God’s design for a tree includes winter as much as summer. In fact, the dormant season remains essential for a tree’s growth. In a way, we are very similar to a tree.
(Photo: By zause01. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
God has gifted each Christian for a purpose. But like a tree, our gifts have seasons—and sometimes certain gifts may lie dormant for a time—untapped.
In my last post, I offered 3 perspectives to consider when you aren’t being used to your full potential. Here they are:
- Remember who your gifts are for—the church, not you.
- Seek fulfillment in faithfulness rather than in the exercise of your gifts.
- Refuse to get your identify from your gifts. See yourself as God’s servant.
In this post, we’ll add 3 more to the list—including one truth that has set me free when it seems my potential is untapped.
You are gifted. God has made you unique and given you a number of natural abilities and spiritual gifts “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). There’s just one problem.
You feel you have much more to offer than your situation allows you to contribute. Am I right?
Honestly, I think most of us—all of us—find ourselves not utilized as much as we could be. In fact, the Bible shows 3 reasons your full potential isn’t being tapped.
(And why that’s a good thing.)
Most Christian tours to Israel follow a predictable route. Begin in Tel Aviv, work your way up the coast, and spend a few days in Galilee before driving south to Jerusalem. Time is short.
But if you find yourself in Israel with a day or so to burn, you might want to try something unusual. This post will highlight 5 things to do in Israel you probably haven’t considered.
I wrote last week about volunteer opportunities for Christians in Israel—a wonderful way to demonstrate our faith in the land we call holy.
Whether you’re into learning, walking, climbing, talking, or thinking you’ll likely find one of these uncommon activities inviting.
Most Christians who travel to Israel go to experience the land of the Bible—and they should. But there’s a unique way to experience Israel that 99% of visitors don’t get to do.
(Picture: Volunteers at the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.)
Not long ago the Israel Ministry of Tourism asked me to identify some volunteer activities that Christians would enjoy. These range from activities any tour could do in a couple of hours to volunteer opportunities that last for months, depending on one’s availability, ability, or interest.
Obviously, you don’t have to be a Christian to participate in these volunteer opportunities in Israel, but here are 15 I think you would enjoy.
The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.
Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.
During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).
David felt very alone.
His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.
I have been in fulltime Christian ministry for 25 years. (Hard to believe.) I have served as a music minister, a senior pastor, a writer, and as a leader in a parachurch ministry.
The last quarter century has taught me lessons I’ll never forget. I learned them in the trenches of time, disappointment, and even failure.
Although some of these principles may seem to apply to those in vocational ministry, all have application to us as believers. Whether we’re parents, singles, marrieds, or even disillusioned with church—these apply.
In no particular order (except the first one), here are 17 of them.
Leonard Bernstein, the late great conductor of the New York Philharmonic, once was asked: “Mr. Bernstein, what is the most difficult instrument to play?”
Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.
Bernstein nailed the problem—not only in music, but in all relationships.
Very few are willing to be second, because being second requires someone else to be first, which requires giving instead of taking.
In the movie Schindler’s List, one of the most powerful scenes shows Oskar Schindler is speaking with a Nazi commander who had a habit of impulsively shooting Jews.
Watch this scene and think about the power you have in your life.
You and I suffer from a malady common to every humanoid on the planet. It’s the number one reason we hurt each another. It’s why children scream most of the time.
And, ironically, it’s the prime reason we hurt ourselves. Selfishness.
(Painting: “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet,” by Ford Madox Brown, 1852-6. Public domain)
In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals, and the dusty roads produced dirty feet. When they entered a house, a servant customarily washed their filthy feet—a task akin to scrubbing toilets.
When Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room, they came to the large upstairs room of a furnished home.
But when they arrived, no house servant washed their feet.
I think Jesus arranged it that way.
Local schoolchildren ate their lunches across the olive grove from my wife and me.
Like the kids, we came on a field trip to explore ancient Shiloh. Although our lunch was hardly a feast, it reminded me of the reasons the young nation of Israel initially came to this site. They came to worship at the annual feasts before the Tabernacle at Shiloh.
Ask most Americans where Shiloh is, and you’ll likely get a blank stare.
- Historians may point to a Civil War battle in Hardin County, Tennessee.
- Music buffs may start singing the chorus to a Neil Diamond song.
But question someone who knows his or her Bible, and Shiloh means something far more significant.
Years ago, my grandmother’s 1909 house got a fresh layer of wallpaper. But only weeks later, I noticed in a high corner the wallpaper had buckled, and in some places, it had even split.
(My grandmother’s house, built in 1909)
When I asked her about it she said: “Oh, the house needs foundation work. Every time the seasons change and the wind blows a different direction, the whole house shifts.”
That made sense. For years I shaved inches off most of the doors trying to get them to close. But the repair only lasted until the wind shifted again.
Look closely at the lives of your friends and family. Maybe even your own life.
You’ll see this old house’s problem in vivid display.