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There have been many an argument over spiritual gifts. What they are. What they aren’t. Who gets them? The list is endless. So much of life can be boiled down to the K.I.S.S. Philosophy. (Keep It Simple Silly [kind version] ) The source, purpose and results of the ‘gift’ are all that really matter. God is the giver. We are the recipient (gift receivers don’t choose their gift). The beneficiaries are others around us. The praise for the results returns to the gift giver, not the gift bearer. I know the arguments. There are theologs out there who will disagree with me. But I believe a spiritual gift is anything we do that benefits others and draws them closer to God. So here comes the heresy! Being a really good Walmart shelf stocker can be a spiritual gift if you do it with a joyful heart, in good character, giving glory to God. So don’t be surprised if you see a Walmart shelf stocker finish stacking a box of cookies and point to the sky. You’ll know they read my blog!



Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

incompetentAll of us have people in our lives who annoy us. Most of the time, our annoyance comes from the fact (in our eyes at least) that that person is incompetent in everything they do. One day, years ago now, I was coaching a little league baseball team. I received a call from one of the parents asking for the name and number of my immediate superior. I gladly gave him the information he requested and then asked if he’d mind sharing with me the reason he wanted to talk with my supervisor.

His response when something like this, “I want to talk to him about how incompetent you are as a coach.”

That set me back on my heels a bit! For one thing, the player in question was one of our better players and one that I felt I had a good relationship with. I’d also talked with this dad on occasion and never felt any animosity between us.

My nature, as I’m sure many of ours would be in that situation, would lead me to be very defensive and offended by his remark. Somehow that day, however, I remained calm and in the discussion that followed, was able to diffuse what turned out to be a lack of information and misunderstanding.

Sociologists will tell us that there are two main responses to attack, fight or flight. Jesus offers a third option, forgiveness based on the understanding that we have been forgiven for our faults as well. Jesus forgave us when we were at our worst so that we could be our best for him.

It’s not easy to accept others weaknesses, or as Paul puts it, “Make allowances for the faults of others”. “Making allowances for each other’s faults” involves two actions on our part. One is to realize that we too have been forgiven for many faults. The second is to rely on the Holy Spirit to work through us to forgive and through our antagonist to bring them to a relationship with Jesus.

PRAYER: Father God. I want to take this time to meditate on my faults and thank you for your forgiveness. I ask that your Holy Spirit would give me the power I need to forgive others when their actions are hurtful or offensive to me. Let me show them the love you’ve shown me. Amen.



But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ Acts 2:21

Jesus SavesI remember hearing a story of an old preacher who stopped to pick up a hitchhiker along the road. Usually he didn’t do this but ‘something in his heart’ told him to stop. As he drove down the road with this dirty, long-haired, tattooed young man they passed a highway billboard with the message “Jesus Saves’ with no other explanation.

The young man remarked “WOW, Jesus must be thrifty”.

The story reminds me of at least two things in the walk of a believer.

One is that we guard carefully the terminology we use. The fact of the matter is, few people in our society see the need to be ‘saved’. We have done a good job of convincing people that ‘we are okay’. Rather than throwing all sorts of evangelism terms around and speaking our language as though everyone else will understand, it may be more profitable to spend time listening to and learning the language of the unbeliever. What struggles are they going through? What fears to they have? What makes them angry? How can a relationship with Jesus ‘save them’ from the frustrations they are enduring?

The second thing that this story reminds me is that sometimes the most unlikely people may show an interest in who Jesus is. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the imaginary story, but the last time you saw a homeless person, or a person who obviously looked as though they we not doing well, did you look at them with sympathy, disdain or as a chosen creation of our creator God.

Jesus hung out with the people we avoid. He struck up conversations with the people we look on with disgust. He sought out the people we shy away from. Were Jesus to return, I think we would pass on most of our churches and feel far more comfortable in a soup kitchen. He’d be less impressed with the country club atmosphere than he would the ‘aroma’s’ of the streets and alleys.

How can we, as a body of Christ reach out to those who know nothing about Jesus or see him as a thrifty guy? I live in a rural area of America. We have many in our small villages that live at a poverty level lower than some ghettos. Yet they are hidden from view. How can we find them? How can we reach out so that they can find the fulfilling relationship we cherish?

PRAYER: Father God, I am so thankful for the many blessings you have bestowed on us. I confess to you that too often I’m so concerned about my own comfort that I fail to see the pain of others. Empower me to see the needy. Enlighten me on how I can reach them for you. Amen.


Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints (some versions translate saints as holy ones). Jude 1:3 (NASB)

all saints dayHe came into the church with his wife and daughter to celebrate our community Halloween party. We were a small church in a rural community, eager to reach out to the many children in our area who didn’t attend church. Hoping to offer a safe place for games, fun and, of course, treats.

Since we were a church we encouraged (not required) our kids to dress as their favorite super hero, Bible character or cartoon character. We were willing to risk the fact that some kids (from our church or not) would show up as goblins, witches, vampires, ghosts and a plethora of other ‘Christian no-no’ costumes. Outreach was the key.

As this young man (later found out he was the new pastor in a church down the block) saw the simple ‘traditional’ Halloween decorations our ladies had painstakingly made, he made a comment about how disgusting and evil the setting was and stormed out of the building with his young family in tow!

Now, mind you, I’m not a fan of Halloween. Nor am I wild about horror flicks or anything that portrays death and the spirit world lightly. However, I think that sometimes ‘the Church’ spends more time fighting the negative rather than embellishing the positive.

For the record, Halloween, or Hallowed Eve precluded ‘All Saints Day’ which was a celebration of saints (known and unknown) who had gone before them. Pagan ideas were later added to accentuate the spirit world. The tragedy (in my opinion) is that we’ve focused on the pagan additions to what was once a church celebration and largely ignored the celebration that is to follow.

This year, I propose that once we work through the painful pagan edition of Hallowed Eve, we celebrate those who have gone before us, those men and women of God who have stood strong for their faith, some at the cost of their lives.

I propose we celebrate the unknown saints that tirelessly dedicate themselves as the vessels of dishonor to the obscure areas of ministry. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 12:20-26 (NASB):

But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

So, let’s celebrate the saints who have given their lives for our freedom; to clean our church buildings, change our babies diapers, tirelessly prepare sermons for those who take the time to come to church, hand out bulletins and  the countless other things people do in the name of the Lord and out of sight of the public.

The apostles remind us that the church is a living organism, a body developed to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Each of us who has made a personal decision to follow Christ are saints called to do his bidding. For that each of us should be celebrated.

PRAYER: Father God. Thank you for those who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the sake of the Kingdom. May we be forever thankful for ‘the glass of water’ we have each received in your name. Amen.


You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. John 15:16 (CEV)

The man led us down to the shed where we could hear the excited barking of puppies. I could see the look of anticipation and excitement in my son’s eyes. We’d been looking for a Cocker Spaniel for months and the price on this one seemed right.

As we entered the shed the pups called home, we were met by five excited, jumping little puppies. “Price on all of them is the same,” the kindly old gentleman said.

While I was looking at the five that met us, my son’s attention was drawn to a smaller, quiet puppy in the corner.

“What’s up with the little one in the corner?” My son asked. I could see by the look in his eyes that his heart had made its decision. My son had always had a soft spot in his heart for the down-and-outers of the world.

“Oh him? He’s the runt. Lucky to be alive actually. Came down here one morning and he had managed to climb the fence and fall in the stock tank on the other side. I figured he was a goner, but he seems fine now.”

While I would have chosen any of the other five, you have probably already guessed which one we went home with that day. The pup became my son’s closest friend until it died a few years later of cancer.

There are times in each of our lives when we may feel like the ‘runt’ in our circles. It seems like everyone else we know seems to get the whole Christian life, get the jobs they want, have the families we long for, and the list goes on.

The heart is a cruel liar. It constantly reminds us of our weaknesses. It continually points out the successes of others and compares them to our failures. It reminds us of our faults on a daily basis.

When your heart rears up and points at all the ‘uglies’ of your life, remember this: You were Chosen by the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe. Not only did he choose you as a friend, he made you His Child!

And if that isn’t enough, he did all this knowing you would fail, rebel, stray, stumble and fall. That’s because he didn’t choose you on the basis of anything you could offer. He chose you simply because he loves you.

Just as my son chose that puppy based on compassion, he chose you. Rejoice!

PRAYER: Father God…Daddy. Thank you for choosing me even though I have nothing of real significance to offer you. Help to live as a son of the Most High God. Amen.

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