Find and Use Your Gifts

My uncle Joe was a great musician. His instrument of choice – the organ. He knew how to really make that organ sing! Lately, I’ve been thinking of him. He died so long ago – I don’t know why this is on my mind now. He sang and played with gospel choirs and musicians all over the region where he lived. On one occasion, he wrote and composed a song especially for my mother’s wedding. The song was entitled I belong to your heart. I cannot remember the exact moment the song was played during the wedding – I was too little. In fact, right now, I cannot remember all the lyrics either – bummer… But I do remember the melody.

It was a beautiful song. When he sang it, he gave it his all. He was committed to it. He used his God-given gift to bless those that would listen.

I think today that we should be a little more like Uncle Joe. By that I mean that we should be committed to the gift(s) that we have. God has given each of us a gift. If you don’t know what your gift is, you can easily find out by taking a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, available through your local church or online. (Just google Spiritual Gifts Inventory). There are plenty of free ones to take too – so don’t spend money when you don’t have to. But, my point is this, knowing that you are gifted in some way means that you should use that God-given gift to glorify the One that gave it to you.

Some of us are gifted but refuse to enact the gift based on fear. God says “fear not, for I am with you” Isaiah 41:10

Some of us are gifted but refuse to act on it because we don’t have the time. Well, all time belongs to God – when you step out in faith to begin using your gifts for His glory, you will be amazed at how your time multiplies.

Some of us are gifted but refuse to press forward in it because we’ve failed in the past. No one is perfect. Mistakes are common to all. So, enable within yourself a little something call perseverance. You can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you. Philippians 4:13

Find you gift (if you haven’t) and then use your gift to the glory of God. You’ll never know how many lives you’ll impact while you’re living and even after you’re gone.

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An Interesting Comparison

I worked into the night last night. I had a 24-hour turnaround for a project. So, what started out as a pretty normal Tuesday turned into a “let’s get this done” type of day. Eating at my desk. Working late into the night. Going to bed early this morning. Back at work on time. But, the one thing that I noticed is that I never complained. Now, admittedly, the bad economy has something to do with that. I’m grateful to have a job because I have these pesky things called bills that demand my attention. However, what caught my attention most is the comparison that sprung to mind.

Why is it that the things that we do for the world – and even for ourselves – our so-called livelihood, don’t really bother us when we have to do a little more or break our routine? I believe it’s because we can immediately see the benefit of doing a little more right then. For me, it means the satisfaction of a job well done and the slides that will go to management being completed within the requested timeframe. My flesh feels satisfied that I was able to do it.

But what about spiritual things? Why is it that if church service goes beyond the time limits that we expect that we are upset and bothered? Our smiles can turn to frowns when we want the preacher to go ahead and wrap up or we stop thinking about the moment that we are in for the moment that we are trying to get to? How is that we limit our worship and we limit the things that will bring up closer to God but will gladly go above and beyond for the tangible things?

It’s something to think about.

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An Initial Sermon, Not an Initial Dance

God is still calling and still using people. That’s an overly simple statement, but I really believe it.

I went to an initial sermon Sunday evening. It was really neat because I saw two people stand to give their sermons. Both great. My friend went second and she was phenomenal. Prior to the initial sermon, she was telling me about her stomach being in knots and how she was nervous. But I told her that was exactly where she needed to be because she would be leaning on Jesus.

I love my friend because she is such a vessel for God. She has been leaning and depending on Jesus for such a long time. I love her because she is a true believer that is rooted in the Word of God. She has study aids that she actually uses – they are worn through their constant use – which means to me that she has that knowledge deep in her heart. She has had so many hard circumstances but she has pressed her way. She’s an example.

Who is an example in your life? I’m sure that you know somebody that can be described as “against all odds.” Against all odds, my friend believes God. She places her complete trust in Him no matter what. And, that’s the kind of witness that we need in this world today.

Yesterday was her initial sermon but it was not her initial dance with God. I like to use “dance” to imply intimacy. I’m not talking about that jirating, booty shaking stuff. I’m talking more classical dancing where there are two people and one leads and the other follows and you end up with movements that look like moving artwork. It becomes beautiful. It becomes ministry. God leads and she accompanies as they dance together. She is skilled in His Word and I cannot wait to see what the Lord does with her ministry.

God bless you my friend! I love you!

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Are You Hurry-Sick?

I’ve been thinking about Hurry Sickness lately. It’s a term that I got from John Ortberg in his book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.” It’s a good book – I recommend it.

Our society glorifies those that can really multi-task. We uplift those who can do everything – fitting so much into one day, just to survive with a completely checked off task list to do it again the very next day. These are the movers and shakers. They get things done and we can’t get enough of them.

But what price do they pay? Can I be personal – what price have I paid?

I was a multi-tasking machine. It made me feel good to look at a full calendar and to think about the many things that I had on my plate. It pleased my flesh when I could rattle off the multi-things and multiple people that I had to deal with and encounter in a day. But, I’ve paid a price for pleasing my flesh.

I’ve been sick and didn’t know it. I’ve been hurry sick.

But, thanks be to God, that while I was sick, I had some time to really consider the error of my ways. I came up with a saying that stuck with me, it made me relax and turn off my computer. I asked myself what would be different if I were to die. If I died, would the company that I give so much to remember me long term? Would they name anything after me? Probably not. Sure, they would do something nice for my funeral, but after it was all said and done, as generous a company as it is, they would hire someone else to do my job. The company has a business to run. And, I realized that I have a life to live.

What matters is not what people say about us or what we can say that we did. What matters most is what we are doing for the Kingdom of God. So, if you are suffering from hurry-sickness- always rushing around even when there is nothing to do; picking the shortest line so you don’t have to wait while also keeping your eye on that other line looking at the person that would have been you; setting up mock races to see who can do something faster; driving, listening to the radio, eating and talking to someone all at the same time – please take a moment to consider your state – then RELAX … SLOW DOWN … and LIVE.

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For Your Consideration

I just preached a message, For Your Consideration, about running the race – perservance and pressing on in our faith. And, I have to tell you, this message is still hanging with me. I spoke from Hebrews 12:1-7 where I encouraged the congregants to:

1. Consider them – the great cloud of witnesses
2. Consider Him – Jesus, the author and finisher
3. Consider God – Our loving Father

I hope that you will take the time to review these seven verses from Hebrews 12. They encourage me to run on a little bit further, even when I am tired, knowing that I am not alone. They encourage me to press on just a little bit more because Jesus, my role model and example has done so much more – even shedding His blood. They encourage me to be obedient to the Father because if I fail to do what is right according to the instruction manual that He has left for us, then I know that chastisement is coming.

There are many things to consider in this message. God revealed those things that were needful to the congregation in which I was speaking. But, I am sure that in my study time on another occasion, He could just reveal something else. For in my humble opinion, the Scriptures are alive. And, God uses them to encourage us in our faith and He uses them to help us to see things in our lives.

I love the way that God does that. I love it when it just seems like I open the Bible to a particular Scripture that addresses my current concern. He considers me. He considers you. Isn’t it great to be a child of God?

When you read the passage, Hebrews 12:1-7, what things do you get out of the passage?

If by chance you are interested in the message, For Your Consideration, it can be ordered here.

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Pray for Our President and Nation

January 20, 2009. A historic day for our nation. Nearly 2 million people (unofficial) gathered in sub-freezing weather to watch the Inauguration of our 44th president, Barack H. Obama. I was not there in Washington, but I set up a command center of sorts in my home such that I could watch the swearing in ceremony from the various media vantage points.

So many people are optimistic about this presidency. So much weight is being put on this president. I am concerned about the expectation factor. The media loves him now – what about two weeks from now? Two months? Two years? There needs to be some proper calibration. President Obama is a man, not God. And, although he certainly has my prayers and support, he alone can only do so much. Yet, it seems, that even people around the world have put their hope in him. Some of my colleagues in Germany are very excited and optimistic about President Obama, telling me at one time very passionately, “we need this.” Oh, the pressure!

We are encouraged in the Bible to pray for those in leadership position over us. We are to honor the position that they hold. God establishes government. We are to pray to Him that He would guide those in leadership and that these same leaders would be receptive to His command.

So, I encourage you today to pray for President Obama and his entire team. Pray for our nation’s policies and people. Pray, saints, Pray. And, may God find favor with America and bless us now and forevermore.

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Inauguration Day

Today is a big day! No matter whether or not you voted for Barack Obama, today is a day that is significant for our nation. It’s the inauguration of our 44th president. Wow.

As I look at the coverage and feel the excitement of the event, it’s amazing. So, how will today go down in history for you? For me, I woke up to snow on the ground. My appointment for my ankle therapy has been cancelled. And, now, I’m at home, taking a mini-break from working on my laptop. I am also watching the Inauguration coverage as I get the opportunity, answering emails, responding to phone calls and text messages. But, it’s not business as usual. Today, is very special.

Wow. I cannot really articulate the feeling….

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I’m Grateful

One of my friends chastised me yesterday.

He let me know that I had become unfaithful in posting my blogs over the past few weeks. And, I readily offered an excuse. I told him of my activities and my sickness, but he had very little mercy for me. And, even though my plate has been considerably full, I still should have been posting some encouragement. If you feel like my friend, then please let me apologize to you today. I will do better. You can count on that.

I am feeling much better now. And the Lord has been blessing me. The Spiritual Disciplines class that I teach is off to a grand start. We just started our third cycle and I stand in awe at the students that the Lord has appointed to this class at this time.

And, I am grateful to God as well.

For on Sunday, I had my first opportunity to preach the morning service, in my pastor’s absence. It was a great honor and priviledge to stand in his stead. It was also a great priviledge to be able to prepare and give out the message that God sent for the people at that time and at that hour of their lives. I really cannot express in words all of the ways that I felt but it’s good to be used of the Lord for His service.

I’m in more awe of the Lord now than perhaps ever before. He has allowed us to see a modern day miracle unfolding right in front of our eyes when last week, He gently brought that Airbus A320 down into the Hudson with all passengers and crew accounted for – alive and well.

And, now, on this MLKJr day – we are just one day away from watching the first black president of these United States take office. So much going on! God is on the move!

And, I – well, I’m so grateful.

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Not again!!

Now, this year is getting off to a rather interesting start healthwise. I cannot believe it , but I think I have yet another cold.

Now, I don’t get colds. Not generally. I mean, it seems like years since the last time I had to really blow my nose – yuck – beyond a simple sneezing or allergy attack. But, since I got home from Germany, I’ve been putting good ole Kleenex to use.

First was the cold that I caught while in Germany – or whatever illness that was that keep me on the move with the Kleenex. With as much as I blew my nose, I didn’t really have the soreness that I do now. Funny, hmmmm.

Anyway, I got over that cold or whatever and now, just a few weeks into feeling fit and fancy-free, I’ve come down with something else. I see why bears go into hibernation in the winter…

Anyway, now, my nose is sore. I’ve been blowing it and have rubbed it so much that it is a little tender. Sad face. And red. Very sad face.

Other than putting ointment on it – fancy name for Vaseline, and of course, adding a little Vick’s Vapor Rub to the mix, I’ve run out of options to soothe my little red nose.

Because I’m not Rudolph, I need a remedy.

Any suggestions?

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Do you ever feel overlooked?

I do.

In fact, this tends to happen when I’m on telephone conference calls with a certain group of folks. It seems like they invite me, but why? Everytime I say something, which turns out to be correct, they tend to ignore where the idea came from, if they acknowledge the idea at all.

Now, this used to really bother me. In fact, on some calls, if I am not prayed up, then my flesh wants to have a little say… But, I am in the process of learning that it really does not matter whether or not I ever get the credit for the obviously awesome ideas that God gives to me to mention on the calls. In fact, what really matters instead is that I am making a contribution.

I have to remember that it is not important that I get the “glory” or “credit”. Instead, what becomes important is whether or not I am giving God the glory in my attitudes when I’m overlooked and even as I work with this group.

So, I extend my lessons learned to you as well. God sees everything. You don’t have to fight for acknowledgement in the midst of folks who would rather put you in the corner. Instead, lean on God. He has the power to fix it all for you. When you acknowledge Him, you’ll get everything that you need.

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