Tag Archives: growing in Christ

Growing Our Gifts

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“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.”  Matthew 25: 14-15

Most people are familiar with this parable of Jesus.  It goes on to tell us how the first two servants used their talents to increase the wealth of their master;  the third servant simply buries the talent in the ground.  Those who made more of what they were given are commended as “good and faithful”, while the servant who hid his talent is rebuked as “worthless.”

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The moral?  God gives each one of us talents, too.  Our talents include not only money, but abilities, roles in society and family, education, time, life experiences and more.  If we are His servants, He expects us to use those things to grow His kingdom.  We’re each unique and some of us are able to do more than others;  that isn’t the issue.  God doesn’t say we have to reach a certain level to earn His approval; He doesn’t tell us exactly what to do;  He

simply wants us to continue to grow and progress.  Other parables tell us He is patient …but eventually we’ll have to account for how well we’ve handled what’s been entrusted to us.

This is something each of us needs to think about and assess regularly.  Have you thought about your talents and how you’ve been using them?  Have you made more of what God has given to you?  Have you contributed to His kingdom through good stewardship?  Or are you hiding your talents out of fear or laziness?

Readers and authors, I want to hear your thoughts!

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You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?

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You’ve all heard the familiar adage above.  I’m not sure it’s true, at least in the case of human beings.  Life should be a journey in learning:  learning about God, about ourselves, about others.  I thought I’d talk a bit about what I’ve learned through becoming a Christian blogger.

I’m retired, and I’m not part of the generation that grew up using technology.  I still have a flip phone (much to my granddaughter’s dismay) and I’m not of Facebook or Instagram.  I don’t skype. I don’t text. I prefer books to my kindle.  You get the idea.  If you told me a few years ago that I’d be spending my time writing blog posts, I would have laughed at you!  Then my husband starting blogging, some women at our church said we ladies should have a blog, one of them set it up and voila!  I was suddenly a blog author!

Of course, I do have some interests that drew me to try this “something new.”  I love to write, I love to study, and I love to encourage others.  Blogging seemed to be a way to combine all three of those things.  Along the way, here are some of the things blogging has taught me.

  1. I’ve become more adept at using technology.  I can now copy an image or a video from YouTube or a link.  I can reblog an article.  I started accounts on Linked In and Pinterest (still avoiding Facebook).
  2. I’ve learned to write quickly, and be less of a perfectionist.  In the past, I found it hard to just sit down and write something because there was no deadline.  Now I have a deadline every day, and I have to write and be content to let my article go without agonizing over the “best” wording or examples.
  3. Because we have a theme every month, I have a reason to think deeply and seriously about a particular topic.  I pray about our theme, look up verses, check books out of the library, etc..
  4. I’ve learned more about some of my sisters in Christ, through their posts.  It tickles me no end to observe Beth Ann’s love of music, Michele and Leslie’s passion for study, and to see how Sarah and Kate (both of whom I’ve known since they were small)  have grown up in thoughtfulness and Christian maturity.

I think God is always seeking to surprise and amaze us.  He wants us to learn and grow, to use our talents, to become the people He intended us to be.

What new tricks have you learned this year?

Reunion Group Relationships

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If you attend a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, you will be encouraged to continue growing in Christ by participating in what’s called a reunion group.  This is a small group that meets on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, whatever you choose) to talk about how things are going in the spiritual life of the members.

I have been in a reunion group on and off for over twenty years.  The groups change, of course, as people move or their life changes.  The group I am in now meets at our church once a month, and each month we discuss an aspect of our Christian walk:  piety (this covers things like prayer, worship and moments of closeness to Christ), study or action.  Each of us has an opportunity to tell how we’ve been doing in that area and what our plans are for the coming month.  We encourage one another and hold each other accountable.  We pray together and we pray for each other.

Over time being in such a group together fosters strong bonds.  It was my first group that taught me being quiet and shy didn’t mean I couldn’t be a leader and influence others for Christ.  The group I am in now started this blog!!  My reunion group sisters are the kind of friends who will support me, encourage me and jump in to help if I take on a commitment!  They hear my confessions and keep my confidences.  Through the years in reunion groups I have helped to plan congregational activities, organized small group Bible studies, participated in “crafty” projects (that one is a real stretch for me), and had fun in the process.  Rightly lived, a reunion group becomes a Christian community affecting the world.

If you’re not in a group like this, don’t put it off, it’s too important.  You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend;  you don’t have to call it a reunion group;  you don’t have to do things exactly as we do.  The point is to find a group of others who want to direct their lives to Christ and grow in faith.  Meet regularly, pray together, encourage one another, work together for Christ and hold each other accountable.  In years to come you’ll look back and be amazed at what God has done through you and how you have grown in faith together.

I hope our readers and my sister bloggers will join in by discussing this further.  Have you been in a reunion group (or a similar accountability group)?  How did it impact your spiritual growth?  I want to hear your stories.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us knot give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  Hebrews 10: 24-25

 

 

 

It Takes Time

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There was a recent article in our local newspaper, featuring a couple who had been married 74 years!  Wow, what an accomplishment!  My husband and I have a long way to go to top that (we’re babies at 45 years of wedded bliss).  It made think about how unity grows over time.  Yes, there is probably an instant attraction and feeling of compatibility, but over time two people work together, learn how to complement each other, come to understand one another more and more, until finally the union becomes so complete that it’s hard to imagine life alone.  When my husband is gone for a few days, I start to feel uncomfortable.  My routines are disrupted;  there are things I want to share or ask.  Life just isn’t right.  When he’s teaching Bible Study, I’ll make a comment or ask a question and he’ll say …”You’re jumping ahead….I’m getting to that very topic …in a minute…”  We’ve trained our brains until we think along the same lines.  Of course, we’re don’t always agree.  He supplies the logic, I supply the feelings.  We complement one another, and have come to rely upon the other in areas where we are weak.  We’ve had to adjust who does what chore depending upon both personal preference, and time and job constraints.  We’ve balanced two careers, two children, and two large extended families as well as we could.  It’s been quite an journey and it’s not over yet.

I’m sure everyone won’t agree, but I think our union with Christ and His church grows, too.  There is often an original event — for many of us it is our baptism, but it can be one of those “aha” moments when we realize that God has taken hold of us, and we’re His for good.  Like our marriage, we start to do things together:  we pray, study His word, worship and sing.  We become active in the church, we use our gifts, we serve Him with others.  We learn what we’re good at, and where we need help.  We understand more and more until we can’t imagine life without Jesus and the family of God anymore than we can imagine life without our spouse.  In fact, as much as I love and depend upon my husband, I love and depend upon Jesus even more.  Lutherans call this journey sanctification, and it’s never complete in this life.

So readers, what do you think?  Does unity happen like a clap of thunder, or with a process of continuing cultivation?  Or both?  I’s like to hear your thoughts.

Remembering My Via De Cristo Weekend

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As I write this post, a Women’s Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend is beginning.  The retreat starts on Thursday evening and ends on Sunday afternoon.  When you think “retreat” you may imagine lots of free time, reading the Bible and praying alone, maybe communing with nature.  Via de Cristo is not like that!  It is a weekend jam-packed with singing, fellowship, worship, talks by laypeople and clergy on spiritual topics, discussion and (what Lutherans love best of all) plenty of coffee and good food.

The weekend is designed for Christians who want to grow in their faith, and the amazing thing is, everyone experiences it differently.  For many it is a real mountaintop high;  for some a time to cast off burdens; others experience the love and presence of Christ in a special way;  still others find it a time of refreshment and renewal.  On a weekend, you will meet Christ where you are, and receive something special that He has planned just for you.

When I went on my weekend, over 25 years ago, I didn’t hear anything new or startling–but it put all the pieces together for me.  Suddenly I could see my faith journey as a whole and it has been a big help in keeping my focus in the right place.  On my weekend, I made friends, found a way to go closer to the Christian friends I already had at church, and learned to see myself as a leader in the Christian community.  It changed my life.  Not in a lightening flash, but gradually, over time, as the message of the weekend was absorbed and incorporated in my daily life (hmmm…reminds me of the leaven in the bread thought).

So readers, this weekend, please pray for the ladies on retreat, and consider going on a Via de Crist weekend yourself (by the way, you don’t have to be a Lutheran to do this and there are weekends for men as well).  If you would like to learn more, contact the Lutheran ladies for more information, we will be happy to help.

For those authors and readers who have made a weekend, I hope you will post and comment.  And remember, God loves you and so do I!

 

 

Via de Cristo

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I came home yesterday exhausted but renewed from spending the weekend with 50+ Christian sisters and a few brothers. The brothers that were there were Spiritual Leaders (pastors) from various churches and there was one brave soul who volunteered to be our tech person.  I’ve always loved getting away to be renewed this way and have done this (when I’m able) since 2001. My first weekend was a turning point in my life.

At that time I was married with two teenaged boys and working full time.  My husband was recovering from having a Grade 4 malignant brain tumor in 1999.  I was trying to manage his health, work, home and the boys.  I really wasn’t doing well mentally or spiritually.  I felt like a nervous breakdown was coming on all the time.  I went to our pastor to see if anyone in the congregation would be suitable to be a mentor for me since I was struggling so badly.  He sent me on a Via de Cristo (The Way of Christ) weekend instead.  I’m so glad he did.

The biggest, but not the only, thing that the weekend helped me with is that I am not alone.  I could take my burdens and give them to the Lord and he would guide my path.  Of course this is a learning process, but I had the tools I needed to continue on.  The neat thing is, I got a mentor, too!!

As the years have gone by I’ve served on these weekends providing support to other Christian women who come.  Every time we meet it is different; as different as the people who attend.  But the Lord is always there, wrapping us in His love.  We laugh, we cry, we sing, we praise His name..  we pray.  I come home fed (not with food, although food is there), full and relaxed.  The world has fallen away for 3 days while we go to the mountain of the Lord.

This year I feel strengthened in my determination to study, pray and write more.  I want to know Jesus more fully.  I want to know what He has in store for me, my direction.  I feel this direction will come to me as I study, pray and write.  Part of the writing is for this blog!

God Loves You and So Do I (GLYASDI)

Beth Ann