What’s so hard about giving whatever Gift You Have?

I’m big on sharing our gifts with other people. I don’t think it’s an idea born of arrogance– it’s the way personalities and strengths were spread out by design.  If and since we need each other, we can’t get stuck thinking we’re all alone.  If “no one is helping me,” I can at least get out of my rut in knowing that someone else needs me.

But I find most people off on tangents all around this simple circle.  If everyone shares with others the gift they have, everyone is enriched and encouraged and spurred on. People get off the point when:

(1)They don’t see themselves as part of the Body of Christ. Yes, you may be a mother and your ministry is first to your family, but you are also an elbow in the body.  Those nudges you feel to reach out beyond yourself are probably just your elbow-ness testifying that the Body needs the elbow to move right now.  Without this as a priority in your life with time and resources, you will sense an emptiness. This was a huge revelation to me which I scratched out in my list of priorities that I hung in a place that I see every day.

(2)They assume they have no talent–or they assume that since other people have overlooked them, they have no talent.  That’s the point, however! They won’t know until you begin to give! Each person must individually decide in himself to GIVE of himself to others. (“Here, let me help. Has anyone ever showed you? Hey, let me see if this will help. Hey, have you tried it this way.”) By waiting for others to affirm you or invite you, you will never learn. The day you are asked, you will not be ready.  In fact, you won’t be asked until you have proven through your volunteering that you are reliable.  It is life’s natural apprenticeship.  It is the practice before the game.

I remember playing songs for my friends for YEARS…and I would tell them not to look at me. I could barely get myself to do it. But I couldn’t deny the fact that I had just written a song. And what was I going to do with it…(except play it for my best friends?)

(3) They assume their talent is the only one. In using their gift, they are simply imposing their strengths on others, lording it over them, blindly trying to get others to become like them. Naturally, they are fulfilling the design of creation in wanting to “strengthen others” in that area of life, but they encircle them with manipulations which feed their ego, to create their own circle in which they are king.  Desperate for an identity that is secure and unchanging, they find their identity in their gift/strength.  They are really feeding their own identity by getting others to believe that this gift is the measure of worth in life. If others don’t “buy in,” their self-wroth is at risk because they are banking on the wrong thing. Their manipulations become desperate then to maintain the circle.  They are trying to get everyone to become like them.  And people fall for that stuff!

(4) They know they have a talent, but they think it’s too much effort to offer it to others.  They have never caught a vision of just how fascinating it is that they have a talent that others need. Other people are WOWed by them, but they’re so tired from their 40 hour work week or their 40 years of work before retirement, that they just want a BREAK.  They are missing out on the huge blessing of seeing someone else’s lights come on in admiration and thankfulness.  It’s truly a blessing to bless someone. It affirms to the core that who you are is good (god-created), that your talents are God-given.

(5) They  have identified their gift as too small or specific and feel only able to give it in a small or specific situation. But this can turn a gift into a curse! In this state, they feel unused, unloved, unusable.  But the prism of God’s abundant glory which is found in his grace is always looking for any vessel to beam out of.   To be technical, by the indwelling Spirit of God in Christ, I believe we all have all gifts, even if only a few seem to flow through us dominantly due to our exposure, experience, temperament, upbringing, etc.

(6)They have never asked God for the wisdom to know what a particular gift is for.  I am quite familiar with this one. The scripture has several lists of different manifestations of God’s glory through what believers give from God to one another.   In my own family I have had many moments of  “Lord, what is this for? What is its purpose? How does this strengthen or support others or is it just for me? Why did Zach know in advance he was going to meet Bob Jones today? Why are you giving us the discernment of spirits right now? As we ask grow, those questions have become less frequent.

 

Giving to someone else is an act of grace–something they can’t earn.  And when you let your gift simply be what it is, a gift, then everyone wins.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

It’s a free gift to others JUST TO BE AROUND YOU.

Because no one is like you.

I see that. I’ve lived that. I believe that.  And how much more if you freely offer the thoughts in your mind, the trick of your hands, the strength of your muscles, the math in your brain, the couch in your living room.

Use whatever gift you have to build your friends and family up. Then your neighbors. From there your confidence will grow. And who you are will fully bloom.

THEN, you might find the resounding, “Yeah, they are really good at that.”

 

 

Whatever Gift You Have

I’m big on sharing our gifts with other people. I don’t think it’s an idea born of arrogance– it’s the way personalities and strengths were spread out by design.  If and since we need each other, we can’t get stuck thinking we’re all alone.  If “no one is helping me,” I can at least get out of my rut in knowing that someone else needs me.

But I find most people off on tangents all around this simple circle.  If everyone shares with others the gift they have, everyone is enriched and encouraged and spurred on. People get off the point when:

(1) They assume they have no talent–or they assume that since other people have overlooked them, they have no talent.  That’s the point, however! They won’t know until you begin to give! Each person must individually decide in himself to GIVE of himself to others. (“Here, let me help. Has anyone ever showed you? Hey, let me see if this will help. Hey, have you tried it this way.”) By waiting for others to affirm you or invite you, you will never learn. The day you are asked, you will not be ready.  In fact, you won’t be asked until you have proven through your volunteering that you are reliable.  It is life’s natural apprenticeship.  It is the practice before the game.

I remember playing songs for my friends for YEARS…and I would tell them not to look at me. I could barely get myself to do it. But I couldn’t deny the fact that I had just written a song. And what was I going to do with it…(except play it for my best friends?)

(2) They assume their talent is the only one. In using their gift, they are simply imposing their strengths on others, lording it over them, blindly trying to get others to become like them. Naturally, they are fulfilling the design of creation in wanting to “strengthen others” in that area of life, but they encircle them with manipulations which feed their ego, to create their own circle in which they are king.  Desperate for an identity that is secure and unchanging, they find their identity in their gift/strength.  They are really feeding their own identity by getting others to believe that this gift is the measure of worth in life. If others don’t “buy in,” their self-wroth is at risk because they are banking on the wrong thing. Their manipulations become desperate then to maintain the circle.  They are trying to get everyone to become like them.  And people fall for that stuff!

(3) They know they have a talent, but they think it’s too much effort to offer it to others.  They have never caught a vision of just how fascinating it is that they have a talent that others need. Other people are WOWed by them, but they’re so tired from their 40 hour work week or their 40 years of work before retirement, that they just want a BREAK.  They are missing out on the huge blessing of seeing someone else’s lights come on in admiration and thankfulness.  It’s truly a blessing to bless someone. It affirms to the core that who you are is good (god-created), that your talents are God-given.

Giving to someone else is an act of grace–something they can’t earn.  And when you let your gift simply be what it is, a gift, then everyone wins.

The first time this verse* ever hit me, strangely, was in the context of a children’s book…. Veggie Tales of all things! (I don’t particularly love the series.)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

It’s a free gift to others JUST TO BE AROUND YOU.

Because no one is like you.

I see that. I’ve lived that. I believe that.  And how much more if you freely offer the thoughts in your mind, the trick of your hands, the strength of your muscles, the math in your brain, the couch in your living room.

*1 Peter 4:10 and Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Use whatever gift you have to build your friends and family up. Then your neighbors. From there your confidence will grow. And who you are will fully bloom.

THEN, you might find the resounding, “Yeah, they are really good at that.”

To Launch Something, You Leave Something…

Having the cd in my hands and passing it along to friends pushed this new cd project beyond theory into a reality that
looked different up close. To be blunt, I’d gotten in a rut.

I had lost sight of things ahead. I know better than to believe the lie that we simply follow “open doors” and people’s applause, but Zach says I had begun to walk around the house saying, “I can’t do anything… I can’t… I can’t…I can’t…I can’t.” It’s the stuff of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “Truth.” I had receded into a comfortable survival mode in which the world couldn’t blow through my tightly closed windows. I was adopting a mindset that had no room for Joni the creative music-maker and writer. Sure, we are working on our next 2 projects; sure, those projects are in my hands and I am actively working on them…but somewhere in the last 2 years I had taken some turns that had led me to a dead end in my mind.

To move forward with my work, I had to leave something behind, and I had no idea what this was going to mean for me. I had no idea it meant untangling my mind from a settled mess.

“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??” –the voice kept booming in my head, ending in a tearful meltdown in my kitchen. You’ve got the music, the poetry, the half-written books and blogs… and a booming house that is desperate for a focused wife and mother.

I had come to one of those awful stand stills where I thought, “Maybe I’ll never know.
Maybe I’ll just do the best I can and plod along and always wonder if I’m off on some
tangent or not.” It’s the way I felt before my move to California when I couldn’t possibly
know which decision was best..until the next morning when more news hit the table.

That’s what happened this time.

The next morning, we left the house early to return a rental car and get our car out of the shop.

Zach and I were talking about some  projects we have on the table that involve music
opportunities with other musicians and writers. We get excited talking about music with the timid budding theme of, “We’ve got to stop looking at
everybody else’s box and be who God made us to be.” We are eating breakfast, letting the kids play.

I go up to get a refill.

Behind the counter, a lady/employee says to me, “Are you ..a writer, poet…” and I said yes,
and a musician.” And she beamed, “Yes, I saw you and felt that you were 3 things–a writer,
poet, and musician…Are you ….going for it?” I said I was, and that I had just been having
a little crisis about it, and that I knew that this was a ‘divine appointment.” She was really
excited then. (We high fived a few times..and I am known to be quite a high fiver!)

Then she encouraged me, grabbed my hand, and quickly prayed for me [right there from BEHIND the counter.] I felt bad for the onlookers because they must have thought we were crazy.   Then she handed me my refill.

I NEEDED THAT SOOOOO BADLY!

When we were about to leave, ‘breakfast was over’, so they passed out leftover breakfast
sandwiches … my favorite. A spicy chicken biscuit.

Now, I’ve been going to Chic-Fil-A for many years and have never walked out with a free
sandwich…much less my favorite menu item!

🙂

Identity crisis over!

——————-

This was how it all started for me and Zach–small steps in one direction with no one chanting my name, no one caring or understanding.  Just a conviction of sharing what has made my life worth living. It flourished into a wonderful era.

Now that we have a family, it will look different. I have several friends who are busting their butts to do the music thing .. at the cost of children and/or marriage.  It is a real trade-off it seems to me.  But “one step is all you can TAKE!!! [there’s terror involved here!]

THE WORST PART: I didn’t even know any of this until this Germany Version hit my door.

What an inspiration I have received. And what a mess I have been in.

Yeah, yeah, they say a mother forgets who she is when her children are born… so, ok, much ado about nothing; this is common to man.  But suddenly to live it ..is HUGE!

Thank God for the Launch that helped me LEAVE!

$350 Miracles

This German reprint isn’t the first time the opportunity to keep my work in print has shown up ‘out of nowhere.’ (And certainly not the first time money came along right when we needed it for a musical endeavor.) There’s something terrible and  beautiful about the number 350 to me.

Now, $350 is not a lot of money. But when you are a “starving artist” and unable to reprint your own work, it’s a humiliatingly large sum of money.

Story 1

We had already gone through several printings of cds when we got to Franklin, TN in the year 2006 or 07. After our first year of playing there, we were about to run out again. I would purposefully not take CDs to gigs because I would soon run out. It was a terrible feeling: “Wow, do you have a cd?” / “No, I don’t…” (Uh……. then why you out here playing songs …if I can’t take something with me?)

I don’t know what stirred me up to recall God’s provision in the past, but I suddenly knew I could make a choice in my heart to believe the truth about it. ‘I can let myself run out, because God will provide.’ We needed $350.

The phrase lacks poetry, but ‘letting yourself run out’ is the terrible thing that we run away from. It means looking in the mirror at a failure. As long as we can hold on to that one shred of ‘success,’ then we don’t have to call ourselves empty. It’s that feeling from the song, “This feeling.” ….so you know I’ve been there. We all have, and it’s terrible!

I had to release out of my hands the last I had to give. We did a gig and sold the last copies. There was no $350 to buy another box of discs.

{It has been our conviction for quite some time that money for our music has to come from our music. It’s the only way we can peacefully live through the decisions of whether food, electric bills, or cd reprints have priority.}

That week, we received a phone call from a friend (Chuck Elmore, who is also on my wall of fame(!))  who was helping put together a documentary for his school in Albuquerque. They were going to use 5 songs from our cd, and had an amount in mind that they thought they could pay per song……. and wondered if $350 would be a good amount. I didn’t have another thought. Yes. Such a sweet day. We ordered more cds.

Story 2

That box of cds lasted us longer. We began playing out less after our first child was born in 2008, but yes, we did get to the end of that box, and there we were again in 2012 with none left, another baby on the way, and ….no $350. And if you must know, I had, once again, been holding back from giving and selling copies, and reaching that terrible place again…that feeling. I found myself praying, “I really cannot do this anymore. With 3 children, I almost feel I can’t lift a finger toward my music! Working on new music is all I have in me….and barely at that!”

So you can BET that I was a little more than excited when Bernd’s proposition came ‘out of nowhwere’ in my most incapacitated state of 8 months pregnant.  He had $350 worth of cds sold.  Now, he knew nothing about the significance of that number…and is finding out via this post.

Though Bernd offered to simply copy the originals for his crew there in Germany, I knew that money was for a real reprint of the discs.  (Now, it could have gone for several other things…for speeding up the production of vocals on our current project, for ordering our next JNB record which we are working on….. but I knew too well what that perfect amount meant.) Bernd offering a new design was the icing on the cake. He knew that one of my long-term goals has been to re-do the artwork, and he was helping me achieve that goal more than I realized at the time. I was a bit satisfied at the $350, and I didn’t really care what or how it came about, I just knew my little cd would be back on the shelf.

When I called Bernd a ‘god-send’, he didn’t quite get it. And … now perhaps he does. 😉

We have many many many stories of perfect, timely provision like this that have kept us going over the years. It’s high time I start sharing them.

Without these kinds of stories, I’d have given up long long ago.

With these kinds of stories, it will take quite a force to get me to stop!

P.S. Just for fun…

 

“LET ME GO!”

Pharoah, Pharoah, Oh whoa, let my people go!— remember the song from your childhood visit to the local Vacation Bible School (referring to Moses who went to Pharoah and simply  told him to release the Israelites who were slaves of the Egyptians.)

What kind of leader goes to another leader and just says, “Let us go.” What kind of tactic is that? ‘Let’s not fight. Let’s not put my skill against your skill. Let’s not reason. Just let me go, ok?’ That puts great generals and their scheming to shame!

On what basis? Uh, like, ….why? Why would your requesting to be let go just simply cause a ruler who has a grip on you …. to let you go.

That’s what God told Moses to do.

And like many things in the old covenant, it is a shadow of Christ to come, a picture of the gospel.

 

What kind of minister spends all night in a mental ward with his hands on a person’s head saying, “Let him go,” until the man is completely delivered from his insanity.

What kind of wife looks her husband in the face in his drunken rage and declares, “Satan, let him go,” only to see her husband drop on the floor, weeping, completely free, delivered from the grip of the darkness of addiction which was destroying him and his family.

What kind of friend would look his friend in the eye and say, “Get behind me, Satan”?  (which Jesus did.)

What kind of preacher tells a man to declare the truth that Jesus delivered him from smoking (on the cross) even as his circumstance declares that he is not free….meaning…even as he is smoking a cigarette…. until 2 weeks later, the man is FREE! Setting his mind on Jesus’ factual/finished power over sin and death rather than his own will-power, works of the flesh?

What kind of person tells a cancer to leave in Jesus’ name. Just like that, as if this thing would listen and agree until the sickness is gone?

 

It’s the person who knows that the power has NOTHING to do with their persuasiveness, their power, or their doing, their deserving, their planning.  It is all about God’s Decisions, His Word, His Promises, which have been made known and complete by Jesus.

JESUS DELIVERED US FROM DARKNESS.

HE REMOVED SIN. (Psalm 103:12)

HE SETTLED ACCOUNTS WITH THE DEVIL and what is owed, by fulfilling the Law on our behalf.

HE SET US FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. (Romans 8:2)

Past tense.

All we do is say then, “Let me go.”

God intends my freedom, schemed it, prepared it in advance, declared it, so I will simply allow myself to receive this grace by faith, rejoicing, “THEN LET ME GO!” And then GO. The Word of God backs you up. Everything in the world must obey God’s Word. Whatever looks like it’s got you in its grip is lying to you. Because Jesus broke its power over you. (You didn’t, and you can’t. No amount of willpower, dedication, commitment, or desire will free you. It’s why God sent Jesus for you.)

John 10:10 says, “The accuser comes only to steal, kill, and destroy”–to bring shame and condemnation, accusing us and taunting us with punishment for sin that Jesus already bore, sickness Jesus already bore. Lying to us about everything in our lives for one purpose… He comes only to steal. But we silence a liar with a word: No.

We say, “I am free! Praise God! Thoughts, lies, emotions, leave! Let me go.”

________

It is the humble act of the recipient to resist the liar who would try to convince you that God’s Word is not true.

“Resist the devil and he will flee.” (James 4:7)

He will flee.

“Get behind me.” Matthew 16:23

“Leave me alone.”

Let me go.

________

You may say, “But this thing is immovable.  It’s stuck. It’s a stronghold?”

No it isn’t.

If it’s contrary to the Word of God, then it can be moved, no matter what it looks like.

“Let God be true and every man a liar.”

Your adversary is a LIAR.  You displace him with the truth.

Our spiritual authority of Christ in us has equipped us with “mighty weapons” to “TEAR DOWN” EVERY thought that holds itself above the Word of God.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) We tear it down. We move it.  LET ME GO.  MOVE.

Even if you get resistance, you stand firm on the evil day (Ephesians 6), and you RESIST back toward what is RESISTING you. There would be no need for God’s Word to call it “resistance” if there was no pressure.

God’s deliverance for Israel came through the ambassador, the man, Moses, who declared in the face of the ruler of his world, (and the bible calls “the ruler of this world” Satan) “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

How could it be that easy?!

It is.

How did Jesus heal or cast out spirits? With a word!

We only do what He did. In His name. Because of Him. For His Glory!

Set the captives free.

Start with yourself.

He set you free.

Be free.

Refuse to be kept in bondage to a lie.

So that then you can free others. “Let him go!” (I John 5:16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too busy to write…. here’s a good article

I’ve been pretty busy lately…. so much for posting weekly. This pic just about sums up how I feel, too….. but it’s a heavenly stupor…most of the time.

I’ve been chewing on lots of things……my heart is always blown  open by a new baby.

A friend sent this to me today asking me what I thought about it…. and I am so glad to have read it and to be able to pass so much on in 1 article.

What’s the Rose of the Law in the New Covenant!