Posts tagged ‘calling’

Are You Focused on Talent or Calling?

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”     “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”   1 Samuel 17:32-33

Goliath had challenged the Israelite Army to send one man to fight him – winner take all. The stakes were high. No one wanted the responsibility that would come with fighting Goliath. No one had the confidence they could defeat Goliath. And this included King Saul. After all, the warrior who lost that battle would not only lose his life, but doom all of Israel to be the slaves of the Philistines.

But along came David, a shepherd boy. You can put the emphasis on both “shepherd” and “boy.” Notice the lack of warrior in his curriculum vitae. Yes, he claimed to have killed bears and lions in defense of his sheep, but who could be sure? He was only a boy. He was only a shepherd. So why did King Saul allow David to fight Goliath? If David were to lose, the entire Israelite nation would be in bondage to the Philistines. Certainly it would be irresponsible of a leader to empower a youth who had been untested in battle to take on such responsibility. 

We are often encumbered with concerns about the qualifications of others in the service of Christ. We are often afraid to empower the called. Perhaps we don’t trust their calling. Or just maybe we want others to conform to our preconceived ideas of how to slay the giants in our lives, our churches, our communities. Even when Saul had decided to empower David to fight Goliath he gave him the traditional warrior’s garb. But David shed it quickly in favor of his own garb in which God had empowered him to fight lions and bears, and on this day, Goliath himself.

How quickly we are to judge the aptitude of others for service based upon the tools we think are needed to accomplish the task. But the only aptitude anyone needs to serve in God’s church is to be called by God. We are too often enamored with the tools people possess to slay the giant in our midst to even recognize whether or not they are called to the task at hand. If God can use David to slay the giant, he can use anyone He calls to perform any task He chooses. We focus on talent and giants. God focuses on the heart where His call will find residence. Perhaps if we were to learn to recognize God’s call in our own lives, we would recognize it in the lives of those around us. Perhaps our questions of one another seeking to serve in God’s army would focus on the call in our hearts rather than the talent in our heads.

I don’t know why Saul allowed David to fight Goliath. I suspect he was not focused on David’s call from God. But whatever the reason, it was the right decision and one for us to prayerfully consider as we seek to empower others in God’s service. May we always remember the lessons from this battle between David and Goliath. May we remember that battles are won by God through us as He empowers us to use the tools that we already possess. That is why spiritual gifts are fundamentally different from talents. The soldiers in Saul’s army had plenty of talent with all of the right tools. But it took a shepherd boy who knew God’s voice and responded to His call to slay the giant.

Israel didn’t learn the lesson inherent in the victory that day, which doomed them to defeat after defeat. But we don’t have to repeat history. We can learn the lesson. We can seek to know God’s voice, hear His calling, and allow Him to defeat the giants in our own lives. And then when He calls us to slay even bigger giants in the world around us, we will be ready with our sling shots and pebbles. 

 

How Do You Know?

Thus says the Lord: “Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, ‘Behold, the vessels of the Lord’s house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon and live.”   Jeremiah 27:16-17

Serve the king of Babylon and live? Did God really say that to His people? The back story is that the kingdom of Judah had turned away from God. They were worshiping other gods and had ignored His presence in the Temple. Now God was actually pursuing them through King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. 

It can be confusing to know who in your life you can trust. You can find just about any opinion you want in any area of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re having medical, relationship, work, financial, or family problems, you can find at 20 different opinions on how to solve them. And each opinion claims to be the gospel truth! So how do you decide? How did God’s people in Jerusalem know that Jeremiah was the true prophet rather than all the others who were telling them exactly what they wanted to hear?

My first clue is that if the message is exactly what I want to hear and seems too good to be true, then I need to at least consider other options. Those who were living in Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah had resisted the Babylonian invasion. But it was those who were taken as captives, like Daniel, who prospered in their relationship with God. Many times I have found God’s path to be the less obvious one. When I give it enough time and don’t rush my decision, the right path always emerges. This was true in Jeremiah’s time. The truth seeker could see that Jeremiah was telling the truth because what he predicted was actually taking place. 

When I go to God in prayer and seek His way with all my heart, He always brings the right person into my life to help guide me onto His path. When I was confused about my calling in high school, He brought a pastor to help me see that I needed to study theology at Andrews, . When I was questioning my calling in Rockford as a physician, He led me to be the lay-pastor there. When I was confused as to whether I should retire from medicine, he brought the right question to my mind as I sought His way in fervent prayer. And most recently with my medical condition, He is making my path clear through prayer, time, and the right people at the right time. 

If you are confused about your calling in life, or a decision you need to make about any aspect of your life, give yourself time to clearly hear from God. He is always with you. His message may be surprising or even seem impossible. He may even want you to “serve the king of Babylon” for a time. But His way is always the best way for your life. Jeremiah 29:11-13 is as true today as the day Jeremiah penned it… For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Consider Your Calling

We often limit what we do by what we think we can’t do. In 8th grade I attended a public junior high school with 1,100 students in 3 grades. Until 7th grade I had attended a small 2-room church school with about 30 students in 8 grades. To say my 8th grade year was an adjustment is an understatement. I was short, shy, and insecure. As a result, I didn’t think I would ever have any friends and wasn’t sure if I were smart enough to make the “honor roll” or have any level of academic success. So I plodded along making better grades than I recognized. In my high school they offered “honors” classes. These were more difficult classes that a student could take in subjects like English, Literature, and the second year of Chemistry. Even though I qualified to take these classes, it wasn’t until my junior year that my parents finally convinced me to take “honors” classes. I couldn’t believe how easy they were. For the first time in my life I realized how I had limited what I could do by thinking I couldn’t do it.

This is too often true in the Christian walk. God calls us to do something and we don’t even try because we don’t think we can. And every time we ignore God’s call, it becomes harder to even hear it the next time. Eventually, we simply do our own thing without thought of what God is calling us to do. The Bible records story after story of people don’t think God would call them. The church in Corinth during Paul’s time had the same problem. But Paul points out a timeless principle in God’s Kingdom in 1 Corinthians 1:26, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” In other words, it’s not what I can do but what God can do that matters.

We focus on our own abilities and efforts to determine what we can do. But God invites us to focus on Him: His purpose, His mission, His power, and His calling in our lives. In the end, it is His calling in your life that ultimately gives you purpose, mission, and power. Without recognizing or responding to His calling, you limit what you can do by thinking of what you can’t do. Every follower of Jesus has God’s power to accomplish His will and His calling in her/his life. That’s why I believe Paul asks us this important question, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) The temple of God is sacred because He dwells within it.

I invite you to stop thinking about what you can do and start thinking about what God can do. God is calling you and me to do what we can’t do… on our own. So consider your calling. It will change your life. 

Day 53 in Konnarock, VA – Water to Wine

As I was riding and thinking about tools (see my previous blog), Dorothy and Bill who drive the RV were getting frozen custard. Oh, the life of an RV driver on the Ride for Diapers! The owner of the custard shop squinted out the window and asked them about the meaning of this ride. They explained it to her and she told them to come back in a few minutes as she wanted to give a donation. When they went back (not sure if they got more custard or not), she gave them a check. I’m glad they stopped for custard!

But that’s not the end of Bill and Dorothy’s day. Another person read the RV signage as they were stopped and came up to them to give a donation. What’s more, they went back to meet Zach, the man who fixed my bike. I had sent Pam back to talk with him and let him know how much I appreciate his efforts. He had not opened yet, so Bill and Dorothy went to see him. They were impressed with his tender heart as he takes spare bike parts to build bikes for kids who can’t afford them. He gives the bikes to these families. Zach Watson is responding to God’s calling in his life. It was a privilege to stumble into his shop, rather I should say to be led by God’s Spirit into his shop.

And then came the evening at the Konnarock Seventh-day Adventist church. They held a diaper drive all day at the church for the TriCities Diaper Ministry in Bristol, VA. Yes, there is another TriCities with a diaper bank. I had the privilege of meeting Samuel E. Jones (“Eddie”), director of the TriCities Diaper Ministry. Eddie and his assistant Maggie are on fire for this ministry. They are an inspiration to me as I see their enthusiasm and efforts in caring for those in need. Check out their ministry at wwwtricitiesdiaperministry.org.

As I shared my experiences on the ride at the church in the evening, I challenged each of us to listen to God’s Spirit, respond to His call, follow His direction, and be ready for the adventure of a lifetime. The response after the talk was overwhelming. They had diapers to give to Eddie and money to give to the Ride for Diapers. The day had been good, the evening was outstanding. I thought of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana where He turned water into wine. The guests commented how the best wine is usually served first, but then Jesus came along and gave them the best at the end. Jesus certainly did that for us on day 53 of this ride. And He promises to turn our water into wine every time we follow Him. Yes, there will be trial and hardships, challenges and setbacks. But in the end, we are always better off following His call.

Thank you to all the people of Konnarock. You really do ROCK! (Catch the pictures on Facebook.)

Day 53 to Sugar Grove, VA – Tools

Yesterday I visited a bike shop in Damascus, VA to see if I could get my primary bike fixed. As it turns out, they have a master mechanic who said he would stay as long as it would take to get the bike it top working order. For only $35.00 I had a brand new bike. Today’s ride was not only short but loads of fun even with very tired legs because my bike fits me perfectly and handles like a dream.

This incident reminded me of the importance of tools. Often the only thing standing between me and a job well done is the right tool. When it comes to tools, it usually pays to get the best tool for the job. On this ride, my bike is a tool I am using to get across the country to raise awareness about the need for diapers and our collective need to love, serve, and mentor one another. What a difference the best tool possible (my primary bike) makes on this trip. This is also true in our everyday lives. If you are going to respond to God’s call in your life, make sure you have the right tools to accomplish it. In my experience, He will equip you to use those tools. But you have to take the time to get the tools.

Here are some tools I find every follower of Jesus needs: 1) Listening skills. Do you really know how to actively listen?  2) Personal testimony. Can you tell your story of how God has equipped you?  3) Be a mentor. Do you know how to journey with another person?  4) Forgiveness. Do you know the real meaning of forgiveness and how to help another person forgive?  5) Lead a person to Jesus. Do you know how to help someone accept Jesus as their personal Savior?  6) Bible study. Do you know how to study the Bible? Do you know how to study the Bible with someone in a way that is relevant to the questions they are asking in life?

You may have a different list of tools that are necessary to journey through life. I would love to know what tools you use to follow God’s calling.

Ride Stats:  Total Miles- 45.7    Elevation Gain- 2,963 ft    Avg Speed- 11.1 mph    Avg HR- 105   

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