Get Your Gifts Back

When we see areas of our lives that are clearly not what they are intended to be, sometimes the picture of what is intended is the exact opposite. In fact, the thing that tends to torment us or challenge us the most might be a gift within us which has been perfectly hijacked. In such cases, the best course of action is to step towards the gift even more than trying to stop doing the things that are off course.

When I was younger, I was particularly good at the banter. The sharp, sarcastic jousting that cuts at any weakness was an area of strength for me. When in a room where there was that kind of cutting and slashing, I was a force to be dealt with.

The effort to stay ahead of others to defend myself and attack them verbally is mentally tiring because it’s not God’s intention for the verbal ability He put within me. He gave me language and ability to speak life and encouragement, but instead I was speaking criticism and destruction. The gift that He wanted to use to call out greatness in others was doing the exact opposite. There was no rest in it because there was no eternity in it. The rest that accompanies our gifts is in our agreement with God’s purposes in our gifts and abilities.

Since then, I have seen time and time again where sarcastic and cynical wit is actually a prophetic gift. Prophecy, by definition of 1 Corinthians 14:3, is speaking encouragement, edification and comfort. The hijacking of the gift is discouragement, tearing down and discomfort. Look into the shadow of the gift to find the true intention of design.

The Kingdom is an invitation, not a prohibition. Jesus calls us to follow and be included, unleashing everything He has put in us for eternal purposes. The law tells us to stop doing bad things; Jesus calls us to do powerful things. When we see that there has been a hijacking of our giftedness, the invitation is to step into the power of our design. The hijacking will be corrected when we agree with the purpose of our destiny.

If you’ve allowed your tongue to be hijacked to speak discouragement and dishonor, change your mind. Turn into the purposes of honor and encouragement that God has put within you. If there are other areas that have been off track, what is the track they are intended? Once those areas are released in agreement with their design, the attempt to kill, steal and destroy will be defeated by the life, abundance and creation that sons and daughters are called into.

Faith, Hope and Love Packaged to Be Delivered

I am going to speak at in another town this weekend and my friend that is hosting me sent me an article about the recent suicide of a local 14-year old. He tells me that there has been an epidemic of teens choosing this route of hopelessness and the local medical examiner has expressed helplessness.

The world around us is in desperate need of hope. Even when the end result isn’t as catastrophic as teenage suicide, the opt out for many is from a lack of hope. People opt out of families, faith and community as they find no meaning or purpose. They have no context of why to fuel the what of their lives. With time, the despair outpaces the dreams.

The church is not immune to this limiting perspective as programs and ceremonies don’t fuel and fill the believer. Belief is tended by action and connection. Belief won’t breathe in a vacuum. The church is intended to be a living breathing organism where the body functions in a way that supports the rest of the body. Then, the whole and healthy body is in motion to impact and change the world around it.

The impact and change isn’t by political victory or moral declaration; it’s by love and service. With love and service, people can see grace and hope.

  • The Father is love; it’s Who He is and it’s what He does. As His kids, we mimic the heart of the Father. From that representation, we are able to carry the nature of the Son; grace and hope.
  • Jesus comes to reach out with grace, not waiting on the perfection of people to decide whether or not they are included. He met me (and you) where I was; we are commissioned to do the same.
  • Holy Spirit breathes life into the Body; giving comfort and insight to encourage and direct. Holy Spirit is wind; subtle yet certain. We get to agree with Holy Spirit as we live a life on mission, seeking His direction and needing His comfort as we agree with Him into places of discomfort.

God is Spirit and invisible and His Spirit is within the visible us. We are the delivery mechanism. The supernatural is expressed naturally. We carry the love, hope, grace, comfort and invitation of the Lord with a heart to serve others to show them the otherwise invisible, theoretical idea of God. He is real and He is here; in you and in me. Show Him and share Him with somebody today. They need the glimpse, and so do you.

Pressing Through Trials to Advance in Maturity, Wisdom & Character

I have a friend that has interesting counsel when you share a struggle with him. If you are going through some difficulty, he’ll ask, “Do you think you are at the front end of that challenge, in the middle of it, or closing in on the end? It’s good to know so you can persevere and get everything out of it God wants you to see.”

God doesn’t torture us, but He will allow for discomfort to shape us. He’ll use the troubles that are inevitable in our fallen state to mature us into greater relationship. As we are going through whatever it is we are going through, the best thing that we can do is look for the best things within it. At least then, the wisdom available through the adversity is maximized.

If we are looking for the fastest way out of any discomfort we face, we are cheating the process that is available for the production of wisdom and maturity. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

Discomfort is not appealing and all too often not highlighted related to the Christian message. We love the promises and the freedom and the identity stuff, but the suffering part isn’t too compatible with our American Dream(s). It must be an attack.

We are sons of God and heirs with Christ and can share in the glory of Christ . . . if we will share in the sufferings of Christ (Romans 8:17). So difficulty invites inheritance in as much as we persevere. In as much as we stay the course despite the challenge and doubt, we can increasingly taste of the victory.

When, not if, you are going through whatever stuff it is that you go through, consider whether it’s the beginning, middle or end and hold on. Hold on and journal. Don’t miss “it,” whatever “it” is for that experience. Come out of it with more character than you went into it with as it finishes it’s work by your acceptance that suffering is not always an attack, but sometimes an advance.

Working a Job, Chasing the American Dream or Passionately Living With Purpose?

When I first started practicing law, I was sitting in court waiting for my case to get called. I was sitting next to an attorney in his 60’s who had been practicing for over 30 years. As we waited, I asked him if he liked practicing law and he told me that he did. He said, “I do, because I only take the kinds of cases that I like to work on. I had to take divorce cases when I first got started but I didn’t like them and now I don’t have to take them anymore, so I don’t. I like it because I like the cases I take.”

We can do things that we aren’t passionate about for a season of necessity but the target should be alignment with the things that bring us pleasure in our calling. We should seek to find joy in the things that we do. We may not always get to do only what we want, but increasingly with age we are often afforded increasing opportunities to narrow the scope of our pursuits.

In our 20’s and even into our 30’s, we are figuring out what we like and don’t like as well as what we are good at as well as not so good at. The passions typically align with the competencies. Bobb Biehl says that we go through a process of refinement and focusing and transformation that positions us to hit our stride in our 50’s. He goes on to say that our decade of greatest success is actually our 60’s.

Could it be that the attorney I was talking with as we waited for our case was enjoying his greatest success? Is it possible that he had spent a couple of decades refining his passions and aligning his pursuits before hitting his stride and now enjoying the fruits of the process?

God asks for our firsts and our best. We offer Him what we value first and foremost, which requires consideration of what those specific things are for us. Self-assessment for the purpose of agreement with His design invites His anointing. The things that He has put in us come out through us as we offer back to Him the very things that He created in the first place.

What do you love? What brings you joy? Are you working a job, chasing the American Dream or aligning with His purposes for you as expressed through your passions to give back to Him the thing that He invested in you?

Do What You Do And Let it Multiply in Others

ttps-3dI wrote a book and have another one turned into the editor. This one is “Transforming the Prodigal Soul,” and the next one has a working title of “The Benefits of Grace,” probably out this summer. I’ve written a book before without an editor but it really wasn’t very good and I think I’ll re-write that one with help sometime in the next year or two.

Somebody asked me why I write and I write because it’s in me. I assume it’s like a painter wanting to paint. Most painters don’t believe they are Picasso, Monet or Michelangelo but they paint anyway. I wonder, for that matter, when those guys started knowing they were those guys. Before they were known they were unknown and they painted anyway.

I don’t need to be known and struggle with the right rhythm of how and when to make the book available and known. Constant chirping about it on social media will get old. No discussion at all will be a waste of the time and money that was put into it. I think there is value to what God gave me to put into words but I don’t want to presume that value or the audience that the Lord has in mind.

A friend of mine was a youth pastor years ago and they started a Saturday night service at his church. He didn’t want to have Saturday night services because he didn’t think High School kids were going to want to go to church on Saturday nights. He was right; only one kid showed up the first night they rolled out the new youth program during the new adult services.

There they were, the two of them, and my friend said to the kid, “let’s go get a steak.” So they went and had a steak dinner for youth group meeting, the two of them. They talked and ate and it was good, but it wasn’t preaching to the multitudes like my friend had been trained to do and aspired to do.

Years later, that kid was an adult and he got in touch with my friend. The kid that had become a man also had become a youth pastor and he was investing in others. He told my friend that he still remembers that steak dinner and it impacts how he interacts with others. The multiplication of the steak dinner was one life invested in another and that other invested in another and on and on.

What do you do? Write? Paint? Sing? Buy somebody dinner? Do what you do with the intention of sharing what is in you and leave the results and multiplication up to the One that put your “it” in you in the first place.

Legacy is Created by Personal Investment

chuckI learned through Facebook that a soccer coach and mentor of mine from middle school died last week. Although we had not been in touch for decades, I grieved when I heard of his death, which was described as “unexpected.” It caught me off guard that the news impacted me like it did.

When I texted my sister of his death, she texted back, “That so sad; he was a great man.” I agreed with her and wondered further about how we both concluded that despite our disconnection from him for such a long time. I concluded that our disconnection actually affirmed his greatness as the connection that was present decades ago had that kind of lasting impact.

Chuck Blische not only coached soccer, he invested in people. He connected on a personal level and gave himself away. At least that’s what he did for me. He gave me what he had; he gave me himself.

I also remember spending extensive time with him as he prepared me, trained me and worked with me as a soccer referee. I started to realize that the lessons he delivered via soccer have carried over into many other areas of my life.

I was a 14-year-old kid learning how to officiate soccer games on a small army post in Germany. Chuck taught me more than the rules, he taught me leadership. He taught me that the referee has to be in control of the game but the game can’t be about him. He taught me that authority did not equate to arrogance and respect for others would bring greater results than the whistle and a red card. He not only told me these things, but he modeled them and he released me to exercise and grow in them.

Greatness is determined by what we do with people. We will be remembered, or not, by the people we invested in or didn’t. No matter who or what you invested in three decades ago, there is somebody in your life today that needs what you have. Don’t just tell them; show them. Take time with them and let them try. When they try, cheer them on and when they are ready, release them to do without you. You aren’t only investing in them, you are investing in your legacy. Just like Chuck did.

Thanks, Chuck. I miss you more now than I did for the past three decades and I realize now more than ever what you have done for me.