Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gifted and Talented

"Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee."

I love that hymn. Don't you? I think we may sing it, or at least look over the lyrics at my Bible study on Sunday, as it very much applies to vocation and gifting. I was reading those lyrics and thinking about all the beautiful women in my life, the women whose true beauty is shown to me as they use their unique gifts to glorify God...and it occured to me that it is only by living in community with one another that we can truly come to know what our gifts are...and how we can use them to serve.

The first glimpse we get of what our gifts are..is realizing what makes us feel beautiful (sorry guys...I don't know if there is a masculine alternative or not). I suppose, to put it differently, it's those things that make us feel close to God...when we are able to forget ourselves for a little bit...it's those things that are just...so natural that we don't even think them praiseworthy...we think nothing of them...I mean, we've lived with our gifts our whole lives. ;) We're used to them, aren't we? Or perhaps, we just don't recognize them as anything special because it's we're examining ourselves. I don't really buy the last one...I mean, I'm not into the whole poor self-image thing...because I think the problem isn't the poor...it's the self....It's our failure to recognize ourselves as members of the Body of Christ -- members of the family of God -- We forget that we are created in "His image" and that the use of our gifts shows others who He is...it puts forth His image, not our own. They don't see us in what we do, they see who God made us to be, what He gave us, what He wants to reveal through us...or at least a glimpse of all that.

I guess...it's our self-image that prevents us from seeing our own gifts. Hmmmmm.....I'm still pondering that one...but I definitely believe that we have trouble seeing it from our own perspectives because we have a hard time separating our flawed sinful lives from the wonderful things that God has gifted us to do. That's where the Christian community comes in. As a family of believers, we should encourage our brothers and sisters to develop and use their gifts and talents. The first step in doing this is to point out to them what their gifts and talents are, when you see them.

How do you know what their gifts are? Pray, that's always first. Pray to God to help you in your discernment and to give you the words to say to your friend...that you might be an encouragement and not a nag. Also, pray that God might reveal His truth to your friend...that he/she may begin to be aware of how God is using them...that God might open them up to new opportunities to use their gifts. Also, pray that if it be God's will, your friend (brother or sister) will find an opportunity to continue to develop that gift for the glory of God.

Right, next...be positive...if you see that someone is good at something or has done a good job...tell them. Let them know what you think.

Also, be supportive, find ways to encourage your friend...pray for them, be there for them, help them in whatever way you can.

We all have all been uniquely gifted TO THE GLORY OF GOD. We are called to use them to honor Him -- to use our gifts to share His love, the Gospel, the truth...and to be careful not to allow our gifts couple with pride and lead people astray.

Scripture on my mind: Romans 12: 3-13
"3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality."

I pray that I will have the courage and words I need to encourage those around me to use their unique gifts. My friends are so gifted...and so beautiful...and so precious to me. I hope I'm able to show them that. I pray that I might be able to use whatever gifts and talents God has given me to help others utilize theirs. :D

Peace be with you.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Read this online at: http://tmdevotionals.com/women/2006/07/24/a-part-of-the-family/
by Winsome Smith

The young couple came into the small assembly, not knowing quite what to expect. As weeks passed, they found a warm welcome and became part of the community of believers who worshipped with this church. The love and acceptance they found helped to make God's love and acceptance more clear.One Sunday morning they came in with their infant son and found their seats. The service began and the baby began to fuss a bit. Soon his tears began. The young father stood to take his son outside, not wanting to disturb the other worshippers. As he stood, the pastor turned to the father and asked him to stay, saying with simplicity and grace, "Crying babies are a part of the family too, you know."Dear one, you may sometimes find tears near the surface, yet struggle with allowing them to fall. Time after time I talk with ladies who say, "I don't cry." Many in our society, both men and women, have a difficult time with allowing themselves to cry. May I encourage you with the words from this pastor: "Crying babies are a part of the family too." There are times when each of us feels weak or vulnerable. Sometimes we grow afraid, angry or sad. That does not make you unacceptable in His family. As His children, we're not put out of the family nor out of the room for feeling, even showing, real emotion.God is near those who are broken hearted (Psalm 34:8). As a parent feels for his or her child, so our Heavenly Father has compassion upon us (Psalm 103:13). He longs to gather us to His own heart and say, "Be still, My child. I'm here. You're still a part of the family."

Friday, July 14, 2006

From my Devotional...Satan's on the Prowl


Read this online at: http://tmdevotionals.com/women/2006/07/14/devotions-for-a-sacred-marriage-the-preyer/

by Gary L. Thomas

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Previous generations of Christians may have paid too much attention to the devil, but our age tends to pay him too little heed. The severe truth is that Satan hates your marriage and makes its destruction a nearly daily aim.

It is said that while Francis of Assisi prayed for his Order, "by divine revelation he saw the whole Place surrounded and besieged by devils, as by a great army." Much to Francis's satisfaction, the demons couldn't find a place to enter, until one of the friars was stirred to anger and began to plot revenge on a brother. "As a result, the gate of virtue being abandoned and the door of wickedness being open, he gave the devil a way to come in."

Francis called for the offending brother and confronted him. The brother confessed that he had, indeed, been making vengeful plans; he repented, and the gate to hell slammed shut.

While many today might snicker at such a "primitive" worldview presented in a classic book written almost seven hundred years ago, our modern naivete concerning spiritual realities is at least as pathetic. When we quarrel with each other; hold resentments; allow bitterness to simmer; play petty games of control, manipulation, and revenge, we do, in fact, open up the door to spiritual beings who seek to destroy the holy family God has called us to create.

Jesus taught constant vigilance when he hold His disciples how to pray. The Lord's Prayer includes these words: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). Notice, Jesus didn't say, "deliver us from evil" but from "the evil one." Jesus told His followers to regularly petition God so they wouldn't fall prey to the evil one's schemes.

A married couple's relationship is the inner fortress in a cosmic spiritual battle. This fortress is not limited to just a man and a woman; it also protects the children who result from that union. Even more than that, it protects generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who will be influenced by their ancestors.

With so much at stake, can we afford to be lackadaisical? Dare we forget that a powerful, pernicious being has made it his aim to wreck what God is trying to build? Even worse, are we cooperating with his agenda? By our actions, whether physical (flirting with an office mate, viewing pornography, getting so busy we have little or no time to work on our marriages) or spiritual (refusing to forgive, holding a grudge, neglecting to build spiritual intimacy), are we foolishly and recklessly putting our marriages at risk?

Because Satan exists, we must remain vigilant over our souls and our relationships and refuse to provide any open doors that can invite Satan to work his wiles. One "little" thing, left unattended, can be nursed and built up to become a major issue.

Flush out all of it today. Ask God to give you a forgiving heart, a loving heart, and a pure heart. Keep moving toward your spouse. Ask God to close any doors you have foolishly left open. Guard what God has given you; give Satan no place to enter.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Last to Know

Britney Spears - Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know

My friends say you're so into me
And that you need me desperately
They say you say we're so complete
But I need to hear it straight from you
If you want me to believe it's true
I've been waiting for so long it hurts
I wanna hear you say the words, please

Don't, don't let me be the last to know
Don't hold back, just let it go
I need to hear you say
You need me all the way
Oh, if you love me so
Don't let me be the last to know

Ooh, ooh yeah baby

Your body language says so much
Yeah, I feel it in the way you touch
But til' you say the words it's not enough
C'mon and tell me you're in love, please

Repeat Chorus

C'mon baby, c'mon darling, ooh yeah
C'mon, let me be the one
C'mon now, oh yeah

I need to hear you say
You love me all the way
And I don't wanna wait another day
I wanna feel the way you feel
Oh, c'mon

Don't, just let me be the one
Don't hold back, just let it go
I need to hear you say
You need me all the way
So baby, if you love me
Don't let me be the last to know

I must admit (I know it's a shocker) I don't agree with Britney...in the least.

I actually would kind of like to be the last to know. Now, for any men who happen to read my blog, I don't mean to say that you should be afraid to talk to me...or ask me out on A date. Eventually, I may even be willing to have a boyfriend, again...and yes, one day, I do want to get married. I guess, I'd just like to be the last to know that you love me...the last to know you want to marry me...because I think you should talk to your parents, friends, minister, mentors, and especially God before I hear of it. Because then, you'll have thought it through, and you won't tell me you love me and that I'm the one for you before you really know that, before you mean it. By the time I hear of it, you'll know that I'm the one you'll marry...and that way, there'll be less pain for all involved. So, I guess, don't go tellin' me I'd make a great wife until you're ready to make me a bride....

hmmm...none of this is coming out quite right...my words are failing me, blargh...hopefully, you get the idea.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Johnny Appleseed

I've begun to realize that being a youth leader is a little bit like being a parent...and a lot like being Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny, or Mr. Appleseed as I like to call him, criss-crossed the nation planting appleseeds (coincidence? I think not) everywhere. Now, since he was alwasy on the move, Mr. Appleseed did not get to stick around and see his trees begin to grow. He wouldn't get to know whether or not they grew or if something happened to them. He didn't know who was going to care for his trees, he didn't know if anyone was going to be there for them...or how they would treat his beloved trees...or if they would even remember that he planted them...He'd probably never get to see his trees full grown. He wouldn't get to know whether or not they would bear fruit or what kind of fruit it would be.

That is where I am, now...I planted seeds (hopefully) in the middle school and high school girls in my Bible study, but I will be going off to college again...and I don't know whether or not I'll be coming home next summer...so, I'm going to pass the group on to a new leader....which means I won't be around to see how these girls turn out...what kind of spiritual fruit they bear...who they grow to be...but regardless...I'll always love them...I'll always be there if they need me...and they'll always be in my prayers.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Little More Than Useless...I hope

Song lyrics I'll be referencing:
More Than Useless by Relient K
I feel like, I would like
To be somewhere else doing something that matters
And I'll admit here, while I sit here
My mind wastes away and my doubts start to gather
Whats the purpose? It feels worthless
So unwanted like I've lost all my value
I can't find it, not in the least bit
and I'm just scared, so scared that I'll fail you
And sometimes I think that I'm not any good at all
And sometimes I wonder why, why I'm even here at all
But then you assure me
I'm a little more than useless
And when I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once
So I say if I can't, do something significant
I'll opt to leave most opportunities wasted
And nothing trivial, that life could give me will
Measure up to what might have replaced it
Too late look, my date book
Is packed full of days that were empty and now gone
And I bet, that regret
Will prove to get me to improve in the long run
And sometimes I think that I'm not any good at all
And sometimes I wonder why, why I'm even here at all
But then you assure me
I'm a little more than useless
And when I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once
I’m a little more than useless
And I never knew I knew this
Was gonna the day, gonna be the day
That I would do something right
Do something right for once
I notice, I know this
Week is a symbol of how I use my time
Resent it, I spent it
Convincing myself the world's doing just fine
Without me
Doing anything of any consequence
Without me
Showing any sign of ever making sense
Of my time , it's my life
And my right, to use it like I should
Like he would, for the good
Of everything that I would ever know
I'm a little more than useless
When I think that I can't do this
You promise me that I'll get through this
And do something right
Do something right for once
I’m a little more than useless
And I never knew I knew this
Was gonna the day, gonna be the day
That I would do something right
Do something right for once

I guess I'm having one of those days where I feel...unimportant, unnecessary, unwanted...it just seems like I don't matter...like no one cares if they get to see me, or if they get to talk to me, like the things I say and the things I do don't really matter...like...I'm just...here...a frill...if you get to see me, woo-hoo for you...if not, meh...I suppose that's not true. I pray that the Lord is using me in some way, shape, or form, but I don't know how. I mean, my girls' group is dwindling, my friends here at home seem to have lost interest in talking with me...I suppose we've just grown apart or something, I work in a factory...I feel...hopeless...I feel like giving up...like ending the girls' group and just trying to survive the summer until I can go back to Brookings...but then again, what's waiting for me there? Don't get me wrong, I really do love Pella, I really do love my friends, but...I don't feel like I belong here anymore...I think that's what's bugging me more than anything else. I was reading Real Sex today (a fantastic book, by the way) It talked a lot about household and community. It got me thinking...I mean, it talked about a household as a place where people not ony live together, but are united in mission. It talked about how, as Christians, we live in community. We live in communion with our spouse, our neighborhood, our church, our town. We belong to a community of believers. That's supposed to mean that we care about what's going on in each other's lives because...we're in it together. We share in the day-to-day matters of each other's lives, forming bonds, enjoying each other's company as we do the little things like grocery shopping and running to the post office. We're able to be with each other in the small things, which enables us to be there for each other through the big things. Our sense of community allows us to lovingly correct each other, advise each other, and direct each other back toward God and His plans for our lives. I would love to live in a community -- a community of people who would see me struggling and reach out -- who would enjoy my company while running errends. As I thought on it more, I realized that I do have some friends that do care about me like that -- people who will lovingly correct me when I'm being dumb...or will express concern...but it seems all those people are back at school, not here in Pella...

I don't know that I fit in here anymore...I feel like a visitor, not a part of the community, not like a member of my circle of friends...We've become very different...and it's really hard on me...it's making this summer hard on me...it makes me feel very alone because as I try to learn and grow in my faith, as I seek to serve the Lord, no one's there to encourage...or to assist...it makes me feel...alone...and uninteresting...it's a hard time to be alone...but I suppose there's a reason...I suppose it'll help me grow...I mean, I keep saying that I'm happy to be single, content, that it's bringing opportunities...and it's true...there are more opportunities...and I don't really want a boyfriend or anything...I just...want to belong...somewhere..I want to live in community with someone sometime...I'd love to belong to a church that would care about me like that...as a community...of believers...that'd be intensely awesome...

I suppose that's it for today's ramblings...I have a parade to catch.