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.”

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter to all:

 

 

My name is Paul Silva.

I’ve become aware of a need in our community that I want to help people meet by working together.

I’m asking everyone I know, and everyone my friends know, to consider becoming at least slightly involved in making this a better place to live. I’m not looking for checks, just a minor involvement.

I don’t have the time, money or expertise to take this to the point of being a non-profit. This is strictly a grassroots movement with no corporate funding. Sounds crazy?

What if you only have volunteers and no budget to commit to, just each person paying their own expenses on whatever volunteer activity they want to provide can do it.

So what is the problem we are working together to reduce?

Isolation and Helplessness

Experienced by those with an incomplete support system.

Maybe the best way to make sense of this is to tell it story-fashion. It is my personal story, so I am being transparent with you.

I was sitting at home; basically waiting to go to the hospital the next day and my daughter pulls up in the driveway and starts raking my leaves. At night! With a flashlight on her hat, until after 1AM.

I have a support system.

When I got to the hospital, I had visitors. Because I have a support system. The guy in the bed next to me had none.

When we were forced to downsize (by medical bills), a friend helped us get moved into a trailer. Because my wife and I have a support system. The guys at our church pitched in and built us a nice deck. This made a huge difference in our quality of living.

It’s all because we have a functional support system of both family and friends.

Many people living in our community do not have the blessing of being surrounded, or even minimally exposed, to anyone helping them.

Why is this? 

Our culture is so obsessed with getting as much out of our lives for ourselves that we over schedule ourselves to where we think we need no longer any time for others.

The breakdown and high mobility of family makes it worse. Many elders have adult children who would help, but they live in California or somewhere distant.

It is very common for people who are feeling helpless to isolate themselves. So we really have two challenges to reducing this unnecessary suffering. Finding the people who need help, and finding people to help them.

The good news is that you don’t need to do both. Some people are natural “connectors” and find people of need with no effort. If that’s all they do, Great!

Others are gifted with their hands but don’t want to be involved in running anything. And  of course there are others who are just the opposite of that.. No matter what your personality makes come easily, just do that. Leave all the other stuff to someone else who has that other talent as their “zone.”

Imagine the satisfaction you’ll feel in becoming more “Others-directed”.

Now add to that the fulfillment provided by spending more time doing what you are best at, which means doing less of what frustrates you.

This is a lot like getting a rescue dog whose love brings a whole new joy to your life.

Why Grassroots? 

This project is not a formal charity for many reasons. We have all become skeptical of charities with their constant funding raising. We can’t help but wonder how much their executives are getting paid. We see all the money being spent on direct mail. Sure, it must work or they wouldn’t do it. But we can’t escape knowing that the money is going to the Post Office, and not to the people who really need it.

The solution is to not have a formal structure with all kinds of expenses. The guys who drove out to my place to put on my deck didn’t submit a gas voucher to some not-for-profit accountant with a hefty salary. They just figured it was part of their cost of living a giving life.

Tax deductions for the mileage won’t be available this way. But let’s face it, who really takes the time to claim pennies per mile when trying to do their taxes? We are not asking for money, so the whole tax-deductible question kind of goes away.

This letter is just to let you know this opportunity is available. You no doubt have some questions. Get them answered before you quit thinking about it.

Just leave a comment at …www.Give1st.com 

(Use link at upper left of this page, below the banner photo)

Thanks for your time, and open mindedness. We really do hope to hear from you.