Finding Your Design: Mercy

In Romans 12, we find the Father giving gifts to people.  Contemplating those ‘gifts’ as individual design can be eye-opening!  For further information, visit the Discipleship Coaching – Design page.

Are you a Mercy?

MercyThe final design in Romans is that of Mercy. Those with a mercy design rarely have enemies, and they are a safe place for wounded hearts to come. Not the folks to take risks, they avoid conflict unless they are fighting for others. Immature mercy design folks are often too willing to allow injustices to themselves, in fact. Mercies find it easy to enter into the presence of God and that ability helps them to be a great conduit of holiness.

At the root of giving mercy can be a stubbornness that opens the door to living a life of self-gratification. Unwilling to confront others, the Mercy can be paralyzed from action. A victim spirit may settle upon this design. Designed to be those who relieve the pain of others, avoiding confrontation simply makes sense to the mercy because confrontation is likely to cause pain.

The beautiful authority or design of Mercy is to reveal the heart of God to the world around them.

Finding Your Design: Leader (Ruler)

In Romans 12, we find the Father giving gifts to people.  Contemplating those ‘gifts’ as individual design can be eye-opening!  For further information, visit the Discipleship Coaching – Design page.

Are you a Leader?

The leader enjoys planning and pressure–and thinks everyone else does too! A ruler is skilled at time management but cannot be micro-managed or scheduled against their will. They do not go about assigning blame to others but find ways to fix the problems that come about. The God-designed ruler has an incredible ability to help people findtheir place and is masterful at using imperfect people…but may drive people too hard.

Rulers sometimes fail to seek the wisdom of God and rely on their own instincts. They may fall into the trap of thinking the ends justify the means. There is potential for great good in a Godly ruler and great devastation when this personality runs afoul of the Lord.

When living in the Lord, the Ruler gifting has the potential of bringing great blessings to many.

Finding Your Design: Giver

In Romans 12, we find the Father giving gifts to people.  Contemplating those ‘gifts’ as individual design can be eye-opening!  For further information, visit the Discipleship Coaching – Design page.

Are you a Giver?

Who owns it all? There is the question the Giver must answer…and the right answer, of course, is God. The Giver who stewards what God owns instead of seeking to find comfort in resources has much to offer the Kingdom of God. Resources simply flow to the Giver; learning to allow God access and control of those resources is the pinnacle for this gifting.Giving Tree

A desire for control opens the door in the Giver’s life for the enemy. Sometimes that desire looks sweet: like providing for others. Digging to the root of immature finds that the gifts are actually meeting the givers need to be needed by others. Since only Christ meets any need fully, victory comes to the Giver when he/she releases resources to the control of God.

Finding Your Design: Exhorter

In Romans 12, we find the Father giving gifts to people.  Contemplating those ‘gifts’ as individual design can be eye-opening!  For further information, visit the Discipleship Coaching – Design page.

Are you an Exhorter?

Now there’s a word we don’t use often! An exhorter is one who encourages, one who builds teams and enjoys people. The exhorter is a world-changer who loves a crowd…and is loved by the crowd. A networker attuned to people’s feelings, this gifting is not intimidated by new ideas and has masterful communication skills.

Pleasing people is something many of us struggle with, but the exhorter feels the weight even more. Sensitivity to criticism makes the exhorter prone to please people instead of God–and causes the agenda of others to take priority over the agenda of the King. Time management issues play into the struggle.

The exhorter has great potential for drawing people into knowing God personally when the cult of comfort is laid to rest! Growing disciples is the fruit of the mature exhorter.

We cannot give what we will not receive.

Every good and perfect gift comes from our Father in heaven.  Those who long to serve the Father must receive from Him.  That doesn’t sound like a difficult aspect of servanthood, does it? In reality, it is very difficult and demands great faith!

By this time in Moses’ life, he already had learned some high-level truths.  Evil and injustice happens.  Good—even ‘right’—desires not submitted to God bring disaster.  Serving God requires leaving your comfort zone and entering holy ground.  Appreciating your design (with its limitations) and putting it all in God’s hands creates wild results.  Learning to receive from God expands servant training!

Let’s look at how this instruction in growth came to Moses:

And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. (Exodus 4:6-7)

Leprosy in Bible times meant shame, ostracization and ultimately death.  While God had not yet given the Law, the reality of the disease surely struck fear in Moses’ heart when he saw his hand.  Highly contagious, leprosy literally eats away at the flesh.  Then, as now, no cure existed.  Pause with Moses and look at his hand.  Feel the emotions of deep dread, hopelessness and grief.  That is the place of healing servants must be willing to face.

Ah, but JOY comes with obedience. ‘Put your hand near your heart again…’ and feel the blessed wholeness of healing.  That which is close to the heart of the servant belongs to God as well.  Our health, our reputations, our loved ones…everything is His to work with—to afflict, and glory to Him, to heal!  He is trustworthy.  Hear Jesus’ words in John 6:

 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

The Father and the Son will take care of all the servant entrusts to them…far better care than we take on our own.  It is a servant lesson we need not rush; as the Loved One often says in the Song of Solomon, ‘Awaken not love before its time.’  We need not make sacrifices to prove our love; we only need to receive the gift of faith that fills us with courage.

The emphasis cannot be overstated:  we receive faith.  We neither earn nor create faith.  Furthermore, the necessity of faith cannot be overstated.  Without faith there is no pleasing God; working from our flesh never pleases Him!  Faith received is ours to exercise.  Servants learn to allow God to work in heart-rending ways.  Where is God calling you to receive greater faith?  Will you trust Him to bring healing and wholeness?

Taking Responsibility

Deposits are made into our lives moment by moment.  What we do with those deposits is our decision…our responsibility.  Every aspect of life has the potential to produce life and blessing.  It also has equal opportunity to produce death and curses. God assigned humanity the job of caretaker of creation–and that job remains.  We are to steward all that comes into our lives with faith that God is good and has good plans and purposes for us.  Plans and purposes that conclude in victory.

This reality is especially vital to grasp when you reflect on your life and prepare a life story.  Perspective IS everything.  The legacies we inherit from our family–good and bad–are opportunities to reveal God.  We do not need to sugar-coat every hard thing in life; in fact, that is counter-productive.  However, God can be found gleaming out of the darkest points.  Determine to find His glory and your story will blaze with hope.  It will change your present and prepare the way to the future for yourself and others.

Accepting ownership of sin has power in reflection and in daily life.  Indeed, it is the key to solving all the problems in our world, but responsibility must begin with ‘me.’  Taking responsibility does not ignore the sin of others; in fact, it seeks God on behalf of that sin as well.  It is broken-hearted awareness for the natural rebellion of all–and whole-hearted passion for the rightness of God.   God told Cain to rule over sin; we do that by accepting responsibility for the problem of sin in our own lives and living to give God glory for His work.   The curse has been set aside by Jesus, for Jesus.    We are to work out what God has put into us through Christ.

When we take responsibility for that work in our own lives, the residual effect brings life into others’ hard stuff.  If God entrusts tough realities and harsh legacies to us, we can consider them invitations to seek Him for fuller revelation.  Those situations become windows for us to see and reveal the glory of God.  When we revere Him above the hard stuff, we unpack treasures for all around us!  Embrace the privilege.

For a fuller look at this topic, consider reading Whose Problem Is It?

To gain a deeper understanding of how God completes the picture beautifully, visit Glory Glimpse:  Knowing God By Name – Omega

From Fingerpainting to Artistry

“So come on, let’s leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art.  Grow up in Christ.”
Hebrews 6, The Message
That’s the message, the Lord placed on my heart overnight and through my morning devotions.  Faith, confident hope, in Jesus alone is the inheritance we want.  Being a child of God is sweet…and He loves the fingerpaintings.  But there is more for us!
It is so tempting to settle for less…for good things that ‘fit’ our earthly design.  But not a one of the good things (ie love, 
fingerpaintinghusbands, children, fulfilling work) are enough to fill the space intended for the Spirit of God.  Longings that make our hearts ache are hard–but not bad.  Perhaps the hardest thing is watching our loved ones ache.
God knows what that is like.  He watched the Israelites wander in the desert–and miss the path.  The Message translation records God’s heart as this:  ‘They’ll never get keep their minds on God; they refuse to walk down my road…They’ll never get where they’re going; never be able to sit down and rest.”
It breaks God’s heart when we miss His path and ‘eat’ of things that do not satisfy.  And He loves us too much to encourage us to feast on what will not satisfy.  I tend to get frustrated when the results I expect do not materialize.  Worse is when I watch those I care about try so hard, do the ‘right’ things’ and still ache. I want to fix things.  I’m learning to accept though that the fix is Jesus.  It is seeking first His Kingdom.  It is delighting in Him so that my heart desires come from Him.  Then the food on my path will fulfill!
Paul, throughout Hebrews, struggles to convey faith to his hearers.  The plea from the Lord remains the same:    Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear.  He says be careful that the lies of sin–the lies of those things that promise fulfillment but fall short of Jesus–do not harden your heart.  Let the hurt soften you up to receive Jesus; let the empty pursuits of your loved ones hurt them enough that they receive Jesus.
Don’t fill up the manger of your heart with empty foods…keep it always ready for Savior!
Growing up in our faith is exciting.  More tips are found in the Projects section of this website.  Growing strength through Diligence is a great place to start.

Weaving Legacies into Our Own Lives

Focusing on the blessings that flow from individuals in our lives gives honor and meaning on many levels.  It honors the people who have been a part of our lives.  It allows us to celebrate the positive, to make it part of our own self…it helps use weave the ones we’ve loved deep into our being that we might pass on their legacy.  It is a healing endeavor that remindspieces of the quilt us no one is lost from our lives when we deliberately treasure the deposits made. Finally, it glorifies the God who created them–and us–and placed our lives together.

Every life story is different…and each life writes many stories.  This week I have worked with someone whose mother is in a final battle with cancer.  He wanted to put words to the letters of his mother’s name to capture who she is…what a beautiful way to treasure this time they have together .  As I worked on that, I referred back to my own tributes to those whom I’ve loved.  So this morning, I share with you this story that gives the legacy of my mom.  May it be a tool for you to create a story of one who has shaped your life.

Every life leaves a legacy…and when we have loved someone we have the chance to weave their legacies into our own.

I’d be delighted to help you weave your story.    

I’m thankful God allowed me to be Evelyn’s daughter—to have her legacy so closely entwined with my own.  

Evelyn – mom—was born in 1929 at the start of the depression and was the baby of her family.   No doubt, the financially tough times and her firm upbringing influenced the strong, courageous individual she became.   Mom could easily have been Nike’s spokesperson for “Just Do It.”  She never wasted time wondering ‘what if’ or ‘if only.’  She simply took what life presented and did her very best with it.  She lived with courage, tenaciousness and principles of right and wrong.

First and foremost, mom had a ‘can-do- attitude.’ She was always willing to launch into a new venture.   When the funeral director asked mom’s occupation I didn’t really know how to respond.   Mom simply did whatever happened to be most practical at the moment.  As a child, she learned to work by walking from Colesville to Binghamton to sell eggs.  She married at 16 and soon went to work as a maid/child caretaker for a man who would later become her second husband.  The laundry room at the Psych Center must have been a great place because she still kept in touch with friends from then—almost 50 years ago.  The businesses she and dad launched were even more varied:  an auction house, a catering business, three different restaurants, a pig farm, pony rides and for a few years artificial inseminators at area farms.  Mom also baby-sat for some children over the years—loved one enough to make him my brother and loved others enough that their families still keep in touch.  Even though she had no interest in make-up, mom even sold Avon for a few years and received dozens of awards for her work.  She always did her best at whatever was before her.mom

A necessary follow-up to the ‘can-do’ attitude was her ‘get- on- with-it-attitude.’   Sometimes mom could seem harsh or emotion-less but the truth was she had a very soft heart.  She showed that early in her life when she took bread to the home of a family with scarlet fever.  Her parents had firmly told her to stay away from that home and she was beat with a shingle for her disobedience.  That soft heart for the sufferings of others continued throughout her life.  When dad, Carl Walls, battled cancer, mom was stoically by his side.  She worried after his death that he never knew how much she loved him.  It was never in doubt in anyone’s eyes but hers.  A couple years ago our family (Craig and the kids and I) were sick with the flu on Christmas Day.  It was mom—at 78—who braved the flu virus to bring a fully cooked dinner to us.  Although she couldn’t often say words of love, she did her best to show her love through actions.  The honor of being the Chenango County Volunteer of the Year this past August was a fitting tribute for her caring acts over the years.

No tribute would be complete without mentioning the many animals mom welcomed into her life as well.  She didn’t really care for animals being in the house but she never turned away an animal in need either.  The animal menagerie that was our home for many years often had babies that needed round-the-clock feedings or special care…mom always rose to the occasion.  Wild animals entered every so often…the baby deer on the collage boards was one of those creatures.  Only the snakes never received any compassion…they were chased down with hoes or lawnmowers or whatever was handy.

Despite mom’s soft heart, she lived in a ‘no-whining-zone’ for her own emotions.  When our home burned down before Christmas one year, there was no time for mourning.  Plans were made and blessings celebrated.  The kindness of friends, the overwhelming generosity of our community…those were the things mom & dad focused on.   Even when her finger was cut off in the clean-up after the fire, mom refused to shed a tear.  Many nights she was awake with pain but never complained.  After dad’s death, she could never acknowledge her own grief…it just didn’t fit with how she survived.  She simply did her best to move forward.  Mom’s courage was evident throughout her battle with cancer.  From the very first diagnosis, through the surgery & recovery and even after the final diagnosis where she learned the cancer had spread, mom maintained a stoicism.  She simply said she hoped she could finish her days with grace and peace.  She did just that.

The greatest tribute for mom would be to weave those legacies into our own…be courageous, stand strong for what you believe in, be committed to doing the right thing and live holding nothing back.

Family Life: New Parents

Beautiful homes are not built from the roof down or from the outside in.  Neither are lives.  Leaving a legacy…being left a legacy begins in infancy.

 The heart is the source of life.  The heartwork of parenting is truly hardwork!  Make it a goal to identify attitudes and not be distracted by actions. Heart work is also eternal work and worthy of focused, faithful effort.

3020719712_a10dd80a2b_qProverbs 24:3,4 tells us a home is built with wisdom, established with understanding and furnished with knowledge.  The lives of our children require the same building plan.  The greatest goal of our parenting effort is to prepare our children for their work of building their hearts into temples of the Holy Spirit.

God does not have grandchildren.  Just as David provided his son, Solomon, with the building plan and resources for the Temple, we must parent to provide our children with knowledge of God’s design and precious, durable materials for building their lives.

 

 

What knowledge or discipline will you impart to your children today to help them build their spiritual house?

Would you like to read more on parenting with a plan?  Here’s a place to get started.