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”?

Encourager’s Devotional Series – July Bible Study Answers

Sorry I’m late in getting out the answers to last week’s Bible study for the Encourager’s Devotional Series. I started a new job this week and it threw my schedule off. But thank the Lord for the employment.


Read 1 Corinthians 12 and answer the following questions:

According to verses 4-6, what three differences should be allowed in the church?

different gifts, different ministries/services, different activities/workings

From verses 7-10 and 28-30, list some of the different gifts and functions which might be distributed throughout the church (Note: There are other lists elsewhere with additional gifts. We will look at those later in the study.):

wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation, apostles, prophets, teachers, helpers, adminstrators

What other kinds of differences are mentioned in verse 13?

  • Jew and Greek (for our cultural setting, we could expand that to “different ethnicities”)
  • slave and free (for our cultural setting, we could say different social circles, different economic circumstances, etc.)

Who decides which members are bestowed various gifts and where each member “fits” among us? (vv. 11, 18)   Holy Spirit, God

What familiar image of the church is used in this chapter? The body of Christ

Romans 12:4, which also speaks of the body of Christ, says the members of the body do not all have the same function.

What different gifts are listed in Romans 12:6-8?

prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation (same Greek word for “encourage”), giving, leading, mercy

Additional thoughts: Notice that verse 8 lists encouraging as a special gift that is given only to some people. Does this mean that only those with the gift of encouragement should strive to be encouragers? To think on this question, consider that serving, giving of finances or material things, and showing mercy are also listed as special gifts. Yet, when Paul is taking up a special offering to help one particular group of Christians (2 Corinthians 8–9), he speaks to the need for all church members to give generously. In 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 he even addresses the fact that some of us might have to overcome our reluctance in this area and not give grudgingly. (In other words, we may not have that gift, so it might not come as easily to us.) We could find similar passages to show that we are all expected to be merciful, to serve, and to encourage one another. So, if we are all supposed to encourage one another, how do you think it might be different for someone who has the gift of encouragement?

In 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul tells Timothy not to neglect the gift that is in him. Even more than that, he tells him to “fan the flame” of his gift. We all should make the development of our gifts an intentional focus of our lives.

These texts may bring up the question of whether or not the gifts are only given by “the laying on of hands” from a minister/church leader. The simple answer to that question is that the New Testament does not show this as a pattern. Paul is simply describing here how it happened with Timothy.

1 Corinthians 8 and 10:23-33 present an issue which some Christians thought was a sin while others did not. What is the disputable issue?

eating meat which had been used in idol worship

What was Paul’s conclusion on the matter in 8:8 and 10:31?  Continue reading

Encourager’s Devotional Series – February Bible Study

This Bible study correlates with February’s devotion for the Encourager’s Devotional Series.


You will have two meditation sections in the study guide this month. I’m putting an extra one up front because I believe that before you can be truly loving to others you must “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph 3:18). Understanding how much He loves you, and how He demonstrates His love for you, should fill you with a sense of security, love and appreciation which will then just more naturally flow out to others. So, to help you think on the “length, width, height and depth” of His love …

Choose a few of the following accounts from the Gospels to read (or any others that may be favorites of yours which demonstrate the love of God). Remember, these stories are found in the other Gospels too, so you might want to do some cross-referencing and read several accounts. When you are finished, take some time to meditate on the extent of God’s love and express your thankfulness to Him.

Can you identify with any of these sinners?

  • the rebellious/wasteful son
  • the doubter
  • the mockers and unbelievers,
  • the one afraid to speak for Christ
  • the one led to sin by fleshly desires

From Romans 5:8, answer the following questions:

How did God demonstrate His love for us?

When did God demonstrate His love for us?

Read 1 John 1:9 and reflect on the extent of God’s mercy and love.


What did Jesus say were the two greatest commandments? Mt 22:36-40

List the five types of leaders Jesus gave as gifts to the church. (Eph 4:11)

What are these leaders supposed to do for the saints? (Eph 4:12)

What is the purpose of our works of service to one another? (Eph 4:12) Continue reading

What if missions is not my calling?

I had the honor of guest blogging for Ally Keaton, one of my former college students. I love Ally’s passion for missions and for supporting others as they serve in their own contexts.

Ally in Africa

This is a guest post by Lisa Womble, who is co-pastor and founder of The Merge, a coffeehouse/church/concert venue in St. Louis, MO. Lisa formerly served on the faculty of St. Louis Christian College. She received her Master of Divinity from Lincoln Christian Seminary and is a certified Grip-Birkman coach, helping people discern their gifts, calling, and vocational aptitudes through personality and gift assessments. To find out more about Lisa, you can visit her website.


“That’s not my gift.” Whenever I lead a seminar or do team building using spiritual gifts assessments, this statement starts running rampant amongst participants. It’s usually done in jest as a way for people to jokingly say they don’t want to do a particular task. It’s funny. We all laugh. After all, one of my goals for these sessions is to help people “create a template for their ‘yes’ and ‘no’” and stop…

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