Frozen Talents

What are your talents?  What are your natural abilities, those activities that you do well with little effort?  One of the best ways to discover your talents is to identify the ones that you don’t have.

One of mine is categorized in the area of music.  I can’t sing!

Does it bother me?  Not at all!  As a matter of fact, I intentionally sing often just to stir up laughter among my daughter and her friends.  Besides, if God wanted me to sound like Julie Andrews, then I would.  Instead of a singing voice, God gave me a speaking voice; I trust His decision with this.  As insignificant as carrying a tune has been for me over the past two decades, it mattered greatly when I was in junior high.  

Wanting to be in the same class as my friends, I auditioned for choir in the spring before my seventh-grade year.  I made it….  with everyone else who tried out!  Summer passed and fall ushered in my first day of school.  I was surprised to discover that my inspirational music teacher was replaced by a vocal giant.  Serious and determined to orchestrate the greatest Christmas pageant the community had ever heard, he rehearsed with us the melody, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

Packed like sardines in a military stance, we proudly sang our little hearts out for our new director… until that moment when–

Vehemently, marching up, down, and across the choir room, my teacher found his way next to me.  With a stern look and arms crossed, he bent in to assess my voice.

Certain that he was hearing something special, I sang louder, and then it happened….

In an urgent plea backed by a deep voice, he shouted, “Everyone keep singing –except you!”

I froze.

He continued, “Now, it sounds right!”

—And for many years that followed, I stayed frozen.

What started as silence in a choir room avalanched into other areas of my life.  I became an expert at lip-syncing, fearing that my voice would cause great distractions.  No longer did I boldly speak my opinion in a classroom setting, I silently disagreed with classmates as they debated and discussed important topics.  Even in church where God hears everything beautifully, I mumbled in worship.   Rather than trusting that I was made in God’s image, I believed a lie, and I gave the “devil a foothold in my life.” —Ephesians 4:27  

Aren’t most, if not all lies, tied to some form of truth?  Isn’t it in those grey-lined areas where the enemy works the best?  The truth was that the song did sound better without my mistuned notes, but the lie was that I needed to silence my voice.

How about you?  Was there a time in your life when the enemy stole your God-given talents and gifts?  Were you enjoying where God was leading until the piercing of a misguided truth came along?  Did someone speak or act in a way that caused you to freeze?

Perhaps, even today, you are still frozen.

The good news is that you don’t have to stay that way.  The God who creates summer and winter, beach sand and mountain snow, can take what the enemy froze and dethaw it right now!  My prayer for you is that you will become aware of the enemy’s work to steal your talents, your purpose.  I pray that you will walk in forgiveness of those who hurt you and pursue your eternal calling in life.  Forgiveness is our only solution when we realize that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” –Ephesians 6:12  

Friend, is there a passion burning inside of you, a talent that wants to reawaken?  Does your heart skip a beat when you walk into certain stores, read certain magazines?  Are you drawn to People? Things? Ideas? Data?  Do you imagine trying something new, but you remember a time when you were discouraged in that particular area?

Is it possible, even probable, that your abandoned talent could be exactly what God wants to use to reach others for Him?

Perhaps, it isn’t the talent, however accomplished you may be with it that matters, but how you serve others with it that makes the eternal difference.

Friend, I encourage you to reawaken your dreams, your passions today!  Will you choose to live before you die?

Blessings! — Michelle

It Is Finished!

I am turning 40 this year.  Thankfully, I am not going through a midlife crisis, but I am becoming more aware that my time to live a meaningful life, one that honors Christ, is decreasing.  There are no dress rehearsals for those who breathe.  Do we really believe that living begins once we hit some perceived milestone, as if we are on the sidelines waiting to jump in?  This is it, really!  Our time has begun, and we are on our way to the finish line.  The choices that we make along the journey will determine whether or not we finish well.

What exactly is FINISHING WELL?

The Bible defines the term, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” –Colossians 1:10-14

We finish our lives WELL if we have:  1. Accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior  2.  Impacted our families for Christ  3.  Impacted our world for Christ….

The immediate qualifier is that we FINISH WELL as Christians, saved by Jesus for eternal life.  However, if this was God’s only prerequisite for finishing well, our race would have ended upon salvation.  Instead, we are left in the race NOW fully equipped for the race.  God loves people, and He doesn’t want anyone missing from the party at the end.  It’s our job to give them directions.

Secondly, we FINISH WELL bearing fruit in our families.  God desires that we make an eternal impact on those running with us, the ones who share our street address.  They eat our food, sleep in our houses, and rely on us for wisdom throughout our entire lives –our children.  The influence that we make for Christ in our children is the relay baton that we pass into their future.  Regardless of how we received our batons, we can choose to pass ours with grace.  Please notice the instructions from a baton-passing manual, “Hand-offs are especially important in sprint relays, where fractions of a second will win or lose a race, and “blind hand-offs” can be extremely difficult without practice, so make sure you know what you’re doing!”

After our families, we FINISH WELL bearing fruit in our world.   We lead runners to the cross with our God-inspired talents (birth-given) and gifts (salvation-given).  Mark 11:12-14 illustrates this point, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.”

Friend, the fig tree represents us, and its leaves are indicators of our equipped-talents placed inside our spirit.  If we are Christians, we have “leaves.”  If we have leaves, then we are equipped to produce fruit, evidence of God in our lives through our talents and gifts–our passions.  Please notice that “it was not the season for figs.”  With Christ, it does not matter which season, age, career we are in, we are still capable and expected to produce fruit exactly where we are.  God overrides the so-called disqualifiers of our season.  In other words, God through us can produce great fruit in the midst of a rebellious child, a stressful career, an estranged marriage, a dying family member.  In our inconveniences, God is still capable and willing to work if we just let Him.  Jesus is a gentleman, and he waits for us to choose Him over our circumstances.

We finish well as Christians who consistently  bear fruit in our families first,  and then our world!

Along the journey to finishing well, there are 7 Essentials for a Successful Race—     We must….

1.  Know WHOSE We Are that we may know WHO We Are!

2.  Define our Priorities Before the World Does!

3.  Burn our Boats!

4.  Say “No” to the Good & “Yes” to the Best!

5.  Lose a Battle to Win the War!

6.  Intentionally Pursue Success!

7.  Recognize Pitfalls Along the Way!

Friend, if yesterday was your last, would you have finished well?  If not, you still have today!  Can you look ahead and see your children carrying your baton to their finish line?  Can you look behind and forgive those who dropped it ?  More importantly, can you look above and trust the One who redeems it?

Blessings! –Michelle

Camouflaged for Purpose

“Faith, Family, Ducks!

Perhaps, you are one of the 6.5 million viewers who watch Duck Dynasty on A&E each week.  The reality show features the family owners of a multi-million dollar company, Duck Commander, which produces duck calls and deer-hunting merchandise.  The brainchild of Phil Robertson, Duck Commander emerged only after Phil began his walk with the Lord.  The starting quarterback for Louisiana Tech in the ’60s, Phil was considered to be “one of the best quarterback prospects” by Alabama legendary coach, Bear Bryant.  However, Phil passed on the NFL to pursue his duck hunting passion.  “What gave me more of an adrenaline rush was big bunches of mallard ducks raining down through the trees,” Robertson said. “It just did it for me and that is pretty much why the ducks took precedence over football. It’s just that simple.”  During the last game of Robertson’s junior season, he passed the quarterback torch to Terry Bradshaw.

“I’m going for the ducks,” Robertson said. “You can go for the bucks.”

Phil followed his passion for the outdoors over a career that most would have given anything to obtain.  Phil refused to listen to the world’s rejection of his heart’s decision; he stayed true to his inner convictions.  Before long, Phil’s passion led to his purpose…..

Friend, what is it that gives you an “adrenaline rush?”  What is your passion?  What is that one activity that you do when time ceases to exist, the hours pass like minutes, quicker than a blink of an eye?

More importantly, when was the last time you pursued that passion?

If you are having difficulty remembering, then the obvious explains your heart’s longing for more, something more, yet you just can’t figure out what it is.  It is in pursuing our God-inspired passions that we experience what I call Holy Moments, those times when we feel the closest to our Creator.  Through our passions, we become ignited for our higher call.  We stumble upon our purposes when our passions are connected to our displeasures.

Angry that he couldn’t buy a duck call that actually worked for him, Phil made one from the cedar trees surrounding his dilapidated work shed.  He found a solution to his problem, and it was a success.  After years of perseverance and faithful stewardship, Phil launched his duck call business that provided only “$8,000” in sales the first year.  Most would have given up at this point, but Phil believed that God had a bigger plan, and he was right.  Phil “delighted himself in the Lord, and the Lord gave him the desires of his heart.” –Psalm 37:4

Fast forward decades later, Phil is still camouflaged for the ducks, but this time, he’s taking viewers with him.  Reaching television fans from all backgrounds and ages, he agreed to the Hollywood-produced show, Duck Dynasty, with a dream bigger than his duck calls in mind…  to win souls for Christ!  Growing beards and wearing camo allow the highly educated father/sons team to reach not only their customers, but also fan groups who haven’t heard the Good News. They passionately camouflage themselves to reach their higher goal.

Camouflage, the act of blending in with one’s environment, finds its roots in the Bible. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, “And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law, that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” In other words, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” —St. Ambrose

From scripture, we can see that Paul’s motive for sincere camouflage was to lead others to Christ. His goal was to never compromise his Biblical standards; however, he was determined to reach the lost exactly where they were – lost. He did not preach down to the them, nor did he place himself on a pedestal as if he, alone, had all the answers. He simply shared God’s truth in love, accepting the differences of those around him as they accepted him.

What is your passion that is leading to your purpose?

Sometimes the easiest way to identify your passion is to determine your displeasures.  In other words, What Angers You?  Do you find yourself thinking…  I wish someone would do something about that.  As much as you try to stuff your aggravation, you can’t seem to find peace with the situation.

Could that someone be you?

Friend, choosing to live before you die is choosing to pursue your God-inspired passions.  Your passion is the window to your purpose.  We can’t even imagine all that the Lord will do through our lives once we choose to live passionately!

Faith, Family, Ducks is Phil’s mantra for living, his 3 passions in life.  How about you…  what would you write as your mantra for living?

Blessings! — Michelle

(Lifeway and The 700 Club also have additional videos.  The following is Phil’s son, Willie Robertson.)