Workplace chaplains

We try to make our company an easy place for people to meet Jesus.  

Mike used to be an Anglican minister. His church morphed into a network of house churches and he and his wife now also work as chaplains for several companies. Mike and Carol come to our company on a regular basis as workplace chaplains. They teach the principles of teamwork as well as being available to our staff  to talk over any issues they might have.  We believe their impact has been to increase productivity and promote company loyalty. They provide support to our employees in times of difficulty. We have won several awards for being one of the best small companies to work for in our city, or for “innovative health and wellness,” and I know that workplace chaplaincy has been a big part of that. 

I’m often asked what a pastor can do if he no longer has a church. So it was with interest that I saw this post from a different Mike–Mike Tummillo. Mike has been a workplace chaplain for some time. Here’s what he says:

Is your church utilizing the services of Chaplains as part of their ministry?

The best thing about Chaplains is they can serve all day long and in places where the local church usually can’t go. I’m sure you’re familiar with the work of Chaplains in the military, law enforcement and in prisons. You’re probably familiar with Chaplains going into nursing homes, jails, and hospitals, too. But did you know Chaplains are in workplaces and at disaster sites, too? Fact is, Chaplains are often officiating weddings and funerals, baptisms and baby dedications so the local church ministers won’t have to.

As Founder of The Church @ Work (TCAW), I received a word of prophesy stating that hundreds of Chaplains would be certified through this ministry. Since then, we have certified more than 50 Chaplains from all over the nation. Many of these Chaplains have been trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), CERT, CPR and, like myself, have used this training in crisis situations including the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma F-5 tornado and the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion.

Disasters are on the increase! Jesus said there’d be days like these. A disaster doesn’t have to be a tornado touching down or an active shooter. For many individuals, it’s a marriage falling apart, a pregnant teen, a son killed in a motorcycle crash, or a spouse incarcerated for selling meth, or a bad doctor’s report.

Do you know anyone who would appreciate the opportunity to serve in this way? They do not have to possess a seminary or Bible College background. All they need to be is available. These should be individuals who know God has ordained them and they desire to do more to build His Kingdom… more than tithing and spectating, that is. These are folks with so much to give and, within the church structure, have simply run out of opportunities there. Becoming certified through TCAW will reduce the chances they’ll become dissatisfied with their current church and may reduce chances they’ll look into a larger ministry with more opportunities for them.

Serving as a Chaplain has been the most satisfying ministry I’ve ever imagined. Chances are, someone you know would feel the same way. Pass this message along to them right now. They’ll be very grateful you did!

Every blessing,

Michael Tummillo

Founder, The Church @ Work (TCAW)

MikeTummillo@me.com

Workplace

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Lessons from my vegetable garden

I enjoy gardening–especially when the weather is cooler. Usually I don’t have too much difficulty getting a reasonable crop from my vegetable garden. This year, however, was different:

  • I’ve had a great supply all year of chard.
  • I can’t keep up with the peppers and okra.
  • Tomatoes, not so good this year. Lack of water, perhaps?
  • Fig tree–barren. It gets one more year and then I’ll chop it down!
  • Lemon tree–was doing great until the grandkids picked about 20 baby lemons for a game they were playing.
  • Peaches–squirrels got them over a weekend when I was away :-(
  • Squash of all kinds–zero!
  • Melons canteloupe and water melons–two!
  • Eggplants–one!

These last three vegetables are a little different. They all have distinguishable male and female flowers, and it takes cross-pollination of a female flower to produce fruit. Usually, if I’m having a poor harvest, I’ll cross pollinate the flowers with a brush.

This year, however, that was not possible.

None of my plants had any female flowers! So no harvest.

Makes you think.

Peppers and okra

10 things I enjoy about international travel

Tony and I have had the privilege of visiting many different countries (30+), many of them in a ministry/teaching context. Here’s what I love about international travel:

  1. Hearing incredible stories of how God is at work in different nations. Many of them cannot be publicly spoken of, but they help to raise my faith level and challenge me to believe that yes, God can do it here, too, as well as elsewhere around the world.
  2. Meeting indigenous people and learning about their lifestyles–including spending time in some of their homes.
  3. Having to depend on the Lord for many different things that I take for granted here–like is the water safe or should I brush my teeth with bottled water? (If in doubt, use bottled water!)
  4. Understanding a little more of the culture, politics, economics, etc of different nations.
  5. The sense of adventure–especially when some risk is involved. I guess the Lord created me this way– I don’t mind the insecurity of international travel. And I often find that God teaches me more during those times than when I’m comfortable at home.
  6. Learning how some believers live with persecution–they are among the most joy-filled people I’ve ever met.
  7. Eating what is set before me–sometimes delicious, other times, a little harder to cope with. I remember being taken out to breakfast where my choice was between pig’s intestine, pig’s trotter or chicken feet. (I chose the chicken feet–lots of flavor but kind of chewy!)
  8. Seeing the hunger to learn more that many believers in these nations have. They willingly sit through many hours of teaching per day. And we have to speak in a way that translates across cultures.
  9. Being challenged by the extreme poverty of developing nations.  We have so much wealth in our Western nations. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters in these nations? (The answer may not lie in giving money!)
  10. It’s a huge privilege to see something of the countryside as well as the cities as we travel by car or taxi. Many countries (and their people) are breathtakingly beautiful. Is the country flat or mountainous? How do the people make a living? What can we learn from them? What obvious problems do they face? I love the the opportunity to visit the occasional tourist attraction too, like the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysee in Paris, or some of the temples in India.

Tony and me outside a Buddhist temple, Taiwan

Tony and me outside a Buddhist temple in Taiwan

To be, or not to be, a feminist

I love Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women. In it, she says, “Jesus loves us on our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens, he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us–calls us beloved….  Scripture affirms and celebrates women.” She writes a compelling argument for being a Christian feminist.

I agree with Sarah Bessey! And in a secular sense, I agree with equal pay, equal rights, freedom from sexual harassment and abuse, freedom from gender discrimination, the abolition of sex trafficking etc. I especially believe women are equal in the Kingdom and that they are not limited in the role they can play in the body of Christ.

But there’s something about the word “feminist” that has always bothered me. The term “feminism,” especially in a secular sense, can represent things I don’t particularly want to be associated with–like abortion and the whole gender/marriage debate. Feminists are often portrayed as putting down men, or at the very least, not needing them.

So it was with great interest that I learned during a lengthy car journey, that the highly talented musician/singer, Laurie Thornton, who was driving the car, had studied Arab feminist (an oxymoron?) literature in college. We had a fascinating conversation, and she expounded on an idea that made great sense of what makes me cautious about feminism.

Here’s what she said: the problem is that most people believe there’s a finite amount of authority available. (I’m not sure about the word authority here, but I don’t know what other word to use. Bear with me–it will make sense.) The only way that one gender can have more authority is if the other gender has less. So if men are the ones to have authority, then women, by definition, have to have less. In feminism, often the reverse is seen to be true. If women have authority, it comes at the expense of men. There’s only one pie–the question is how is it shared?

But our God isn’t like that. There isn’t a finite supply of authority. He can create more.  The pie is infinite. If women are to have authority, it doesn’t need to be at the expense of men. God will give them an authority of their own without diminishing that of men.

It’s the difference between having a bucket of water and a hose. We treat authority as though there’s only a bucket of water available. In reality, God has a hose and there’s plenty for everyone.

Feminism

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My apologies that the link to the printable version of A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for Women didn’t work in the last post. That is now fixed.

An update and an invitation


I’m back!!

First, an update. It’s been nearly two months since I last posted–an eventful two months. During that time, Tony and I settled his mom into a rehab facility following a serious fall where she shattered her wrist, and then we closed out her apartment. We’ve  traveled to Kathmandu (Nepal), Yangon (Myanmar) and Bangkok (Thailand). I can’t disclose what we were doing there, but it was an amazing time. I’ve spoken at workshops at the Luke 10 conference and attended  an awesome Captivating conference (my oldest son, Jon, works for Ransomed Heart) in Colorado. I’ve spent time with my grandkids…

Knowing that my time for writing was going to be limited and that in some places access to the Internet would be either limited or nonexistent, I decided to take a break from blogging–the first in about four years. My apologies that I didn’t even respond to your comments during that time. I will slowly get round to replying to them.

Now I’m ready to blog again! But first some practical details.

A while ago I wrote a short e-book called “A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for Women.” Over the years I have read dozens of books about the role of women, some of them complex theology books.  In the e-book, I examine some of the Scriptures that apparently limit the role of women, and look at some alternative ways those verses can, with great integrity, be interpreted in a different way. That e-book is now available, either via the “challenging scriptures for women” tab at the top of this blog, or a printable version can be found here.

It’s been several months since The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church was released. It’s been wonderful to be able give away all the proceeds to helping female church planters in developing nations, and to victims of sex trafficking.

One of the outcomes of the book has been a series of round tables for both men and women to equip them for the conversation about men and women working together as co-equals in the Kingdom. For some, these have been life-changing as we’ve listened to God and engaged in discussion around the topic.

We have two more of these round tables scheduled for the remainder of this year. The first, here at our home in Austin, Texas, will be on Friday, October 31st and Saturday November 1st. The second will be in Dallas, Texas, the following weekend, November 7th and 8th. If you are interested in attending, leave a comment and I’ll get information to you. We’d love to see you there.

Kathmandu

Sometimes life throws you a curveball

Our curveball?

curveball

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About two weeks ago, at 3am, we were woken by a phone call we’ve been dreading.

Tony’s mom had fallen in the middle of the night. Would Tony go at once to the ER.

Sure enough, Penelope, a strong Christian who has served the Lord faithfully all her life in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, had fractured her wrist in several places. So, of course, after they had set her arm, we brought her back home with us.

After a few days of looking after her 24 hours a day, it became apparent that we are not able to give her the care she needs. Her doctors also advised us that she should no longer live independently–it was her second fall in two weeks.

What to do? It’s the problem many people face with their elderly parents. It’s a tough decision. Would she do best at our home if we brought in extra nursing care? Would she do better in a facility that could care for her where there were people around all day.  (She loves talking with people and sharing the Lord with them).

In the end, Penelope made the decision for us. She and Tony had passed a skilled nursing facility about 5 minutes from our home while returning from a doctor visit. They both felt they should investigate it. Not only can the facility handle all the rehab Penelope needs for her arm, they had a bed available. She was quite sure this was the Lord’s provision for her. So a couple of days ago she moved in.

Why do I tell you all this?

I’ve been blogging two to three times a week for several years. You may (or may not) have noticed I’ve not blogged in a couple of weeks. It was precipitated by the lack of time because of the situation with Tony’s mom, but I’ve decided to take a break from blogging for a month or so. We not only have to clear Penelope’s apartment in the next few days, we are shortly going to some developing nations in Asia to speak about simple/organic church. Other members of the family will stay here to look after her.

But before I “sign off” for a few weeks, I’d like to share something else with you. My last post was a brilliant poem (Mary Go Round) about the sex trade by Anita Scott. Anita wrote telling me how she came to create the poem. The post garnered a lot of views, so I thought you might be interested in this email from her.

Felicity, My friend asked me a specific question. She asked what did I want people’s response to be when they watch or read the poem. 
I told her: When I wrote the poem, it was a few hours after studying sex trafficking online for hours. Right after that, I put on some music and let myself imagine what it would be like to be in a dark room hour after hour.  That’s probably a really crazy imagination, but I did.
 
I couldn’t write the poem until I was actually in the poem.  I had been trying for months to think of ways to write this poem.  I was trying to become inspired.  I don’t think the Holy Spirit wanted me to become inspired.  It was more like He wanted me to become Mary so I could write for her.  
 
That being said, I want people’s response to be whatever God asks of them.  If He asks them to raise awareness, then so be it. If He asks them to speak out against from a pulpit, so be it. If He asks them to sponsor a woman to find safety, then so be it.  I want the words from the poem to convict and let people see the reality of what happens to women who are treated like sex slaves.  I want areas of their hearts to become awakened with passion to help set “Mary’s” all around the world free.

 

 

Mary Go Round

Anita stunned the room!

We’ve  held a couple of round tables in our home on the topic of men and women working together as co-equals in the Kingdom. One of the subjects we tackle is justice for women around the world. At the end of a discussion on justice  a couple of weeks ago, Anita Scott, a school teacher who is having a profound impact in an inner city school in  Dallas asked:

“Can I read you a poem I wrote?”

Of course! We were delighted to have her contribution.

She then delivered this amazing poem about girls and sex trafficking and social justice. You could have heard a pin drop. We were stunned. Then a buzz of conversation broke out.

We all encouraged her she had to do more with this poem. Thankfully she has a very talented brother who has created a video.

Here it is: Mary Go Round by Anita Scott. Thanks, Anita! I pray this poem touches hearts and challenges many!

Both male and female

Floyd McClung has reached out to the women God brought across his path and championed them in their callings. For more than 20 years, he and his wife, Sally, have discipled women who are now making a difference in the nations. Floyd contributed a chapter to The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church. Here’s a quote from the chapter.

To be clear, I believe leaders can be both male and female. Obviously the church body is comprised of both genders. And certainly, martyrs have been both male and female. Missionaries are both male and female.

But it is important to be more specific, lest we overlook the obvious: both women and men have impacted nations for God because both genders are called by God and both are given leadership gifts.

I believe leadership in the church is not meant to be gender-specific because, at its core, leadership is about service. It is not about an office or position. Leaders don’t serve in order to be leaders; they serve because that’s what leaders do. Leaders serve. Period. When we abandon a hierarchical, worldly view of leadership and consider it from this perspective, we can see that both woman and men can, and already do, use their gifts to serve–that is, lead.

The church worldwide has been shaped, led , and taught by both men and women– starting in the home, and moving into every sphere of church and public life.

SwanJacketfinal

How tame is our God?

How tame is our God? Consider this quote from AW Tozer:

The God of the modern evangelical rarely astonishes anybody. He manages to stay pretty much within the constitution. Never breaks our bylaws. He’s a very well-behaved God and very denominational and very much one of us, and we ask Him to help us when we’re in trouble and look to Him to watch over us when we’re asleep. The God of the modern evangelical isn’t a God I could have much respect for. But when the Holy Ghost show us God as He is, we admire Him to the point of wonder and delight. (Gems from Tozer)

  • How domesticated is the God we worship?
  • Do we confine  him within our evangelical boxes?
  • Do we ask him to color within the lines we create for him?
  • Are our expectations of him limited by a narrow theology?

Or is he allowed to surprise and astonish us?

“Aslan is not a tame lion.”

Aslan lion

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God’s love language

I sometimes wake in the night, and if I can’t get back to sleep, I get up to pray. It’s become a habit I’ve learned to appreciate. We have a long hallway in our house, and I love to walk up and down that hallway seeking the Lord.

Yesterday morning, in the early hours, I began my time with God, as I usually do, in worship and praise. I found myself pondering the question, how do I show God how much I love him? What is his love language?

Which took me to in my thinking to the book,The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D Chapman. The five love languages Gary describes are different ways that people best experience love, especially from their spouses. The five he focuses on are

  • words of affirmation
  • quality time
  • gifts
  • acts of service
  • physical touch.

As I began pondering and praying, I found myself thinking that, with the obvious exception of physical touch, all these are ways we can express our love to God.

Words of affirmation: God loves to receive our praise and worship. It even says that he inhabits the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3).

Quality time: our lives are so busy that it’s easy to neglect spending time in God’s presence. Or perhaps more relevant, how do we, (like Brother Lawrence) learn to experience his presence even in the mundane busyness of life.

Gifts: Although it includes finances, I don’t think this is the primary way we give to God. We give him our lives, becoming a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). He’s delighted when our lives bear fruit–and this includes the fruit of others becoming followers of Jesus.

Acts of service: It sometimes gets overlooked because we cannot earn our salvation, but God delights in our service for him–as we lay down our lives to help others. Just yesterday, thinking about acts of service being a way to express my love for him helped me to perform an act of service that I usually prefer to avoid.

I know that this doesn’t begin to touch on other ways we can love God like obedience and the quality of our character, but I found it a helpful concept.

What do you think?

heart

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