Surrendering to His Kindness

I once did a home fellowship group that focused on the importance of understanding, and embracing, surrender.

Our current culture has saturated the meaning of the word surrender with negative connotations. Examples of what I mean are, “surrender” in battle, or ‘surrendering to a weakness”. These are negative in that they are not what we want to do. They carry shame.

Surrender does mean to cease resisting. But it is not always bad. When faced with overwhelming power, surrender is appropriate. Such is the case with God.

There are positive instances of ceasing to resist. They are different because the object being surrendered to is a good thing, not a carrier of shame. There is liberation tied to surrendering to the right things.

Here is a current example of the “right” type of surrendering. In a contemporary Christian song I heard on the radio yesterday I heard the phrase “I surrender to His kindness.”

Let me flesh that out a bit. We have to be willing to receive in order for an intended gift to be appropriated. God has gifts for all of us, both in-born and experiential. But receiving them is subject to our will, as He will not transgress our freedom of choice.

Our old Adamic man is filled with pride. Many of us live out our lives based on being self-sufficient. It goes beyond the “I don’t need your help” mindset. Ever know anyone who just couldn’t accept a sincere compliment graciously?

In my work on operating the Spiritual Gifts, there is a section that describes of the prerequisite of being willing to receive. Instead of pride, which we all know the Lord rightly resists, surrender is the attitude of humility. It is saying I know you want the best for me, and anything you have to give me that will help me to fulfill your will, I accept with grace.

Notice the attitude of submission in the statement above. Submission is the positive by-product of surrender. At least it is positive when the object of the “ceasing to resist” is worthy.

Much of the same could be said of the real meaning of the word submission. But don’t get me started.

 

 

Advertisements

“Knows the Price of Everything, but the Value of Nothing”

The title of this post is from Oscar Wilde. He’s not often quoted in places like this blog, for various reasons. But it seems to me a good starting point for something more valuable.

The quote is the definition of a “cynic”. But it is not cynicism I wish to address. This for people you can recognize the value of things. The issue at hand is more than mere value vs. non-value. It is about the relative value of things.

Some things have more value than others. I’m not talking about the relativism that denies absolute truth.

It might be clearer if I use the term appreciation of value than mere observance of its’ existence. It is how much we appreciate things of true value that counts.

In a confused world where it is easy to observe more tragic circumstances than happy outcomes, the amount we appreciate the good things becomes tantamount.

Every day I encounter people who are unconsciously keeping score of good versus bad. They are discouraged by their tally. That is unfortunate, and not necessary.

So much is dependent upon perspective. We must learn to get past the impression that the good is “out-numbered” by the bad. That is what I’ll call quantitative thinking.

The attitude of gratitude that is often praised is more like qualitative perception.

Perhaps a real life example would help. I recently had the experience of my wife saying something to me that affirmed my worth. It was more than just a pleasurable moment. It held for me so much value, (Quality of Value), that it had the power to “out-number” who knows how many negative things. (Please note that very few of those negatives it out weighed came from her.)

My point is one of valuation. How much value do you place on the good, edifying moments in your life?

Back to the quote in the title… Knowing the value of things. When God lets you know you are in His will, that can obliterate many of the attacks against you. If you place a high enough value on it, a moment of feeling the sun warm your skin can make a year’s worth of physical discomfort disappear.

Faith is a Type of Knowledge

Something came to me while participating in an after sermon discussion group. I want to share it with you.

We were discussing the interconnection of Hope and Faith. The background is this…

People who don’t believe, don’t have faith; have no reason to have hope. The hopelessness of our society is rampant.

Having faith is prerequisite to having hope. So how do we know how to have faith, when it is in something unseen?

There are 4 different types of knowledge.

1. EXPERIENTIAL – This encompasses all empirical knowledge, and personally experienced learning.

2. THEORETICAL – We can know things that are discovered by following systematic thought. We know them because their truth is supported, despite not being experienced.

3. REVELATORY – This type may be debated by those who don’t believe, but is accepted by those who do believe. It takes faith for the revealed knowledge to be accepted as knowledge.

4. FAITH as KNOWLEDGE – When your faith has grown to the place where it has matured into an unshakable fact in your mind… it becomes knowledge. WHEN YOU KNOW THAT YOU KNOW, well, you just know.

This fourth type of knowledge is different from the first 3. It takes time to grow. Time is a component, which is part of the gift that your unique life path imparts to you. That may make it sound a lot like experiential knowledge. It also has a lot in common with revelatory knowledge.

The path we walk is intended by God to bring us back into redeemed relationship with Him. Of course because we have free will, our decisions play a part in what we experience along that path. But God is not “faked out” by our decisions.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Hebrews; Chapter 11, Verse 6  ESV

 

 

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.

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.