Happy Monday, y’all! I hope you guys had a great weekend. Ours was awesome because our baby-kids returned home from Haiti after being there for two weeks! It was great to finally have them back!
I just have to say, not to brag or to put down anyone else’s church in any way, but I just love my church. It’s huge in comparison to any other church I’ve ever attended, but it doesn’t feel huge and the preaching is just so phenomenal and so applicable. It isn’t that we hear only feel-good sermons, the way many in our area believe. Quite the contrary!! Many times my hubby and I leave church feeling very humbled and challenged to do better, to improve ourselves and always be transforming ourselves to be more like Jesus!
So Pastor Trevor’s latest series is called “Sweet Spot” and concerns the giving of spiritual gifts from God to His children. It’s about the fact that each of us are given specific spiritual gifts and that we should discover and hone them, leverage them for the kingdom of God. Use them to help others and lead them to faith in Christ!
Here’s the link we were given to take a test that will help determine our spiritual giftings: Spiritual Gifts Questionaire Almost all of our family have taken the test and some of us spent Saturday evening comparing and sharing how we ranked.
I have to say I was a little surprised by my scores. Granted, there are some statements on the test that are a little ambiguous and so I answered “neutral” to many when I was either unsure of what it was saying exactly or when it seemed to have two parts and I would feel one way about the first part and another about the second. I may go back and take it again in a few weeks and see how I score then.
As for the first attempt, I scored very 5/5 in teaching. Not super-surprising. I am the eldest child and we tend to be teachers by design. I homeschooled my children through high school, so yes, I wasn’t shocked to score high in that area, although I don’t really consider myself a good teacher.
I may tend to be a little impatient which is probably why my second high score was in prophecy. Hmm. Now, before you jump to the usual conclusion about what ‘prophecy’ means or what it means to be considered a prophet, let me explain that the gift of prophecy is not about foretelling. As Pastor Trevor so aptly put it, “It’s about forth-telling.” Meaning it’s about seeing potential and being pretty honest with our opinions.
That makes much more sense to me!
Yesterday’s sermon was about prophets and their strengths and weaknesses. About how prophets are perceived and misunderstood sometimes. It was a really great sermon and I can’t wait for the rest of them! I’m really glad that I won’t miss out on any due to the Orlando trip to MasterLab 2016 next week, too!
The big picture of this series is that we are responsible for using whatever spiritual gift we’ve been given for God’s purposes. We’re responsible for figuring out what that gift is, and to realize that no one alone is fully equipped to be a spiritual “multi-tool”. We are, as Romans 12 tells us, many separate members of one body and a member or “part” on its own, is limited to what it can do and only what it can do. When working in conjunction with the rest of the parts, a body and therefore its parts, can be much more productive.
Of course, we have all heard the sayings about “teamwork” and “many hands make light work” and such. This is not a new idea, but it bears repeating because we always seem to need the reminder!
Some points that were brought to light about the fact that each person has different gifts and different abilities to use those gifts, so that none of us are the same which can lead to different approaches, ideas and ultimately, misunderstandings.
We need to remember always that we were created by and for God…made ON purpose, FOR a purpose! We are created as originals and should not attempt to be or settle for being a duplicate.
When it comes to the individuality of our gifts, we can misunderstand each other because of our misconceptions of one another. Since we see EVERYTHING through the lens of our particular giftings, whether we realize it or not, sometimes we don’t understand the words and actions of someone who is also viewing the world through their own particular gifts…gifts that are not like ours and whose strengths are not the same as our own.
And we must understand this: Our spiritual gifts are not about having an ability as much as the capacity to develop an ability. Think about that one for a sec. It’s not necessarily that we are ‘bestowed’ with a particular gift but that we discover and develop the gift! We have to invest ourselves in it.
Since the sermon focused on the prophet, Trevor gave us the characteristics, challenges, potential dangers for and public perception of the prophet.
As a person who scored high in the gift of prophecy, I could relate to so many of these! Things like the fact that as prophets, we are rather opinionated, we see the “wrong” first, we’re impatient, we tend to be loners or prefer isolation, we are highly intolerant of dishonesty, very transparent in that we are very much WYSIWYG…‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ and we want justice to be served.
Our challenges are not being very good one-on-one (even though we don’t much like crowds), we’re suspicious, never taking things at face-value, we tend to jump to conclusions and over-think things, we have a tendency to be (or at least appear!) bossy and super-negative, and others (especially those gifted with service and mercy) tend to see us a completely tactless in the way we speak to people.
The dangers we must watch out for are the tendency to be easily depressed and discouraged (hello!)…we see the wrong first, remember? We want it to be righted and sometimes that can be overwhelming. Even when it’s a “wrong” in our own lives. My experience is that this is the worst of all. If I feel powerless to fix what’s wrong in my own life, then I tend to just give up on anything else. I feel unworthy to mention it let alone fix it. For me, these feelings stem mostly from feeling out of control where my health/body is concerned. Feeling exhausted so much of the time doesn’t lead to an organized life or clean home, ya know? WANTING these things done and being able to accomplish them are two entirely different things! sigh
Another danger is we find it hard to forgive. Thank God, He’s been working on me in this area for many years and I’m getting lots better at this, but it is still a struggle! We tend to default to anger and bitterness. I think this also links back to our struggles with depression. We can become prideful and we find it easier to rebuke than restore.
That last one explained why I didn’t score higher as an encourager the way I thought I would! Seriously, this whole blog is about my desire to encourage others to stay positive, to never give up! But when I read that, “finds it easier to rebuke than restore” it made me realize that this is so true of me. I feel like it’s being encouraging, but others see it as rebuke or scolding! When I say, “Pick yourself up, put your big kid pants on and get on with it!” it’s not seen as super-encouraging! Hahaha! And what’s really funny is that I wouldn’t see it that way either if it were directed at me. So… I have a big task here to be a bit more soft and gentle with my “encouragement”. Although… I still think sometimes people just need a good (but loving! -haha!) kick in the pants to see that they are just wallowing in self-pity.
Ahem. Maybe I have more work to do than I thought. grin
So, to conclude Trevor made clear that we all need prophets in our lives but we need to learn to understand them as much as they need to learn how to interact better with those who are not prophet-personalities.
Wow…see why I can’t wait for the rest of the series? I’m anxious to hear about server-personalities since my Tommy is one and those who scored high in mercy (Taylor) and those who may have scored equally in several areas the way Casey did and those who scored almost equally in teaching and administration the way Corey did. I haven’t seen Melissa’s score, but I suspect she would probably fall into server or administrator? It will be interesting to see.
I pray this whole thing helps us all to communicate better with each other and those around us!
What do you think about this sort of “personality” testing to determine spiritual gifts? Have you taken one? How did you score? Can you see other traits from reading my blog?
Oh…here’s the sermon too. (NOTE: when I posted this link, the video was not yet uploaded. Check back. It will be available soon but look over the notes and group questions in the meantime!) Go watch it, and go back to watch the first one too. I think you’ll love it!
I have a question for you…
What is the difference between a small-town girl from Appalachia and a Muslim? Sounds like the opener for a bad joke, doesn’t it? But stick with me…and think about it.
What is the difference? Not as much as you’d think.
We both have families. We both have feelings, baggage, opinions, worries. We both have skin and bones, health issues perhaps, concerns about the future. We both need love, just as everyone ever born has an innate need to be loved.
Is that surprising? Is it surprising to realize there are so many similarities or that I personally would find so much in common with a Muslim? Hmm…
Several years ago, I would have probably been insulted if you had suggested that I had anything at all in common with a professing Muslim. Like so, SO many people, in my mind, Muslim was the equivalent of “terrorist”.
A couple of years ago, an Iranian-American (because he tells you how proud he is to have become an American citizen) came to our church to preach and tell us about his mission to plant churches in the Burbank, Califonia area for the tens of thousands of Armenian people there.
I instantly fell in love with Ara Torosian. He’s the sweetest little man and I guess the ever-present smile on his round face is what makes me call him “little”. He’s just a precious person. He came to visit us again this past weekend.
Ara was born in Tehran, Iran to an Armenian family. He never saw a Bible or attended church or had any exposure to a Christian lifestyle. He was on the path to becoming a highly-paid soccer player, but God stepped in and revealed to Ara a different path. How unbelievably good He is!
Ara discovered Jesus on his own, as he explored other religions, trying to sort out for himself the faith of those who were not Muslim. He said what struck him was the love that was spoken of so much in the Bible. He didn’t know that love in his own life, it wasn’t taught or spoken of in his religion. He didn’t have the peace that Jesus promised and that is something he wanted.
Praise God Ara was responsive to the call into ministry! He became a Christian, something that was illegal for him! And he began to talk about that “joy of the Lord” to his family and friends.
When you hear the love and joy in his voice as he talks about how far things have come in his church-planting mission, when he speaks of the huge number of Armenians and Farsi-speaking people living in the L.A./Burbank area who had not one single place to learn about and worship Jesus, you know where his passion lies.
You think he must have had a wonderful life… then you hear the rest of his story. Ara was betrayed to the police in Iran for smuggling Bibles. Betrayed by a friend, then repeatedly tortured to give up more names of fellow Christians, Ara endured much physical and emotional pain. Until he speaks of that time in his life, you would never suspect he had dealt with anything like that. That’s the joy of Jesus that can overcome a painful past. That’s the peace of forgiving the unforgivable through Jesus.
I was so touched when Ara spoke of his love for the Muslim community and his flocks in the churches back in California. When he talked about the fact that he had no problem with a Muslim person…you may think, “Of course not, since he was one before.” but you see, we as Americans, especially as American Christians, should not have a problem with Muslims either. Our issue, as Ara pointed out, is with Islam, not the people. Islam is the problem but we should continue to love the people.
When did we forget about love?
I have attended churches in the past that had such small- and narrow-minded ideas of others. Not just Muslims, but anyone who didn’t act, dress or believe like they did. I was always so uncomfortable with this thought, but couldn’t articulate for myself why it made me feel “icky”. Where exactly is that teaching in the Bible?
Nowhere. Jesus was never exclusive. He called sin “sin” and charged hypocrites with their misdeeds, but he was never hateful to someone merely for being different than Him. Where did we come up with the idea that it’s okay for us to do that?
Just because SOME people who identify as Muslim have done terrible things doesn’t give us the right to write off ALL Muslim people. Have we forgotten the crusades that are always thrown in our faces when we try to talk to non-believers? They were horrible, unthinkable acts of cruelty and murder against others for simply not believing in Jesus.
Read that last sentence again and think about it…how exactly is that different than what Islam seeks to do?
The only difference here is that while the book of Islam actually teaches its readers to do this sort of thing, Jesus does not. Jesus gave Himself over to His murders knowing full well what they were about to do.
Now, do I think we should lay down and let the ideals of Islam go unanswered when confronted with them? No, but I think the discourse should be undertaken with love, not hate, not fear and confusion, not chaos and not in a reactionary way. We have to start doing things differently.
I’m the most NON-international person you’d ever want to meet. I’m the consummate homebody from Kentucky. You may have guessed, if you read about my upcoming trip to Florida…on a plane…when I’ve never EVER flown and never EVER gone so far away by myself, that I’m really NOT the kind of person who is comfortable or knowledgeable about people from other countries or cultures.
Thanks to the internet, I have “met” people of many different backgrounds, many different nationalities and customs. I have not always been very good at accepting or trying to understand the differences, but I am doing my best. We are all descended from Adam, after all. Have you forgotten that? I tend to forget sometimes. We are all brothers and sisters and as such, I believe we should be willing to give grace, to speak in love, to reach out and approach each other with understanding and patience.
I guess I’m trying to say if you have been someone like me, someone raised and taught either in church or at home to hate (or at least STRONGLY dislike) those who are not like you, then you need to re-educate yourself. You need to look again at the scripture you’ve been using to justify your actions and words. You need to assess the attitude of Jesus toward people in general and to mimic that as much as you can! Oh, to be like Jesus! If we could all only keep our focus on Him, what a wonderful world it would be, huh? I guess that’s why there’s a heaven, right? Heh.
I believe the Bible means what it says in John 3:16 “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth on Him should have everlasting life.” That’s my KJV memorization at work and the emphasis is my own, of course, but let’s don’t lose sight of the impact those words have…THE WHOLE WORLD…WHOSOEVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD…
I am going to link Ara’s Facebook profile here and give you this link to the North American Missions Board, through which Ara works and THIS link is to NAMB’s articles about Ara if you want to learn more or read his testimony. You can donate to help Ara’s church planting mission here. The church Ara started is called Armenian Fellowship Church of Burbank. You can visit the church’s website by clicking the link in the previous sentence. And here’s the link for Ara’s sermon this past weekend at The Creek Church.
I’m so privileged to have met and heard Ara preach. He has surely opened my eyes to the fact that we are all the same on the inside and just because the media only promotes stories of the misdeeds of both Muslims and Christians (and anybody else, for that matter) doesn’t mean I should fear them. They need God’s love just as much as anyone else.
Lord, help me to see with Your eyes and not focus on the outward differences and love people the way You do.
Wanna talk about this? I love to discuss!
Tomorrow night, my baby kids are off on their third trip to Haiti since they got married in 2014! I thought I’d die the first time they went for a week.
The second time, they weren’t planning to go but they were needed there so badly (Tay for her RN and Case for his carpentry/plumbing/electrical skills) that the church raised enough money to send them. Those were one-week trips.
This time, it’s two weeks! ACK! And, poor little Taylor got the dates mixed up so instead of leaving Friday at midnight, they are supposed to leave TOMORROW night! EGADS!! So we’re cancelling our discipleship group so we can help them get ready.
We mainly need to get their clothes soaked to keep the Zika virus away. We are keeping their golden retriever while they’re gone too. Ol’ Biscuit is gonna be in heaven with Samson and Max to play with.
So if you happen to think of it the next couple of weeks, please pray for the team, my babies and the work they’re doing down there.
Thank you so much!
Just wanted to pop on really quick and share that we are really LOVING these new groups. (if you don’t know what “groups” I’m talking about, click “new groups” and find out!) We’ve had our first meeting at church and it was just great.
The staff worked withRead More »
First of all, let me say that I am not condemning any of my Christian friends who are posting pictures of their kids dressed up in costumes and preparing to help at their church’s “Fall-Festival/Carnival/Whatever” alternatives for Halloween.
This is just MY opinion and the reasons behind and the way we got to skipping Halloween.
My two sons are grown and married now, so this is ancient history. But the subject of Halloween and whether to do or not to do it came up with a good friend who has small children and is facing the same questions I did at this stage, so in light of the season, I thought I’d share with you also.
First, some a-little-more-than-ancient history (we’re talkin’ stone age here) my birthday is the day after Halloween. As you probably already know if you’ve visited here before, I’m also a type 1 diabetic for the past forty-some years. Me and Halloween had issues, okay? We celebrated it when I was a kid growing up in a Christian home. Most often, it was combined with my birthday. I both loved and hated it. Loved the dressing up (I often made up my own costumes, so that’s always fun) but hated collecting a bunch of goodies I couldn’t eat. I was often the very sickest each year because of stinkin’ Halloween/birthday because I could always figure out where the stash was hidden or would overdo it on birthday treats. What can I say? Such was the life of a child with diabetes in the seventies. It was a lot harder to figure how to dose to cover candy and other treats. But I (hugely) digress…
My boys are four years apart. When the youngest was still a toddler, we always dressed them up in very non-scary costumes. I had the crayon, lion, Mickey Mouse and scarecrow costumes from my eldest that my baby son just had to wear, of course. We didn’t think much about the consequences of participating in the traditions. Not only were our babies babies, but my husband and I were babies ourselves, both spiritually and emotionally…and physically for that matter. We just hadn’t put any thought into how we’d handle it when they were older nor what the holiday even meant or represented.
I have seen heated and ugly debates online between Christians about whether or not it was appropriate or whatever to celebrate this holiday and I DO NOT want to do or start that here. PLEASE understand me when I tell you I am not looking for any division to come from this. I just want to offer you, perhaps, another perspective and give you some things to think about.
To begin, let me share the testimony my friend had found on Facebook that started the discussion between us.
“I see images of Christians being slaughtered for their faith—- blood everywhere, children- young adults -grown men/women- willing to die rather then deny Christ—— it takes my breath away.
What I don’t understand is when Christians celebrate Halloween, decorate with gory bloody images, put up skeletons and images of death and darkness, without a second thought! And they will argue and debate trying to make it okay and refuse to give up celebrating that nite!
I am an ex witch, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, when I was practicing witchcraft, Halloween was the biggest night of the year for those practicing the occult. People try to say it’s about the candy and fun, it goes way deeper then that!
The roots of this highly pagan holiday remain the same, it’s a night of death -darkness- gore—- and no matter how much you dress it up to make it pretty, no matter how many excuses you make, it’s a night to celebrate Samhein——– the god of the dead!
I don’t recall those who practice paganism coming on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord of life.
Yet Christians will celebrate the pagan ritual of Halloween —–the god of death and darkness. …..
I don’t care to debate….
You can do whatever you choose —-but it won’t change the truth or the facts!!!!”
I think we all know that the origins of Halloween are not particularly good. As we often do, though, we’ve ‘tamed it down’, we’ve turned what can be dangerous into something cute and fun. We’ve said “It’s just for fun. We’re not playing with a Ouija board or anything, for crying out loud!” I have read many different articles and books about what Halloween means, what it represents and how it is diametrically opposed to all that God represents. As Christians, we serve a RISEN FROM THE DEAD Savior who’s all about LIFE. Halloween is all about death. No matter how much fun dressing up is, how innocent that is on its own, when I do it to participate with Halloween, MY belief is that it ceases to be innocent.
So our experience…once the boys were a little older and we were in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, we started to discuss what Halloween was and talk about what we, as a Christian family, should do or think about it. We came up with this idea of dressing up as Biblical characters. At the time, I thought, “Sure. That’s a great trade-off. They can “witness” while they trick-or-treat.”
I went to great lengths to create this Goliath suit for my eldest and a shepherd costume for the youngest. The shepherd was easy. We even got a patch of leather and some leather “string” and made an old fashioned sling! For Goliath, I spray painted an old pair of his tennis shoes with silver metallic paint. Made him a breast plate, shield, arm and leg guards out of poster board and painted those too. I then used some of the leather strap to tie them on and drew in the details with a black sharpie. It was pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself! (of course, I can’t locate a photo of it to show you!)
The day finally arrived. Hubby and I headed out with the boys, armed with a couple weeks’ worth of studying the story so they could tell people about who they were and many discussions about why we were approaching Trick-or-Treating this way. They were so anxious for someone to recognize who they were, but no one had a clue. Most of them would ask, as people usually do, but when the boys told them, almost every single person just got a blank look on their faces. No one even knew who David and Goliath were and the one time our eldest tried to explain, the person wasn’t interested. Once he said, “They are people from the Bible who…” the person just sort of cut him off and proceeded to do something else. The youngest didn’t really perceive what had happened, but our big boy? He was certainly disappointed and my heart hurt for him.
Besides this awful experience, there was everyone else’s costumes. Most all of the other ones we saw were gory, monster-y type of costumes. Some of them were really hideous with lots of bloody guts and such. I could tell the boys were a little shocked, if not scared at the sight of them. I felt like it was something we shouldn’t be exposing them to.
I was rethinking my idea of “trade-offs” with Halloween. Later, it came to me that wiccans don’t show up at church for the Christmas play with their Book of Wiccan in hand, ya know? Why were we, as Christians, trying to share Jesus with people on a holiday that has NOTHING to do with our faith? Even if not all of them were celebrating “the true meaning” of Halloween, why were we trying to shine a light in the middle of a holiday with its roots firmly planted in very dark, and yes, fully evil, ideals and origins?
I’m not saying, of course, that we shouldn’t try to shine God’s light when we are in dark situations or places, but should we step into a very dark holiday, to shine it there while we sorta-kinda participate in it? While we play with the fringes of it?
That’s something I contemplated and chewed on for many years, even before this Halloween that I just described to you. After that experience, we just decided as a family that Halloween would be an extra special family-fun night at home. My kids never suffered any ill effects from not going door to door to beg candy while dressed in a costume. *smile*
For a couple of years, we took part in Halloween alternatives at different churches. I don’t think if I had young children now that we’d do this. The first time we did it, it was actually fairly well-done, and by that I mean that it really didn’t have a lot to do with Halloween at all. However, many people that showed up didn’t really seem to “get” that this was something to do instead of traditional Halloween activities. I DO understand the idea behind churches having these events at all…that it’s an attempt to give church kids and families a way to do fun stuff on a night when most everyone else is taking part in more dark-themed parties and such. But it’s not presented this way for the most part. Now I have also had friends or seen other churches do a “Reformation Day” event, and I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand what that is other than a celebration of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of “The Church”. [I’ve linked some words so that you can research more if you want] This is linked primarily to the Catholic and Presbyterian churches. Because I was raised in a different denomination, this event wasn’t emphasized or really taught to me. However, when I have seen photos of one of these events, they were also dressed up, but as historical figures from that era, not as random characters or superheros or monsters. Now, that may not be the usual practice for Reformation Day at churches. This was a congregation made up of mostly homeschool families, so that might have just been unique to them, ya know? ALLLL that to say this:
I think IF a church is going to do something like this, it should be markedly different from a Halloween event. And that’s just my opinion because the last time we did this at another church, it was very disappointing to me and confusing to my kids. Don’t host a Halloween alternative event at your church and then have it look exactly like what the world’s doing, right? I mean, that’s how I see it.
Our family’s journey to really rejecting Halloween was sort of meandering and wandering more than anything. It wasn’t some decision we made all of a sudden. And it’s still kind of a fuzzy area, even now that our kids are grown and married. I mean, we still have friends who don’t feel the way we do or maybe haven’t arrived at the place we did after our own journey, ya know? But I believe it is definitely worthy of discussion and civil, loving debate. It’s something that families should talk about and decide where they stand on the topic. What is your opinion and how does it line up with what scripture says? I believe it’s something we should settle within ourselves, within our families if you have young children. The topic is going to confront you…Romans 14:5 – “…Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”