Dreams

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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How I Learned to Trust

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My relationship with Jonathan changed my life.  Not just because we got married and we move all over the globe but because we fell in love.  Now I don’t mean that fabulous euphoric falling in love you have at the beginning (although we have that too!) I mean we fell into love.  Fall is really the wrong word because it sounds so unintentional.  Deciding to pursue love with Jonathan grew me like no other relationship I’d known.  Loving him and being loved by him changed me and every time I changed I learned more about my relationship with God.

When Jonathan and I met I was a fully independent, established career woman. I owned a house, had a job, fabulous friends and a great church.  We ‘fell in love’ got married and started living life together.  When Jonathan first encouraged me to go part time I was working as a nurse in a busy labor and delivery unit.  The same one I mentioned last week where nobody got to eat lunch.  The job was very stressful.  My days off felt like physical and emotional recuperation days instead of free days for recreation or working on our home.  I had been wanting to go part time for a while but when he mentioned it a hidden part of me resisted.  I accepted his offer anyway and spread the news excitedly but whenever he would mention it to people I cringed inside.  He would be talking to someone on the phone saying that I was going to go part time so that I would have more time to oil paint and write.  And I would wave my hand and make shushing faces to encourage him to shut up.  Later I would ask him, “Why are you telling people that?”  He would be confused – “What do you mean?”  I’d say, “Don’t tell people that.  You make me sound lazy!”  After a couple of weeks I started to wonder if he had ulterior motives for wanting me to work less.  Did he think I didn’t do a good enough job keeping up the house or having meals prepared?  Was my being stressed out – stressing him out and he needed it to stop?  Did he want me to be more financially dependant upon him?

After overhearing yet another conversation where he was ‘bragging’ about my going part-time – I lost it.

I asked him straight up: “WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO GO PART-TIME?”

Again confused he said matter-of-factly. “So that you can have more time to paint and write.”

“No – I mean why do YOU want me to go part-time?  What do you get out of it – what’s your real motive?”

He set aside the strainer for the pasta that was nearly done.  Moved towards me and gently put his hands on my waist, “Baby, I think you are truly gifted in writing and painting and you love doing those things.  Your work seems to stress you out and take away from the time that you could spend doing things that you love and that God has gifted you to do.  I Love You – and I love seeing you do the things that you love.  That’s it.”

I started to silently cry because I believed him.  I had no idea how to interpret this.  I had no frame of reference for this.  I just couldn’t believe that someone, a man, loved me this much and was truly looking for my best interest.  He wanted what was best for me, he wanted what was going to make me happy and feel fulfilled.  He wanted to see me enjoying life and my gifts and loving the way I spend my time.  I had never personally experienced such a selfless unconditional act of love.  I was overwhelmed.

My relationship with Jonathan was unlike any other, yet I still had a hard time fully trusting.  Way in the back of my heart I kept waiting for the inevitable other shoe to drop.  The tell tale sign that indeed he was a heart-breaking, selfish betrayer just like the rest of them.  But day by day, week in and week out it never happened.  Over and over again I was surprised with honesty, predictability, dependability.  Don’t get me wrong – he isn’t perfect – of course, there were times I was disappointed or times when I expected one thing and got another.

Regardless, Jonathan showed me that even though he wasn’t perfect that he could be trusted.  This isn’t a praise session for my husband (although he is amazing) but rather a statement about me.  I had come through life protecting the lie that no one is going to take care of me except me.  I thought, “You have to look out for number one.  If you don’t take care of yourself no one will.  Right?”  I never thought anyone else would ever care for me enough to truly want what’s best for me.  But he did (and still does.)  It’s amazing!

Experiences and hurts from our past can hinder the intimacy in our current relationships.  The hurt I carried kept me from trusting.  Lack of trust kept me from sharing my heart with Jonathan.  I dealt with the past experiences that caused the hurt and forgave those who hurt me but I hadn’t faced the core beliefs that kept me from trusting. Once I believed that Jonathan sincerely cared for me I began to open up and give him more of myself.  Not all people are trustworthy of sharing your heart.  It’s healthy to have boundaries to protect yourself from unsafe people.

However, it’s very important to note that God is not unsafe.  I’ve written before that it is easy for us to ascribe to God attributes of our parents or other authority figures but unless they were Godly attributes they are not true of Him. God is not a man.  He IS perfect! He is always honest, always faithful, always loving; He never fails. I had to learn to be honest first with myself and then with God.  I came to Him with willingness and He provided the clarity I needed to begin to see myself and Him properly.  I cannot express how wonderful it is to experience True Love.  He wants what’s best for me, He wants what’s going to make me happy and feel fulfilled.  He wants to see me enjoying life and the gifts He gave me and loving the way I spend my time. God’s love is Perfect.

Recommended Material:

Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud

A must see short Q&A video on Building Trust by “Loving On Purpose”

The King has a Dream

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Today is the national day of memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Perhaps you enjoying the day off!

from Billboard.com

I admit it’s shallow, yet nevertheless true, that in the past I rarely have given Dr. King much thought on this day – I was simply happy for a three day weekend much like I had on Memorial Day or Veterans Day (of course, this was before I was married to a Veteran and became so much more reverent of such days).

Several months ago I was reading a book called Heavy Rain by Kris Vallotton where he quoted two speeches from Dr King.  I was brought to tears by the words of this world changing man and determined in that moment that my children would read and study the writings and life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not at all qualified to expound much on the historical, political and social significance of Dr. King but I know what’s touched my heart. And to that I can speak.

Scene from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Where Martin Luther King, Jr gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech.

A dream.  Dr. King had a dream.  He dreamed of the world as it could be not only as it was. He saw the world with Kingdom eyes and with grace and resolve he lived to see it realized.

The day before his assassination Dr. King gave a less famous speech titled “I have been to the mountaintop.”  In that speech he said:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has it’s place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And I am happy tonight. I am not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

It is right to care for our health. Eat well, be active – steward our bodies and environment. Prepare for longevity. But to live a long life of despair, monotony or regret is not a grand thing. To live without living a dream is not to live.

A dream.  A Dream.

We all have a dream. We were born with dreams knit into us. The adventure of our lives is to search for the dream, the desire of our hearts. **(Proverbs 25:2) When we find it we must nurture it with hope, expectation and ACTION.

God, our King, has a dream and the dream is you. A dream of hope and love and destiny.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,

plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Martin Luther King did not live to see the United States free of social inequality – we still fight for that dream today – but he did live his dream. As he said himself, he has seen the Glory. He lived with purpose, resolve and inner peace.

When we live our dream, walk in our destiny, and dance with hope, we too live with purpose resolve and peace. It is to our glory to search out our dreams and purpose but it is an even greater glory to live out those dreams.

The King has a dream. Have you dreamt the dream He has for you?

In honor of one of God’s great dreamers start this day to seek that dream and then do something to see it come to life.

Footnotes

** Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. (NIV)

Consider reading: Dreaming with Godby Bill Johnson