For four years I was a protestant minister AND a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. This is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
As a pastor, I like to tell my congregation that I want to be known as “Pastor Permission Giver.” I want to give people permission to use their gifts, talents and passions for God, regardless of what they are. I figured if God gave a person the gift to paint pictures, then there was some way for that person to glorify God through those paintings. Others might have the gift to learn languages, enjoy working with mentally handicapped adults (my mom has that gift), or write music. Whatever gift you have, it has not been given to you by mistake, and the Creator of your gifts has granted you permission to use your gifts and passions in His Church. And if the church you’re attending can’t find a place for you and your passions, THEN GO FIND ONE THAT WILL! I did.
The Church has too often become a place where amateurs and beginners have no place to practice their gifts and talents. That’s a shame, because the Church should be the safest place in the world to practice our gifts, make a mistake, know you are safe, and try again. Continue Reading
Nothing Is Wasted
“After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, ‘Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.’ So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people” – John 6:13 (NLT)
In this very familiar passage – the only miracle that is mentioned in all four Gospels – Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five small, flat cakes of barley (the cheapest of grains) and two small fish (probably pickled fish served as hors d’oeuvres). After everyone had enough to eat, Jesus instructed the disciples to gather the leftovers, filling twelve large baskets, “so that nothing is wasted.”
This story is a great picture of our God who not only provides but also over-provides, and by doing so teaches us not to waste the over-the-top supply. This passage challenges me to ask, “What am I doing with my extras?” Specifically, what am I doing with my extra time, treasure and touch? And every person I know has extras in at least one of the areas, if not all.
Time – What do I do with my extra hours? Do I spend it working more so I can earn more? Do I use my extra time to watch more television? After the people ate and were satisfied, Jesus likely distributed the extra for the blessing of many. On the other hand, I like to picture twelve grown men marching behind a young boy and delivering the baskets to his family in Capernaum. Jesus produced the over-abundance but He shared the results. Am I using the blessing of my extra time to be a blessing to others, or am I finding extraordinary ways to waste it on myself?