Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gift Recycling?

Does anyone else still have Christmas gifts that have never been used—gifts from Christmas 1983? It’s a little guilt inflicting, isn’t it? Would any of us admit to Chia heads that remain fuzzless? How about salad shooters that have yet to launch a single veggie?

Not to add more guilt or anything, but who among us would dare admit how many of our furless pottery heads and dead vegetable bazookas we’ve slyly slipped into the garage sale bag? If you’re a Chia lover or you have a need for a salad bomber, try making the rounds to a few garage sales as soon as summer hits. If nothing else, you could snatch up Chia-shooters galore to give away next Christmas. Some people skip the garage sale middle man and recycle their own unused gifts the next year.

Keep in mind that gift recycling can get a little tricky. I have a friend who this year received from her mother-in-law the same Clapper she bought for her recycler-in-law the year before. Imagine a Clapper that’s been mailed across the country. Twice. That we know of! I think the thing may have more frequent flyer miles than I do! It’s the Clapper heard round the world.

Still, there really are gifts that are at their absolute best when they’re recycled. Each one of us has received a gift of ministry. First Peter 4:10 doesn’t leave a single one of us out when it says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (NKJV). Each one of us! When we’re not recycling those gifts the Father has given us, using them to minister to others, we’re not being good stewards of his grace. It’s eternally more wasteful than any hairless Chia.

Let’s finish out the year in service to him. What a great ending. Even better than “clap off”!

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Keep the Ball Rolling

I went to exercise class the other day and the teacher had us use those giant balls as part of our workout. I was on a roll. But it was definitely NOT a good roll. I could tell I was getting on the nerves of the gal next to me about the third or fourth time I all but mowed the poor thing over.

The giant ball thingy had a mind of its own. It seemed determined to escape my grasp. Or maybe the ball was trying to start a fight. Not only did it keep getting away from me, but I think I heard it snickering that third time it smacked the lady exercising beside me. It got her right upside her cute little head band. I was a little worried that if this giant ball didn’t beat the tar out of me, cute sweat-band-girl would.

We were supposed to lie on the ball, belly-down with our palms on the floor in front, then work our way out so that just our legs were balancing on the ball. I would get about to the thighs and then have to scramble and sprint after my ball. I don’t know what everyone got so upset about. It’s not like I was TRYING to bowl all their water bottles over. Isn’t that what the caps are for?

The instructor said something interesting during one of my scrambles. She said that when our body’s core is strong, we have good balance. Let’s face it, my inner core is pretty pathetic. There are muscles in there, I’m sure, but they’re so buried under all those layers of doughnuts and cheesy nachos that I’m doubting I’ll ever find them.

I want it to be different in the spiritual heart of who I am. I want to be strong at the core of everything that makes me tick. When life seems all out of balance and I’m rolling this way and that, the first thing I need to ask myself is, “how’s my core?”

What is it that makes a solid spiritual core? It’s a life lived in surrender and obedience. Galatians 5:22-23 in The Message says, “But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”

Hmmm, “direct our energies wisely,” eh? Maybe a strong physical core and a strong spiritual core are more related than I think. I’ll keep up the exercise in both—“keep the ball rolling,” as it were. And maybe I can get to a place where I walk into the exercise class without everyone grabbing their water bottles.

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