Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What color am I?

As part of the "Long Range Planning" group for our church, we're looking at how we might use a spiritual gifts survey/assessment to help connect people to ministry, each other, and ultimately to God.

We've been talking about several of the different surveys out there (and there are a lot) and we decided to try out the NCD's The 3 Colors of Ministry book.

As the title suggests, it has something to do with 3 colors. There are three main areas, each represented by a different color, that correspond to the 3 parts of the Trinity. Ok, here's a better way to show it:
The concept behind the circle and colors being that each part of the Trinity has a different "focus" if you will with associated gifts, tendencies, etc. For example, the red area, representing Jesus, has a focus on service and commitment while green, representing God the Creator, focuses on working and wisdom.

After a brief intro to get you familiarized with the approach and the areas, the book has you find your starting point based on a self assessment of how well you feel a certain set of adjectives describes you. This should lead you to one of six starting points. Each of these starting points has most of your concentration in either one of the colors or a blend of two colors.

So, I did this assessment to find where I'm starting. And I came out almost dead even across all three colors. There isn't a starting point for that one. I continued reading ahead thinking I had somehow messed up the assessment when I found these words:
it might be that you are among the 4.6 percent who have a relatively "balanced" diagram with basically the same score in all three areas.

OK, it looks like I'm special (just like my Momma told me). But wait, there's more...
If this is the case, you shouldn't conclude that you have already reached your goal; this just tells you that there is no dominant problem area. In other words: Growth in each and every dimension would be beneficial for you.

Hmmph! Special alright...

Well, I'm not done with it by a long shot. I haven't even started the assessment for the actual gifts themselves. I hope to get that done in the next day or so. I'll come back and post the results and a further review of this resource. You can preview the book from the NCD site here (PDF).

In the mean time, have you ever done a spirtual gifts survey? What were the results?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why did Peter get out of the boat?

I had a great conversation with a friend of mine this past week. I'm usually at work by 7:00am and my friend J is usually up around 5:30am each day. He says that I'm one of the only people he can count on being up early so we tend to have chats in the early morn.

This week we got going on belief, faith, and trust. Let me back up a minute and give a little back story. J is the catalyst for me being "back on track" as a Christian. I was pretty far off the wagon when I met J in '07. He was open and shared his faith easily with anyone around. J is also a great encourager and was beside me as I helped get a Bible study going at my previous job. J is currently following a calling by God to teach people and to write and publish a book about faith and trust.

In this calling, J has been out of work (as in not being paid wages or a salary) for well over a year. It's not all easy, of course. And that's why we had the conversation on belief, faith, and trust.

As the money gets tighter for J and his family, the questions from everyone have come. Many along the lines of "What if God doesn't provide?" or "Where has He been to let it go this far?" And there is much encouraging to "have a backup plan."

But is having a backup plan really trusting in God and His plan? Is there really a belief or faith that God will come through? I have to tell you, it's a hard topic to roll around in your head and heart. Especially when you are the head of a family, too. I've struggled with this myself as I've looked out on my career options/choices for the past couple of years.

The story in the Gospel where Peter climbs out of the boat in a raging storm to walk to Jesus became a centerpoint of conversation between J and I this week:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
(Matthew 14:22-31 NIV)

It brought us to the question "Why did Peter get out of the boat?" Was it intellectual knowledge or logical reasoning? I mean, Peter had been on boats most of his life as a fisherman. He knew what happened to people who climbed over the side of a boat, especially in a bad storm. I have to go with something other than logic. Was it blind faith? Maybe. That might explain why he started sinking when he took in the situation around him. That is, with a little faith but no grounding in trust, he was easily shaken.

If I look at Peter's story following this event, I see a man who goes back and forth in his faith and trust. Take a look at the night before the Crucifixion and we see Peter taking matters in his own hands using the sword to attack the soldiers coming for Jesus (John 18:10-11). We also see his triple denial of Christ (Mark 14:66-72).

But that wasn't the end for Peter,was it? No. Move ahead to the morning that Peter sees Jesus on the beach. He jumps out of the boat to go meet Him. We see Peter's redemption in John 21:15-19. I think it is at that point that Peter gets it and can move on to become the Peter we know about in Acts. His belief and faith have become grounded in trust and love through his experiences and the work of the Cross.

But I don't think Peter would have gotten there at all if he hadn't made a choice to get out of the boat the first time. My man J is out of the boat. Big time. I'm just peeking over the side in wonderment. J is starting to notice the financial winds and waves swirling around him.

Prayers for J are certainly appreciated.

(Note: I've had no training on theology, interpreting Scripture, etc. This is just my little brain working with what I got. Please feel free to give me comments on where you think I might have gone wrong on this.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Wow have I been slack or what? I have been completely unmotivated to post anything recently. The biggest obstacle has been a feeling that I don't have anything worth saying.

That may or may not be true but I've realized that this is another assault against my self-esteem by the enemy...and I've succumbed to it! Damn it!!!

It became clear to me as I was reading "Pop Goes The Church" by Tim Stevens this week. What a great book. In it Tim discusses the What, Why, and, most importantly, the How around engaging popular culture inside and outside the church. He has some great insights in here and there are tons of concrete examples of what they have done at Granger Community Church and what other churches have done as well.

So why did this book open my eyes to myself? One word: Relevant. Tim's discussion in his book is about finding ways to show people how relevant God is to them. For example, he describes a series that they did at Granger using a different Beatles song each week:
In one service, "Eleanor Rigby", a sad song about the lonely people of the world, was performed. We followed with a message about the amazing love of God and the relationship he wants with each of us. The next week, the familiar Beatles' words, "You say you want a revolution" were sung, connecting with virtually everyone in the room who could identify with this desire to change our broken world. The service ended with a message which acknowledged that the world is broken but which described the revolutionary love that Jesus offers.

OK, maybe you're thinking it's a gimmick. One more way that Christians use ambush or bait-and-switch techniques. But it's not. It is about a real desire to reach people with the good news of the Gospel and finding ways for people to make up their minds that it is relevant to their lives.

And that's were I come back to me. In reading ""Pop Goes The Church" I realized that I had slipped into a sort of "maintenance mode" and each day that I wasn't actively praying, worshiping, seeking was another day that I viewed God as less relevant to my life. And one way that I was active in my relationship with God is blogging, reading other blogs, commenting on them, etc. I effectively pulled the plug on seeking. I was even getting to the point of letting several relationships just slide.

Well, my eyes are open now. I don't have to figure out how to be relevant to an audience on the interwebs. I need to focus on the relevance of God in my life and keep actively seeking Him.

Father God, I pray that you will strenghten and encourage my heart in always seeking after you. I ask for your help in quieting my restless and noisy mind so that I can focus on the relationship that you want to have daily with me. I am sorry for how lightly I have taken your Love for me and I don't want to do that again. Thank you for blessing me and my family. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Positive Post Wednesday?

Well, it seems like this was a forgetful week. But there is still time to be positive. Like I'm positive that I won't win any "graphic art" awards with my image editing ability above...

Seriously, this week I want to say something positive about two people that I am proud to be working along side of. Our church has several ministry teams that are responsible for different aspects of the church's life: Christian Education, Pastoral Care, Worship, Mission and Benevolence, Evangelism, and more. These are not run or staffed by paid positions. They are volunteer teams. Each team has one or two Elders that are the team leaders. I am on the Evangelism ministry team. And our team leaders, Diane and Beth, are amazing!

Both Diane and Beth take leading the Evangelism team seriously and they do it happily. These two are very creative, dedicated, intelligent, caring, and devoted. These wonderful attributes were seen extraordinarily in the efforts they put into helping with the recent Low Country Franklin Graham festival in September. Diane and Beth worked tirelessly getting people involved, establishing and attending various programs and events, and generally being excited about this opportunity to share the message of the Gospel and God's love with the greater Charleston, SC area.

I'm also fortunate to be in a weekly small group with Diane and her husband. They set a great example for the other couples in the group.

In Paul's first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he praised the Thessalonians for being a "model to all the believers":
You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 - 8, NIV)

I think that Diane and Beth fall into that category as well.