Religion

Stewarding Our Wealth

Posted on

“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.

Advertisements

The problem with Christians today (and ever since Constantine)

Posted on Updated on

Christians today continue to sell Jesus as the answer to life’s problems.  But what many provide their convert is the way to do church losing the heart of Jesus and the freedom of His Kingdom.  This method of “evangelism” has become ineffective at impacting our culture where Christianity no longer has the largest influence.  Frankly, this was never good form.

For decades, Westernized Christianity ruled American culture through social pressure.  Divorce was forbidden, and many steered away from breaking the legal contract, yet fear of being shunned did nothing to bring wholeness and joy to marriage.  Stigmas that followed the promiscuous youth along with fear of pregnancy (pre free contraception and readily available abortion) was effective to curb the overt actions of some but did nothing to create purity in a generation.

Today, non-traditional ideas and lifestyles tout new social pressure.  Christian expressions of opposition to these ideas are taboo and in some settings literally outlawed.  Christianity was wrong to use it’s popularity as a method of conversion and control.  Similarly, Constantine legalizing Christianity, making it the religion of the state, was ineffective at creating a society of true converts in the fourth century .  Heresy was intolerable. Becoming a Christian was the way not to be killed or imprisoned or a new way to climb the Roman Empire ladder. Sadly, not much has changed in the hearts of mankind.  Church going is often used as a way to keep parents or a spouse happy, to draw customers to a new business or to help fund a political campaign. Church attendance may swell but it is not the “building up” of the church written about in the Bible.

Modern Christians need to let go of the illusion that conformity is indicative of a heart that has met Jesus. The tree of life is not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  These were two separate trees in the garden of Eden.  And the fruit of knowing right and wrong is not the same as the fruit of the spirit of the tree of life.

Christians need to stop pressuring people to agree with truthful statements and start introducing people to Truth.  Rules, regulations and behavior modification is more manageable and less messy than a relationship with a loving, untamed, passionate God.  But transformation, both individual and cultural, will only come with authentic spiritual relationship with the Creator.

***

Do you feel Christians need to change their approach to better represent Christ?

Do you want others to know the Truth,  Jesus Christ, and not just learn how to go to church and “act right?”

If so – would you share this article on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media?  Be a herald and spread the word.  Together we can make a difference.

Do you know who you are?

Posted on Updated on

photo credit

Who are you?  What defines who you are?  We all wear many hats.  Some wear more than others, but I can throw a list out and hit hats that many of us wear:

Wife

Daughter

Father

Nurse (or whatever your profession is)

Friend

Homemaker

American

Student

Lover

Liar

Thief

Addict

and I am sure you can think of more, good and bad.

But, is this who you are?

Below is a story about me and the end of my first marriage.  A story about a storm that changed my life and my heart. A storm where white lightening crashed against a dark sky and illuminated the end and the beginning of myself.  An illumination that glowed bright until all I was left with was a brilliant rainbow of promise against a fresh blue sky of Hope.

I used to define myself as a good person, a nurse, someone who cares for others, the baby of eleven children, financially frugal, organized planner, homemaker, young, athletic, beautiful, thin, and at the very top of the list WIFE.  And I looked forward to being a mother, having traditions in my family, and growing as a unit raising children for God, honoring Him with our lives.  Sounds picture perfect?  Exactly!

After being together seven years (married for four), my husband left me.  It was like he took off a mask of the man he was pretending to be and displayed the man he was.  He left our marriage, our church and all our friends.  I was heartbroken, confused and scared.  And although it didn’t happen all at once, each one of those descriptions that I defined myself with started to disappear.

If I was really a good person he wouldn’t have left.

if I cared for him well he wouldn’t have left.

If I was more beautiful,

if I was more athletic,

IF

IF

IF

  If I was someone else, someone better…

photo credit

As time went by, he didn’t come back.  I came to realize that it wouldn’t be long before I wasn’t a wife anymore.  I hardly told anyone he left.  I just kept going to work hoping he’d change his mind. I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I dropped so much weight the doctors at work said I looked like I came from a concentration camp.  I was an anxious mess.  Three months later he told me he wouldn’t end his relationships with other women and that I shouldn’t call him anymore. And then the final blow: I needed to get on with my life and not base it on his.  I hit bottom.  I was so low and empty that very little mattered to me anymore – even God.  And the pain that filled me was so great emotionally and physically that the best way to stop this, I thought, was to die.

So as I was lying in a ball on my living room floor one night weeping; physically ill, emotional drained, and spiritually disconnected and thought about killing myself to end the pain.  I imagined what I was going to do.  I would go into work, get the keys to the narcotics cabinet in the Operating Room (they weren’t computerized back then), and inject myself with that wonderful little drug they use to put patients to sleep before surgery.  By the time someone found me it would be too late.  But, then, I thought that killing myself would be giving up on God; taking away His chance to do something in my life.  And because I thought that that was ultimate sin, without possibility of repentance: after I successfully killed myself I would go to hell and be physically ill, emotional drained and spiritually disconnected eternally.  I felt trapped.  I was living in my own hell with the only way I saw to get out leading to another hell that was worse.  Or so I could imagine.

With my nursing education, I knew that fantasizing about suicide along with a tangible plan was a very bad place to be.  So I called my sister in Las Vegas who is a Christian and lay counselor. I asked her, “Can you come here?  I need help.”  It turned out that after trying to make arrangements to come she couldn’t.  But she flew me to Vegas instead.  And I went for five days.

Before these five days I did not believe in the spiritual world the way I do now.  I didn’t believe we could hear the voice of God or that the Holy Spirit was involved with our daily lives.  But I couldn’t deny that God spoke to me in Vegas and what He said changed me.

It’s difficult to reason with a person in depression.  Though my sister tried to tell me the truth I just couldn’t see it.  I was lying on her bed sobbing, trying to convince her that I was unlovable and there was no hope for me.  That my life was over.  All my dreams were crushed, unrecoverable, trampled in the mud.  From the outside, this sounds ridiculous.  But when it’s you and all you feel is pain and powerlessness it couldn’t be more resonable.

My sister would go in the bathroom and cry and pray for me.  Her words didn’t seem to make a difference.  One morning she put a worship cd on and left me there in her bed to go take her son to school.  I was exhausted. I nestled into the huge down filled bed and listened to the music.  I can’t say I heard an audible voice but I had a conversation nonetheless. As clear as I have ever heard anyone speak He said,

Don’t you know you are the daughter of the King of the Universe?  I love you!  Why would you let anyone else define you?

My sister returned 15 minutes later.  I was up, dressed and going outside for the newspaper…to find a job!  She was shocked and asked what I was doing.  I said, “I’m moving to Vegas!”  God did not cure my depression in that fifteen minutes.  That was a healing that came through time and process.  I had many beliefs in the core of my being that had to be unlearned and replaced with Truth.  But what He did do was remind me of my identity.  He reminded me who I was, He reminded me who HE was!

photo credit

I came back from Vegas with new eyes.  Everything looked different.  Lying in that bed in Vegas I learned the most important thing a person can ever learn:  I AM THE DAUGHTER (or SON) OF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE!  I was empowered and I had direction.  I had given power to the physical world to define my worth and value.  Because he didn’t love me – I was unlovable.  Because he tossed me aside – I had no value.  No man or job or friendship or anything deserves the right to define us.  We mistakenly give those things that power.  And those things are inevitably going to fail miserably at defining us.  Who better to define us than our creator?  Not to mention the value He gives is so much better than any other.  Spouses, bosses, children, friends, church, tradition, culture they can all make us feel insignificant when we give them the power to define us.

Why would you let someone who is bound to fail because they are human tell you what you are worth when you can allow God to say, “I created and formed you.  Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name, you are mine.  You will pass through deep water and I will be with you in the rivers you will not drown.  You will walk through fire, but you shall not be burned; and the flames shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, your Savior.  I have given much as ransom for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes, and glorious, and I love you.  I gave my life in exchange for you.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  I have chosen you to know, to believe, and understand that it is I, the Lord, there is no Savior, but me.”  (paraphrase of Isaiah 43:1-8)

Who are we to say that God wasted the blood of the Lamb on us, that we are not worth His sacrifice?  Who can say that God is wrong?  Who can challenge him and remain standing?  What does it say to God when we give others power to define us, even ourselves?  Do we not make them a god in a way?  When my self talk is demeaning am I not saying to God, “What do you know?”

So I decided I will no longer allow perishable things to define me.  Not people, position or possessions.

I am an eternal being.  My life will never end.  And because of the blood of Jesus that was used to pay my ransom, I will spend my eternity in Heaven!  When this is true how significant is anything here in the physical world?  Nothing matters except Him!  There is no marriage in Heaven.  There is no parenthood.  There is no money.  There are no popularity or beauty contests.   That doesn’t mean these relationships and things are not important.  How we treat each other and ourselves and steward our possessions is how we show God how grateful we are and how much we love Him.  But these things can not be our goal, they can not be our dream and they can not be what defines us.

So now what?  I tried to live out my dreams, accomplish my will and I failed and found myself devastated.  And I want you to remember that I did all those things thinking I was accomplishing the will of God, being a godly wife and friend, being a “good” person.  But I was still trying to accomplish my will, trying to make myself feel good, trying to complete myself.  Lying that day in my sister’s bed I heard God give me a choice.  He said,

“You tried to live for your (selfish) dreams and look what happened.  Now, do you want to live out My dreams for you or do you want to try it your way again?”

He gave me the free will to choose and would love me either way, but for me, the answer was obvious.

The rest of the story:

Despite my efforts to try and make my marriage work it ended.  Nine months after my husband moved out we were divorced.  I did move to Las Vegas, got a job and an apartment.  I became part of my sister’s church, went to support groups and was surrounded by friends who showed me what love and life looked like. I came to know God more and what He was really like.  I learned how to forgive and found healing for my soul. I became an amazing me that I loved and I learned to dream with God.

Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com

Related Articles:

*** If you are reading this and find you relate to the thoughts of depression and suicide PLEASE get help!  Talk to a friend, pastor, or doctor.  If you don’t know who to call or how to get help please click here.

Is there a God?

Posted on Updated on

I grew up in religious home.  I went to Catholic school for nearly every grade level including college.  And yet I didn’t believe in God.  I have limited memories of my childhood but when I was young I did adopt the faith of my mother.  I remember walking arm in arm with her through the woods of Calaveras Big Trees talking with her about Jesus.  But that didn’t “stick.”  I am not sure when it happened. I suppose it was about the time normal teenage angst begins.  When developmentally we separate from the beliefs of our parents and seek to discover our own convictions. I decided I didn’t believe there was a God.  Religion was dumb and going to church was a pointless waste of time. Because I still lived under my parents roof I was required to continue attending church services with them despite my vocal disdain for such practices.

Hindsight being what it is I think I always believed there was a God.  But I was so angry about life, and there was so much I didn’t understand, that I turned into an antagonist and later a self proclaimed atheist.  When the rest of the “Religion” class in high school was quietly watching the minutes tick by I would argue with the Priest about the return of Christ.  I wrote papers about atheism and how we just need to believe in ourselves.  Oh, that poor teacher.  But he was wise in his feedback – never giving me the fight I was looking for but praising my passion and exploration.

Later I went off to college and  met a young man I thought had hung the moon.  On several occasions when we would have deep conversations about  the world and life he would declare with certainty that there was a God and that he was going to hell.  Despite my supposed disbelief in God this statement bothered me tremendously.  If I didn’t really believe there was a God and afterlife what would it matter if he thought he would go there?

After taking me on a date one night we laid the seats back in his car and gazed up at the stars through his moonroof.  We talked about aliens.  Interesting date, I know, but we had just come from seeing a movie, “based on actual events,” about a guy who got abducted by aliens.  The conversation ended with me conceding that there could be aliens.  And he questioned if I could believe there might be aliens why couldn’t I believe there might be a God.  Logical or not, it made me think.  Why didn’t I believe in God?  What if He did exist?

It was in my college Anatomy and Physiology class that I first began to believe that God existed.  It was the day we studied the beginning stages of the reproductive process or how a baby is made.  As I looked at the slides and heard the descriptions I sat amazed.  I thought it was simple: have sex, sperm and egg meet, 9 months later a baby is born.  But on a cellular level thousands of factors must align. The maturity of the egg and sperm, the body’s pH, the timing of the meet up.  Then once joined they create a single cell that divides and grows. One cell becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes eight and so on. By the fifth or sixth day of this process the one cell has become a 64 cell unit called a blastocyst.  Inside there are undifferentiated cells, you may have heard of them called embryonic stem cells, anyway, these cells which divided from the ONE cell already know what they are to become; a brain cell, a muscle, an eye, a heart.  One sperm with 23 chromosomes and one egg with 23 chromosomes join making a perfect cell of 46.  And from that comes a fully grown baby!  It’s utterly amazing.  I sat in the class floored by the details of design and in that moment resolved this doesn’t all happen by accident.  I began to believe in a Creator.

Once I considered there was Intelligent Design I wanted to know more.  I considered myself a rational and logical person and I truly wanted to understand.  I started looking for answers and eventually attended a church service with a girlfriend from school.  There I heard something my mind needed to hear.  The preacher was talking about Creation and he said, “You want to believe in evolution, ok.  You want to believe in the Big Bang Theory, fine.  But you must remember one thing:  In the beginning God…”  And something clicked.  I didn’t have to know everything and have it all figured out.  I didn’t need to have all the answers.  I just needed to know that in the beginning God.  Before anything else was God was. I could figure the rest out later.

It didn’t all make sense to me.  It would be a few months before I knew about the Love of God and what Jesus did for me.  But from that moment on I couldn’t get away from one fact and He hasn’t left me since.

In the beginning God… Genesis 1:1

Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com

Not your average IPAD tablet

Posted on Updated on

So you might be wondering what in the world does Make it Plain on Tablets mean.  It’s a phrase taken from an Old Testament verse (NIV) Habbakuk 2:2

Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets that a herald may run with it.

In Habbakuk’s day tablets meant stones with words carved or marked on them.  Not so easy to run with – but I suppose they didn’t know any different.  Today tablet has come to mean a whole other medium.

This type of tablet makes it amazingly easy to run with information!

Habbakuk had been given a specific message from God to His people.  He spoke of violence and injustice, greed and the economy, perversion, and self sufficency. The ails of our world seem to be timeless. This old prophet had a message of encouragement and hope to share with God’s people.

Make it Plain on Tablets is a blog where I will share what I believe God is sharing with me, a place I will share my story and testimonies, and a venue where I hope to provoke the reader into devotion AND action.