Waking up Eager

Picture a coffee commercial. You are portrayed as a disheveled grump, with no energy before you have your first cup of coffee. Then one cup later you are full of vim and vigor, eager to get out there and make a difference in the world.

TV would have you believe a lot of things, especially if it results in you buying their product. I like coffee as much as the next guy. It’s only recently that I’ve discovered you can get the same benefit for free.

Free coffee for life?…. Where do I sign up?

Waking up eager is just a natural by product of knowing your God-given purpose in life.

Maybe it’s hard for you shake the image of the semi-sleepy slow start to each day. It is not a physiological phenomenon, it is a psychological one. There are tons of examples where your psychology trumps your physiology.

When you know what you are supposed to be doing with your life to please God by fulfilling His purpose for creating you, you can’t wait to get started. It’s not hard to get kids to wake up on Christmas morning, is it? That’s because they are eager to see what’s coming in the morning.

Knowing your purpose can make every morning like that.

Here’s a tip to help overcome the habit of waking up without having your purpose as the first thing on your mind. Go to bed thinking about it. It’s that simple. Just imagine the lives you’ll touch, or whatever it is that your gifting leads you to do.

Now that I’ve posted this as the first thing I did upon waking up, I think I’ll go make some coffee.

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Discover Your Calling

I want to let you know what is going on currently. I’m very excited about presenting a 6 part course designed to help people discover and pursue their God-given gifts in order to live a life characterized by being fulfilled and more spiritually mature.

A tall order, no?

Actually, huge progress can be made in 3 steps.

1. Discovering your predisposition in worship style. (Read Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas)

2. Identify your God-given talents, also known as the Motivational Gifts. (Read Discover Your God-Given Gifts, by Don and Katie Fortune)

3. Learn how to Receive and Operate the Spiritual Gifts. (Read 1 Corinthians, chapters 12-14.)

Understanding how to combine these three types of gifts will make your unique purpose clear to you. The relatively small amount of effort it takes to gain this understanding pales when compared to the benefits of living the fulfilled life that comes from it.

Now I know that sounds like a lot of reading. I also know that many people don’t find reading to be their favorite way to learn. That’s why I have made a video of the presentation that covers the 6 part course that covers this topic.

If you want to know how to access this resource, just respond with a comment to this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Gifts Versus Motivational Gifts

We say we want to do the will of God. But often we are unsure of what that is for our lives.

A useful guide is to be found in 1 Cor. 12:11.

 

“But one and the same spirit is active in all these types, distributing to each as He wills.” 

 

This verse appears right after the listing of the spiritual gifts. I have observed that there is a great deal of confusion regarding the differences between the spiritual gifts and the motivational gifts. I hope to clarify this issue in this post.

 

In the above scripture reference I would encourage you to take note of the word “Distributed.”

Remember that this verse refers to the spiritual gifts. The distribution of these gifts are specific to the set of circumstances. Our God, the Great Orchestrator, knows what is needed and when.

So, part of the answer to what should I do with my life has to do with being willing to receive and operate the spiritual gifts.

But we are not constantly given an unction, or desire to act in this way, are we?

 

The key to understanding the difference between the Spiritual Gifts and the Motivational gifts lies in knowing that the Motivational Gifts are a permanent part of your design. This is evidenced by the segue between the spiritual and the motivational to be found in 1 Cr. 12:18.

 

“But now God has placed in each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted.”  

 

The analogy to body parts follows. An eye and an ear have separate functions, which stay consistent to their design. That is true of the motivational gifts. Since you are designed to perform a distinct function within the body, operating your motivational gift is automatically doing the will of God. (And you will find it is easier than doing whatever else you might think is the thing to do.)

So, to summarize, we have 2 guides as to what to do with our lives. When in the situation where you are called to do something that is specific to the time and place, or the person you are intended to impact, operating the appropriate gift of the spirit is called for. The timeliness of the need is why it is so important to act on the calling immediately. (As someone must have said, “deferred obedience is disobedience.” – as in Jonah)

But what to do with the rest of your life?

Operating your motivational gift is how you fill in those gaps, staying in the will of God by so doing.

If you are not familiar with what the Spiritual and Motivational Gifts are, see the next post.

 

Abundance

There are many in the Christian culture who have fallen prey to a key misunderstanding.

It has to do with abundance. The specific scripture to look to for clarification is John 10:10.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (NKJV)

I’ve italicized the word “IT” because that will help us see the difference between the common misinterpretation and the truth.

The misinterpretation is that we are promised an abundance of “things” in this life. This is the basis of much of what is called “prosperity preaching.” That is not what has been promised by scripture. The real promise is infinitely more valuable than that.

What does the word “IT” refer in this verse? Life, not things. To have life in abundance far surpasses wealth in material terms.

There is a very dangerous consequence that comes from the popular misinterpretation. To believe we are promised material prosperity, rather than prosperity of the soul, misleads in two ways. A focus on attaining the wrong promise leads to the wrong conclusion about how to live your life.

Not knowing that abundance of LIFE is the promise makes it easy to fall for focusing on the “world” of the the here and now. That makes it easy to forget that your real purpose to fulfill God’s plan for your life, which includes the eternal outcome.

Another consequence is the inevitable disappointment that comes from having unrealistic expectations. I wonder how many people have turned their backs on God because He didn’t fulfill a promise He never made?

I know of one person, who is no longer with us, that claimed that God was obligated to provide whatever he prayed for. Sadly, he never came to understand that the promise was about eternal life, not just “things.”

 

 

The eyes of the Great Orchestrator

In my work on the 3 types of gifts that God has put in us individually I’ve wanted to express to His glory how intricate His work is.

So imagine my pleasure when I found it was said better than I ever could in a book of quotes by C.S. Lewis. It is to be found in his book “The Problem of Pain”. (Chap. 10, para. 3, page 147.)

“He [God] makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.”

This speaks to me of what jazzes me about coaching people on discovering their gifts, which is what defines their individuality. Discovering your gifts while you are still here awakens you to act in obedience to fulfill God’s original purpose for creating you in the first place.

How overwhelming it is to try to conceive of the complexity involved in His orchestrating all these individuals, with each having their own unique combinations of gifts and place in history.

Do Not be Afraid

How many times have you let an opportunity to operate your gifts get away? I can’t count them in my life.

Besides being sad for the loss of blessings for others, and yourself, consider the cause. Recent reading has opened my eyes to what causes the majority of these unfortunate experiences to occur.

Fear.

The first example I’ll cite is Luke 1:30

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”      (HCSB)

Remember now, this was said by the messenger Angel, Gabriel. Imagine the fear his striking figure would cause. But his purpose was call her to doing something great for God.

Fear often stops us from fulfilling our purpose, and using our gifts to do God’s will.

But in the modern world it is more likely to be caused by a different problem than being overwhelmed by the greatness of what we are being sent to do. What we often think are minor things, can make all the difference in the world to the one we are sent to bless with our obedience to doing the will of God.

The different obstacle I refer to is fear of man. Worrying about a message not being received, and thereby looking foolish, is fear of man. Better to fear the missed opportunity, no?

Another great example of being told not to fear can be found in Luke 1:13.

Even before the need for Jesus to be born of a virgin came the angelic announcement proceeding the birth of the prophet John. His father, Zechariah, was overcome with fear.

But the angel said to him,

Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.”      (HSCB)

(She was previously barren.)

The last example I’ll give here is when King David was advising his son Solomon in 1 Chron. 28:20.

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the Lord’s house is finished.”

Ok, let’s face facts. You and I are no Solomon, Elizabeth or Mary. Maybe what we are being asked to do in the operation of our gifts may seem small by comparison. It is good to remember it’s not the size of the seed that counts. Since it is God who gives the increase, who are we, stuck in time and so very limited in our perspective, to diminish the multiplied effects of the smallest bit of obedience on our part?

The missed opportunities are in the past. Let them be under the blood of Christ. But your present and future? Ahh, that is another thing.

(Sometimes you just have to do the work.)

 

 

 

Your “Self”

OK, so this is a pretty basic post. But I’m hoping you’ll see past that, and pause to consider this idea for yourself. (Excuse the pun.)

I recently read that if you polled a thousand contemporary Christians on “What is the greatest virtue in Christianity?”, the answer you would most often get is “Selflessness.”

The writer said that the same question asked of 1st century Christians would get the answer “Love.” (Sorry I can’t remember who said it.)

His impression was that something had gone terribly wrong in the intervening 20 centuries. My focus is on something different.

The name of this blog is Give 1st. Which begs the question, “What do I have to give?”

Having studied the motivational gifts, which are what make your “Self” unique in terms of purpose leads me to this…

Give of Your SELF first

Your “self” is what is unique about you. No other person, either now, or at any time in history, has the same combination of gifts and personal history that you do. In years of coaching on this topic I’ve come to appreciate the strong connection between WHO you are, and God’s intended purpose for creating you as an individual.

Perhaps you’ve experienced being able to give to someone something that no one else was uniquely equipped to provide. (I hope so, it is such a blessing.)

Giving is not so much about money as it is about pouring your life into fulfilling God’s intended purpose and role in your life.

And remember…

“Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.”        (HCSB)

In case you don’;t think you have been entrusted with much, let me say this. My experience in working with the motivational gifts with others has taught me something. Learning about your gifts clues you in to how much you have been given, and have available to work with.

 

 

 

Proverbs 20:5

Here’s a word of encouragement from the Book of Proverbs.

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,

but one who has insight draws them out.”

The encouragement is that it is possible to determine God’s purpose for having uniquely designed you. So many people are unsure of their purpose in life. Some even question if they will ever determine it.

This proverb points out 2 things;

  1. It is possible to gain insight.
  2. It may take some effort to discern, or “draw them out”

I don’t think I have to convince you of the great advantages of living a purpose driven life. But discovering your purpose may seem elusive. That’s why I’ve spent years developing the content that is presented in a course called, “How to ENJOY the life God designed you to have.”

For a free preview of Session #1, please cut and paste the link below into your address bar.

https://give1storg.teachable.com/courses/357540/lectures/5476052 

God wouldn’t put you on the earth with no clue as to what He intended you to do with your life. The easiest way to find out His plan for you is become aware of what gifts He has placed in you to accomplish His plan.

Yes, you may have to “draw them out”, but it is so worth the effort.

A Whole Different Kind of Gift

I’m writing this post to bring to your attention the opportunity to make a super-significant gift that costs you nothing out-of-pocket.

The gift I’m taking about is often referred to as the gift of life, organ donation.

I am the recipient of a donated liver. My life was saved 22 years ago by a transplant.

In gratitude, I promote the good work of the “Center for Donation and Transplant” every chance I get. Thousands of people die every year who could have been saved if there were as many donors as there are people in need.

I like to point out a couple of things to people who are interested. One is that as many as 17 lives can be impacted by one donor, as many different types of tissue are used. My favorite example of this is the use of skin tissue for burn victims. I became sensitized to this need while riding the hospital shuttle bus to my liver clinic in Boston. That bus also stopped at the Shriners Burn Hospital. Let me tell you, seeing kids suffer like that put my transplant into the “mere inconvenience” category by comparison.

The other thing to note is this. You’re not really a donor until you notify your family of your intent. Signing your driver’s license would be overridden by your next of kin saying they don’t think you wanted to be a donor. This happens because the organ procurement counselors always ask permission before the organs can be harvested.

My next post will be related to this one, on a more current issue.

Thanks for thinking about your potential role.

So What are You Going to do with Your Life?

You may not consciously think about this topic very often. It is so much easier to just coast from day to day doing whatever is put before you. I’m not saying this is your fault alone.

We all live in a culture that is constantly bombarded with entertainment choices. Let’s not go on a rant about hours wasted in front of a television, but we could. When I first discovered the church I attend the culture there was very legalistic. All TV was considered evil. We have grown away from that.

I personally feel the place for mindless entertainment is when I have no mental energy left, and just need to “veg-out”. Still it is tempting to watch things that the hollywood agenda would have us accept as normal.

The important things you do with your life happen before you get exhausted. So let’s focus on what you chose to DO. Doing is different than merely thinking about doing. We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, while judging others by their actions.

A whole lot less gets done than gets intended.

I don’t mean to sound like a motivational speaker, but let’s look at how to get from “I meant to do” to “I did.” It takes a good reason for us to get off our butts. Let’s face it, it is just plain easier to not do than to do.

The really active Christians that I know are not motivated by what they “ought” to do. They are motivated by actually wanting to do what God intends for them to do, in order to please him.

Remember the last time you did something just because you knew a loved one would by delighted by it?  It didn’t feel like an obligation, or drudgery did it?

Now imagine living a life where that is the norm instead of an occasional occurence. A pleasant prospect, no?

Delighting God can be much more fulfilling when we are not focused on what we are not supposed to do. It’s hard to maintain a joyful existence when all you do is try not to transgress.

To truly delight God we want to do more than just live righteously. Pleasing Him by fulfilling His intentions for our lives is the better goal.

Of course, this requires the belief that He is involved in our lives. He has a plan for each and every one of us. So the key is discovering what He created us to do.

Once you have discovered His plan for you, living it out becomes much easier.

So how do I discover my “Destiny”?

I better define the way I use the word destiny. It is not a path you will be lead down whether you like it or not. I do not mean predestined, with no power of choice.

Destiny is better thought of as where God wants you to end up even after you’ve made all your choices. It is with HIM, as the final and eternal destination. What we do in the meantime is what I’m talking about.

Exploring the possibilities of what God intends your life to look like can be overwhelming. But there is a fairly simple solution. Once you know what talents God has built into you, it will be much easier to spend more time using them.

We all have abilities that come easier to us than others. The business world has an expression they use in Human Resource discussions. Building an effective organization involves two steps. Getting the right people on the bus. Then getting them in the right seats.

Being in the right seat means you are doing those things that come easier to you because God gave you a talent in that direction. Much of the misery in our world is suffered by those those who’ve been taught that they need to focus on strengthening their weaknesses.

In another post I’ll introduce the concept of finding out what you were built to do. For now, just know that these gifts exist, and they are worth pursuing.

As always, comments are welcomed and appreciated.