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.

Turkey Day – #Write31Days

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I know that many are excited for all of the Halloween candy coming our way tomorrow, on Halloween.  I know that I have my favorites that show up in the stores. 

But, in truth, it’s all about Thanksgiving Day.    My family smorgasbord dinner every year is something that would put Golden Corral to shame.  We have 70+ people, everyone brings a dish.  Traditional thanksgiving classics are always there, but it is peppered with all sorts of different things too… from flan to lasagna.  

In our home, when Halloween comes… we KNOW that Thanksgiving dinner is less than a month away.

 

Now What? – #Write31Days

 

If you are a leader of any sort, you may be looking at a list of emails or text messages seeking your opinion.  In the last few days, a well known author is at the center of some controversy.    Her fans are sticking by her side.  Her friends are comfortable to agree to disagree.  Her critics finally received the ammunition they needed to label her a heretic.

The people whom you lead may be asking you…

“What does this mean?”

“Do I have to stop reading her books?”

“Is she right, or is she wrong?”

“What is your opinion?”

You may find yourself struggling as well.  Are you the die hard fan that thinks she can do no wrong, the one who can see so much value in what she has offered that you are comfortable disagreeing with her on this controversy, or are you the critic who has been waiting in the wings for the shoe to drop?

This situation is not unique.  I have heard plenty of criticism about certain Bible teachers, famous Pastors, and specific authors for a very long time.  Video clips, quotes from their books, etc. which have helped their critics drive home points about the person being a false teacher, heretic, and sometimes far more drastic terms.

How, as a leader do I respond to these questions and criticisms?  How am I responding to emails, texts, and posts about this newest controversy?  By not giving my own opinion, but instead by suggesting to each person how they can go about figuring out the answer for themselves.  It is the same litmus I suggest to women in my small groups and women’s ministry leaders to use when selecting Bible study materials.

First, I establish the reminder that we are all humans and prone to err.  Additionally the amount of knowledge I have to day is vastly greater than what I knew 5 years, 10 years, 30 years ago.   As well, my opinions and interpretations have changed over the years with the accumulation of knowledge, wisdom, and experience.  I need to remind myself (or whomever I am giving this counsel to) that I can’t hold anyone to a higher standard than I would hold myself.  If I need grace, they need grace too.

Second, I ask a few questions about the author:

?  –  What is his/her background?   Seminary student? Lay leader?  Seasoned speaker on the scene, or a new face?

? – Who is in his/her circle of influence?   Who does s/he read, quote, look up to, etc.  Is there any controversy regarding that leader?

? – Who endorses him/her?  What publishing companies are printing their material, and what standards does that company hold to?  What do leaders whom I respect say/write about him or her?  What conferences or organizations have supported him/her?

Third, I look at the criticisms of the author (body of work, personal life, etc).   If there is an accusation regarding an interview clip or quote from a book, I look into the full context.  I want to eliminate any criticism that is based on partial information.    If it is taken out of context, or there is no way for me to verify the context, it is disregarded.  If I can read it within the full context of the interview or book, then I feel more equipped to make an educated decision by testing it against the scripture.

I also want to look at when this interview or book was written.  It may be a legitimate criticism over a piece that is 10 or more years old.  Lord knows I am not the same person, same Christian, I was 10 years ago.  I’ve learned somethings.  If the criticism is that old, I look for more current works and interviews to determine if the author/speaker/Pastor still maintains these beliefs or not.

Fourth, I want to consider who is making the accusation and responsible for the criticism.   Is this a person who generally has a critical spirit over anyone who doesn’t fall in line with his/her beliefs?   Is this a person who is credible, or not?  What is being criticized, the author’s interpretation of a Biblical truth or a personal conviction?  What does this person get out of criticizing the author/speaker/Pastor?  Is there a pride issue here, of wanting to be right or a sincerity of wanting to expose truth?

Finally, if I am still uncertain, I MAY purchase the material and test it to the Word.  Now you could argue that this would be better suited for the first step.  I disagree.   Usually, a false teacher or heretic is going to be exposed in these first four steps.  I would rather not spend money on materials from a false teacher, adding to their coffers and raising their book up the best sellers list another notch.  I would rather not put into my mind materials that are false teachings.  I would hate for something to take hold and stick there, and later quote it in error.  So, if I can discount material before reading it… I would prefer to do so.  I also wouldn’t want anyone to assume that because it is in my possession I endorse it.  Trust me, when you invite me into your home… I am casing your bookshelf for reading suggestions.

That said, new authors and speakers may not have enough history to address those first four steps appropriately.  If it comes down to it, I have to make a stand.  I can purchase the material, test it against the Scripture, and then make an informed decision.  OR, I can choose to skip the material altogether or at least until I can learn more about the author and their beliefs.  It is okay to not jump right on the band wagon of the newest popular speaker, author, or Pastor.  To take your time, observing and testing what you can.  When in doubt and you can’t find clarity, it is better to pass it up than regret your decision to engage.

So, does this mean I disregard everything this person has ever said?  No, not necessarily.  A friend of mine once said, ” a broken clock is right twice per day “.  There are authors who I do read, that claim to be Christian authors, and I do question some of their theological statements and interpretations.  However, because I am testing it against the scriptures… I know what to disregard.  I often read some of these authors as if they are secular authors versus Christians.  There are speakers who are great motivators and have some challenging words on social justice, and I can value the words they speak without affirming the rest of their beliefs are doctrinally sound.  There are some books I have completed avoided, because I don’t want to even entertain the thoughts and ideas shared in the material.

I would suggest to anyone before you jump on the bandwagon of criticism, do your due diligence.  Don’t rely on the opinions of others.  Pray that the Lord will give you clarity and discernment.  When it doubt, pass it up.  Be okay with giving time to build your own opinion.  Look at the big picture… who is the person, their life, their beliefs, their body of work.  Then make an educated informed decision.

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.

 

Careless Words – #Write31Days

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I try to be cautious with my words, I sometimes fail.  I do try though.  Especially in social media or public settings where I don’t know my audience well.

I speak gently of those who have had an abortion, because I never know who may be reading my words in the midst of post abortive healing.

I speak gently of those who made a lapsed judgement, because I know that at any given time I could do the same thing.

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These seem to be pretty obvious choices, but what about the ones that are not so obvious?

I see a lot of it in the social media realm lately, pertaining to the election and different political platforms.  Some very careless words that cut down the person or people being spoken to.

I can’t believe you fell for that….

Anyone with half a brain….

As a woman, I can’t believe you would….

How can a Christian even….

Anyone who agrees with …. is a disgrace (or disgusting).

Unfriend me if you feel ….  about….

That’s not a man, that’s a …

We use careless words that question the intelligence, common sense, faith, etc.  We are quick to give our opinions without listening, so stubborn in our beliefs we can’t hear the perspective of another.  We stand so firm in our righteousness and rightness that we’ll call others names and discard them as friends.

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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.

wmnetpasotrs