It’s the End! – #Write31Days

MBA

It’s October 31… and that means the #Write31Days Challenge is OVER.  I’ve written every day, for one month.  I think my posts were probably longer this year than last.  But none the less, it’s a simple accomplishment.  I wrote outside of my normal topics.  I had to come up with ideas on the fly vs. plotting them out.

Writing every day is a great way to feel creative, use our vocabulary, and grow in how we express our ideas.

We do not need to wait for a challenge to write every day.  Pick up a journal.  Write.  Write what ever is on your heart or mind.  Write.  Even if no one is going to read it.  Write.

Write to God.

Write to your spouse, your kids.

Write to your teenage self, or future self.

Write to those who have wronged you, even if they never will read it.

Write to those who you are forgiving, even if they never asked for it.

Write about the things you celebrate, the things that break your heart.

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Teal Pumpkin Projects – #Write31Days

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Without getting into great debate over whether or not Christians should participate in Halloween, Trick or Treating, or even the alternative Harvest Festivals and Trunk or Treats…  I want to share something with those of you who do…

There are a lot of kids who don’t get to trick or treat, or keep their stash, due to a host of reasons.

The child may be allergic to peanuts.  They may have a condition or disorder that is agitated by certain food dyes.  The parents may have a “no sugar” policy in their household.

Regardless of the reason, if you are planning to participate in some sort of even this coming weekend, consider having non candy items available.    Let parents know you are participating and have non candy options by placing a Teal Pumpkin outside your door or hanging one of the Teal Pumpkin Project signs.

Note: I have seen Teal Pumpkin painting kits for sale at Target and CVS, and you can carve a regular pumpkin and then paint it teal.   Or, you can buy a faux pumpkin at local craft stores and paint in teal… then you can reuse it each year.

To learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project, or a view a list of suggested non candy items, click the photo at the top of the page or HERE.

 

Marginalizing Spiritual Gifts – #Write31Days

MBA

We’ve been taught that good things come in small packages.   If your husband presents you with a small box on your birthday, instinctively you know that it contains a piece of jewelry.   We’ve learned that often the big boxes hold things like new bed sheets or a set of pots and pans.  Or, your favorite candy bar that has been repackaged into umpteen dozen boxes because someone believes he has a sense of humor.  Nonetheless, it is a conditioning that tells us that we can’t assume how good the gift is based on the size of the box.  A gift that looks professionally wrapped may contain your one hundredth neck tie.  The one still packaged in the shopping bag with the store logo on it, could be exactly what you’ve been wanting.

This is also how I see our spiritual gifts.  You can’t necessarily look at a person and determine what their spiritual gift is, or where they are destined to use it within the context of the church.

A man who looks raggedly dressed may actually have a gift of stewardship.  I think of a man who dressed modestly, people assumed he was poor, but upon his death it turned out he had several million dollars that were donated to organizations close to his heart.

The stoic looking man, who sits in the back of the church, may not say much.  Yet, when he prays the words are like a sweet offering to the Lord.  Full of sincerity and compassion, and a love of the Lord.  My Father in Law was like this.  He had a sense of humor, don’t get me wrong… but sometimes, he could be incredibly hard to have a conversation with.   Yet, when he would pray… he would weep through most of it.

That woman in the long flowing dress, you may not realize it but she has a degree in advertising design.  She is responsible for all of the materials the church mails out to the community, the signage in the church, etc.  She joyfully works on her off days on church campaigns.

As you walk down the hallways of your church building, beautiful paintings fill up the what would otherwise be blank walls.  There is an eighty year old woman, who has painted her entire life.  She blesses the church with her talent.

You just never know what the spiritual gifts are that lie under the surface of the people we see before us.  Yet, quite often… when it comes to areas of service like finances, construction, pastor searches, technology, et’al our church leaders look to the men in the body.   When they need more volunteers in the nursery, Sunday School teachers, meal ministry, holiday decorators, greeters, and VBS volunteers… they look to the women.  We have allowed ourselves to marginalize spiritual gifts by gender.  We assume based on what the package looks like, what type of gift is inside.

A friend of mine shared a scenario where a group of men and women from her church were invited to a dinner to kick off that years ministry work.  When they arrived they found the tables themed to different areas of services.  Name cards were placed at each table.  Someone in the leadership of the church had assigned all of these individuals to a ministry job in the church, without even discussing it with their volunteers.

This leader felt they could discern the individuals gifts and assign them tasks based on that discernment.  No spiritual gifts tests were administered.  No conversations happened between the leader and these various people to determine what gifts or interests they had for serving.  Even still, the people were just assigned the task without even being given an opportunity to say yes or no to the position.

When we make these assumptions we are really marginalizing the spiritual gifts based on our human perception or need.  We are too focused on filling holes in our volunteer needs than we are looking at the individual person’s gift and figuring out how to connect them to serving in the church.

Another way we can marginalize the gifts is when we allow ourselves to become hyper focused on our ministry goal.  It is almost as if we put on blinders and the only way we can see that goal being achieved is through the methods we are comfortable with, what fits in our box.  We can’t think outside of that box and any ideas that differ are cast aside.  We may even get defensive and think that anything outside of that box will take away from our vision or goal.  It too is cast aside.

If we are a body, made up of many parts, and each part having a job or purpose…

If we are all one in Christ, not Jew or Gentile, master or slave, man or woman…

If we all receive different gifts to be used for different purposes…

Then why do we hear of statistics that suggest that 80-90% of church needs are met by 10-15% of the body?  Why are more people not serving?  Why do we not have 100% of the needs being met by 100% of the body?

Because we are failing somewhere.

We are failing to recognize that spiritual gifts are not based on our genders.  We fail to see our men as capable nursery workers and children’s teachers.  We fail to see our women as capable administrative leaders, teachers, and staff members.  We fail to see past the specifics of our own vision to value the gifts and vision of others who are serving along with us.  It is almost as if we think the Lord is only capable of doing ONE thing, in ONE way, within our church or ministry walls.  As if multiple ministries can’t coexist and support each other.  We put all of our eggs into one basket.

We fail to put effort into connect with each of our members, helping them figure out what their spiritual gift is, and develop those gifts. We fail to give them a place to serve with their gift in our body or ministry.  Then, we wonder why our gifted people leave our church or move to another ministry to serve.

When we marginalize the people in our church, we are taking control of something instead of surrendering it to the Lord.

Sometimes we need the reminder that just because a ministry isn’t something we understand… or something that we personally need; doesn’t mean it is not valuable.

Sometimes we need the reminder that just because a person doesn’t show up in the exact package we expect… or doesn’t fit our defined roles; doesn’t mean they don’t have value to add.

Because, It IS Important – #Write31Days

 

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I requested a copy of The Gospel for Life Series:  The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation for review on this blog, from B&H Publishing Group.  I requested it, because this is an important issue.  In the New Year, the Women’s Ministry Council will be discussing this issue in regards to how we build up diversity and unity within our local Women’s Ministries.  I requested this book to help us prepare for this important conversation.

In 2016, the topic of race has been a hot button topic.   Deep generational woulds have been festering as the bandaids put in place are no longer working.  We are faced with truths that things are not that much better, at least not as much as we have convinced ourselves they had gotten.

I’ve listened to men and women recount their stories.  My eyes are opened to realize that something I perceived as a small percentage problem is much greater than that.  I’ve also witnessed people, who I have great respect and love for, say things that shocked me and made me question how well I know the hearts of those I include in my circle of friends.

When put on the spot, it is very interesting how our hearts will often be betrayed by our mouths.  We will say things that reveal who we are on a deeper level.  We also seem to allow a few bad apples to spoil the bunch, and use that excuse to dismiss that there is a real problem.  We accuse the media of creating something, I would challenge the media is simply exposing the festering wound that has been there all along.

As Christians, if we believe that we are all made in the image of God… if we believe the scriptures that in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, man or women, servant or master but that we are all ONE… then how can we turn a blind eye to racial injustice in our world?  How can we not demand better for our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Lord take these scales from our eyes!  Let us see, truly see, what is happening and compel us to action!

In the book, The Gospel Life Series: The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, the editors and contributing authors, begin at the beginning.

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The truth is beautiful.  Man and woman created in God’s image.  Not some men, or some women.  All of us.  Crafted in the likeness of our God.  Then man fell and we were distorted, but through Christ the old self died and we were a new creation.  A new creation in God, in His image.  All of us, regardless of the country we come from… the tint to our skin… the sound of our voice… the language we speak… the texture of our hair… the traditions of our culture… the food we eat… etc.   One people, united in the family of God. Sons and daughter of the Most High.

These first chapters explore the biblical truths of who we are, what we were created for, how ethnic and cultural differences were viewed in the scriptures, and how Christ would have us respond.  The latter chapters walk us through our personal response, in how we live out our lives, as well as how the church should respond.  Chapter 5 caps us off by looking at our modern culture and how racism exists today and what we can do about it.

This book is an excellent read, at five chapters it is one you could get through on a weekend.  I would challenge you to pray as you read through this book that the Lord would open your eyes, convict your heart if needed, and guide you to reconciliation when needed.  However, I would also challenge you to share this with your Pastors and ministry leaders.  As the church needs to be willing to stand up, united, to bring it’s family back together.

Illustrated Notetakers Bible – #Write31Days

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Bible journaling isn’t exactly a new thing, but combining the journaling along with art is catching on quickly.  There are some people who are just not artistically gifted but love the idea of art journaling.  Then there are those who are like me, who love making art but also are a bit o a perfectionist.  If I mess up on a pad of drawing paper, I can rip it out and throw it away.  However, I would never rip a page of out of my Bible.  So, this artistic concept actually terrified me.

Then I got this, the HCSB Illustrators Notetaking Bible from B&H Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing.

This Bible contains pages with gray tone sketches that you can follow along with (like an adult coloring book), use as a launching point and customize, and even blank pages for your own art. 

For someone like me, it works with my sensibilities and allows me the freedom to be artistic without the worry of perfection.  I experimented with a few different tools.  The pages are nice and thick, thus I expected to encounter few (if any issues) working with these different tools.

Colored pencils have a smooth finish on the paper, obviously won’t bleed through, and give you the option to erase.  I really liked the pencils on pages that included skintones and detailed garments.

Gel pens are fantastic for smooth outlines and coloring in the blank space.  I didn’t have any issues with bleeding through, as the ink seemed to sit on top of the page.  I really loved the metallic inks.  Depending on the type of gel pen, I would advise allowing the page time to dry before closing it.  Very detailed pages could be prone to smudging (pen issue, not pages), thus I recommend working top to bottom or taking breaks to allow portions to dry thoroughly.

Colored Markers tend to come in a greater variety of colors and ultra fine point tips.  In my Bible, I really enjoyed the smooth outlines.  I also preferred these markers for writing, and they didn’t require dry time like the gel markers.  Certain colors/pigments did bleed through, but I would attribute this to the markers themselves.  These particular fine tip markers were not as nice for filling in space as the gel pens.  If you choose to use markers, I would advise getting 2 sets of the same colors.  One with an ultra fine point for outlines and details, and then a fine/thin point for filling in space more smoothly.

Overall, I think this Illustrators Bible is going to be a perfect fit for my artistic nature and sensibilities.  This would also be a great gift this Christmas, or when Easter and Mother’s Day rolls around. 

Women’s Ministry Resource – #Write31Days

If you are a Women’s Ministry Leader, or thinking of starting one at your church…  there is a great website that is full of resources that may be helpful and an online forum where you can ask questions.   For the next 2 weeks they are offering this free download ebook, with contributions from Women’s Ministry Leaders around the country.

Click on the cover below, and it will take your right to the page to register for the ebook.

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