Tag Archives: spiritual gifts

What’s Your Soul Food?

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We all have things that feed us spiritually.  Certainly hearing and studying Gods’ word, attending worship services, and Holy Communion are our regular spiritual meals, the balanced diet we cannot live without.  However, as uniquely created individuals, we all have our “food” preferences, maybe stemming from our own interests and talents, maybe inherited or gained through experience.  So what’s your favorite spiritual food?  What nourishes your soul?

I remember a friend who told me, “I feel closest to God when I’m singing.”  Many people may identify with that.  Others get a spiritual charge from creativity — making a banner, decorating the church, designing a beautiful bulletin board or using carpentry skills to build a new altar or pulpit.  Some love to serve — they enjoy children, or nursing home residents or fellowship dinners.  My friend Nancy, and also my husband, love to teach.  They get excited to see how even those who know the gospel story well, can learn and grow in His Word. For me, it’s reading and writing.  I feel God speaking to me in all that I read and I feel Him speaking through me as I write.

The point is, we are fed by what God does for us;  we are also fed by what we do for God.  He doesn’t need the things we give Him, but we need to give them.   He made us to love Him and to give back to Him.  So what is it for you? That’s my question to our writers and readers.  I’d like to hear your thoughts.

 

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What’s a Pastor’s Wife To Do?

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The national women’s group of our denomination (AFLC – Association of Free Lutheran Churches) has a blog especially for Pastor’s wives.  Recently I was looking at some of the articles and posts, and found one that dealt with the role of the Pastor’s wife within the congregation, the expectations that members may have.  That got me to thinking about how I perceive my role of Pastor’s wife, and how I use my gifts and talents in that role.

I think I’m lucky to have become a Pastor’s wife later in life (my husband is a second career guy).  I know what my abilities are and I’ve learned which tasks I’m good at, and which ones I should probably avoid (for everyone’s good).  Since I spent a long time as a lay person in a small, mission congregation, I thought things wouldn’t change much as a Pastor’s wife.  I’m still a lay person within the congregation, and my job is the same as everyone else’s — to use my spiritual gifts within the congregation and community where I’ve been placed.  I’m an introvert, so I don’t really enjoy standing out, I just want to be one of the team.

I still think that, and our congregation has actually been a blessing to me by letting me join in whenever I want, appreciating me and allowing me to use my own talents.  I have, however, come to see that there’s a little more to being the Pastor’s wife than that.  Often I hang back from leadership positions because I don’t want the congregation to become dependent upon me in a particular position — after all, the time will come when we leave, either for another call or for retirement.  Sometimes I do feel a little pressure (which may be self-imposed) to participate, if only by showing up, in everything.  I worry about having favorite friends within the congregation, and try to take an interest in everyone.  In fact, I am interested in everyone, but even within a family, we gravitate toward others who are similar to ourselves.  Even though all of us should be good examples to others, I realize that being the Pastor’s wife is a pretty visible role and people are watching and noticing what I do.

Now, as Sarah said in her last blog, I’m not whining.  I love our congregation, and they have been a joy and a blessing to me.  Pastor’s wife is just what my life is right now, but I’m honestly curious.  I’d like our readers and authors (some of them are Pastor’s wives as well) to tell me — what do you expect a Pastor’s wife to do?  What is the proper way to be a steward of the role we’ve been given?

Time to Confess

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“Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

I hate to admit it, but I’m not a cheerful giver.  I always want to hang on to things and people tightly.  Now this can be good — it makes me loyal and persevering in relationships, for example;  but when it comes to being generous, it’s a bad thing.  I could make excuses and tell you I have an anxious personality, so I get worried that I may not be able to take care of myself if I give away too much.  Or I could explain that my grandparents grew up during the depression and they taught me to be excessively frugal and worried about money.  None of this gets me off the hook, however.  God wants me to give cheerfully to others, and often I don’t.

What do I do about this?  Well, as with other spiritual disciplines (and giving is a spiritual discipline), I start where I am, and try to grow.  When I’m asked to give financially, I give an amount I am comfortable with, and then I give some more.  When I’m asked to give of my time ( and I find my problems with this often come about because I don’t want to disrupt my plans or routine), I remind myself that I’m retired now, and my plans can usually be postponed or changed without causing a problem.  I also have the advantage of having a generous, godly husband and two daughters with the gift of mercy.  When it comes to matters of giving, I try to let one of them take the lead and I follow their example.

Has it worked?  Well, I still don’t always give cheerfully.  I’m seldom spontaneously generous.  It will never be my gift.  But I have grown.  I’m not where I ought to be, but I’m not where I used to be, either.  As our author, Michele says, I’m a work in progress, both saint and sinner.

I’m open to other suggestions.  Readers and authors, how do you practice generosity?  Have you grown in this discipline?

Image result for saint and sinner image and ok with it

 

What’s My Mission?

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In a recent post, Beth Ann wrote about learning to know yourself.  Nothing has helped me more in that quest than developing a personal mission statement.  Why?  Well, a mission statement helps you differentiate between the things God has chosen for you to do, and those that may be fine to do, but not necessary and those that you really shouldn’t bother about.  I find that in this busy world most of us are overwhelmed with opportunities.  How do we choose?  What is our focus?  A personal mission statement helps with that.

So, we come to the YBH question (yes, but how?).  Here are some tips for writing your statement:

  1. Think, pray and journal about it.  Read over the Bible verses that are most meaningful to you.  Write down your most fulfilling life experiences.  What are the things you enjoy doing?  When have you felt God’s pleasure?
  2. Ask a few close friends to give you a list of your best qualities and talents.
  3. Read a book or do a Bible study on the topic of spiritual gifts. (I think I’ve recommended some in a previous post). Understand what your particular gifts and talents are.
  4. Your statement should be fairly short, and to the point.  It should give you direction but not be too detailed.  For example:  “to become a better Christian” is too vague;  “to write Sunday School materials for preschoolers” is too focused.

Here’s my personal mission statement:

“To keep in mind that I am a pilgrim on a journey to draw closer to God’;  to recognize and respect this pilgrim quality in others and use my God given talents, insights, and resources to encourage them;  to enjoy the life, friends, family and work with which I have been blessed and to be a peaceful and harmonious influence in all of these places.”

My statement focuses on my primary spiritual gift (encouragement) but allows latitude in how I might use it at any given time;  as many friends affirmed my tendency to bring peace to stressful situations, I included that quality.  I wanted to remind myself of my blessings and remember to “bloom where God planted me.”

I would love for other authors and readers to share their personal mission statements, or let me know if I can help you to develop one.  God loves you and so do I!

 

Created to be Creative

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The Bible tells us in the Book of Genesis:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them.”

Since God is the Creator, doesn’t it make sense that humankind, the children He made in His image, would also be creative?  God gave us “dominion” over the world and blessed us with the instructions that we should “be fruitful and multiply.”  This reminds me of the parable of the talents …. the master trusts his servants to be good stewards of what they have been given.  I guess we could take these words superficially and say, well, we’re supposed to populate the earth and work diligently to receive a good return for our labor, but I think God meant for us to go beyond that.

God blessed each one of us with a unique personality and abilities.  Some of us will be artists, writers and craftsmen, but creativity doesn’t stop there.  We can all imagine creative ways to do what we love to do.  There are creative parents, teachers, business owners and cooks.  There are people who get creative about ways to be generous, ways to relate to different cultures, ways to invent useful gadgets.  I think people feel most completely fulfilled when they’re getting creative about the things they find fascinating and enjoyable;  the things God created them to do, to understand or to learn about.

What gets your creative juices going?  What are the talents God gifted you with?  Are you spending your time on them?  If not, why not?  Start now.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:  if prophecy in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving;  the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in exhortation;  the one who contributes, in generosity;  the one who leads, with zeal;  the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  Romans 8:6-8

 

 

 

Discovering Your Gifts

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You can probably tell from some of the posts you’ve read this month that a key to spending your time creatively and usefully is identifying your personal spiritual gifts.  The Bible tells us that we each have one or more gifts which are needed to build up God’s kingdom.  Since I love to read and study, I thought I’d mention a few books that deal well with this topic.

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In this book, 27 spiritual gifts are defined and discussed.  It also talks about gift mixes (because everyone usually has a number of gifts) and what gifts are not (natural talents –important also, but not the same thing).  It’s very Biblical and is a good place to start in understanding the topic.

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This book guides you through making a spiritual profile and plan for your individual gifts.

Both are available through Amazon and other booksellers, and probably at your local library as well.  I hope some of our readers will try one of them, and let us know on the blog how they help you.  If you’ve already read/used one of them, please let us know that, too!

The Gift of ????

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I had to chuckle when I read Leslie’s post about the gift of gab ….that is so not my gift, although it’s one I admire and sometimes wish I had.  I’m a quiet introvert, so I guess my gift is …. holding my tongue?  …..listening? ….silence?  What would be the opposite of gab?

My gift can get me in trouble, too.  Sometimes I don’t speak up when I should.  Sometimes people misperceive me as snobby or aloof or unfriendly.   Sometimes I think of just the right words of sympathy or encouragement …just a little too late.

It’s easy to envy somebody else’s gift, but it’s a bad way to spend my time.  Isn’t it better to give thanks for the wide variety of talents and personalities God has created?  When we get together with someone who has different abilities than we do, great things happen.  We complement each other.  We balance things out.  We can accomplish things together that we couldn’t do alone.  God planned it that way.

“But, as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were one member, where would be body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”  1 Corinthians 12: 18-20

The Gift of Gab

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The Gift of Gab

I have been known to have people say to me that I have the gift of gab. So much so that I was cleaning out things in my attic last week (the clutter we have accumulated has been driving me nuts) and I ran across a box that has been stored for 6 years and never gone through. I opened it and came across my baby book. My mother passed away from cancer when I was 16 and now that our daughter is expecting her first child (our first grandchild) in September, I took it out to reminiscence.

My eyes immediately started to swell with tears as I saw my mother’s handwriting. As I thumbed through the pages for each year it became obvious to me that I have always been and always will be a talker with mad social skills! Page after page, toddler to preschooler, kindergarten to third grader, I was a social butterfly. My mom wrote on each of those years her observations about my gift of gab and she even wrote my teachers comments. Some good, some not so good.

Ever since I can remember my mouth has gotten me into trouble. God has taught me to live in the fruits of my spirit. When it involves talking, I still struggle to always speak in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and to  have self-control while doing it. I have come a long way and there are very rare occasions when I truly struggle with it. Usually it happens when I am witness to someone being mean and hateful to someone else. This is usually when it got me in trouble as a kid too. I always want to jump in, defend, point out the behavior, and right the wrong. In my heart, I have good intentions but God has taught me there is a better way to do it.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, the Apostle Paul tells the church that “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not only the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear to us,”

Paul was a preachy person, before he was converted he yelled screamed, lashed out in anger, spoke down to people, even committed murder. But when God took hold of his life he was changed. His mindset was different. From this passage we know that God changed Paul’s heart and he not only preached the good news but he lived it out. He knew for him to be effective for reaching the lost and growing believers in their faith he had to follow Jesus’ example and model true piety in his own life. Did he still get mad and frustrated? Yes! Just read any of the Epistle texts and you can find evidence. But the difference was he shared himself with the people, he shared his very soul, and he did so walking in the fruits of his spirit.

On our Via de Cristo weekends we have a saying that I model my evangelism by, “make a friend, be a friend, and bring your friend to Christ”. It is the way I feel that Jesus did it, Paul did it, and I do it. I love people. God has given me that gift. I love to talk. God has given me that gift as well. And God reminds me all the time to always speak the truth whether others will like what I have to say, but to always do it in love. Reading Paul’s letters has taught me its OK to get mad and frustrated, it is OK for me to have feelings of anger, after all I am human. But the lessons God has taught me remind me to put that passion to work for the glory of Him and Him alone.

God Loves You And So Do I

Leslie

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Ok to Say No

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“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” 1 Corinthians 12:21

One thing it’s hard for us to learn, and especially for women, I think, is it’s ok to say “no” sometimes.  If you are a people-pleaser, like I am, you want to say “yes” so people will like you.  You don’t want to let people down.  Our culture also tells us we can have it all and do it all:  we can be wives and mothers, CEO’s and caretakers, and creative artists all at the same time.  Frankly, it’s not true, and it can be a set up for failure.

So,  we have to be good stewards of our time as well as our money.  One time to say no, is if we’re ask to do something that is clearly outside of our skill set.  For example, I’m not detail oriented, so if I’m asked to be the church treasurer or organize a big fundraiser, I need to say no.  That is the choice that will work to everyone’s benefit!

There may be seasons in our lives when we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities at home or at work.  When I was a mother of two very young children, I chose to be on the Altar Guild instead of serving on the Church Council.  An hour of alone time setting up communion was just what I needed, and all the time I had to give.  Saying no for a while, doesn’t mean saying no forever.  The time came when I went back to “active duty.”

Another important thing to remember about saying no, is it gives somebody else a chance to say yes.  There may be another member of the body who has just the right combination of talents to do the work you can’t.  Others will never get a chance to stretch and grow if you think you have to do it all.

Finally, when you take on a challenging task  that stretches you (and you should do this at times), pick something that matches your abilities, and ask for help if you need it.  We are all one body and we’re meant to work together to accomplish God’s work.

Free Time

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When I worked for the school district, they had a weekly column in which employees were interviewed. It was kind of a “get to know you” segment where each employee shared some information about their personal life, such as who was in their family and what their hobbies and interests were. Well, eventually it became time to do my column. What I wrote was that I enjoy gardening and cooking and spending time with friends and family. That seemed better than admitting the truth. What I really did for a hobby was come home exhausted from work and lay on the couch watching Netflix until I fell asleep.

Does anyone else struggle to find creativity in their life? Sometimes it seems like we get so caught up in the daily activities of chores, work, and errands that there does not seem like time for anything else. Any free time seems better spent catching up on rest and vegetating in front of the television. However, while those activities might be needed sometimes to rejuvenate ourselves, they are used far more than is needed.

First Timothy 4:14-15 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.  Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”

My goal for this month is to make better use of my free time. I am not exactly sure what gifts I have, but it seems worthwhile to reflect on what they are and how I can better use them. Does anyone have any feedback on how they have found their gifts and what they are doing with them? I am open to suggestions!!