!

Now you are probably wondering why on earth I planned on quitting smoking while away on a church event? Why would I not tell everyone what I was doing before hand? Well, the answers are simple.

First, the reason I didn’t tell anyone I was quitting smoking on this trip was because I didn’t want them to make me ride in the trunk. Honestly, if you tell a group of people that they are the lucky individuals who get to sit next to you for hours on end while you stop smoking, go through withdrawl, and possibly get cranky, what do you think they will do? At the first bathroom break, they’d “accidentally” forget that I hadn’t gotten back in the van and take off! Okay, well maybe that’s just me. At least that’s how I envisioned it. Maybe I am the only person then that would think that? Hmmm… (That’s funny-and a joke 😉

Second, I really wanted to quit smoking, but I didn’t choose this conference to be the time/location. That I give credit to God for. Longest story short: I had been praying to God about my smoking. I prayed and conversed with him for months now about this habit and my sincere desire to quit. But, I knew (and He did as well) that I was really addicted to the nicotine. I mean REALLY addicted. So, it was nothing that I could do on my own.

I prayed to God and just kept conversing with Him as I do all the time. But one day in particular, as I came inside from a smoke break, I remember telling Him that I thought I could do it…REALLY do it, if I could get out of town for a few days with a few non-smoker friends. I felt I needed to change my routine, keep busy, and have support from friends. As I approached the front door, I remember saying to God that I didn’t have any friends who would go out of town with me or support me. And the few friends I do have are smokers. That was not going to work. I don’t want to give up my colleagues who smoke-but they just weren’t the one’s to help me quit. That was obvious! I let God know in my prayers and thoughts, that I was ready, that’s what I felt I would need to succeed, and I just asked Him for help, courage, strength, and a solution. I was clueless.

Two days later, I received an email from our Pastor about attending a three day church conference. It was taking place in two weeks. Wait! Two weeks? Wow! I had planned on quitting smoking, but not exactly in two weeks! Maybe I could wait and quit the following month?
Not quite. I knew without a doubt that the invitation to the conference was part of God’s plan. He answered my prayer. He answered it with all the specifics I had talked to him about! And, what was I going to do? Tell Him no? No, thanks? I will quit later?

Absolutely not! I knew right then and there, that God had given me exactly what I had been praying and asking Him for. I was serious in my prayers, and He was serious in His answer! He provided me what I’d asked for…and more! Now it was up to me to take it, GO, and DO IT. He couldn’t do it for me. I had to do it. It was my decision. And I was not about to give in. I couldn’t. I was serious when I prayed and conversed to God. And, I didn’t take His response lightly. He provided what I thought I needed, and I knew that He would be right there with me as I started this journey. I felt so blessed. Blessed to know that God was providing the opportunity that I’d sincerely asked for, and also to be learning so much at the church conference.It was time for me to start acting like a leader in the House of God.

I guess that I was nervous in the beginning, but as I thought about how God orchestrated these events, I knew that my faith in Him, my trust in Him, and sincerity to Him would get me through even the toughest times as I gave this habit up.

It was the first time in my life that I had to make a choice of this type and very quickly. God provided the opportunity, the tools, and the people. All I had to do was live up to my part to go, do, and believe in Him and His promises. I had to go and have faith in Him.

I’m so glad I did. Today it has been five days since I last smoked. And truthfully, it hasn’t been as hard as it was the last few times I tried to quit. It’s been something I can’t really put into words, other than just to say it’s been easier, more peaceful, and I’ve struggled less while enjoying it more.

On the way home in the church van, I kept reaching and patting my shoulder. I felt that I needed to press my nicotine patch down tightly on my shoulder. And then I’d remember each time that I am not using the patches. I have no nicotine replacement therapy at all (not even the gum)! As I grabbed my arm one last time while watching the sunset over my shoulder, I wondered if it was possibly a “spiritual patch” I was thinking about and pressing on. It felt like God had put a patch on my arm (his hand) to help me through this ordeal. One word-three letters: WOW!

I am thanking God every day for this opportunity to be smoke free. I am also very humbled, and I know that this is something I couldn’t have done without Him. I honestly feel like a new person. I feel like a much stronger person. But all that aside, I have experienced first-hand the answering of a prayer, and finding the courage and strength to go when and where God’s plan determines when He sends the answer. When He says go now, and I was planning on going later, I know what the benefits are of leaving when He determines is best regardless of any fear I have. I learned to listen to God and trust Him. And because of that, I have succeeded more than I could’ve imagined possible.

Thank you, Father God, for the encouragement, peace, opportunity, love, support, strength, hope, contentment, knowledge, willpower, and friendships you have provided to overcome this obstacle in my life.

I am here, use me! I now can say that without feeling like a hypocrite hiding in the shadows smoking. Thank you for everything, God. Thank you so much for the valuable lessons in this obstacle.

Thank you for teaching me about trust. God, I know I can trust you. Where ever you lead me, I will go! Whenever you say it is time, it is time. I don’t care what my watch says.

Thanks, God! I am now relying on your time zone-not mine.


Copyright 2008, Christine Pechstein, Move Into Action/Seasoned With Salt

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Freedom of Choice

I am a member of the Twitter social networking site, and periodically I come across some really cool stuff. I found one individual called Positive_thinkr and follow their tweets. Today the tweets posted reflect much of what I have been thinking about the past few days. Some people may be offended, but those are usually individuals who say they want change without the true intent of really trying to change things for themselves. The truth is, the only person who can change your life is you.

I have received so much input from individuals who want this and that. I have had discussions with many people who want rights, but don’t understand the responsibilities that comes with them. Why? One word: Accountability. Being accountable for our lives means that we are responsible for our decisions. We choose our outcomes regardless of circumstances, and when we hold ourselves accountable for our own lives, we can’t point the finger and place blame on another individual, problem, program, or lack thereof.

Some individuals feel entitled to have money, possessions, status, and opportunities in life simply because in America it is a “right”. Granted, Americans have access to certain freedoms. And it’s our choice as to whether or not we choose to utlize those freedoms available to all individuals. But expecting everything as an entitlement realistically means that an individual is choosing to accept only what another is willing to part with. And usually, it’s not as much as the person receiving the entitlement wants.

The point is that if all a person feels they deserve is an entitlement and that’s the highest goal they wish to achieve, they should expect little. America is the land of opportunity, the home of the free, and the home of the brave. But can we call ourselves brave when we expect rights and don’t take accountability for our lives to achieve our fullest potential? Are we brave for expecting much without the responsibilities necessary to handle the many blessings we so desire? Are we brave when we expect someone else to fix our lives and give us what we aren’t willing to do for ourselves?

We are a free nation! We have equal opportunities! The difference is all in the individuals who choose to move into action to take advantage of all that is available regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin, disability, and/or color. How we arrive at achieving all that is available to us may be different based on those factors, but we all have access to them if the desire to grasp opportunity is there. Remember, accountability means that there are no excuses or blame regardless of our circumstances. Not everyone who succeeds started life with a silver spoon in their mouths. Many overcame the impossible! Where there is a will there is a way! Period.

In order to do so, we must realize that we alone are responsible for owning our lives. God gave us life. But, He also gave us responsibilities, laws, and direction to live by. He gave us all freewill to choose good/bad, right/wrong, just/unjust. God gave us all a life to live and each person has skills, talents, and gifts to use while here on earth. We are to utilize those to the best of our ability to work and glorify Him. Yes, God gave us all the ability to make decisions and act upon them. And He gave us each responsibility for our lives and will hold us accountable for the actions and inactions that we choose.

Most Americans spend more time coveting what their neighbor has and not enough time thanking and praising God for what they do have. Just recently, I overheard to a derrogatory conversation aimed at a woman who makes too much money in her industry. She built a business against all odds, on her own merit, without a penny, and succeeded. Should she be punished or disliked by those who have not done the same? Is there anything that stands in these folk’s way? Only their willingness and the attitude to try. America is the land of free enterprise!

When we look at it from an ownership standpoint, there is nothing wrong with building a respectable business and earning a decent wage. The individuals who take ownership of their lives and their choices to achieve their dreams have done so, because they didn’t feel entitled to have what the next person had. And they didn’t sit and wait for it to be sent to them in a gift box from Heaven, an envelope from the government, or passed down from a family member. No, instead they used their freedoms to create, build, and live their life because they owned it by using the same opportunities that we all have.

We live in the United States of America with freedoms all around us. The gift of freedom is a right already accessible by all. Taking ownership of life to use the freedoms is a responsibility. Where there is no responsibility, there is no ownership. Where there is no ownership, there is a life sitting idle. When we sit idle, we can’t expect our lives to become much of anything. Accepting ownership is a personal choice. And it’s the first and most important step. Every person reading this post can change their life and make it what they want.

Here are the quotes that were posted today by Positive_thinkr on Enjoy!

Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.” -Henri Frederic Amiel

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” ~Mark Caine

“Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!” A Carnegie

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

“There is just one life for each of us: our own.”

If you’d like to follow my twitter updates (tweets) you may find me at (coachchristine)

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Parents: Coaches or Managers?

I have just a few minutes to write and post this blog this morning. My oldest daughter has a hair appointment at 11:15, and I still have to fix my “faux hawk” (mohawk) after waking from a great nights sleep. If I walk in the salon looking like this, I’m sure they will chain me to a chair and begin a makeover to spare young children from the frightening look of my hair!

I spoke to a group of youth from local high schools yesterday. I was given an hour to speak to them about employment. I got to choose the topics, the message, the lessons, and was given freedom in how to use that hour. And believe me, I could’ve filled four hours easily. The message I gave in that hour was on how to identify skills, talents, and gifts, and how to utilize them by thinking outside the box.

After I spoke, a parent asked me about protecting her teen from making unrealistic career goals to protect him from failure. She didn’t want to see her teen fail after all. This is where I stand on my head and become uber passionate. (I must give credit to our Pastor for the word “uber”!) I believe with all my heart that the only time we really learn is when we make a plan to try something, and then try it. If it doesn’t work, what do we gain?

Everything! The knowledge that we gain from experiencing life’s lessons first hand whether we fail or succeed is by far the best. The classroom of life is the best classroom available. We cannot learn how to live, how to make good and bad decisions, how to have relationships, how to plan, how to pick ourselves up, and how to…oh, I could write a book here, but for the sake of time, I’m just listing a few.

The question I had for the parent was, “who’s life is this? Yours or his?” Until our children are allowed to take ownership of their own lives and learn about accountability, they will miss some of life’s greatest lessons! It doesn’t matter how old our children are. Even at the age of four, we can and should let them assume some responsibility for the decisions they make. If we as parents constantly protect them, especially when they become teenagers, how do we exect them to grow, mature, and become responsible for their own actions, choices, and behaviors?

As I say in many of my presenations, we are all CEO’s. We are all responsible for our lives. We are like a company, in charge of our lives, decisions, growth, set-backs, financial standing, and so on. When do we let our teens become the CEO’s of their lives? God has given our children skills, talents, and a purpose. We as parents are to be coaches and encouragers to help them grow and mature into adulthood. If we constantly make decisions for them, we are hindering their ability to do this on their own. In my opinion, this is a disservice.

I wrote on the whiteboard before leaving to fuel some thought for the parents:

Coaching vs. Managing

Are we as parents coaching our teens and letting them set their own goals?

Are we coaching our teens and letting them accept responsibility for their own actions?

Are we as parents holding our teens accountable for their actions and consequences, good and bad?

Coaching our teens doesn’t mean we stand back and just watch them make stupid choices. Coaching means that we are talking to them, being active in discussing life and the choices they are choosing to take. Coaching means that we are working with them and talking openly about the plans they have for their future.

But what we are not doing as coaches is managing their life for them. When our children reach 40 years of age, we do not want to be manging their families, finances, and careers for them.

Just food for thought.

Because this was a school event, I couldn’t add this, but here in my blog, I can!

Does God not allow all of his children to experience heart-ache?

No! In fact, He uses these to grow us, mature us, and prepare us for what it is He has planned for us! If we were never allowed to experience these things, we would stop growing. When we stop growing, we stop learning! Life is all about growth. As parents, we must be willing to coach them as they grow, learn, and live their own lives. Yes, the transition is hard. But, it is life. And life cannot be learned in a classroom, and it can’t be learned unless we are the individuals who are specifically living our own life.

Now…off to tame that “faux hawk” I woke up with this morning!

By the way, this message even applies to me-a coach. My daughter has been wanting to cut her hair shorter. She has beautiful long hair, and I was worried about her making a mistake, not liking it if it’s shorter, and not being able to style it herself.

She is 15. She will choose her hair. And, as a coach and her mother, I will encourage her to try the new style if she chooses to. I too, have to remember that I have survived all the hairstyles I chose. And growing up in the 80’s, I had some weird hair. As I think back, I am grateful that my parents let me choose and learn from life. There are so many things I wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise.

Romans 5:2-4 (New International Version)
2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[a] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[b] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

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"Yeah, God, I’d like to order combo #5!"

There is no question that my brain works overtime. Tonight as I thought, I wondered if we treat our prayers like we are placing an order at the local drive thru. I thought about how as a society we are accustomed to pulling up to a microphone without leaving the comfort of our cars, placing our order for whatever tickles our fancy of the moment (for our tastebuds), and receiving it as soon as we stop at the next window.

Do we treat prayer the same way? Do we look at what we think we need immediately to fix our lives and expect God to deliver it right away? That may sound rediculous, but think about this for a minute or two. Do we not treat our prayers like drive-thru orders at times?

Imagine this scenario. You pull up to a drive-thru thinking, “Hmmm…my life is jacked up. So, I’m going to push the button, talk to God, and sit here and wait for the order to arrive. Oh, and I don’t really want it to cost me anything. I’m choosing to pull straight to the second window in that case. I really don’t want it to cost me anything!”

So, now you are ready to place your order. After all, you’ve got what you think you need to fix the challenges in your life. All you have to do is ask, right? So, imagine this prayer order. “Yeah, um…Hey God. Like I know things are a mess, but I want the combo number three. You know, the one where the kids clean their rooms and don’t fight, the job that pays more money is given to me, and the in-laws move 3000 miles away like as early as tomorrow.”

First, what we would order for our lives would be nothing short of quick fixes. And as I think about this further, what would be accomplished by doing this? Second, would we learn to trust God’s promises? No. We would learn to trust in a bail me out plan and fail to grow, learn, and mature.

Romans 5:2-4 (New International Version)
3Not only so, but we[b] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Now, reflect upon this verse of scripture:

Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God has plans for us. And He uses challenges, adversity, set backs, successes, trials, and suffering to produce pereverance, character, and hope in each and every one of us. His plans are to prosper us-not harm us.

Are we willing to ask a fast food prayer for a quick fix combo when He is preparing for us more than we could imagine possible? God has plans for us. God is preparing us to handle and implement the plans He has designated for each of us. We are like tools being sharpened by the Master craftsman. God is the Craftsman and only He knows how we will be used. Thus, He will sharpen us to accomplish the tasks we will be called to.

(If anyone has ever said you weren’t the sharpest tool in the shed this will now become an interesting conversation!)

In our prayers, let’s remember to praise God for growing and stretching us. It may cost our comfort for awhile. It may be a little painful. It may break us. But, He has a plan. And it usually doesn’t involve any combo delivered instantly. Instead of looking at life as a bundled mess, let’s look for the value of each life lesson in each life area. And let’s focus our prayer on finding the value God has intended us to find in them.

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