We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage... (Romans 12:6-8 NIV)
So for the past few weeks I've been dreaming about how I'll write some amazing blogs about Spiritual Gifts...expand on them, talk about my own, make plans for it and instead my head and life has been filled with so many mixed up feelings, actions and obsessions. I do believe that much of it does relate to my spiritual gift of 'encouragement/exhortion/mercy'...haven't set on one for sure yet but ironically (okay not so at all) the top practical gift that comes under these is writing.
Anyway, I truly believe that God has given me the gift of encouragement
The gift of encouragement (also called the gift of exhortation) involves motivating, encouraging, and consoling others so they mature in their walk with Jesus.
People with the Gift of Encouragement
Christians with this gift have an unusual sensitivity for and are attracted to those who are discouraged or struggling. As a result, people tend to pursue them for healing words, gracious truth, and compassionate counsel. These people also tend to have a high degree of patience and optimism. They may have a knack for one-on-one relationships and prefer working with an individual or small group.
I believe this is what I do well, especially in my TTTS world...maybe best in my TTTS world...maybe only in my TTTS world. It really is irrelevant...if God is guiding me to do it then it'll happen wherever it happens. But as I say this I realize that it is in other places too and, hopefully, occurs best with the keyboard under these fingers of mine and on the is very blog you are reading.
So anyway...I have been really working at discovering this gift God has bestowed on me... working on and exploring. And in the midst of that the same tough struggles with the stuff I wrote about a bit ago about spiritual gifts and my support of TTTS families has come back...three fold. And now the tension in that area of my life has caused me to do things I am not proud of, has made me think and rethink my decisions and question so much of what is right and wrong in a not for profit world. And it has made me wonder what my responsibility is at times, what does Jesus want from me when I am faced with something I feel is wrong, unethical etc. And I am not sure I have an answer.
When I researched it I found this...
1 Corinthians 8:7-13
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not [a]commend us to God; we are neither [b]the worse if we do not eat, nor [c]the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this [d]liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
Does this activity defile my conscience? Could this activity hinder the growth of a fellow believer? Could I cause another brother to stumble, if so I would be better not to be involved in something that could affect a brother. They may have a weaker conscience. It could cause them to believe this is OK and even get themselves involved in something much more worse. For another it could divisions and disunity between brothers that could affect the whole body of Christ.
Does the activity of this person or group 'defile' my conscience? Definitely. It has been driving me crazy because I really feel what is happening is wrong. Could it, the actions, cause another Christian to stumble??? Not sure... I think that the actions of the person are an act of stumbling but I am not sure if it would cause another person to stumble in their walk with the Lord...only if they knew what was happening and suppported it I think. It is defintely something I no longer want anything to do with... that much I know.(not that it matters since I've been banned!!!) And all that has happened with it lately has not been good for me at all.
1 Corinthians 10:23-31
New International Version (NIV)
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
Does this activity edify myself or another believer? Does this activity bring glory to God? Could this cause give Christ a bad name, since we are ambassadors and representatives of Christ, everything we do is often seen by others as a reflection of Christ, bringing reproach on Him, the Church and body of Christ.
Hmmmm...this is a tough one. This person told me just a few weeks ago that that 'she too is a Christian'. If this is how a Christian conducts themselves on behalf of many family's memorials or tributes to TTTS babies then I am not sure...just so not sure.
And so I continue to struggle because what I have learned about some of the places that support can be found in within the TTTS world don't always operate on the same principals that I think is right. It has really torn me up inside and I really don't know what I should do or say. By speaking my thoughts, not in any rude way or even accusing way...simply questioning expenses and even giving the benefit of the doubt...I was banned from a group where I have enjoyed giving support. And this came within days of me apologizing to someone in this group for any preveious ill will between us...and my apology being accepted.
And the more I thought about what to do, the more I fixated I became. I even created a different persona in attempts to get back into that group. But that just felt horrible...I mean to impersonate anyone who has gone through this dreadful diagnosis but not be honest about it...that is horrible!
But what to do, what do do became my mantra and something I just couldn't let go of. I prayed on it for days and still no answers. And then last weekend Geoff and I attended a marriage conference called Love and Respect. As an aside, I highly recommend the conference, the program and the books to anyone. You can find information about it here.
During this conference we were reminded that all of our actions on earth have consequences. When we reach the day of judgement, when we stand before the Lord, He will look at our lives and tell us how he feels about it. Not everything is going to be perfect, not everything will go as planned. And just because someone doesn't respond the way that makes it easier for you (in marriage that is your spouse...who might not respond favourably to your attempts to be respectful or loving OR in a family that could be your kids and no matter how hard you try you just can't 'get them to listen' or give you respect), you still must follow the teachings of Christ, you must work hard to be what He wants you to be, to follow what He has instructed you to be no matter how hard that is and no matter whether it is received or not. And when you do, when your life is over and as a Christian who believes Christ has died for their sins, who has asked that Christ forgive them for their sins and help them to live a life according to his teachings...when your time of judgement comes you can feel pretty confident that this is what He will say....
Matthew 25:23 NIV
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
And so I guess that it really isn't up to me to decide what is right or wrong, it is not up to me to get involved directly and decide what is right or wrong...God will do that. I do believe I am responsible to ensure that I share some of what I've learned with others so that people can make informed choices, so others do not end up being mislead or misrepresented. And I know that it is also my responsiblity to remove myself from the negativity that this has brought me...because the negativity is bringing me to a place that is not following Christ's teachings and again, it's not up to me to pass judgement or dish out consequences for actions that are quite likely unethical. I am not the one, who those who may be participating, in this need to face.
So I will say this much about this and then it is so very much time to move away from any contact with this particular organization and the person who founded it and runs it...
If you donate your money, anywhere, you need to research the place you donate well before handing that money out. GuideStar is a website that may help you to navigate this... they are US based but it seems that you can get some Canadian information. Here and here are two links to organizations heavily involved with TTTS support, fundraising, etc. I will only say this much more on this subject and then I am dedicating myself to providing support to TTTS families with the support of the Fetal Hope Foundation....
Fetal Hope ROCKS!!! They raised around $90 000 in 2010 and it was split up at over $30 000 each to helping families travel to have surgeries or see doctors and to supporting those doctors through grant programs. They are the group that I have found the most support in and am so grateful for all they did to help us on our journey. They even contacted various doctors on our behalf when we were questioning test results while I was in the hospital. They called me then to see how I was, they emailed, they connected! And afterwards they were there to help me pick up the pieces and to feel that I was not alone. I have spent the last 2 years working at ways to help them and it is beginning to come to fruition...it that is a feeling that warms my heart. And maybe just another part of that spritual gift... thanks God!