Encourager’s Devotional Series – Celebrating Diversity – July Wrap-Up

“Can you think of someone you could encourage to branch out into an area of giftedness or calling?”  That was one of the challenges I put forth in this month’s Encourager’s Devotional entitled Freedom and Harmony. One of my core values is to celebrate diversity because it is a reflection of God’s heart towards us. When I think about the fact that the Almighty God, creator of the universe, took time to fashion or “weave together” each one of us as unique individuals … I am left to declare with the psalmist, “How precious are your thoughts towards me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-18)

Sports lovers, check out http://clutchcommentary.com. And let your friends know about it.

This is why I love the ministry I do with the Grip-Birkman. I use this tool to help people discover their spiritual gifts, personalities, intellectual styles, and passions, as well as their internal and occupational motivations. Though there is a difference between spiritual gifts and inborn talents, when I lead people through these assessments, I stress that both are part of God’s design. They are an indication of how God wants to use us and how he has wired us to be most effective in what we set out to do with our lives.

Not all of the work I do with such assessment tools (I use others such as the DiSC profile) is in the realm of the church. I have worked with corporations and non-profits on things like staff development and team-building. One of the more recent groups I worked with was a local branch of the Make-A-Wish foundation for their annual staff retreat. I am glad I could play a small part in helping them regroup for the wonderful service they perform.

In all of this, I have come to a firm conviction that the church defines ministry too narrowly. Scripture says that whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17; 23). Jesus needs people to share his love to the world in the everyday spheres of life (schools, restaurants, corporations) just as much as he needs them in the pulpit, the choir or the Sunday School room. Everywhere we go, we are ministers of the gospel.

I also have issue with the church’s restrictive definition as to what is “spiritual.” In his overwhelming creativity, God has built into each of us mechanisms by which we find rejuvenation, peace and joy. For some it is hiking, for others reading. It could be through gardening, or tinkering on cars, or … well, you fill in the blank. We should feel free to pursue these activities without guilt of “wasting time,” for by them we are refreshed and, thus, more capable of giving of ourselves to others.

I recently convinced my husband to start a sports commentary blog. I am so glad to see him doing something with this passion he has for sports. I’ve been telling him for years he should pursue this. When we’re watching games (it does not matter which sport), he is always ahead of the announcers on making calls, reeling off stats, and providing trivia. He’s a natural. You should check the blog and see for yourself (Clutch Commentary).

Now Scott (that’s my husband’s name, by the way) has also used his enthusiasm for athletics to coach, run Christian sport camps, and serve as a mentor. But that is a “pouring out” of himself, a withdrawal of his reserves, so to speak. This new endeavor is something that will fill up the tank for him. The other night Scott, my son and a friend were sitting around preparing for articles to post on the blog. I don’t even care that much for sports, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them chatter, and laugh, and talk smack because they were having so much fun with it.

And that brings me back to the initial question I posed, but let me rephrase it now. Can you think of someone you could encourage to branch out into an activity they do just for pleasure? Buy a set of paints for someone you know would love to learn that art. Or take a friend to an event they would find relaxing. And how about yourself? What can you do to refill your tank so that you’re refreshed and ready to “do ministry”?

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Flag on the Play – Church Goers, Polling, and Football

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According to Lifeway Research, “most of the faithful [83%] balk at skipping church for football.” When I read this statistic I just chuckled and thought, “I call BS.” Here are just a few reasons this was my response to the research:

  1. The survey itself means nothing to me if I don’t know how many of the people polled actually even like football. If you’re not interested in sports, it’s easy to say you “put divine revelation ahead of division rivalries” and sound quite pious when you say it. (This was an actual quote from the article – yet another reason for me to keep chuckling). But what if it was something you are interested in? Would you put divine revelation above shopping? Or a bar-b-cue? Or just the need for more sleep?
  2. Most church goers, even the faithful, have skipped church for far less than a football game – many not requiring any excuse at all. The methodology of the study said, “Responders were screened to only include those … who attend a religious service on religious holidays or more often.” Well, that’s a pretty large range. It certainly did not provide me with much clarity on who was answering the question, let alone how to apply these “startling” findings (as one article called them).
  3. This just smacked of Christians responding in the way they think they’re supposed to instead of truthfully. This is often referred to as the “halo effect.” According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, while more than 40 percent of people say they go to church every week, statistics simply do not show this to be true, with the actual figure being lower than 20 percent. And this is where I stop laughing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those who believe you must be at church every time the doors are open. My beef is not with those who do not attend regularly (although, as a pastor who spends a lot of time preparing food for the table each week, it sure is nice when people show up for the meal). My real concern here is that Christians so often feel the need to pretend they are doing better spiritually than they really are. We should be concerned about a church culture where this is the pervading mentality.

And to broaden the discussion, why are churches hoisting up the banner of this “research” in an effort to say, “See, Jesus IS better than football”? Or, worse yet, as if to say, “See, if you skip church for football, 83 percent of us faithful think you’re a heathen and consider ourselves more spiritual than you.”

 

 

 

My First Year of Blogging – 2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. See what’s happened since Lisa started her blog on May 8, 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now.

Click here to see the complete report.

Quiz: How do you solve a puzzle?

Jigsaw_puzzle_01_by_Scouten                                                                                        (image source)

I’ve had a compelling urge to do a puzzle lately. Not really sure why, but the process has me amused. As stated in my “About This Blog” page, I think we all just need to have fun sometimes. So, I figured I’d share some questions I’m having in the form of a light-hearted quiz to see if anyone else finds this as amusing as I do. I don’t think the results will shed any great insights into our personalities, but maybe I’m wrong. Feel free to offer deeper observations about what our answers say about us if you’d like. Or, just take it for what it is and have some fun with me. Questions 1 and 2 are just groundwork. I think the fun begins at question 3 – at least that’s when I started chuckling at myself.

  1. Do you sort the pieces before you start the puzzle, or do you just dig right in? I sort.
  2. If you do sort first, how do you sort? I sort out the edge pieces first and get the frame done before I start.
  3. When you’re sorting the pieces, if you discover some pieces that are already attached together, do you feel guilty (like you’re cheating) if you don’t disassemble them before beginning the puzzle? Or, do you think, “Yay!” and feel like you’ve won a prize? I must admit, I feel a bit like I’m cheating, but I leave them together anyway because it just seems silly if I don’t.
  4.  As I pondered why I wanted so badly to do a puzzle, I thought, “Does this mean I’m getting old?” You don’t need to answer as to whether you think I’m getting old, but feel free to ponder if doing a puzzle makes you feel like you’re just one step away from a nursing home activity center. I took solace in the fact that I actually borrowed this puzzle from my son who is 26 years old and loves doing them, too. I suppose you might even defend puzzle working as a way of feeling young again. I also enjoy coloring, so maybe these things go together. Do you have any thoughts on puzzle assembling and age?
  5. Do you count the puzzle pieces before you start to make sure you don’t get to the end only to find you have a piece missing? I did not count them for this puzzle since it’s a 1,000 pieces. I did, however, consider that option.
  6. If you do get to the end of a puzzle and there is a piece or two missing, how do you feel? Was it time wasted? I usually make a dramatic scene – Can you believe that? All that work and I can’t even finish the puzzle! But really, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I enjoy the process either way.
  7. My final question is not about puzzles. Just wondering if you’ve had similar urges to do something you haven’t done in a long time, just for fun. Did you do it? Why, or why not?