“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
You’ve probably heard this before: T.E.A.M = Together everyone accomplishes more. It’s true in the church as well as in business. The laity of the church, along with the Pastor are a team. Often the Bible speaks of the church as a “body.” We have different gifts and different functions. We do our best work when all the parts are working together. If one body part isn’t doing its’ job, the whole body suffers.
I’ve had some of my best life experiences working with others in the church. Years ago, I wrote original Vacation Bible School programs for my church. It wasn’t a solo effort. I did the curriculum, but my sister, who is artistically creative, suggested crafts; a member who loved to sing chose and led the music; a preschool teacher gave us suggestions about which things would work well with different age groups; a great organizer became the director. We did this for about five years, and when I see one of those ladies today they often mention what fun we had pulling it all together! I could never have done it all on my own.
This blog is another example. Although my blogging friends tease me about being the obsessive blogger, Michele was the driving force in getting the blog set up and going; Paula made it pretty and added some features we didn’t know how to do; Beth Ann started me thinking about posting songs and music … and so on. It is a true group effort and I just love it when God mixes with us in a way that creates something none of us imagined we could do.
The best thing about T.E.A.M efforts? As Peter says in the quote above, they are a way to pass God’s grace on to others. Isn’t that what the church is all about? So, my advice is, dream big, and then find some others who will dream along with you. Pray, work, and let God use you in amazing ways.
He loves you and so do I!
The Worldview CSB Study Bible is a newer translation called the Christian Standard Bible. This translation is said to be more reader-friendly. I did not really have a problem with the verses I checked against my ESV and will continue to utilize it in my studies since I like to use several translations. There are approximately 100 essays located throughout the Bible written by different professors, theologians, Pastors, etc. that range in topics from how to use the study Bible to different religions and modern issues we as Christians are dealing with. I did not really care for them to be scattered throughout the Bible I would have preferred to have them in the back as an appendix. The study notes are located at the bottom of the text and any additional reference verses are located in the middle column. In the New Testament, all Old Testament references in the text are in bold, and I find that I like that and wish all Bibles would do it. Before I review the actual physical characteristics I want to put in a word of caution. If ANY of the study notes raise a question, talk to your Pastor, Priest Spiritual Head or whatever they are referred to as; do not accept information that is contrary to your beliefs in any way. That being said the notes that I review were on target with my theology, but of course, I did not read every study note. There is a very nicely detailed concordance in the back along with colorful maps.
Physical Characteristics – It is a blue Leather touch with silver gilding on the page edges. It comes in a sturdy box that if giving as a gift and mailing should do well. There is a presentation page with the verse Revelations 22:6A Then He said to me, “These words are faithful and true” I liked that and felt it gave it a great touch. There are 2 ribbon markers one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament.
I give this Study Bible 4 out of 5 stars based on the information I read and would recommend it for purchase.
I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
“I long to see you, that I might impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you–that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12
As I thought about this month’s theme, it occurred to me that the Lutheran Ladies blog has been quite a blessing in my life. Each of us has God-given talents and spiritual gifts, and when we use them in a way that pleases Him, we feel His pleasure. I never sit down to write a post with the feeling that it is a chore, or a burden. I’m so thankful that God has given me an occupation in retirement that I enjoy, and that feels useful.
Writing for the blog has made me think deeply about each monthly theme, reading, studying and praying about it. Often it helps me examine my own conscience and discover areas of my life that need improvement or attention. It’s also interesting to hear how others think about these things, both authors and readers. Certainly the blog has deepened my faith and understanding of God and His will for me.
Through our blogging together, I’ve developed closer relationships with the other Lutheran Ladies. Although I knew them all before, and go to church with some of them( and went to church with others), in blogging we have shared both dreams and failures. We’ve worked together to produce something none of us could have accomplished alone. It has been my joy and my privilege to see each of them grow in their faith journey.
I hope and believe that this blog has been an encouragement to others, as this was our original vision. The books we read, the quotes we love, the movies that inspire us, the songs that uplift us, the thoughts God places in our minds, and the emotions of our hearts, are all offered up to strengthen others. As we open our lives to our readers, we are in turn blessed by the comments and kind words we receive back. As Paul says in the quote above from Romans, we have been “mutually encouraged”.
So to all our authors and readers, today I am saying “Thank You!” You have blessed my life in an amazing way.
I seem to be on a kick of remembering old songs. When I was in college, the one above was popular. It’s about a scoundrel who tells all the girls, “if you love me, expect to be abandoned, broke and forgotten, because that’s just how I am!” “Fair warning!” (I’m not sure why I liked it, this guy is unbearably arrogant). Anyway, it began bouncing around in my brain the other day, causing me to think about the many, better things we get for loving God. I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list:
- Someone who will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
- Someone who will always listen (John 9:31)
- Our daily needs and pleasure in our work (Ecclesiastes 3:23)
- Wisdom (James 1:5)
- Christian fellowship (1 John 1:7)
- Fellowship with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
- Spiritual gifts to serve the others (1 Corinthians 12:7)
- The Holy Spirit, who encourages and comforts (Acts 5:32)
- Forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9)
- Salvation (6:23)
- Eternal life (John 3:16)
If we’re willing, even eager to take a risk on loving a flawed human being, who will no doubt disappoint us, why wouldn’t we take a chance on God’s love? We stand to gain all the things above and more. Love and trust God, and see what you get for loving Him.
A few days ago our congregation had a meeting with Mr. Joe Weatherly, a representative from Fanning the Flame, a ministry of church revival. A hard question was asked: do we want to be light and salt to the world, or do we simply want our church to continue? To survive and thrive, we must focus on Christ and serving others, not on ourselves. I realize this is a challenge. It is a challenge for me.
Hard work will be involved in completing the revitalization process. There will be workshops and retreats; people will have to take on jobs and be committed and accountable. However, in the end, we will understand our gifts and have a number of strategic plans for using them.
I sensed people were interested and I hope inspired (I was). I was heartened by a good turn out of our members and by the questions they asked. Are we ready to make this big commitment of time and money? This week or next we’ll have further discussion and voting. Please keep St. Paul’s in your prayers.
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.
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?
“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?
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:
- 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?
- Ask a few close friends to give you a list of your best qualities and talents.
- 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.
- 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!
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