The Gift Within You


I love campfires. We were gearing up for the day. I was making coffee on the Coleman.

The night before we’d had a roaring campfire in the fire ring, and had watched it burn out. Now the kids were poking around in the remains with some sticks. To their astonishment, the ashes started smoking.

Peter went over, and showed them how to blow into the embers that were deep inside the ashes – quickly flames erupted. With just a bit more kindling, once again we had a roaring fire.

I told the kids how cool it is that God helps us do the same. We all have gifts within us, and we are supposed to “fan the flame of the gift of God that is within you…” (that is in the Bible, in 2 Timothy 1:6).

You have some very unique abilities and perspectives. You might be feeling insecure, or be afraid that it is too late for you…

It’s not!

Make a plan, share your dream, take a class, break out the study books, do whatever it takes, but blow on what looks like ashes! It’s up to you, and no one else. Put some kindling in there, and just watch – the embers are still hot, they are just hidden!

You can do it. The gift is within you. The world needs to see your fire.

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Living in the Now

 

Ever find yourself (or a friend) struggling with unresolved questions? I recently came across this intriguing quote:

“I beg you, have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them, and the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer…” – Rainer Marie Rilke

So now I’m thinking about what he proposes. The way I see it, he is saying to embrace the questions, they contain the answers. Give them time to incubate the answers… eventually the answers may in fact reveal themselves. That requires living in the Now.

Hmm… definitely going to meditate on this…

When the Emotional Tsunami Hits

The Japanese man clings to the rooftop of his home, adrift ten miles out to sea. The tsunami has swept his house and his wife away, and that bit of roof is what is keeping him alive. Miraculously, after two days tossed about by waves, he is rescued.

I have never had to overcome anything physically and materially as challenging as Hiromitsu Shinkawa faced. But I have had some very heavy blows in life. We’ve been talking about “how to deal” when life blindsides you and you are nearly destroyed by an emotional disaster. After the first key – Don’t Panic – the second key is this: Find the Rock.

God as a concept can seem overwhelming. It is difficult to think of Him in “manageable” terms – in a way our brains and hearts can understand. When someone tells you to “trust God” or “turn to God” in hard times – how do you know what he (God) is thinking? Do you cry out to him in desperation (as we have all done) saying, “Please God, please God, help me?”

And then what? Do you hear a reply? When your emotions are in turmoil, does he seem inaccessible? God’s Word, though, is always beautifully and easily accessible.

When life blindsides me, I cling as tenaciously to the words God speaks to us as Hiromitsu clung to that rooftop. Those words are my Rock, my stability. I read them, pray them, repeat them… and feel my spirit regain its strength.

Index cards have been a great tool for me. I carry them with me for easy access. When anxiety or fear starts to creep back in, I can pull out the verses, read them, resist the negative emotion and move on with my day.

Below are some samples… I highly recommend you make your own set of cards. Hold tight to the truths found in the Bible. They will keep you from drowning.

imagine the possibilities

Sometimes I have a hard time believing that God made us in His image… When I look around at all the small-mindedness and suffering humans  swim around in, I wonder – are we just a bad copy of a copy of a copy, a Multiplicity gone wrong to the tenth degree?

Then my imagination pulls the emergency brake on that train of thought…

Because I imagine people being so much better than they currently are. I  imagine change and growth, and stingy hearts growing three sizes bigger… I imagine injustices being set right, and funds released to help the poverty-stricken. I imagine forgiveness flowing in impossible situations.

I imagine all those things because I have smelled them and felt them and watched them happen.  I know they will happen again.

And when I imagine change, and see change, and help make change happen – I know I am not the only one doing it…

Which tells me YES – we are made in God’s image.

Let’s live like it.

 

 

 

How to Deal

Ever get hit by something unexpected? A sudden setback, an abrupt souring of a  relationship, an illness that snuck up and pounced, a long held dream smothered without warning?

It’s hard to deal, isn’t it, when something blindsides us? I think it feels so wrong because these instances come with no warning, no margin for transition, no time to “get used to it.” They feel merciless, and they give us emotional whiplash.

So, how do you make it through without having your spirit broken, or losing the essence of who you are?

Here are a few touchstones I have found helpful in surviving these stealth attacks from life:

Don’t Panic
I always remember something Rudy Giuliani shared. He said that his father taught him:
“My father, when I was very young, used to say to me, ‘If you are ever in an emergency, if you are ever in a fire and everybody gets very excited, very emotional, then you become the calmest person in the room.'”

Find the Rock
In order to be calm, and – very importantly – stay calm, you have to know you are standing on a very solid rock. God is my Rock, and his words to me are beyond comforting. They literally give me physical, emotional and spiritual strength. There are key Bible verses that have made me strong.

Use Your Lifelines
You shouldn’t go through these shaky times alone! In a wise way, ask for help. I believe with every cell in my body that prayer works. There are people in our lives put there strategically by God. They have been gifted with the right words to pray for us!

In the next few posts we can talk more about these points… In the meantime, I wonder how others cope? How do you deal?

Think about this as you build your ministry

“Woohoo! Look at me!!!” – ever want to say that? Sometimes, when feeling particularly accomplished, I wish others could see what I see – and tell me how awesome I am. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. (Hey, just being real here!)

“Wow, you are awesome!” would be a great reward… or would it? Truth is, public acclamation is like the chocolate of rewards. Doesn’t last. Gives you a quick high, some strength to keep going, but wouldn’t work as your only food source.

So what kind of reward fuels you for the long haul, and lasts forever? There is something called a prophet’s reward in the Bible. It says that when you actively embrace a messenger of God (a prophet – someone sold out to promoting God’s agenda only), you get the same reward he or she gets. (Matthew chapter 10 toward the end, if you want to check it out).

What does that mean? Well, when you recognize that God is transforming the lives of people (you cannot change the world without changing lives) through a specific person, you are recognizing God.

And recognizing God is a big deal.

It means that often the most significant work we do is unseen. It means if I bless a prophet  (no matter where they are in chain of command) to help them achieve their potential to change the world, I will be blessed every time.

It also means that when others invest in my life, and recognize God’s hand on what I do, they too will be blessed. I’ve seen it again and again.

Is public acclamation bad? Of course not! It gives you a great platform, is sweet and – a lesson I learned long ago – a crowd draws a crowd. I want that platform. Anyone who has anything worth saying should want it. But it cannot be your identity. If you base your ministry identity on being more and more attractive to more and more people, you will lose yourself.

And that is no reward at all.

It’s so opposite to what we humans believe. To us, public acclamation alone is success – turns out it is chocolate, and can melt as quickly.

Recognizing God in the lives of those that are truly devoted to doing his work – and helping them be strong – will keep you strong for a lifetime. Now that is the reward I want!

Father, please help us be peaceful enough today to recognize you at work through others, and to bless you by blessing them.

Yesterday’s Prayer, No Expiration Date!

Are you struggling in any area? If you are a human, the answer is yes! Whether it is relationships, money, existential or otherwise, God wants to give us strength and provision to fight, because He promises to be with us in our battles!

Join me in this prayer from my jottings yesterday:
God is amazing. He gives us an extra push when we need it. We trust You, in the Name of Jesus, to be glorified through our situation. You have not brought us this far to leave us. We won’t be like the people of Israel in the Old Testament, that complained, precisely as He was delivering them – but while they were still in the desert, in transit to the promised land – “has He brought us this far to let us die?” We refuse. We know God, you are good, and You will give a strategy, and we will be able to sing songs of Your goodness. May others be encouraged to trust and obey You at all cost. You are a good Lord and You do not lead us falsely or refuse to honor our surrender. We are looking for breakthroughs today, for all of us, in the Name of Jesus. Stuff that has been “stuck” in the pipeline, in Jesus’ Name, has to be loosed today.

Let us pray together, that the provision and solution that satan has tried to hold up will be “unstuck” and all obstacles removed. It is for the advancement of the Kingdom, and God and the enemy know that. But God has delegated to us to battle in prayer. We stand and fight.

Talk to me, friends.