Pastoral Messages | January 12, 2017

When I was in high school, I worked at a homeschooling curriculum supply store. Our shop was wall-to-wall with books, games, programs, software; basically every supply a person would need to educate a child at home from preschool to 12th grade. This was in small-town Mississippi, because of the specialized nature of the store, people would drive in from around Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas to look at material. The thing that made it even better, was that I was homeschooled, I had field tested all this stuff and could make some real recommendations. This started a fascination with specialty shops.

Seeing that so many of these types of stores are open across the country, I can’t be the only person who likes to browse these kinds of shops. They hold a promise of having that special thing you are looking for. They hold a promise of having exactly what you need. And they do this, by making you believe that you don’t have what you need, or that you have needs you aren’t even aware of. This idea of not having what you need, of scarcity, is what drives commerce, but it’s a sneaky idea. It snakes its way into our hearts and whispers to us that we aren’t what someone needs, that somehow we aren’t enough.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to a church that is trying to figure out what they need. This congregation was a mess; they were acting out, fighting, and not caring about what they should be caring about. So they went looking to problem-solve, and write to Paul, the “specialty shop” of church issues. Surely he would have exactly what they need; he would have the special something to get them out of their mess.

But the funny thing is Paul doesn’t have that one special thing. He wrote back, “For in every way you have been enriched in God, in speech, in knowledge of every kind.” Paul continues, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of Christ. God is faithful, by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 1)

Often we are resistant to use our gifts as a church community because we don’t realize we have them. We read special books, or go to special conferences, or listen to special podcasts hoping to get that one thing we really need – that one thing that will help us be better people, be better followers of Christ.

But the thing is, we already have it. We were given the gift of the Holy Spirit in our baptisms. God hasn’t left us alone to figure it all out. God hasn’t been stingy with gifting people either. I look around my life and I see people who are great listeners, active servants, and compassionate workers for justice. I see people who have so many gifts to build the kingdom of God and don’t even realize it. Part of what we need to do is name the gifts we see in others. Sometimes others see things in us that we don’t see so clearly. The other part is that we need to cultivate trust in God, the ultimate giver.

A few months ago, I was at a conference (probably looking for that one “special thing”) and the speaker said that we have been given everything we need to do ministry, we only need to trust that we already have it. We already have what we need to build God’s kingdom on Earth. We don’t need to wait until we become better people, or go looking around specialty shops of spirituality. We are enough. May God, who is the ultimate giver of gifts, give us the will to use what we have.

-Amy Diller, pastor in residency

7 Comments on “Specialty”

  • Bonnie Heydeman

    January 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Wow, Amy, what a great message! Thank you!

  • David DeWit

    January 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks for pointing this out. What’s missing, for most of us, is courage…. something to pray about.

  • Diana Holland

    January 13, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Enjoyed your thought provoking article. Well put. Thank you for sharing.

  • Midge Johnson

    January 13, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I enjoyed this article very much, well written!!!

  • Jeanne Withycombe

    January 12, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Well written, Amy. Also, sometimes we have to “get out of the boat” and trust that God will stay with us when we try something out of our comfort zone.

  • Heidi Watkins

    January 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring thoughts/words, Amy.
    You are a blessing to St. Paul!

  • Heidi Watkins

    January 12, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring thoughts/words, Amy.
    You are a blessing to St. Paul! ~heidi watkins

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



6just as He says also in another passage,



7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight