Groettum Family: Giving.

Groettum Family: Giving.: So Thanksgiving is all about giving…correct?!? So, how about becoming the best kind of gift giver of all…give the gift of life by becoming...


Epidemic of Indifference.

I was challenged today by a professor to observe the indifference I see in my world and address it from a biblical perspective.  How can we begin to model Christ example and become more empathetic and intentional in showing love to others.   This question left me speechless which is amazing for those who know me well.   It struck a cord with me on many levels that I won't discuss now but in a future blog I will explain in detail.   As I begin to answer the question for my assignment I remember a speech given by Holocaust Survivor Eli Wiesel at the White House on Indifference.   I have copied it below and would love to get your response to his critique on our Epidemic of Indifference.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, gave this impassioned speech in the East Room of the White House on April 12, 1999, as part of the Millennium Lecture series, hosted by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In the summer of 1944, as a teenager in Hungary, Elie Wiesel, along with his father, mother and sisters, were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz extermination camp in occupied Poland. Upon arrival there, Wiesel and his father were selected by SS Dr. Josef Mengele for slave labor and wound up at the nearby Buna rubber factory.

Daily life included starvation rations of soup and bread, brutal discipline, and a constant struggle against overwhelming despair. At one point, young Wiesel received 25 lashes of the whip for a minor infraction.

In January 1945, as the Russian Army drew near, Wiesel and his father were hurriedly evacuated from Auschwitz by a forced march to Gleiwitz and then via an open train car to Buchenwald in Germany, where his father, mother, and a younger sister eventually died.

Wiesel was liberated by American troops in April 1945. After the war, he moved to Paris and became a journalist then later settled in New York. Since 1976, he has been Andrew Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. He has received numerous awards and honors including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also the Founding Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial. Wiesel has written over 40 books including Night, a harrowing chronicle of his Holocaust experience, first published in 1960.

At the White House lecture, Wiesel was introduced by Hillary Clinton who stated, "It was more than a year ago that I asked Elie if he would be willing to participate in these Millennium Lectures...I never could have imagined that when the time finally came for him to stand in this spot and to reflect on the past century and the future to come, that we would be seeing children in Kosovo crowded into trains, separated from families, separated from their homes, robbed of their childhoods, their memories, their humanity."

Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, Ambassador Holbrooke, Excellencies, friends: Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe's beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again.
Liberated a day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful to them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know -- that they, too, would remember, and bear witness.

And now, I stand before you, Mr. President -- Commander-in-Chief of the army that freed me, and tens of thousands of others -- and I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people.Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being. And I am grateful to you, Hillary -- or Mrs. Clinton -- for what you said, and for what you are doing for children in the world, for the homeless, for the victims of injustice, the victims of destiny and society. And I thank all of you for being here.

We are on the threshold of a new century, a new millennium. What will the legacy of this vanishing century be? How will it be remembered in the new millennium? Surely it will be judged, and judged severely, in both moral and metaphysical terms. These failures have cast a dark shadow over humanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain of assassinations -- Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin -- bloodbaths in Cambodia and Nigeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland and Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in the gulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course, Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence, so much indifference.

What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference." A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?

Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.
Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic of all prisoners were the "Muselmanner," as they were called. Wrapped in their torn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, unaware of who or where they were, strangers to their surroundings. They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead and did not know it.
Rooted in our tradition, some of us felt that to be abandoned by humanity then was not the ultimate. We felt that to be abandoned by God was worse than to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one. For us to be ignored by God was a harsher punishment than to be a victim of His anger. Man can live far from God -- not outside God. God is wherever we are. Even in suffering? Even in suffering.

In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.

Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own.
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century's wide-ranging experiments in good and evil.

In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simple categories: the killers, the victims, and the bystanders. During the darkest of times, inside the ghettoes and death camps -- and I'm glad that Mrs. Clinton mentioned that we are now commemorating that event, that period, that we are now in the Days of Remembrance -- but then, we felt abandoned, forgotten. All of us did.
And our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitz and Treblinka were closely guarded secrets; that the leaders of the free world did not know what was going on behind those black gates and barbed wire; that they had no knowledge of the war against the Jews that Hitler's armies and their accomplices waged as part of the war against the Allies.
If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.

And now we knew, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, the State Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White House then, who was a great leader -- and I say it with some anguish and pain, because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945, so he is very much present to me and to us.
No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American people and the world, going into battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiant and brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship, to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And, nevertheless, his image in Jewish history -- I must say it -- his image in Jewish history is flawed.
The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo -- maybe 1,000 Jews -- was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.

I don't understand. Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who needed help. Why didn't he allow these refugees to disembark? A thousand people -- in America, a great country, the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don't understand. Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?
But then, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy. Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we called the "Righteous Gentiles," whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why were they so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war?

Why did some of America's largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler's Germany until 1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that the Wehrmacht could not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained from American sources. How is one to explain their indifference?

And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumatic century: the defeat of Nazism, the collapse of communism, the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel's peace treaty with Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember the meeting, filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President, convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it.

And then, of course, the joint decision of the United States and NATO to intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those who were uprooted by a man whom I believe that because of his crimes, should be charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. This time, we intervene.

Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far? Is today's justified intervention in Kosovo, led by you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will the deportation, the terrorization of children and their parents be allowed anywhere in the world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands to do the same?
What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read about them in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is always the most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage war, children perish. We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them -- so many of them -- could be saved.

And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.
Elie Wiesel - April 12, 1999



By Dr. Ravi Zacharias

I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.
    But then he said something I have never forgotten: “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?” His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the Gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible. After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, “My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all.” He paused and then continued, “Do you know what she said?” Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. “She said, ‘That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.’” Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor’s case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them?
    The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.” In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.

    1 Peter 3:15 gives us the gives us the defining statement: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the Gospel--as he did at Pentecost. Peter’s strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.
    With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian’s life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a “new birth.” After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character. In apologetics the question is often asked, “If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?” That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, “Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?”

    The spiritual condition and character of the apologist are of immense importance. This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate call of everyone who wishes to do apologetics. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Likewise, we cannot simply vanquish the person in an attempt to rescue the message. The value of the person is an essential part of the message.

    This means the apologist’s task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist’s first question.

Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Excerpted from Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (Nashville: Nelson, 2007)


How well do You Love?

The Baptism of Love
By Francis Frangipane
(En Español)
It is hard for us in this anxious, fearful age to quiet our souls and actually dwell upon God in our hearts. We can engage ourselves with Bible study or other acts of obedience. In varying degrees we know how to witness, exhort and bless. We know how to analyze these things and even perfect them. But to lift our souls above the material world and consciously ponder on God Himself seems beyond the reach of our Christian experience.

To Dwell Upon God
Yet, to actually grasp the substance of God is to enter a spiritual place of immunity; it is to receive into our spirits the victory Christ won for us, which is oneness with God in Christ.
Thus we cannot content ourselves merely with the tasks we are called to perform. Ultimately we will discover that study and church attendance are but forms which have little satisfaction in and of themselves. These activities must become what the Lord has ordained them to be: means through which we seek and find God. Our pleasure will be found not in the mechanics of spiritual disciplines, but that these disciplines bring us closer to God.
Paul's cry was, "That I may know Him!" (Phil. 3:10). It was this desire to know Jesus that produced Paul's knowledge of salvation, church order, evangelism and end-time events. Out of his heart's passion to know God came revelation, the writing of Scriptures and knowledge of the Eternal. Paul's knowledge was based upon his experience with Christ.
On the other hand, we have contented ourselves not with seeking the face of God, but with studying the facts of God. We are satisfied with a religion about Christ without the reality of Christ.
The Bible is the historical record of man's experiences with the Almighty. Out of personal encounters people had with the living God, our theological perspectives have developed. But knowledge about God is only the first step toward entering the presence of God. As much as the Bible is a book of truths, it is also a map to God. As Christians, we study and debate the map yet too often fail to make the journey.
Love Surpasses Knowledge
There is a place greater than knowledge; it is a simple, yet eternally profound place where we actually abide in Christ's love. This is, indeed, the shelter of the Most High. Remember the apostle's prayer was that we each would "know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). As important as knowledge is, that verse tells us love "surpasses knowledge." Doctrinal knowledge is the framework, the vehicle, that opens the door toward divine realities, but love causes us to be "filled up to all the fullness of God" (v. 19).

There is a dwelling place of love that God desires us to enter. It is a place where our knowledge of God is fulfilled by the substance of God. The Amplified Bible's rendering states:

"May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" (Eph. 3:17-19).
Is this not our goal, to be rooted deeply in love, to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of God's love; and to know for ourselves the deep, personal love of Christ? Can any goal be more wonderful? Indeed, to be filled and flooded with God Himself is the very hope of the gospel!
You see, God cannot truly be known without, in some way, also being experienced. If you had never seen a sunrise or a starry night sky, could any description substitute for your own eyes beholding the expansive beauty? Awe comes from seeing and encountering, not merely from knowing that somewhere a beautiful sky exists.
Likewise, to truly know God we must seek Him until we pass through the outer, informational realm about God and actually find for ourselves the living presence of the Lord Himself. This is the "upward call" of God in Christ Jesus. It draws us through our doctrines into the immediacy of the divine presence. The journey leaves us in the place of transcendent surrender, where we listen to His voice and, from listening, ascend into His love.
The earth's last great move of God shall be distinguished by an outpouring from Christ of irresistible desire for His people. To those who truly yearn for His appearing there shall come, in ever-increasing waves, seasons of renewal from the presence of the Lord (see Acts 3:19-21). Intimacy with Christ shall be restored to its highest level since the first century.
Many on the outside of this move of God as well as those touched and healed by it will look and marvel: "How did these common people obtain such power?" They will see miracles similar to when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Multitudes will be drawn into the valley of decision. For them, the kingdom of God will be at hand.
But for those whom the Lord has drawn to Himself, there will be no mystery as to how He empowered them. Having returned to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, they will have received the baptism of love.


Are you sure "You've" been Called? (A response to the proverbial eye rolling)

Is a call to ministry such a subjective thing that I am left to the mercy of my feelings about it? Do others have insight into God's will for me that I may not have for myself?
I believe that the call of God may be confirmed in a person's life with the same kind of conviction that the person can have about his or her salvation. There can be personal assurance about this matter. 

However, God does not appear to call persons to specialized ministry in isolation of the Church. The call to ministry is given within the context of the gifts and needs of the Body of Christ (a group of believers), with responsibility for the Body to recognize and confirm the fact that God has singled the person out for this special ministry. The individual is not left alone in his or her efforts to discern the will of God regarding call to ministry. The counsel, discipline, examination and nurture by spiritual leaders of the Church are essential ingredients in discerning the call of God.

Traditionally, the church has recognized four confirming marks which accompany a call to ministry:

(1) Grace. This refers to the "works of grace" or a "condition of grace." Has the person been converted?
entirely sanctified? Does he or she have the fruit of the Spirit? Does he or she live a holy life?

(2) Gifts. This refers to the "gifts of the Spirit" or "talents"—the ability to understand, reason, speak,
communicate and provide loving care and leadership.

(3) Fruit. This refers to the effectiveness of his or her ministry in the lives of others. Are sinners converted and believers helped through his or her witness?

(4) An abiding sense of a Divine call. This may be highly subjective to others, yet very convincing to the individual. Could the person easily give himself or herself to a different pursuit or is there a conviction from which he or she cannot escape?

A fifth mark could be added:
(5) Open Doors of opportunity. While not a mark of the person, it seems that if God calls a person to
ministry, and if that person is adequately prepared, opportunities to minister will present themselves or that person will create such opportunities. If opportunities do not take the form you anticipated, perhaps there is reason to question the validity of the call or the area in which God intends for your ministerial gifts to be used.

If you are struggling with whether you are or should be called into the ministry, begin by asking yourself these questions.
· Does my interest in ministry grow out of a deep love for Christ and a longing to obey His will?
· Is my first concern to be a godly person, ready to be used however God wants?
· Have I unconditionally made myself available for whatever vocation God might want to use me?
· Have others ever suggested that they think God might be calling me into the ministry?
· Do I have a deep burden for the spiritual needs of others?
· Am I willing to spend the necessary time preparing myself to be effective in my calling?
· Am I striving to be a model of spiritual commitment, growth and maturity?
· Am I using every opportunity that is presently available to me to serve God?
· Am I willing to respond to a call with joy, regardless of the perceived cost?
· Am I ready to be submissive and accountable to the Church as a servant, not as a master?
· Am I willing to trust the counsel of spiritual leaders in the church on this matter?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the questions above, you are the type of person God most often calls.
The great need of the church is for people to hear the call of God for ministry, respond positively and
minister with conviction and certainty. I believe people hear the call of God when an environment
conducive to listening is developed and when they are confronted with the need to be available. I believe people respond to the call of God when they have had modeled to them the exciting rewards of being a called person. I believe people are called to the ministry when they are allowed to have some hands-on involvement in areas of ministry in the local church. These things happened in my life and I became assured of my call. I believe God has worked in similar ways with others. While God may call you at a different stage of your life, or use other means of confirming your call, you too can be sure you are giving your life to the calling which accomplishes His purpose for you and His Church.

Is there any such thing as a “call” to church vocations—isn’t everyone called?

What is a “minister?”  Is everyone a minister or are only pastors and priests ministers?  Is there any difference between the “ministry” a pastor does visiting a sick person in the hospital and the ministry a factory worker does visiting that same person?   And, what is a “call”?   Does God call only pastors, preachers and missionaries to a vocation and the rest of us are left to do our own thing in life?  Or does God call all Christians to view their vocation as a calling?  What is “the ministry?” And, what is “the call?”  Here are the terms to help us sort this out:

1. “ministry.”
Ministry simply means serving or “waiting” such as a waiting on tables at a restaurant.  Ministry is helping and serving others, thus at its simplest level ministry includes everything one might do to serve another—from waiting tables, to counseling, to a life in politics, to stamping out quarter panels at an automobile plant… all these jobs provide a service and meet needs.  In this sense everybody is a minister, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists and Atheists.  Ministry at its simplest level is serving—meeting others’ needs.  Every person in the world can do it.  Ministry in its most  general sense is simply serving.

2. “Christian ministry.”
Christians often use the term “ministry’ in a more specific way—to  denote service that is itself Christian—either Christian in content or in motivation.  “Christian in content” would mean the actual service is related to helping a person develop a Christian-based life style or values.  “Christian in motivation” relates more to the person serving than the recipient or the content of the service—that is, a service offered out of a Christian motivation—i.e. “this is what Christians do.”  It might include helping a person stranded beside the road, building a Habitat for Humanity house, or even picking up trash on the road in front of one’s home—and doing these things as a Christian duty.   Thus two persons might be involved in identical sort of flood relief services—one a Christian and another an atheist—but for one it is a Christian ministry.   Indeed it is even possible for two Christians to serve beside each other—and only one be doing it out of Christian motivation!   Christian ministry is a service to others rooted in Christian motivation or is Christian in content—it is also sometimes called the “general ministry”.   Christian ministry is service to others that is Christian in content or motivation.

3. “The Ministry.”
Some believers use “Ministry” yet a third way—to describe the work of a pastor or priest in a full time church vocation—i.e. “The Ministry.”  These Christians often capitalize the word Ministry to indicate the profession of “Ministry” (which a few enter) from the general ministry (which all are supposed to enter.)  A pastor or priest is thus in two kinds of ministry: the general ministry to which all Christians are called, and the professional equipping Ministry in which clergy spend their “careers.”   When Ministry is capitalized it often refers to the ordained or professional ministry—pastors or priests.

4. “Equipping Ministry”
Some believers prefer to make this distinction between the general ministry (to which all Christians are sent) from the specific vocational ministry (for which some Christians are set apart) by saying, “All are called to be ministers, but some are set apart to be equippers of the rest of us for our ministry.”  Using Ephesians 4: 11-12, these Christians list the “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastors and Teachers” as types of “equipping ministers” who are “called” to “equip the saints” (Christians) “for works of ministry” (that is, general ministry).  In this understanding of things, God and the church set apart some Christians (pastors, priests, apostles) to equip the other Christians for their own ministries.  Folk who prefer the term “equipping ministers” sometimes also use the term “coach” or “trainer” for their (paid professional vocational) Ministers in order to keep the focus on the ministry primarily being in the hands of the laity—and the Minister/pastor/coach is supposed to be equipping everybody else for their ministry at work, at home and at church.  Equipping ministry is “full time Christian work” where pastors or priests prepare the laity for general ministry.

5. “The call” (or “life calling”).
When “call” is not capitalized it often refers to the “life calling” or general call from God to all people to live a life of service—to leave the world a better place than they found it—more in line with God’s values.  Every Christian has a “life calling” from God (and, it might also be argued every person—not only Christians alone—has a life calling from God—Christian or not).  Your “life calling” answers one of the deepest question of life—why am I here?   A Life Calling is different than career planning, or even vocational choice—it is about what I need to do with my life to accomplish God’s great plan on earth.  Not merely God’s plan for the church, but His intentions for the whole earth.  That is, God is at work both in the church and the world that His Kingdom might come on Earth—making a world where God’s values prevail.  What is your role in cooperating with God to bring this to pass?  This is your “Life calling.”  A life calling will influence your vocational choices, but it is much bigger than your career or job.  Every person—for sure every Christian—has a “Life Calling” from God.  Finding your life calling may be the most important thing you can do, for it is discovering your purpose for living.  My “call” life calling is what God wants me to do with my life—how I fit in with what God intends to do on earth to bring His kingdom to pass.

6. “The Call”
When “Call” is capitalized it usually refers to a more specific kind of call—the  “Call to full time Christian work” as a pastor, minister or priest—the equipping Ministry.  As outlined above, all people have a “general call” or “life calling”—something God has called them to do in life.  For the professional minister or priest that life calling is often referred to as “a call to full time Christian work.”  It is not higher or better than other callings—but has always been praised in the church as a special call from God. This double use of the terms call and calling can cause confusion among people who often think only pastors or missionaries are called.  Indeed the terms “call” and “vocation” were originally limited only to the priesthood or professional ministry.  But this is changing as the church grows in its understanding of the ministry of all believers, not just the professional priests and pastors.  Out of all Christians with a life calling, God calls some to the equipping ministry—to church vocations where they spend their full time equipping the laity for ministry.  “The call” often refers to the life calling a Minister or priest receives from God—calling them into the professional equipping ministry as a life’s work.

7. “Clergy”
Usually made up of ordained ministers, the clergy is the profession of equipping ministers

8. “Ordained Ministry”
Ordination is the rite where the church sets apart a man or woman for a lifetime of the equipping ministry—as pastor or priest or some other ordained professional ministry.  In most churches it is a solemn rite done only after many years of preparation, examination and service as a pastor or priest.  After this the candidate usually must express a certainty that God has called them to a lifetime of equipping ministry.  Ordination is irrevocable for most churches—“once a priest always a priest.”  Ordination grants the recipient authority for life, though the license to practice as a minister may be withdrawn for matters of discipline, the actual ordination is not revoked.  Ordination is a serious matter and should not be pursued for light or temporary reasons like getting some sort of tax benefit.  For Roman Catholics it is considered a sacrament.   For many denominations only ordained ministers may perform marriages or preside over the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Ordination is the process by which the church sets apart a priest or minister for life. 

9. Non-Ordained Ministry
There are numerous opportunities in the church for “full time ministry” that do not require ordination.  Many of these “jobs” may be filled by either an ordained or an un-ordained person.  The title usually reflects the ordination status of the person.  These jobs are usually staff positions.  For instance an ordained person working with teens (or someone on the “ordination track”) would be called a “Youth Pastor.”   A person doing the same work not seeking ordination—would be called a “Youth Director.”  Same with worship:  An ordained person is usually called a “Minister of worship” while the non-ordained staff person might be called “worship leader.”  Non-ordained Ministry includes full time church vocations (usually staff positions) where a person serves as a professional minister but does not pursue ordination.  Non-ordained ministry usually involves staff positions in a church.

10. “Lay ministry”
Since everybody is called to the general ministry as a Christian, churches use “lay ministry” two ways:  For some it means the regular service that every Christian offers (most often related to ministry through the church, though not always).  Others use “lay ministry” for non-ordained ministry (like a full time youth worker at a church).  For instance in a Catholic monastery there are often two kinds of ministers—ordained priest-monks and lay monks.  In evangelical churches lay ministry almost always means the volunteer ministry of the attendees—usually the ministry they do through the church (like teaching Sunday school or working with youth).   Lay ministry is the ministry done by the laity.

11. “Laity”
The “laity” is a collective term for all non-Ordained Christians.  It is used less often in modern American churches because it seems to define people as second-class citizens in the church, raising the ordained minister above them.  However, no better term has emerged and taken hold to date, so we are stuck with “laity” for the time being.  The laity are the non-ordained people in a church.

12. “Vocation”
The term comes from the Latin vocatio summons and vocare, to call.   Vocation was originally used in the 15th century for the call into the priesthood or a religious order.  Originally only those in religious work had a “vocation” or calling – everyone else simply had a job to make a living.  Gradually vocation came to be broadened to include all people and came to mean the work in which a person is regularly employed.  A related term career also emerged in the 15th century from the Latin carraria or road to denote the over all journey one might take through their life’s work.  In recent times, Christians earnest on helping the laity see all of life, including their job or employment as a calling, have again emphasized the use of vocation among all Christians—that is every Christian has a “life calling” (“vocation”) from God and should pursue their work “as unto the Lord. (1 Cor. 10:31, Col 3:17, 23)

So, are you called or Called?   To the ministry or Ministry?  To general ministry or equipping ministry?  As ;lay or ordained?   What would you add to this list to make it clearer?


From ABC Revolution to GOD Revealation: Letting Go OF The Real Weight

I was 8.5 months into my weight loss journey from close to 400lbs down to 286 when I started filming for ABC Revolution.  I had many people... well let me rephrase that a couple of "close" people ask Why I wanted to televise my personal battle with weight to the world?  After I asked a few more clarification questions I finally arrived at the answer.  "I want to give others like myself who have carried their pain on their bodies for others to judge some hope and inspiration."  My weight problem wasn't about the scales in my bathroom. It was about the scales on my heart that was weighted down with pounds and pounds of JUNK!   What most people don't realize who haven't struggled with weight is it isn't a lack of knowledge or willpower that "FAT" people lack.  It is a lack of  healing from the pain that is on the inside.  The food is only a symptom of a bigger issue that was brewing on the inside of me.  I choose food over many other substances or behaviors because it was want I knew best. I was raised in the church all my life and had come to know realize that Food was an acceptable way for much people to indulge in without the SHAME of SIN.  I found that it is one of the most rampant drugs in many of our Faith communities.  No ones is going to tell you that eating that fried chicken, donuts, coffee cake, or mac and cheese is going to send you to Hell but someone needed say that it will send you to an early grave.


During this process I recognized that I needed to focus on Overall Holistic Wellness vs Visible Change.   Health and Wellness in every area of my life (Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, Physiological, Financial, Mental, Relationship).   Simplified Weight-loss wasn't my goal it was a by product of my goal.  My life had been out of balanced in so many areas that I needed to find that balance in order to maintain my lifestyle transformation.   So my journey to Realness began.   My quote in the past was fake it until you make it.   Being Real wasn't Safe.  I had many times where I attempted to let the real Roschelle come out but she wasn't received with love.  I learned by experience that it wasn't safe and I needed safety.   Safety is one of my top core longings.  So began my disassociation with the real me and the Me that everyone else wanted me to become for them.  The name for that is an EXTREME PEOPLE PLEASER.   Well the weight became a physical and unconscious way of hiding.   I built a wall of flesh around my inner self in an attempt to protect myself from pain.    As you can tell by the photo below I was in some deep deep deep deep pain.

 I look at my little people and said that I want to give them better than I am giving them now.  I don't want to pass down a fat legacy to my girls. What I didn't know was I was going to have to give to myself love so I could teach my girls how to love themselves.   You can't give what you don't have.  I didn't have true love even though I was a Faith Filled person but my faith got very limited when it came to loving myself.  (Another Time and another Blog "Freedom from Religious bondage into God's hands").

My weight representative my grief, abuse, lack of esteem, pain, etc.  Once I got REALLY REAL about those issues Healing started.   It wasn't just an AHA moment. It was and still is a process of transformation and Revelation.  Discovering who I am by just being with I AM.   Interestingly enough I found that the weight was coming off and I was changing from the inside out.  I definitely wasn't as fast as I wanted but God wanted me to enjoy the process of BECOMING.   That is where the true healing comes.  Loving myself down the scale at every juncture was one of the keys to maintaining the weight this time.  There are people who need to know that love isn't waiting for you when you reach a goal its there with you every step of the way towards that Goal.   So stay tune to ABC Revolution and see what the process look like at the end of 5months of my journey.   Lost 56 pounds on the show but a total of 170lbs overall.


Revolutionary Transformation.... The Best Is Yet To Come!

 For those of you who don’t know my back story here's the the reader’s digest version.   

I was raised in the house of a Southern Baptist Minister and grow up a to love the Lord with all my heart.   Got baptized at 5 by my father and have stayed Faithful to Christ since.  In my adult live had a pretty good life got married divorced and remarried and thought I was living a pretty good American Dream  “Cosby Style”.   You know the happy family that always appears to have it made in all situations, College educated, right backgrounds, upper middle class incomes and all the things that look good on the outside.  But Four and half years ago my life which was comfortable, predictable, and somewhat normal changed.  On December 1, 2007 my three daughters died in a house fire.    My world which seemed to me at the time to be great came crashing down.   I didn’t know how I would survived but I knew I couldn’t without God.    God spoke to me when I was contemplating  suicide on the way to Akron Children’s Hospital where my youngest daughter was hanging on for life.  I told God that if I lose all my children I will jump out of the car on the ride back to Cleveland and please  just let me die.  It was in this moment that He spoke a promise  that I have held onto since “ No devastation, no death in your life will ever out shine My glory in it.  Trust me and I will restore to you all that has taken.”     I can’t say that it was easy but I knew I had to trust Him.   

Many more tests and trials have happened over the past four years but God has been faithful to that promise.   I fought food addiction. I turned to food to deal with the grief, pain, abandonment and hurt after that loss and other struggles.   God was faithful to deliver me and  started to change me from the inside out.   Giving up my drug of choice was hard but necessary to completely depend on God for all my needs.    I struggled with a marriage that was unhealthy and wounding after the death of my daughters.   Let me just say that I wasn’t healed from my first marriage before I started this one and I attracted someone who was equally wounded as I.   God was faithful even in my disobedience once I turned to Him with a repentance heart and  still blessed and healed me despite choosing my own way.  God’s grace is truly AMAZING!
Throughout the past few years God was calling me into a deeper intimate relationship with HIM. An intimacy that would require me to stand“Naked and Unashamed” and walk with“transparency and authenticity” along side Him.  I honestly asked myself “how in the world am I going to live out this walk from today forward? Is it truly possible to be that authentic God?”  So I prayed as I usually do when faced with situations I don’t fully understand. "God you really want me to come out of hiding about my struggles and wounds? You mean I have to reveal things about myself that I'm not even ready to fully reveal in private... but your asking me to go public?"  It’s funny that the answer God predictably gives requires us moves us far from our comfort zone.  God’s growth plan is often uncomfortable, humbling, and at times down right painful.  Dying to one’s own way and Resurrecting us to His way is the primary goal.

The answer was clear to me after the rain had gone :).  To Come Out Of the Fat or Weights that held me back to become The Real Roschelle I needed be transparent during the process to achieve God’s seal of authenticity at the end. It meant I had to open up many of my scary closets  and exposing  those"proverbial demons"  to remove the power they had in the dark. (Fear of failure, Rejection, Perfectionism, Shame, Self-Hate/Doubt, lack of personal-esteem, people pleasing, Anxiety, Abused, Religious Judgment etc).   

I was always told growing up that there is placed in everyone a God Sized Dream that can only be accomplished with God.  Well my God Sized Dream is to help others who are still locked in their  personal closets of “Whatever” has or still is wounding them.  The truth is it doesn’t matter what you label it  you can’t heal what your not ready to reveal.  If I'm going to truly teach people to know that God's Grace is Greater than our Grief I must fully walk in that knowledge for myself. That has been the biggest step in my journey toward my God-Sized Dream and I thank God for the power and courage to do it.

On a lighter note I want to share with you a God Moment.

I belong to this awesome mom's group at Garfield Memorial Methodist Church, Pepper Pike Ohio that meets once a week for a bible study and its is completely life giving.   I love this group because I have found true authentic people who are working out their faith with transparency and humility.  There is an unspoken knowing that we are all here to support and encourage each other to grow in our faith without wounding each other in the process.  One of my favorite parts is when we go around and share how God has impacted us during the week or we just felt God's presence in clear way.    They are called God Moments.    These moments by no means have to be a burning bush experience or Peter's Walking on Water with Jesus either but its when you know that God was simply there.  I’ve had many  of these God moments over the last four year!

I would like to share just one of those with you as I end.  One morning last Spring I woke up before 5am and went on a 4 mile walk. I felt so refreshed from this walk and time of mediation with God  that as approached my house I slowed down to savory more time in His presence.     When I  reached the edge of my front lawn I stood there and just stared at the house.   My intent of staring was to conjure up memories of the structure before the fire and during the rebuilding process.  I stood there for almost a half hour and couldn't remember what it look like before or during the rebuilding process.  I could only see it for what it was now a beautiful home.   I felt a knowing deep in my spirit this "That is what I am doing with you."   WOW!  God you are making me into a new creation and the old is going away and the new is here.  "I am moving forward from today towards an Authentic (Public, Private, Spiritual) Life even if it means I do it afraid."    God Thank you for letting the old Roschelle Died once again and resurrecting a NEW CREATURE in your IMAGE for Your Glory.


The Art of Authenticity


If you would have asked me 10 yrs old was I living an Authentic life I would have said Absolutely!  If you would have asked me two weeks ago I would have given you the same answer.  However, something has changed in my life that has caused me to re-evaluate my answer to that question.  What has changed?  Well I actually looked up the definition of the words Authentic and Authenticity.   This is what I found:
Definition: genuineness
Synonyms: accuracy, correctness, credibility, dependability, factualness, legitimacy, purity, realness, reliability, trustworthiness, truthfulness, validity, veritableness

Well the truth is I don't fully meet any of these adjectives.  I'm not always dependable because I'm late or I don't check schedules and I drop the ball on commitments.  I have lied by omission. (A lie is a lie even if it is by omission.)  (An Example about me lying about my weight) I found myself recently in a situation where I didn't realize that one small untruth would actually be compounded over time and end up being bigger than I thought so I came clean and by doing so lost credibility which is the by product of untruthfulness. After thinking about these situations I knew I wanted to obtain this thing called Authenticity.


I "really" began to ask myself how do I live out this in my life from today and that terrified me.  So I prayed as I normally do when faced with life's situations. "God you really want me to come out of hiding about my struggles and demons? You mean I have to reveal things about myself that I'm not even ready to reveal to myself in private... but now publicly?"  Its funny that the answer God always gives us usually makes us  more uncomfortable because growth is often uncomfortable, humbling, and at times down right painful. To become the Real Roschelle I needed have an authentic process in order to achieve authenticity at the end. It meant me opening up about a lot of stuff that I wasn't ready to face or at the least be "Genuine" about.  It meant exposing a lot of "proverbial demons"  and removing the power that they had when they were hidden. (Fear, Shame, Self Doubt, low self esteem, pride, people pleasing, etc)  If I'm going to truly help people  know that God's Grace is the way I must start walking in that knowledge for myself. That's been the biggest step in my journey.   Thank you God for the courage to do it.

The 1st area of living out true Authenticity: From People-Esteem or Self-Esteem to God-Esteem.  

I have lived most of my life caring more about people's opinions  and wanting their approval that it caused me alter my values and compromise myself (values, morals, standards, etc).  It still has been a  huge crutch for me wondering about others thought about me because I "needed" that reassurance to feel ok or valued.  It is still a fight within me to push past that need of others people's approval for me to know that I'm  whole and complete.  A good girlfriend  shared with something from the Big Book in AA " That its none of your business what others think of you." Its only your business to live what you think about yourself."  Easier said than Done :).   So I project this strong black nothing can stop me because I'm "Super Buppie" (Black Young Urban Professional) or "Huxtable" image.  When I still struggle with image of  everything looking like "Cosby Show" on the outside when it feels more like "The Roseanne Show" on the inside.  

I like metaphors so bear with me as I explain in-depth.   I've always known that I had this three staging areas of my life. The Front stage, Backstage, and Innermost stage.  The front-stage curtains are drawn so no one could really see the mess I was keeping in  the back staging area.  This is where I lived 80% of my life.  Really concerned about the Front to keep people from snooping too close to those ropes that would pull the curtains open on my insecurities and normal life mess. 

Then my Backstage is like that junk closet in your house where you throw everything in it that you don't have the time to get rid of or sort out.  It is the door your afraid a guest will open and get hit by the loads of stuff that might fall on them.   (I hope I'm explaining this and not confusing you with my imagery.. darn there I go with that self-doubt thing again.   I digressed.) When I would find the courage to open up this area of my life to others some people only wanted to come and view to spread to others about my mess.  Some people would see my junk and jump in there to assist in the clean up and let me know that I wasn't alone in the mess.  What were some of the messes or as I called them "My Hot Messes": self doubt, marital problems, weight struggles, grief, shame, fear, sexual abuse survivor, in-laws or out-law issues etc.)  

Then there is my Innermost stage. This space is only big enough for me and God.  There is no room for any of my coverings or baggage.  Its just me "Naked" before God.  It is in this place that I found myself a few weeks ago when I knew I had to start living a truly Authentic life.  Not just before God but before the world everyday.  This is when I truly moved from People-Esteem or Self-Esteem, and stepped into God-Esteem.  

I have to be truthful that I sometimes feel like I'm Faking it or Portraying a"Pseudo" version of this God Esteem on occasions because my "Emotions and Feelings" don't match the "Truth or Knowledge" I've obtain.  Where I know the biblical principles or versus and can quote them I have yet to experience the feeling or emotion of that principle. I'm waiting for the feelings to match my knowledge.   "I am moving forward from today towards an Authentic (Public, Private, Spiritual) Life even if it means I do it afraid."