Just some house keeping things here before we get going, I’ve opened a twitter account for Illuminate The Nations as well as the campus ministry, Victory, you can follow me at ILuminate_1040 to stay in the loop with all things cool and exciting that we have going on. It looks pretty sad right now because I’ve only got 4 followers so I need y’all to help me out there. Be sure to go do that if you’re on the tweeter. Also, if you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook, hit me up because I’m going to be doing some Facebook live events from campus so you guys can see live action some of the things that we have going on and it will add another level of connectivity for all of you guys to be able to stay in touch with what we’re doing.
One final logistical thing. If you’ve been blessed at all by this blog material, or by me personally, or by the campus ministry, etc would you please consider supporting me financially if you don’t already. The gifts that you guys send whether by monthly sponsorship or one time gifts make such an incredible difference and they allow me to keep doing what I’m doing to reach lives as a missionary. I don’t take any kind of salary from the ministry or anything like that; I am 100% funded by sponsors and supporters so if you pray about it and feel called to give in some way, that would be a massive help to me. If that’s something you’re interested in or possibly know somebody who might be willing to contribute, steer them my way. It’s a pretty simple process to get set up to give and you can find out more here. Or you can always contact me personally via phone or email which can be found here.
With that out of the way, we can move on! This blog is going to be another two part post like Wholeness, Part I and Part II, so stay tuned for part II coming at you guys in a couple days. I hope this gets you guys as pumped up as it gets me…
Have you ever thought about why God gives us good gifts? We can lay out long answers and look at what scripture specifically says the gifts are for but have you ever tried to just boil it down into one or two sentences that explain in the most clear and precise yet simple way? Or even one word?
I think I’m onto something and that one word comes down to this: relationship.
Now, I’m a performance based person. I’m a results guy, I’m competitive, I like to see how much I can make out of something. I measure success and failure in numbers and I’m always calculating. I strive to see that result. Things I do day to day like writing this blog or reaching people during ministry, I find myself looking at the stats. How many people did I reach through my website today, how many people did I reach through evangelism?
The dangerous part of thinking this way is that the heart isn’t necessarily even wrong in it, it’s just really easy to get distracted if I’m not careful. The heart behind it is that I genuinely want to see lives changed for the Kingdom because I know the goodness of God that I’ve experienced in my life and I love others so much that I don’t want to hoard this thing and I want them to experience it too. The numbers are a way to gauge if I’m being the most effective with my gifts and talents or if I need to tweak something in order to be a better steward of what the Lord has blessed me with. My heart is almost always pure, initially; but it’s so easy to let that number define my success or failure rather than just letting it be what it is: a gauge.
The thing I’ve been learning lately is that the heart and the gifts aren’t supposed to be separated. It’s not about learning to balance heart and passion on one side with gifts and abilities on the other. The reality is that out heart is the greatest gift that we have. It trumps everything else. It sits at the top of the org chart and every other gift that we have is birthed out of this one disproportionately important gift: the heart.
Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts above all else. Why? Because it’s our greatest gift! But just like it’s not about all gifts and no heart, it’s not about all heart and no gifts either. It’s about letting all other gifts flow from the gift that is the heart. It’s about understanding that before we set our hands to anything, we are sons and daughters first.
I spoke about this in my last blog, “Name Your Price …[My Testimony]“, before Jesus started his ministry God made sure that Jesus knew his identity in Him. Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV) and God declared, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” Everything that Jesus did in ministry he did out of understanding what God had declared over him. Every gift that he exercised he did so from a place of knowing that he was God’s son.
So what does this mean for us? It means that God isn’t delighted in our doing, He’s delighted in our being. He declared that He was pleased with Jesus before Jesus had done a single work in his ministry. God declared His being pleased with Jesus before Jesus had opened a single blind eye, before he had cast out a single demon, or opened a single deaf ear. God was pleased in him before he did anything. What this tells us is to not get caught up in trying to perform for God with our gifts. He knows how awesome we are; He made us that way. He didn’t give us gifts because He wants us to perform for Him. He gave us gifts as a way for us to be able to enjoy Him.
Every gift God gives to his children is completely experiential. The gift is for the sole purpose of spending time with Him above all other things. Reaching other people with our gifts comes from having spent time with God first and foremost. One of my favorite examples that I’ve heard about this is a story that one of my favorite worship leaders, Jonathan Helser, tells about when he got his first BB gun. His dad had snuck out and to his mom’s disapproval, had bought him a BB gun. So naturally his mom’s response to his dad was, “He can NOT use that unless you are with him.” So Jonathan goes on to tell this awesome story of him and his dad and how his favorite memories are when they’d go out in the woods together and his dad would take his shotgun along.
This is the idea of the gifts from God that I want to grab ahold of. The BB gun required the presence and relationship of the father in order for the child to be able to enjoy it. For an example that falls more in the spiritual realm, look at worship. When we use our gift of worship and God shows up because the gift requires His presence, then it’s the most amazing experience a human can have this side of Heaven.
All of this requires us to have an accurate view of the father. When we walk in gifts with an inaccurate view of who God is, we walk as orphans. We see this in the parable of the talents. Go and read the story in Matthew 25 and you’ll see that one of the servants failed to increase his gift because he misunderstood the master to be a harsh man. So when he received the gift he was scared to use it at the risk of misusing it and upsetting the master. He wasn’t walking as a son, he was walking in fear as an orphan. When we exercise our gifts from seeing God for who He really is then we are free from fear because we see his goodness…
Stay tuned for Part II in a couple days!