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Opening God’s Gifts

28 Nov

Sometimes it’s hard to find the perfect gift. Other times, we really should try harder. After being away on business for a week before the Christmas Holiday, Barry thought it would be nice to bring his wife a gift. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics woman at the Department Store. So, she showed him a bottle of $50 perfume.

“That’s a bit much,” Barry said. The woman then returned with a smaller bottle costing $30.

Barry complained, “That’s still a lot of money.” Growing disgusted, the woman brought out her smallest little bottle of $15 perfume.

Barry grew even more restless and replied, “No no… What I mean is I’d like to see something really cheap!”

So the clerk handed him a mirror! (1)

A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be special. It’s the heart that counts. But one of the fun aspects of Christmas giving is finding secret places to hide gifts until it’s time to place them under the tree. It’s especially tough if you’re the kind of woman who buys gifts in August or earlier!

I (Dawn) read about some great “secret places” to hide gifts from “snoops” ~

  • Hide small gifts in socks in your underwear drawer.
  • Hide gifts under the sink where cleaning supplies are stored, or in empty detergent and fabric softener boxes.. (Kids aren’t likely to get anywhere near anything to do with cleaning!)
  • If your kids don’t do laundry, hide larger gifts inside the dryer a few days before Christmas… or in a large dirty clothes hamper.
  • Consider the garage, storage shed, or pool house (who has a pool house?) as long as floors and walls are not damp.
  • The back of the Master Bathroom vanity is a good place, again, if it is free of moisture.
  • Use plain brown paper or fabric remnants, and hide gifts in plain sight! (For example, wrap a book and place in a bookcase.) Not quite as obvious as the bear shown here!
  • The trunk of the car is a terrific hiding place, unless your kids are likely to open your trunk (groceries, ball games, etc.).
  • If you have a “messy,” consider hiding a gift in your child’s room ~ perhaps in a children’s pile of laundry under the bed!
  • Larger or special gifts can be stored at a neighbor’s house, at the grandparents’ house, or even at your workplace.
  • I’ve hidden gifts in suitcases, which we always had a lot of in our family.

Of course, this will all be defeated if you have a clever child with Continue reading

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No Gift Quite Like Yours

17 Oct

It’s always to good to know where our gifts and talents lie.

Sugar Ray LeonardSugar Ray Leonard once spoke at Harvard. The amiable boxer said:

“I consider myself blessed. I consider you blessed. We’ve all been blessed with God-given talents.

“Mine just happens to be beatin’ people up!” (1)

Victor Borge at PianoPianist Victor Borge was once asked if he played any other musical instruments.

Borge answered, “Well, yes. I have another piano.” (2)

Both of these men were talking about talents more than spiritual gifts. Talents are wonderful, but your God-given spiritual gift will bring you the greatest blessing, if you use it ~ if you “bloom where you’re planted.” It is what makes you unique. It can also bring you favor with others, and increased success in life.

The Holy Spirit decides what spiritual gifts we should have (1 Corinthians 12:4-6), but spiritual gifts are not all about you. As Adrian Rogers said, your spiritual gift “is not for your enjoyment; it is for your employment.” There’s a reason you have it that is far bigger than you.

Spiritual Gifts GraphicSometimes as we discover our spiritual gifts and use the talents God has allowed us to develop, we focus on the benefits to our own lives, and that is OK … but it’s much better to focus on the JOY model ~ Jesus, Others, You.

First, we glorify God as we use the gifts He created in us. A better way to say this is, we display His creative glory through us. We have differing gifts according to the “grace given us” (Romans 12:6-8), and we reflect His image as the all-wise Creator. Our gifts aren’t a matter for pride, but for humility before God. It is His power working in us to properly use our gifts. We’re not to “size each other up” or compare ourselves with others.

I (Dawn) remember when I was in Bible college. I took an apologetics class, and I thrived there. The professor told me privately, “Dawn, you’ve got a better grasp on this than most of the guys in this class.” I remember my heart swelling with pride, and from then on until the end of the semester, I “noticed” when I outshone my male counterparts in the class. Yet I failed to understand that God was using all of us in different ways in that class, related to our gifts. 

For instance, I tended to shine in apologetics because my spiritual gift is teaching ~ and boy, could I spout facts and “truths” in debates. But one mercy-showing male classmate used what he learned in the class to reach out to others on the streets of Pennsylvania with the truth. Another used doctrines he learned to gently disciple a dorm-mate, a new believer. Was my gift superior to theirs? No, but in my comparisons, I missed how we ALL were glorifying God!

We need to thank God, the sovereign giver of gifts (Ecclesiastes 2:26a) for giving gifts to different degrees and for different purposes (1 Corinthians 12:18), rather than comparing ourselves with others (1 Corinthians 15:10). He gives a diversity of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4), but for one purpose ~ to bring Him glory. Like the different instruments Continue reading

Not My Gift!

21 Jun

 

 

 

Rev. J. Harold Stephens tells of a particular cooking crisis:

There was a young bride, a poor cook, whose husband came home to find her crying. “The dog ate the biscuits,” she sobbed.

“Never mind, Honey,” he said. “We’ll get another dog.” *

Husbands’ complaints about their wives” bad cooking is common fodder for comedians’ jokes. Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, known for his belittling humor, once said, “My wife’s such a bad cook, the dog begs for Alka-Seltzer.”

You know that you’re a bad cook if your husband affectionately tells Burned Biscuitshouse guests your smoke detector is “the oven timer.”

The biscuits joke about the dog reminded me of one of the first meals I made my husband. He jokingly tossed my hard, slightly burned biscuits across the room, teasing, “Wheee … flying saucers!” I was not amused.

Suffice it to say, I’m not Julia Child, Rachel Ray,  Paula Deen … or anyone remotely like them. I am not a good cook. I’m a fair-to-middlin’ cook. I mean, The Bobbert is hardly starving.  And it’s a good thing he’s a man of simple tastes … not a gourmet. Meat. Potatoes. Dessert. Occasional fruit smoothies. That’s about it. Oh, and Cheetos. And donuts.  A quick trip to the grocery section of Wal-Mart more than satisfies my man.

But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. I truly believe that all of us shine in at least one or a few areas. Ask me to proofread my husband’s ministry newsletters, and I’m a pro. He hugs me in gratitude. Ask me to organize or teach anything or anyone and he’ll beam at me with pride.

Just don’t ask me to make a spinach-artichoke souffle. (Why would I want to, anyway?) But since The Bobbert and I married, I can make passable roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, and green beans. I can make a superb cherry pie. I even learned to make the family specialty ~ Ableskivvers ~ at Christmas.

I’m doing OK … shining in my areas of gifting, and slugging away at learning the rest.

I think that God’s perspective on us is much the same. The Holy Spirit gives each believer a gift or more at the moment he or she becomes a member of God’s family (Romans 12:6-8). God gives these gifts as He wills, and we are expected to use each gift to build up and encourage the “family” (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). But then, as we focus on Jesus, and God’s Spirit makes us more like Him, we will begin to notice that we have touches of the other gifts. Or at the least, we are to be obedient to try to practice them. Misunderstanding of this can be a hindrance to ministry.

My gifts are teaching, shepherding, and encouraging ~ in that order. But God also gives me opportunities to practice hospitality, give, show mercy, serve, use administrative skills, etc. I don’t “shine” in these areas, but He uses me, nonetheless.

Not everyone has every gift, but we can’t make the excuse, “That’s not my gift!” if God is calling us to step forward in a situation and serve Him.  At different periods in my life, I had to step forward and do work that I am not naturally “gifted” to do. It wasn’t always comfortable, but it was necessary. (But I have to admit that it helped my prayer life, because I prayed for someone to come along who WAS gifted in those areas!)

Some people don’t know their gifts, even though there are many tests available to help them discover their gifts (Here is one:  spiritual gifts analysis Note: you will be asked for your email to get results, but you can then unsubscribe). Sometimes church members have never been trained for ministry ~ how to use their gifting. A wise pastor or youth leader will take on that training to strengthen the church.

But on the other hand, some Christians are just plain lazy. They Continue reading

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