Tag Archives: gifts

Secure your Gifts

Why is it so tempting to look at the number of days lost to sin and shortcoming when in fact the quality of life gained through salvation is much greater than that lost by sin? So much of my life is spent counting the number of years lost to mistakes, when I have gained the generous gift of eternal life. Why does my mind reel around the possibilities of yesterday instead of enjoying the present?

I believe God created me to be a critical thinker. It helps me on my everday work. He must have thought, “Chelsea will be good at solving problems and paying close attention to detail.” Unfortunately Satan looks at this gift from God as an opportunity to infect my mind with the kind of critical thinking that is critical of me, and in turn, critical of others.

Well, today I put my foot down. Satan will no longer use what was made for good to destroy me. God made me in his image, and though I fail, he made me new. I was born again, and guess what, in his image! Satan cannot change that. Yes, I make mistakes, but God has already washed me clean.

From now on I will give my thinking to God, that it may be used to solve problems, not make them.

What God-given gift is Satan trying to rob you of? Examine your life. Is he turning a blessing into a mess? If he is, give it back to God, and declare that it was never a curse but a blessing.

A friend of mine is very talented in the field of business. Satan robbed him of this gift by planting seeds of greed in him. Satan lied to him, telling him he would make more money of he sold drugs. Another friend with the same talent accepted the lie from Satan that he could double his money by gambling. Each of these friends remain trapped in sin because they believed this lie.

Don’t let yourself believe that your gift was meant for sin. God will use your gifts to make you prosper eternally. You may not be the most financially secure, but you will be secure in your salvation.

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Accepting that we are God-Gifted

A couple weeks ago I attended an open mic night where people shared songs, monologues, and poetry. It reminded me of a time when I wrote a lot of poetry, so I rushed home to read my old journals. I pulled the dusty container from the top shelf of the closet and opened it as if it was full of treasure. Unfortunately, as I opened each floral bound book it only revealed how lost I was at the time. All those years of writing poetry only to reflect how much I needed Jesus not as the big dictator in the sky but as a close friend and father.

Discouraged, for the next week I started thinking that maybe I’m not a writer, maybe I just like to rhyme all my hurtful memories. After days of doubting my God-given talent, God answered me with a poem, not to build me up, but to build up others and to glorify Him.

In Isaiah 61 God, through his prophet Isaiah, reassures the mourners that they will be comforted. He tells them they will wear a crown of beauty instead of ashes. The New Living Translation says “beauty for ashes.” Those words inspired my poem, but so did the life of my good friend and sister who’s name fits perfectly into the verse. For her protection I will not disclose her name or the title of the poem. I feel the poem is the words of the Holy Spirit written through me. What an honor.

They say she started as a seed. 
Funny how a sprout finds its way to the light,
Pushing through the surface, the barrier,
The very thing that protects it from the elements.
Its leaves appear to be carefully brushed with a fresh coat of paint.
What was once wrapped in a glossy shell, now reaches, 
Expanding toward the warmth of the sun.
Her days were spent leaning into the breeze,
Becoming stronger with every bend.
The tree saw many good days, 
Finding pleasure in many a passerby.
But winter came.
An icy layer coated her.
The tree, though, had learned to endure.
As summer came, much like this summer,
Her roots longed for the moisture they once had.
Not even a morning dew came to quench their thirst.
She had stood up to the harshest climates,
But nothing could prepare her for this.
Surrounded by dry brush, 
The tree’s leaves and bark built up a heavy wall of debris,
But the blaze could not be defeated.
Her rough exterior quickly bubbled under the scorching flame.
Her still-young limbs withered and became brittle.
When morning came there was only a heap of ash,
Smoldering and chalky, a cloud hung low over her.
No longer was the light to be seen.
The heat continued to fester beneath the surface of ash,
Until one day, just as the spark had been swept up,
The skies lit up and roared with thunder.
Not even the chalky ash, 
Blowing in the fury could escape this storm.
She remembered her resilience, her fortitude,
Slowly the smoldering ceased,
And the powdery mound transformed into clay.
As the winds spun over and around
The clay was molded into something extraordinary.
No longer could she be threatened by drought or by flame,
But the very thing that appeared to destroy her
Now brought restoration and strength,
For she was no longer an ordinary tree,
But a divine sculpture
Designed to overcome all hardship.
She did not always live a happily-ever-after life,
But she now knew she was mighty.

 

Sometimes when we doubt our God-given talents God gives us more to prove he was the giver, but we don’t always notice it ourselves. Maybe it’s time to step out in your spiritual gifts and see how people react. There’s no doubt that you will know right away which were God-given. When I wrote the above poem the words were pouring out of me. When I write in my own ability it doesn’t happen that way. As with all gifts we should not squander what God has given us, but show our gratitude through practicing our gift in order to grow it.

I know this is not my typical post, but I hope you enjoyed it, learned from it, and found comfort in it if you are like the tree in my poem. Please leave a comment by clicking “reply” at the top of this post or like my post on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. You may also follow my blog by clicking follow in the top right.

 

Going the Distance

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 3:13-14

The View from Claremont Canyon Trail

The View from Claremont Canyon Trail

Last week my good friend Maura and I went hiking at a very steep trail in Berkeley, California. Hidden behind a beautiful, historic hotel, I at first underestimated its difficulty. This, however, was my second time hiking it, and I was determined to convince Maura to only hike half-way. After all, we had some important work to do that evening. At about the half-way mark we stopped to look back at the view of San Francisco and the whole East Bay. She looked at me and said those magical words, “Do you want to go back now?” “Uh…yeah!” I exclaimed. She laughed to herself and said something to the effect of, “We can’t go back now.” After much coaxing I began following at her heels, but complaining all the way. Finally my pal wisely suggested we name our strengths instead of our weaknesses. We spend so much time focusing on our weaknesses that we rarely recognize our strengths.

So, on we hike up the treacherous trail leading to a nearly 360 degree view of the Bay Area. “Let’s start!” After a moment of silence we began pouring out the silliest list of strengths ever. “I can pick up almost anything with my toes.” “I have a big nose with big nostrils to breathe and smell.” On and on our list went until suddenly we reached our destination, the top of the hill. Once we changed our focus it was much easier to carry on. It seemed to only take an instant to reach the top. I even found myself saying, “Let’s go a little further.”

When faced with challenges, whether it be the ups and downs of the everyday or a more permanent road block, if we change our focus to the gifts God has given us, focus on our true identity and all the ways God has made us resilient, we will go the distance. The journey is not about how fast we get there, nor is it about weighing failures with successes, but it’s about our ability to get back up and try again.

Reflect on Biblical “heroes.” Are they known for their lack of failure and constant success? No, they are known for the changes they allowed God to make in their lives, and by their unique strengths which they grew to recognize and nurture. Now that you know you are a resilient Son or Daughter of Christ, will you go the distance? Or will you continue to focus on the barrier preventing your growth?

Music video by Building 429 performing Press On (Official Music Video). (C) 2014 Provident Label Group LLC, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

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Passionate Living

I hate to admit it, but my twenties were more Carrie Bradshaw than Mother Teresa, not to compare my current self to Mother Theresa but you get the idea. I had my own group of girlfriends that would meet up for Sunday brunch and talk about the latest in our love lives. I had my own Mr. Big who was playing hard to get or maybe just playing. At the time I thought passion was going after a guy, leaving behind all inhibitions. I thought love was losing yourself in someone else. As I grow in maturity in Christ, and well, just plain maturity, I realize that passions are those things you would do regardless of pay, recognition, success, things that make you tick.

As you could probably tell from my previous posts I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me tick, and how that fits into my plans for the future, my destiny if you will. At times it seems it would be easier if God just told me His plan. Of course He does tell me in the little everyday things and through His Word, but as far as I know there’s no Book of Chelsea published in scripture.

I’ve narrowed down at least three broad areas that I’m passionate about. Thanks to my pastor who revealed a few things to me about my passion just yesterday.

One of my passions is creating. I made this dress for my niece last summer.

I made this dress for my niece.

In no particular order:

1. Creating – I love writing, sewing, paper crafts, photography, etc.

2. Teaching – It brings joy to my heart to see people learn, no matter their age.

3. Volunteering/giving – My parents were always giving of their time and resources, so I guess it is a learned passion.

Once you have narrowed down your passions you can take God’s Word in scripture and apply your passions to His commands. How can I love God with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37) by using my passions? I can create things that reflect my love. I can learn and teach His Word and His ways. I can give to others of my time, words, and resources just as Jesus did in scripture. This is just one example of applying scripture to your passions.

As you do your daily activities and spend time with God this week ponder what your passions are and consider how they can be used to glorify God. Then ask God to reveal more about how He wants to use your passions.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Heavenly Father, thank you for the passions you put in each one of us. We confess to squandering our gifts at times, and ask that you help us to serve you by considering how we can use our passions to glorify you. We seek your will for our lives, and ask that you open our eyes to new possibilities. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Aim and Intention

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines purpose as “the aim or intention of something.” This is where we get hung up finding our purpose in life. If we look at just this definition of purpose it seems we have only one purpose or goal, one thing we are supposed to do and if we don’t do it we’ve missed the target. Well, we may have one overlying purpose, but that doesn’t mean we have one thing we are supposed to do in order to achieve our destiny.

The evidence is clear that we have a purpose, but God has given us many gifts to achieve that purpose. And although our overall purpose is the same, the way we achieve that purpose, through our unique gifts, is individual.

In Rick Warren’s best-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life” he explains that life has a five-part purpose:

  1. For God’s pleasure
  2. For God’s family
  3. To become like Christ
  4. To serve God
  5. For a mission

While these are important to know as Christians, we probably had some idea our purpose was to glorify God in these ways. I don’t know about you, but it’s after knowing that where I get confused. Until reading an article recently I thought God had told me to find the treasure without the treasure map. I feel like I’m walking in circles around a destiny that I don’t know is right there in front of me.

In Liz Henderson’s one-page “statement” article in this month’s issue of Relevant magazine she clarifies that your purpose is not your job. Okay, I already said that in the above outline from “The Purpose Driven Life”, but Henderson suggests you find your real purpose by asking yourself, “What do I care about? Who do I enjoy serving? What would I do even if I didn’t get paid to do it?” She goes on to say, “In reality, it’s quite basic. At the end of the day, our purpose statement is all about tapping into the unique gifts God has given us, finding a way to live those out here on earth and, in the process, bring glory to Him.”

While Henderson is trying to take some of the weight off a heavy topic that I know feels like a burden to me some days, Jon Acuff, in the March/April issue of Relevant magazine gives this idea of purpose an even slimmer appearance. He breaks down this issue into 7 questions built for a slightly younger crowd than myself, but still altogether helpful. His first question is, “What are some things I want to do with my life?” He stresses not to concentrate on just one goal, but some broad goals that you recognize could change as our world evolves technologically and otherwise. Secondly, he asks, “Who really knows me?” The reason he asks this is because the third question involves those in your inner circle to help you define, “What am I awesome at?” Ask other people because they will point thing out you didn’t recognize about yourself. You don’t want to stop there because, as he mentions in the first question, society is always evolving. So, the fourth question is, “Am I still learning?” This doesn’t mean you need to enroll in college again (for me that would make three), simply that you should be learning wherever you’re at. Maybe that means learning a new skill at your job, taking a class at the community center, listening to Rosetta Stone. His fifth question is important for us all even though it’s written for 20-somethings, “Will social media come back to haunt me in my later years?” Do you really want your future employer or clients seeing what you put on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? Examine your motives before you post. Acuff’s sixth question is, “Am I a selfish jerk?” It is important for all people to serve others in some way. You should never be too busy to do this. Which leads to the last, and my personal favorite. Acuff asks, “If my life were a movie, would I cheer?” Let me tell you, this was a hard one to consider.

With all this said, (I’m sure, losing my dad’s attention a few paragraphs back), I think I’ve gotten a little to anxious and self-centered over my purpose and goals in life. The truth is that God created me, and as my creator only He knows which part of the “body” I am. If I consider Warren’s five reasons I am on this earth and reflect on the things I do the most in my spare time, my passions and what makes me tick, I think it will be much easier to find my purpose. It’s not rocket science after all.

Heavenly Father, You are a creative Maker. You fashioned us each to be individuals, fit together to make one body. We thank you for our individuality, for our similarities as well as our differences. Father, teach us to recognize your prompts in your Word, in wise counsel, in signs and wonders, as well as in your nudging us in the gifts and passions you placed in our hearts from the time we were created. Remove the yoke we’ve put on ourselves that carries the weight of finding our one calling. You know our purpose and you hold nothing from us. Thank you, Lord, for your generosity, love, and grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part…He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body.

1 Corinthians 12:14, 18b-20 (TLB)

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