Tablets of the Heart

Stewarding Our Wealth

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“Having gifts that differ
according to the Grace given us,
let us use them…” Romans 12:6

Each one of us has been given different gifts. Gifts of Grace from our Creator. These gifts are the empowerment to bring Glory upon the Earth in an unique way that God designed only you to do. Each time you use your gift you are partnering with God to leave an everlasting Holy imprint of that partnership. Like a fingerprint made with your finger and His Glory-filled ink. But this partnership doesn’t just happen. It’s not accidental nor coincidence. It requires faith and stewardship.

Most people associate stewardship with money. When really it has to do with wealth. What’s that you say? Isn’t wealth and money basically the same thing? I would answer with a resounding, “No!”

While we may not all have bank accounts filled with lots of commas and zeros, the redeemed do all have an account overflowing with the riches of Christ.
Did you know you were wealthy? You are!

One day Jesus told a parable about a man who went on a journey (recorded in Matthew 25). Before he left he gave some of his wealth to his servants to manage -each ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY – and he expected those servants to multiply what they had be given. The man give one servant five talents, another two and yet another one talent. (Talents here was an amount of money not a skill in the way we use this word in modern times.)

There are so many things that keep us from multiplying the wealth that we have been given. One of the big ones is COMPARISON. We think we all should have the same and when we notice the differences we have bad thoughts. Thoughts of bitterness, jealousy, self loathing, pride. This is why in the Word we are encouraged to consider ourselves with “sober judgment” and “not to compare ourselves with one another.”

Another reason we are unfruitful is having an inaccurate perception of God and his intent for us. In the parable mentioned above the servant given the least amount buried it in FEAR. Although he preserved what he was given, he did nothing to multiply his gift. The excuse he gave his master was that he SAW HIM as harsh, unjust and greedy. Unfortunately, that servant’s perception became his reality!

But the biggest reason we don’t steward our gifts well, why we don’t multiply the wealth we have been given? Forgetfulness! What do we forget? We forget we are forgiven, the Grace of His Salvation (2 Peter 1:9ff)! In forgetting this we discount who God is, His Love for us, and become blinded to our calling.

We forget who WE ARE!

You we were created with unique gifts. When you were filled with the Holy Spirit you were empowered to use those gifts to impact the world with and for the Glory of God. Have you forgotten who you are? Are you aware of the gifts you’ve been given? When we are using our gifts as God designed we feel fully alive. This is good news!

What is that you are doing when you feel fully alive? This is most likely one of your gifts. Is there a way for you to better steward that gift? Put another way, is there something you can do to invest in yourself to make that gift multiply in your life?

“Having gifts that differ, according to the GRACE given us let USE them…”

Begin today using your GIFT!

Do you have questions about finding and stewarding your gifts? Ask them in the comments or send me a private message.

This is your #gracefilledmoment with Debra Bell.

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Fear wears a mask named Responsible

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In the few days since the fire (click here to read about it) I have noticed signs of trauma.  It happens mostly at night.  As I snuggle down into my pillows and feel the normally comforting warmth of my blankets I get edgy.  My ears are heightened to sounds around me and I find myself opening my eyes to glance out the window.

I’ll hear an animal scurry or a limb crack in the woods but something tells me, “It’s a fire!”  What was that?  A pop, a rumble?  Are the trees glowing?  My heart starts racing and I want to get out of bed to look.  I quickly recognize my anxiety is irrational.  It’s very unlikely another one of my neighbor’s houses will explode in a roaring inferno.  And, yet, I feel it…

Fear.

The type of fear I felt the day of the fire spurred responsible action.  It caused a respect for the danger and potential reality of a fire.  As a result our family took action steps to be as prepared as possible in the case of a house fire. (Click here for a safety checklist.) But this, this feeling I’m having at night, is not the same kind of fear.  It doesn’t cause responsible action it causes worry and sleeplessness.  This type of fear sneaks in like a villain.  He masquerades as Responsibility.  Like a bad insurance policy he promises security but demands a hefty payment and never delivers.  He’s really a thief.

He steals peace and leaves worry.  He steals sleep and leaves weariness.  He steals trust leaving a sense that my life is all dependent on me.

Fortunately, I’d seen this villain before so I recognized him quickly.  And did what you do with a thief who comes in lies and betrays you and tries to steal your precious possessions.  I kicked him out.

Hope, peace and trust in God are some of my most valuable possessions.  An abundant life does not exist without them.  I can not sit passively allowing any type of thinking displace them.  I cannot deny I experienced trauma and that it’s normal to experience triggers that reactivate the feelings of a trauma.  But I won’t allow that to be an excuse to partner with the villain who wants me to think that worry, heightened intensity (aka jumpiness), and anxiety are going to protect me and my family from fire – or any other threat for that matter.

Intimacy with the God who loves perfectly allows a trust that imprisons the villain fear.  The peace that follows isn’t rational.  It transcends understanding.

Fear is a conniving little snake.  He’s not your friend or protector. Has he snuck in on you?  Sometimes we don’t recognize that fear has trespassed until we notice the shortage of what he’s stolen.  Here are just a few examples.

Fear of the future steals our hope.
Fear of the unknown steals our peace.
Fear of rejection steals our relationships.
Fear of failure steals our success.

Do you lack hope in any area of your life?
Do you lack peace?
Do you lack depth and satisfaction in your relationships?
Do you lack momentum towards your destiny?

Perhaps there’s fear there.

Last night I slept without one worrisome thought.  How did I kick out the thief?  I remembered who my God was.  He never promised me a life without trouble but he did promise me a life of peace.  I began to thank him for all he is and all he’s done in my life.  I made a conscious choice to think about those things.  And without another thought fear was gone.

Do you want freedom?  Freedom from fear that causes worry, anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, performance driven, controlling behaviors is available through a relationship with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Andthe God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (emphasis mine)

Do you believe you know at least one person who needs freedom from fear?  Would you share this on your Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site?  Recognizing how fear works could be all someone needs to gain back what’s been stolen from them.

Be a herald!  Together we can make a difference!

Miscarried… A Letter to My Unborn Child

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My sweet little one,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that for whatever reason you couldn’t join us here.  I’m sorry for all you missed and didn’t get to experience.  I am so sorry I didn’t get to meet you, hold you, nurture you and watch you grow.

I rejoice in your life none-the-less.  And I rejoice that you are knowing an incomparable LOVE in the eternal moment of Heaven.

Today I mourn the loss of your life, grateful that you are in the arms of your Creator.  Yet I have hope.  Hope that you will change the world; not by your feet walking the Earth, the power of your words nor the impact of your decisions.  You will change the world because your existence changed me, hoping for you altered my perspectives.  The presence of your life growing in my body showed me the power of our God and the fragility of life.

CIMG2560

I will not know your personality or passions during my lifetime – but someday I will know you…I just have to wait longer than the few remaining months of my pregnancy.

I will not allow the shortness of your life lack impact on the Earth.  Your life, though brief, will not be without meaning.  You will never know breath in your lungs, the taste of sweetness, nor feel the tenderness of my kisses.  You will never know the burn in your lungs when you run full force across a field for the ball or the exhilaration of jumping from the diving board into a pool for the first time.  You won’t know the butterflies fluttering in your stomach as you fall in love nor the beauty and intimacy of marriage or the joy of having your own children.

Nor will you know disappointment, fear, anger, sickness nor despair.  You will never cry.  All you will ever know is LOVE, JOY and PEACE nestled in the HOPE we wait for.

You were designed to be royal and priestly.

You were knit together with a destiny and it will not go unaccomplished.

What He begins, He finishes.

Your LIFE marked me and I will never be the same.  You made an impact.  And because you changed me – you changed the world.  To what degree, perhaps you can see now, but I will have to wait for.

We named you Hope.  And now you live in our hope because of where you are.  The remembrance of your  life has become a declaration:

Our true HOPE is in Heaven!

I love you and can’t wait to meet you.

Love,

Mom

There’s a Giant in My Promised Land!?

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My husband and I have a custom at the beginning of each year.  We ask God to reveal a theme for the coming 365 days.  This year my husband heard that this was the year of our Supernatural Family.  Sounds exciting!  Like something you’d put on a banner:

2012 The Year of our Supernatural Family!

But what does that mean anyway?  We’re not fully sure.  But we received it with hope and anticipation of an amazing year of life – better than just normal natural!

Then came the word that he was to spend a year away in another country.  We asked, “How do we have a year of a supernatural family if our family is not together?”  Someone said to us, “Maybe this is why you’ll need to be a supernatural family.”  Perhaps they were right.  Perhaps not.  Regardless, our eyes are constantly searching around every twist and turn this year has brought for God to reveal the supernatural family He promised.

So many challenges have stood in front of me that seem to contradict the great promise of this year.

Separation challenges,

                   parenting challenges,

                                 gardening challenges,

                                            relationship challenges,

                                                          logistic challenges,

                                                                         physical challenges.

loneliness…insecurity…rebellion…frustration…disappointment…pressure…injury…

At every turn it seemed like one more giant was standing in the middle of my promised land, taunting me to believe that this promised land was his.

Why does God allow giants to stand in the way of our destiny?

Why does God tell Joshua (and Moses) to go possess the land He promised the people when He knew full well that Jericho was there to oppose them?

We oftentimes ask this “WHY” question when it seems that, if God were really God, He would have beaten the giant, removed the giant from our midst or not allowed him there in the first place. We doubt His goodness or His strength to act on our behalf.

But the REAL question is why do FEAR the giant.  Why do we hesitate or shrink back when we see him blocking our way?  Is that what we should do? Turn back, take a less resisted path, believe the lies that we are LESS THAN, UNDESERVING, PRESUMPTUOUS, or IN DENIAL of reality??  Why not rather believe that we were designed to fight our opposing giants and WIN,

like David who, against all odds, beheaded the great giant Goliath.

In the first movie of The Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan reminds Peter he is to be king by showing him the castle where his throne sits.  Peter looks down as Aslan suggests that Peter doubts the prophesy.  Peter says, “That’s just it…I am not who you all think I am.”

And that is indeed THE PROBLEM.

We don’t battle the giants in our land to prove that God is real and good.  We don’t fight the giants for vanity or to impress the crowd.

We fight to prove to OURSELVES that we are indeed WHO God says WE ARE.  However the giant got there, I think we NEED to fight the giant to cure our doubt, to convince US that we are more than conquerers.  That we are who HE says we are.

Mighty Warrior

In another scene of Narnia, Peter rushes to the aide of his sisters who are being attacked by wolves.  Aslan and his army arrive as Peter is in the thick of the fight.  A soldier is about to jump in to fight the wolf who appears to be overtaking Peter.  But Aslan stops him declaring, “This is Peter’s fight.”

He new Peter had it in him to win.  And he knew Peter needed to BELIEVE that he had it in him too!

We are nearly one fourth of the way done with Jonathan’s tour.  But we are also nearly three fourths done with 2012.  It’s true there have been surprising and admittedly daunting twists and turns that I’d rather have not dealt with this year.  But at every turn, opposing giant starring me down, my doting Father has been here.  Encouraging me, teaching me, strengthening me.  Giving me hope and affirming His promise.  I see our family becoming more supernatural with every beheaded giant!

Do you have a giant in your path, taunting you?  Blocking you from your GOD given destiny?  God has strength for you.  He has grace for you.  He has ideas for you.  He created you and believes in what he made you to be.  Perhaps conquering that giant is the very thing that will unveil more of who you were made to be!  Like Narnia’s Peter, who, through battle, finally realized he was a KING.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com

Corpus Christi

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The day after I sent my husband on his great journey, my mother came to spend the week with us.  I am so grateful to have her here to help me during this transition.  She insists she hasn’t done a thing to help me and can’t imagine why I love having her around.  She’s crazy!  I haven’t loaded or unloaded my dishwasher or folded a stitch of laundry since she arrived.  That alone is worth big money to a mother of three under four!  But as I told her, even if she hadn’t done chores it is wonderful to have her company.  Chatting, cooking, reading or just watching the news together…it’s been great to visit and have another adult in the house.

As Sunday approached, my mother considered attending church with my neighbor who is Episcopalian.  I told her I would just attend the Episcopal church with her.  My mother paused a few moments and then taught me that this week in the liturgical calendar is the celebration of Corpus Christi, The Body of Christ.  It is the week the Church celebrates being part of God’s family through the blood of Jesus.  Because of this she thought it would be better if I worshipped with my church family that I have come to love so much.

I gave that some thought and considered what she taught me about Corpus Christi in the calendar and quickly received a plan.

Yesterday my Catholic mother, along with my little family, attended an Episcopal Service (the closest thing to Catholic near my house.)

Afterward we drove to my church that I will describe as a revival-focused, charismatic church.  We arrived late but were still able to enjoy the sermon and healing service while my children attended their class.  

 

Prophetic Art displayed during service.

It was a busy morning but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate that despite all of the MANY theological and practical differences between churches and denominations that WE are the BODY of CHRIST, the Corpus Christi.

I was brought up Catholic.

Saved in the Church of Christ.

Received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the Assemblies of God.

Licensed by the Evangelical Church Alliance.

Married into a Presbyterian family.

And currently attend a non denominational church.

There is no one church with the “corner market” on Rightness.  It’s our loving deeds overflowing from a heart transformed by Jesus that identifies us as Christians.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10

Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com

Tilling the Soil of My Heart

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Today while my children and soon-to-depart husband napped, I spent time weeding an old flower bed in my yard.  Two years ago we planted this bed full of tulip bulbs to bloom about the time our daughter would be born.

Anna’s Tulips

Once those beautiful and memorial blooms faded and died this bed became home to overgrown weeds and bugs.  The following year only 5 or 6 of 60 untended tulips pressed up through the earth.  With my new found success in the pot garden, I got inspired to tackle this weed filled beast and plant food producing plants.  Cantaloupes (and maybe another zucchini) are in our future!

Weeding in Progress!
In Progress

As I turned the soil, removed the weeds and discovered what insects were living there I was reminded of a passage.  In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the sower in which the heart of man is illustrated as soil.  In the parable some of the soil was beaten down, some was shallow, some was riddled with thorns and some was good – ready to receive seed and be fruitful.

I learned from my father who has gardened his whole life that even good soil needs to be turned and crops rotated in order to remain fruitful.  For example, you wouldn’t want to plant tomatoes year after year in the same spot, in the same soil.  The nutrients of the soil would eventually be depleted and the crop would dwindle or worse.  Also time, water and pressure makes the ground hard and difficult for roots to grow in.  Therefore, each season the soil needs to be turned up or tilled.

There are times in our life where the soil of our heart needs to be examined and turned over.

“How do you till the soil of the heart?”  I asked as my spade dug a clod of dirt and clay.  I clenched it with my gloved hand and crushed it.  It fell to pieces. The roots of weeds were exposed and easily removed.

…Brokenness…

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  A broken and repentant heart you will not reject, O God.”  Psalm 51:7 NLT

Tomorrow my husband will board a plane for a job in a foreign land.  It will keep him away for a year.  I am taking time at the dawn of this season to till my heart.  Brokenness is easily found on the the horizon as I grieve his leaving.  Taking the interpretation of repentance referring to direction rather than a word for apology, I pause to re-focus on the truths that hold my course on this journey. (Blog tip: Each highlighted line is a link to a related article.)

God is still God – And always is no matter what happens.

God is Trustworthy

He created and knows EVERYTHING and still knows me, loves me and wants me.

He has great plans!  I need not worry or fear.

And He’s here for me.

Worshipping this morning I listened to this song.  It would be the link to the one point above that doesn’t have one. “You Know Me” Bethel Music with Steffany Frizzell

I embark on this new season, to be honest, with a little anxiety…but a lot of hope too.  Much is unknown and unfamiliar but I have anticipation for great surprises and a fulfilling adventure!  If you think of it – please keep my family in prayer.

Ready!

Blessings!

Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com

Why Love?

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Love is what I do, not because it makes me feel good –

Love is what I do because it is for your good.

Love… is not self-seeking…” I Corinthians 13:5