Archive | January 2014

Becoming Your Calling

This post continues our discussion on The In-Between by Jeff Goins and focuses on Chapter 4.

In Chapter 4 of The In-Between, Jeff Goins writes the following rather thought-provoking and perhaps troubling statement:

Goins 4

Why troublesome? Because thinking about your calling in this way places the responsibility for living out you calling squarely on you shoulders. Let’s pick apart this statement a bit to help understand that responsibility, adding scripture (specifically Ephesians 2:10) to solidify the truth of the main premise of this chapter.Eph 2 10

  1. Everyone has a calling. Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created (born anew) in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Salvation brings us to our first calling, that of doing good works and that which falls upon every Christian. The second part of the verse hints at our individual callings, the way we each uniquely carry out those good works.
  2. Not everyone finds their calling. Ephesians 2:10 also indicates we were created for good works, and we have specific and unique ways of carrying them out. But it also says we are to “walk in them.” In other words, we are to make them be our way of life by taking the paths God planned for us. Yet, He won’t force those paths on us. We must choose to take the steps down the path He created.
  3. We don’t have to find our calling. In other words, we can live life doing good and still make Heaven without ever living out our specific calling. Certainly a life devoted to Christ requires faith in action (James 2:17), but these actions can be carried out without ever discovering the gifted and talented paths created just for us.
  4. We must choose to find our calling. Do good, absolutely, every chance you get. Strive to do good. Be known for it. But also realize that God designed a specific path for you long ago. Discovering that path involves the uncomfortable process of self discovery, the purest of which comes through knowing God. Never forget that He created you in all your intricacies. Only he knows the number of hairs on your head, and only He — through the power of His Word — can “divide joint from marrow” (Hebrews 4:12). Choosing to know Him and His Word more means choosing to pursue your calling, His will for your life.
  5. We must pay attention to our lives. Not only do we have God’s Word to help in this discovery process, but He also gives us what Goins calls “mile markers” to help us identify our callings. But to see these “mile makers,” we must pay attention. We cannot allow ourselves to get and stay so busy that we have little to no time notice to what God has for our lives.
  6. We need patience to examine our gifts and talents. Being too busy and staying that way for longer than “just a season” removes the space and time needed to patiently examine our gifts and talents. If we take that time, we can look over our lives and see the areas we excelled, the things that excited us, and the talents that set us apart. Everyone has them. But examining them takes patience as we shut out the world, focus on our journey, and let the Holy Spirit reveal the truths of where we’ve been. Take the time to develop patience for recognizing past “mile markers” in order to be able to identify future ones that line your path.
  7. We can miss discovering what we’re made to do. Staying too busy. Not spending regular time with God in His Word. Refusing to cultivate patience through reflection. All ways to assuredly miss discovering your calling. We must realize these crucial steps in this discovery process to prevent missing “mile markers” when we’re on track for something else, and they peek longingly around the corner, right where the path divides.

Goins points out yet another important revelation regarding our callings, that they are a process, something we become over time. Walking in our callings involves taking a journey of obedience that begins with salvation and transforms us into more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) when we purpose to discover and do what God planned long ago for each one of us.

DISCUSSION: Where are you in the discovery of your calling? What “mile markers” do you see in the distance as you look both behind and in front of you?

This discussion on The In-Between by Jeff Goins continues on February 6th with a focus on Chapter 5.

One-on-One Ministry

good samaritanWho of us has not felt at some point in their life like the man in need of help in the story of The Good Samaritan, like they were stripped naked, beaten, and left for dead?

Life is hard and habitually unfair. We can be minding our own business one minute and beaten down and barely breathing the next, crumpled at the side of the road.

Doing good is not always convenient. But as Christians, we are called to this inconvenient love to “carry out each others burdens” and “in this way fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). We are not responsible to everyone but we are responsible to who God lays on our hearts.

When the good Samaritan saw the wounded man, he reacted with compassion and then moved into action. He did what he could to alleviate the man’s pain, even using his own resources.

Start By Just Being

Good friendWe can never underestimate what our involvement through our resources, emotional support and time can mean to someone in need. Initial compassion often quickly wears off, especially when inconvenient, but we can choose to follow the good Samaritan’s example of sticking around through the hard stuff like washing wounds and keeping vigil.

There will be times when a person’s needs are above what we can do for them. Sometimes, helping involves connecting people to needed resources. The Good Samaritan’s promise to stay engaged in the process shows that importance of this type of follow through.

Reach out in love. Slow down, listen and tune your heart to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Step forward rather than pull back.

The best way to show God’s love is to love the people who happen to be standing next to you. Understanding the needs of our friends can help us create an intentional, relational, and an effectively strong ministry to women. Start simply by being the kind of friend that you would like to have.

One-On-One Ministry

Keeping all this in mind, this year we are trying a new approach in our Women’s Ministry in place of Secret Sisters. Each lady will be paired with another woman for the year, and then asked to connect one-on-one with each other throughout the year.

Take the relationship as deep as the Spirit leads. You will be given the most basic of info about your friend (name, address, phone, e-mail, birth date, family information, and anniversary), but it is your job to “dig deeper” into the wants and needs of your ministry partner throughout the year.

At a minimum, commit to pray daily for your One-on-One partner. Strive to connect weekly, such as face-to-face at church. Other suggestions include meeting monthly or doing an act of kindness either for or with your partner. Look for ways to display your “love in action.”

Specific ideas for connecting include getting together for coffee, occasionally sending a card, gift or small token of appreciation, calling her on the phone to ask about her day, and texting or emailing periodically. You could also ask her to do something with you that you enjoy.

Let’s all purpose it in our hearts to be a blessing to one another this year, not in secret, but together, just like we are called to do by Christ.

See Diane Borst for your One-on-One Ministry assignment or to fill out an informational sheet if you have not already done so. You can also leave a comment below if you have questions.

Celebrating Ephiphany

EpiphanyThe Magi were present at the first Epiphany. Not only did they experience a literal epiphany — an appearance of deity — they also had an epiphany within themselves. They realized the significance of their experience initiated by the Christ child in a simple, humble setting.

“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

They experienced an epiphany both in seeing the manifestation of God in flesh as well as within themselves in a way that precipitated spontaneous worship. They truly celebrated Epiphany!

Epiphany Today

Instead of Christmas being a single day of the year, as most people celebrate, Epiphany extends the season and presents an interesting perspective that might be what many of us need to have our own personal epiphanies.

In The In-Between, Jeff Goins observes that there is a significant amount of time between Christ’s birth and the arrival of the magi, perhaps even years. Taking this thought further, could our view of Christmas change if we were to extend our celebrating of the Christ child’s birth?

Instead of scrunching the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the shepherds and the magi all in one day, what if we celebrated each one separately? What if we slowed down the pace of Christmas by extending our celebrations through Epiphany?

Would deliberately slowing down the holiday – considering each event at its meaning within the Christmas story – perhaps slow down our lives enough to help gain some much-needed perspective? Could establishing such a tradition — as other cultures and some Christians actually have — make the holiday & the anticipation leading up to it more significant?

Perhaps, as Goin notes, slowing down and spreading out the celebration of Christmas by including Epiphany might “remind us that every arrival is not an event, but a process.” How would experiencing the Christmas season as a process change you?