Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gifts and hats

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church. 1 COR 12:7

This morning’s blog came to me in stages. This morning , a verse in 1 Corinthians 1 caught my attention. An hour later, as I was talking with Scott about an issue at work I have been struggling with, he gave me some advice that I have given to someone else recently. That triggered the memory of what Mama Toni shared at Women’s Bible Study about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, which in turn sent me searching for a passage I remembered reading in Romans last week. The way this blog came together reminded me of the verse that talks about God’s word being taught “line upon line, precept upon precept”. The pieces were falling into place and I felt like God was really speaking to me.

“I don’t remember baptizing anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News- and not with clever speeches and high sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. 1 Cor. 1:16b-17

Paul was dealing with divisions in the church, people boasting they were following Paul or Peter or Appollos, or Christ alone. It was creating cliques and turmoil in the church. So he was writing to address this problem, saying he had only baptized a few people. Then, what hit me, was his statement of purpose. “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News-“ His major goal was not baptizing, but preaching. Yes, he did baptize a few when needed, but his primary mission was preaching the Gospel. He could have been all side-tracked with baptisms, because I am sure many people would have loved to claim they were baptized by such a man of God as Paul, but that was not his calling. Romans 1 “This letter is from Paul, Jesus Christ’s slave, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News.” Like the apostles that didn’t get sidetracked by matters of distribution of aid to the widows, he knew his primary mission. Paul was called to be an apostle (watching over the churches) and preaching the Good News. He was determined to stay on track with what God was calling him to do.

“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
Romans 12:6-8

God has given us each different talents and abilities, which combined with our temperament, our personality, and our past experiences, make us a one of a kind gift to the body. Joyce Meyer always says not to focus all our energy into improving our skill level in our weak areas, but to concentrate on what we are gifted at and do that well. If you are not gifted with an aptitude for math, God is not going to call you to be church treasurer. But you may have a gift for music, and He might call you to use that. If you were all obsessed with taking math courses because you’re not good at that, you might not have the time to practice your musical talents. This passage tell us to find what God has gifted us to do, and do it to the best of our ability. Our love and joy in doing what God has created us to do will shine through, and like the passage says, it will “help the entire church”. People doing what God has gifted them with and given them a heart for will be happy servants of the Lord. If you are trying to do something you have no gift for, you are often stressed and struggling.

Paul knew it was good for him to concentrate on God was calling him to do. There were other people there to baptize, to organize the helps ministry, and to pastor the church. He did his job of overseeing and preaching the Gospel, and didn’t get sidetracked on daisy trails. He preached “not with clever speeches and high sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power” . If we get caught up in side trails, the gift Christ has given us loses it’s power, because we are too worn out to do it well. The body is made up of many parts, and we need to let each one do their own part. Sometimes I think we feel we have to wear a lot of hats in the church, but maybe by wearing the hats we are not called to, just so a ministry position doesn’t go unstaffed hurts us all. Maybe we are keeping someone else who is gifted from stepping into that position. Or maybe, that ministry needs to be changed or laid aside for a season, or even discontinued. Seasons come and go, even in a church, and the sweaters you needed in the winter are overkill to layer on in the summer. We don’t feel guilty for packing away the winter clothes every summer, yet why do we feel bad about packing away a program that is not needed at the current time in the church? Sometimes when the need for a ministry passes, or the grace has lifted from your involvement in it, it’s time to make changes. For us, there was a season that Scott and I were youth leaders. We enjoyed doing it, it filled a need in the church, yet there came a time that we realized it was time to hand the ministry over to someone who had the gift and the vision for it. We didn’t feel bad about it, because we knew God was saying it was time to pass the baton.

I wear a lot of hats. My heart has been crying out for change, but maybe I have been too busy balancing my hats to see what treasures God has in store for me. I think what God is saying to me is to listen to what He is saying, and pass off the hats that He is not calling me to wear right now. It’s time for fall cleaning, time to look at each hat, and ask God if this is something I am supposed to be doing in this season of my life. Then, when I have passed on the hats I am not supposed to have, He may pass a new one my way, and I won’t be too stressed or worn out to enjoy it.

Find what you love to do, and God will help you find a way to use your gifts to be a blessing to those around you. Go buy yourself a new hat to remind you of the joy He wants you to have in serving Him!

With love and prayers, and many thanks for all your encouragement!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Barking at Thunder

Last week I awoke to the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance. Most of the household was asleep, and as I tried to drift back to dreamland myself, my plans were interrupted. Scottie, our Scottish Terrier, heard the thunder and began his usual routine of running back and forth throughout the house, barking ferociously or fearfully, I’m not sure which, at every rumble. Yelling at him doesn’t help, as soon as you stop staring at him, he goes right back to barking. Locking him in his cage doesn’t send the message that he should be still and quiet, he just whines and barks from there. But that is precisely where I put him, hoping to keep him from running up and down the hallway, waking the entire household at four AM. Instead, it woke up Bekah, who either out of aggravation or sympathy, let him out of the cage and sat on the couch with the scared doggy until the storm passed.

The thing that Scottie doesn’t realize, is the fact that thunder can’t hurt him. It’s just a big scary noise. He wastes all that energy, gets worked up in a frazzle, over something that is totally harmless. He is ignorant of the lightning, which could hurt him, if he ran recklessly around outside in it. But he is safely inside the house, secure and protected, yet he continues to run frantically around barking, not knowing he is safe.

I started to think about how often I act like a little dog barking at thunder. How easily I get stressed over the things that really can’t hurt me, and run around frantically barking at the people around me. What about those things in our lives that seem scary or uncomfortable, how do we react to those? Do we run back and forth, not accomplishing anything, talking fearfully and worrying? Sometimes I wonder if God is tempted to put us in our little cage just to get our attention and say "Be still and know that I am God." Yet I think He is more like the one who releases us from the cage, curls up on the couch with us, and comforts our worried hearts.

"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 NLT

The next time the thunder rumbles in your life, when something has you scared or stressed, stop and think about this. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. And if we have His love, is there anything, big or small, that He can’t help us through? Snuggle in close to Him and get the comfort and strength you need. He’s waiting for you.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

On letting go...

How are you with change? With saying goodbye, or leaving what’s familiar? Somehow, that is not something that comes easy to most of us. I think as a Mom, the hardest thing in your life is "letting go". That first day of kindergarten, the day they get the driver’s license, the year they move off to college. Yet these are the milestones that are expected, and you see them coming.
But how are you with the unexpected ones? A friend moves away, a relationship changes, someone dies, you lose a job, a person that was once a part of your life isn’t there anymore, you fill in the blank…. How do you deal with that?

When my daughter left for 5 months in Costa Rica, I could tell that people were praying for us. Somewhere on the way to New York City, as I was driving along praying, God did something in my heart. There was a peace there I couldn’t explain, and I was able to bring her to the airport and wave goodbye without crying. If you know me, that is amazing. I cry at Hallmark commercials. Yet, I could put her on the plane, knowing that God is with her, and trust she will have a wonderful experience there.

There have been other times in my life, change has come, and I haven’t even noticed the airport signs. Maybe I refused to look, had my fingers in my ears, so I wouldn’t hear the sound of the planes. I was too busy trying to keep things "life as usual" to realize the change was needed, that it was time to say goodbye and graciously let go… I’ve even tried running after the plane, saying "Wait, take me with you!" But sometimes we need to let the people in our lives go. They may never be in our lives in quite the same way, just like Rebekah is not part of our daily routine right now. But the people that are important to us, they will wander in and out of our lives, just in a different way. And we need to be OK with that. It would be pretty silly if I were still sitting at the airport, missing my daughter and waiting for her to come home, wouldn’t it? Yet I know I’ve been guilty of that in other areas of my life. OK, self, wake up and smell the coffee…

People change, circumstances change. But I know there is one constant in my life, and that is God. He doesn’t change, and He’ll always be there for me. With His help, I can learn to walk more graciously through the changes in my life, instead of being dragged, kicking and screaming all the way, into a new season. I know if I’m looking at Him, instead of what I’m going through, I’ll be able to see things in a new perspective, and He’ll begin to show me the plan He has in all of it. Because I know the plans He has for me are plans for good, for peace, for a hope and a future. When I begin to trust that He knows what He’s doing with my life, and in the lives of the ones I love, then I can relax and enjoy the ride. Even if it’s taking someone I love to the airport.
Let go and Let God. You’ll be amazed at what He can do.

(this blog was written last year, and my daughter is now back home, finishing her last semester of college… that's her in Costa Rica, in the picture above. I decided to post it after reading this blog by Kathy, who gave me my first ever blogger comment, go check out her page: )

Friday, August 3, 2007

Free Friday tunes

It's a Friday night, and it's as hot as blue blazes. (Anyone know where that saying came from?) I'm sitting in front of the fan, eating fresh fruit salad (thanks to Bekah!), while checking my mail and my myspace, (what a multi-tasker!) when I found a great new site. On my couch, with a wireless laptop. Gotta love it.

Anyway, while reading bulletins on myspace, and being a Chris Rice fan, (his web site is he had a myspace bulletin posted about a free download of his new song, "So much for my sad song"

so of course I followed the link to I downloaded Chris' new song , as well as two other groups I had never heard of, and found myself pleasantly surprised. So I did sign up to download my 3 free songs every Friday, to broaden my horizons and try out some new tunes. Don't want to get stuck in a rut! Now I just need a lesson from the kids about how to move them to my Ipod.

Also on the music topic, you can bet we will be ordering tickets to see Jeremy Camp and some other great Christian artists at Rock the Sound in Bridgeport CT in November. Tickets go on sale August 11th, and you sure get your money's worth out of that concert. Last year we saw Casting Crowns, TobyMac, Pillar, Stellar Kart, and one other group I can't remember right now. It was awesome! I thought I wouldn't go back this year, since it's a late night for us old homebody types, but I can't pass up Jeremy Camp! His music helped me hold on through some really hard times and it really ministered to me. his site is and the link for those concert tickets is

so, no, I am not getting paid to throw all these links in, just sharing some cool stuff I found while wandering around the internet tonight. it's an amazing thing, earlier in the week I was researching solar energy and shopping for board games, tonight I am downloading music and writing a blog and rambling on in a format that can reach people all over the world. It's pretty amazing. But still not as amazing and far reaching as God's love or His knowledge about every detail of our lives. Wow. So have a great weekend, keep cool, and remember that our AWESOME God is rejoicing over you with singing.