Our Universal Gifts

Our earth has certain characteristics:

  • It arose some 3.5 billion years ago;
  • 7.3 billion people, inhabit it;
  • 71 percent of its surface is covered with water;
  • Its remaining 29 percent is land with mountains, deserts, plains, and plateaus, and over the year because of its axial tilt there is variation of sunlight reaching every part which causes seasonal changes.

John Lubbock (1834–1913), an English banker and philanthropist wrote, “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can learn from books.”  People learn that the future of the earth is tied to the sun.  Over billions of years 99 percent of all species that ever lived have become extinct on earth.  And today there exist over 200 sovereign states with which America has diplomatic ties and trade.   American journalists travel to these countries – some torn by political strife, and they report about them to worldwide audiences via the ubiquitous media networks.

Gift of Earth

There are concerns how long the planet earth will continue to sustain life.  Estimates range from 500 million to 2.3 billion years, for earth’s future is closely tied to that of the sun.  Evo Morales (b. 1959), president of Bolivia said, “Sooner or later, we will have to recognise that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution.  What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”  But entrepreneurs continue to obtain large deposits of fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, and natural gasses from the earth’s crust.  They are concerned about how long these will last – and while doing so nations’ industries, air-crafts, and other motorized apparatuses are polluting the environment.  Scientists make linkages of environmental pollutants with extreme weather – cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, blizzards, floods, tsunamis, droughts, and wildfires.

Jimmy Dean (1928–2010), a TV host and businessman said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  Are citizens able to adjust their sails to the needs of their 7.3 billion inhabitants increasing geometrically each year?  It’s true that wind is a great blessing beginning with our first breath of life, to early civilizations with wind powered sailing ships, and modern air-crafts, windmills as power supply, for dispersing seeds in farming.

Gift of Water

Through evaporation and transpiration there’s precipitation of our lands.  Although this water is a great gift, some one billion people still lack access to safe drinking water.  More than 2.5 billion people suffer from a lack of adequate sanitation.  Margaret Atwood (b. 1939), a Canadian poet, novelist, and environmental activist wrote, “Water does not resist. Water flows.  When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress.  Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you.  But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.  Water is patient.  Dripping water wears away stone.  Remember that, my child.  Remember you are half water.  It you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it.  Water does.”  Undoubtedly scientists must continue to build dams, and construct wells, to bring pure drinking water to the drought-stricken villages of Africa, Asia, and Latin America that lack this vital resource.  Many indigenous villagers’ survival depends on such efforts.

Gift of Fire

People must be positive when thinking about fire.  It’s a stimulant of life, is used for cooking, generating heat, as lighting sources, and engines of propulsion generators.  It’s also known as being the foundation of ecological system.  Bruce Lee (b. 1940), a Hong Kong American martial artist said, “Love is like a friendship caught on fire.  In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering.  As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love become as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”  That’s why people must be fired up about God’s great gifts of wind, water, and fire in their lives.  It takes love to kindle these vital elements for the benefits of mankind.

By Special Authority

You’re a leader, and by a special God-given authority you’ve to energize your organization.  This means finding ways to deal with assignments that appear as though they don’t have a chance of succeeding.  It’s for you to diagnose these problems.  Your responsibilities must not be seen as a power play, for you’re working for the welfare of the church.  You aren’t carrying out a private agenda but are doing your job for the goodwill of all concerned.  Vince Lombardi (1913–1970), a football player, best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers wrote, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”  Thus, you have to realize like in football, every church member is gifted, and through their gifts there will be success.

 Maximize Potentialities

People ought to be treated as adults.  Listen carefully to them, and hear what they are saying.  All things don’t necessarily work out as planned, but there’s always another point of view.  It’s for you to motivate your workers to be happy about what they’re doing, and urge them to higher and higher levels of performance.  That’s why it’s essential to keep tabs on the heartbeat of the group.  In this way you’ll know more about each parishioner.  By so doing you’ll be best able to promote the church’s growth, and parishioners’ competence. Take things a step at a time and build on each success.

Margaret Mead (1901–1978), a cultural anthropologist observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Committed leaders move their followers forward as they work at implementing what’s best for their congregations, and the world at large.

Lack of Control

Leaders must be people-oriented.  In the church there’s no room for tyrants, bullies, or autocrats.  With dictators organizations die.  It’s the kiss of death even with benevolent leaders who lead by whim.  Let leaders move away from being ego-centric, but democratic, and work in the interest of their flocks.  Dr. Seuss (1904–1991), a writer and cartoonist warned, “Only you can control your future.”  Spirit-filled leaders always lead in the best interests of their congregations.

Be Inspirational

Leaders’ role is to help people.  To do so effectively they must take ample note of relationships within their churches.  They should lead by example by changing outmoded methods that no longer works.  They ought to stimulate growth by expressing their sincere beliefs in humanity.  Let parishioners be energized by their apostolic zeal. By the Holy Spirit they would move away from the narrowness of self-absorption.  In so doing, they will motivate others for the general good.

Lee Haney (b. 1959), a former professional bodybuilder said, “Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate.  The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we.  Set small goals and build upon them.”  Haney’s message is encouraging.  Some may look for giant steps to be successful, but it’s always wise to remember good results may often come in small doses.  Your goals as leaders are to build on little achievements until projects are successful.  Remember, “Strive and persevere when the going is rough, because at the end of every dark cloud there may well be a silver lining.”

 

 

 

Our Eternal Future

Whether black, white, Asian, or Hispanic – people are people, so why not make a difference in their lives?  Many speak the same language, but some say they speak different languages. Be it English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Hindi, or Japanese, but does it really matter which language they speak?  There’s definitely one God regardless how they communicate.  To identify with a particular group, politicians will often say a few words in their language, but do they really understand them?  This happens especially during an election year as candidates make pitches for a specific block of voters.  This would be at synagogue by speaking Hebrew, rubbing shoulders with rabbis, and trying to convince Jews they know about their culture.

But regardless who these people are, it’s good for them to know who they really are.  Steve Jobs (1955–2011), a pioneer of the personal computer revolution said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”  A measure of what people become is what they keep coming back to, just reminding them to take that next step in pursuing their dreams.

Making a Connection

Some people – young and old alike, make decisions to join the Peace Corps.  While others participate in a Fulbright programs to Asian, African, or South American countries.  They live with the natives, teaching them to plant crops, build wells, and construct homes.  They teach English as a foreign language in their schools.  Missionaries are involved in outreach programs to villages, and working alongside different ethnic groups in remote areas.  By so doing they are fulfilling God’s mission in bringing the teaching of the Bible to the ends of the earth.

Interestingly Maya Angelou (1928–2014), an author, and poet wrote, “The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.  Somebody who may not look like you.  May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all.  I may not dance your dances or speak your language.  But be a blessing to somebody.  That’s what I think.”  Angelou explained in her own way the missionary service believers are taught in serving their Creator.

Non-Verbal Communication

To start understanding people call for more than being able to master the spoken word.  It comes through the Holy Spirit who works in diverse ways.  People also use body language to communicate.  Missionaries can see these in the natives seeking their help.  With good interpersonal skills barriers are broken down.  But people all have one spirit in common.  It doesn’t matter if a person is a Westerner dressed in fashionable clothes, or a beggar in rags.  It’s the Holy Spirit who penetrates our communication barriers.

Barbara Bush (1925–2018), a former first lady of the United States said, “Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.”  With God each human is a friend and a family member.  It doesn’t matter if they live in a small Guyanese town like Ituni, or a faraway place like Timbuktu.  In building up God’s Kingdom volunteers would know like Albert Einstein (1879–1955), a German-born theoretical physicist “the only source of knowledge is experience.”  Missionaries bring their experiences to the building blocks of life, and knowledge, to make the world a better place to live, paving the way for mankind’s eternal future.

God’s Kingdom

There’s a place beyond the universe that’s irresistible.  When people die they will be escorted there by angels.  And they will find eternal rest with their Supreme Being and the best of humanity.  This will be our eternal reward won for a life of grace, dedication, and service to Almighty God.  In this state there will be an everlasting celebration.  People presently live with angels watching over them and with visions of heaven.  But when they cross over into God’s territory there’s no looking back.  Eventually they will be face to face with God’s radiance, and his celestial forces of goodness.

Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), an Italian explorer, navigator and colonizer wrote, “Gold is a treasure and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in the world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.”  People often hear that gold – money if you wish, corrupts if not used wisely.  Columbus viewed gold positively as a means for winning souls.

Family & Friends

Heavenly goals must begin with family and friends.  Charles Kuralt (1934–1997), a journalist said, “The love of family and the admiration of friends are much more important than wealth and privilege.”  By honoring and obeying God’s will people know the truth, and are touched by love.  So when dark moments raise their ugly heads they would say like Aristotle Onassis (1906–1975), a Greek shipping magnate, “It is during the darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”  Onassis might have thought about our final destination that surpasses all understanding.

Light & Darkness

Before being called home most would have worn-out their bodies.   They would experience harrowing feelings in a troubled world.  Evil forces sought to influence them into doing evil deeds.  But do not be dismayed, just remain steadfast in the faith, and follow the narrow road of righteousness.

Harriet Tubman (1822–1913), an African American abolitionist wrote, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach the stars to change the world.”  Tubman’s observation is true.   People must play their role in leading others – even if it’s only one person, to do what’s right.  This is a believer’s responsibility undertaken by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mother Teresa (1910–1997), a Roman Catholic missionary said, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them your strength lie.”  In perseverance let’s all endeavor to do our very best.  So when people arrive at the finish-line in heaven they will hear the angels proclaiming: “Well done, true and faithful servants.”  Then they will gather at God’s heavenly banquet where there’s rejoicing as they are called to God’s Kingdom for their just rewards.

 

 

Living in Holiness

The spirit of holiness comes to believers after accepting God in all of his glory, and by doing his will.  These devout ones live disciplined lives.  They taste the true freedom of life, and love God with their whole hearts.  Every day these believers approach the Supreme Being and are blessed abundantly.  Shakti Gawain (b. 1948), a New Age and personal development author wrote, “Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual darkness.”  These individuals who live triumphantly know security in the Lord.

Sickness of the Soul

 What are your motives in life?  Are you bogged down?  Do you feel rebellious?  Are you living in debt?  Are you morally bankrupt?  Do you suffer from sickness of the body, mind and spirit?  If you are worried about such matters you may be suffering from a sickness of the soul.  Marilyn Monroe (1926–1962), an actress, model and singer said, “I am good, but not an angel.  I do sin, but I am not the devil.  I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”  As Monroe puts it her main motive for living was to find love.  Her focus though shouldn’t be on false love, but rather on God’s gifts of true, and abiding love.

Moral Dynamism

 By the Creator believers are blessed with strong assurances to do good deeds.  They serve and each day,  pursue moral goals, and find richness in the Torah.  By their lifestyle they are enthroning the living God, for they have a childlike trust in him.  These righteous ones obey God’s commandments, and are blessed in deciphering the intricacies of life.  Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), an author and abolitionist wrote, “Aim above morality.  Be not simply good, be good for something.”  Thoreau wasn’t prepared to settle on a basic type of morality.  He wanted us to pursue meaningful lives.  People agree that we should endeavor to be the best we can by the way we live, and what we do.

Walk in Holiness

Peace and hopefulness should be a way of life for those walking in holiness.  Such a commitment brings self-fulfillment and blessings to our communities.  All of us have to be compassionate, repentant, and committed to daily prayer.  By the grace of God we’ll grow to know salvation and be saved from our misdeeds.  Roman Stoic philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC–65 AD) said, “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”  Seneca could well be speaking about us today, for there’s much rancor in public discourse.  To have true understanding and live in spiritual holiness believers have to turn to God – the Provider of good gifts.  He loves those estranged from him, and we have the privilege to turn to him.

The Gift of Healing

The Gift of Healing

The Lord promised to heal people’s waywardness and to love them freely (Hos 14:4).  God was going to restore their health and heal their wounds (Jer 30:17).  A Dutch Catholic priest, professor and theologian Henri Nouwen (1932–1996) wrote, “Did I offer peace today?  Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I let go of my anger and resentment?  Did I forgive?  Did I love?  These are the real questions.  I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”  Undoubtedly people can do many small things to be these miraculous gifts to others.  This means we don’t have to do big things to see great results.  Small ones are just as important.

Growth is essential when giving love.  This comes in different forms with abundant meanings.  Max de Pree (b. 1924), a businessman and writer said, “We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity.  We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”  These lasting transformations are known in various ways.  When they contribute to growth and understanding, healing takes place.  These manifestations often take time, and ought not to be rushed.  People should persevere in doing good works.

Friendships

A vice president of the United States, Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978) wrote, “The greatest healing therapy is friendship.”  It’s ideal to have good friendships.  They enable us to interact freely, explain our personal concerns, and solve problems.  Good friends are able to give us honest opinions.  These are free gifts that bring joy to our hearts.  In times of worry their words soothe us bringing us comfort and hope.

These benefits are from people who appreciate us for who we really are.  They know our faults and accept us as blessings.  An Indian spiritual master Sai Baba (1835–1918) said, “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love.  Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”  With love a healing balm encompasses us.  People come to know their brothers and sisters care about what they do, and count on them for support.  Such attributes nurture their welfare.

Positive Faith

People do hear good and bad things about religion.  But author and literary critic Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) views were positive.  He believed, “Religion is part of the human make-up.  It’s also part of our cultural and intellectual history.  Religion was our first attempt at literature, the texts, our first attempt at cosmology, making sense of where we are in the universe, our first attempt at health care, believing in faith healing, and our first attempt at philosophy.”  People who are healed attribute these phenomena to their beliefs in a loving God.  Hitchens saw religion not only as important but having far-reaching consequences.  Many believers become recipients of these blessings that shape their lives for the better.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) Beliefs & Sacred Texts

According to Wikipedia, in 1961 the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was formed through the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association (AUA), established in 1825, and the Universalist Church of America (UCA), established in 1793. The UUA’s headquarter is in Boston, Massachusetts, and serves churches mostly in the United States.

This is how UU’s website describes its symbol of the flaming chalice:
“A flame within a chalice (a cup with a stem and foot) is a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. Many of our congregations kindle a flaming chalice in gatherings and worships and feature the chalice symbol prominently.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the flaming chalice, including the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope.”

UU’s Beliefs
UU practices a creedless and non-dogmatic approach to religion. An attitude toward each congregant’s beliefs and tradition is one of tolerance and acceptance. They reject a belief in the Trinity as God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Instead they worship a unitary notion of God. They see believers will be eventually reconciled to God. So they reject preaching about hellfire and damnation. UU celebrates worship services on Sundays with a sermon and the signing of hymns.

Sacred Texts
Some of their sacred texts are from the Jewish and Christian traditions. However they look at additional sources for further religious and moral inspiration. These are drawn from the scriptures of the world’s religions. By so doing they recognize the wisdom teachings not only of the Bible’s New and Old Testaments, but also works like Dhammapada, or Tao Te-Ching, and other philosophers, scientists, poets, and sages.
On the pages of these writings UU trusts that their congregants to use reason and come to conclusions that speak to them. These goals they see necessary, since their membership, whether atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Chinese, Hindus, Muslims, believers, and non-believers alike, would find meaning on their quest in seeking the truth.

YouTube Programs
1) Sermon “The Basics of Unitarian Universalism” – Rev. Aaron White, First Unitarian Church of Dallas 24:51
2) The Rise and Fall of Unitarianism in America 17:20
3) Interview with a Unitarian Universalist 53:21

Love of Friendship

For all who are joined to the living there’s hope (Eccl 9:4).  A man and woman may live many years and rejoice, but let them remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many.  We should therefore enjoy life with reservation (Eccl 11:18).  Build a good foundation by the way we live.  Of such are the gifts of the sweetness of life that come through friendships.  Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer Khalil Gibran (1883–1931) wrote, “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.  For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”  Much of what passes off as insignificant has meaning beyond our comprehension.  These small deeds may very well be those attributes that shape our lives for years to come.

Gift of Friendship

Friendship is an important gift.  It’s precious and adds to life’s dimensions.  Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–43 BC), a Roman philosopher, politician, and lawyer said, “What sweetness is left of life, if you take away friendship.  Robbing life of friendship is like robbing the world of the sun.  A true friend is more to be esteemed than kinsfolk.”  The price of friendship is greater than the value of gold.  Companions are valuable and able to sustain us in the unpredictable aspects of our lives.  They can stand by us, assure us, and are always there to help us.  These are true gifts by which some people are blessed.

We may wonder about our friends and say all manner of things about them.  These remarks come alive in the sentiments we express.  A Nigerian novelist, and poet Chinua Achebe (1930–2013) wrote, “When old people speak it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something which you do not see.”  Often it may be difficult to tell who people’s friends really are, but some do express this gift because they are able to recognize them.

Perfection in Friendship

In choosing friends never expect perfection.  This may never come.  When you decide let it be based on the feelings in your heart.  Say a prayer to be guided to loved ones.  Matthew Arnold (1822–1888), an English poet and cultural critic said, “The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light.”  Inevitably when we make friends we eventually hope that they will become like rays of sunshine in our lives.  Being perfect may be our goal.  But don’t be disappointed if you find yourself working for such a goal to evolve into something beautiful.

One ingredient tops it all when it comes to friendships.  It’s the gift of love.  Listen to what Marie de France (1154–1189), a medieval poet wrote, “For above all things love means sweetness, and truth, and measure; yea, loyalty to the loved one and to your word.  And because of this I dare not meddle with so high a matter.”  Loving friends is a perfect gift.  Still it must be remembered it might be love that isn’t returned the way we expect.  Nevertheless Scripture teaches us to continue to love them.  This is also, loving our enemies.  People must always show they care.  We ought to bless others in a loving manner, and be compassionate.

Spiritual Power

Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933), President of the United States said, “We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”  Being good, just, and holy are unseen.  Some are able to tell if we’re gifted in this way by our actions.  But we don’t easily see these qualities.  Coolidge may well be alluding to some longed-for goals also like peace, justice, and equality.

Working for the common good, calls for foresight, honesty, and trust.  These gifts are by nature spiritual.  Billy Graham (b. 1918), an evangelical Christian evangelist and Southern Baptist Minister wrote, “The greatest question of our time is, ‘Will we be motivated by materialistic philosophy or by spiritual power?’”  Often Americans receive in our homes a preponderance of TV ads to buy more goods with promises that they will be happier.  They are never satisfied although it seems there’s an overabundance of goods available.  This may well be the sort of materialistic philosophy Graham was talking about.

Touching Eternal Goodness

Some believers have gained insights in what it means to touch the eternal goodness of things by persevering in goodness.  M. Scott Peck (1936–2005), a psychiatrist and best-selling author said, “Great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece.  The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning.  The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.”  Having the gift of knowledge and dedication is hard work.  Year after year, some scholars persevere in studying and doing painstaking research to be of service to mankind.  These endeavors have to coincide with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to obtain the best results.  Many of these explorations are ongoing, never end, and will last from generation to generation.

Jane Goodall (b. 1934), a British ethologist, and anthropologist wrote, “I absolutely believe in a greater spiritual power, far greater than I am, from which I have derived strength in moments of sadness or fear.  That’s what I believe, and it was very, very strong in the forest.”  Goodall discovered this force in the forest where she worked with animals.  Believers may be able to find it in sanctuaries at their churches, while others may touch this power in their homes, or work places.

Two Known Powers

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), a Baptist Minister and leader of the African American Civil Rights Movement said, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  King, Jr. was commenting critically of the affairs in scientific America.  Let’s hope that he was wrong on that score, for much of spiritual power is unseen, still many people believe it’s superior to science.  For, it’s an amazing and indescribable gift.

Amit Ray (b. 1960), an Indian spiritual master and author did a great job in summing up spiritual power at work in the world.  Ray wrote, “There are two types of seeds in the mind: those that create anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred, and those that create love, compassion, equanimity and joy.  Spirituality is germination and sprouting of the second group and transforming the first group.”  So it’s with these spiritual gifts in our world.  Some situations may look grim and hopeless, but spiritual power is able to transform these bad, and worthless elements that taint our lives.  It’s the truth which flows from our good and merciful Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Discovering Our Spirituality

Spiritual gifts come to us from the Holy Spirit.  To know them we’ve to give careful and thoughtful prayers to discern what they really are.  This calls for individuals having knowledge of themselves and their abilities.  For, it’s though the working of the Holy Spirit that people are given special knowledge and wisdom to determine their gift or gifts (1 Cor 12:7).  Many through their baptism will likely receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  These instruct, regenerate, sanctify, and comfort us (Jn 16:13-14).  In Mark 16:17-18, we learn these gifts were first given to the apostles as they were about to preach the Gospel to all nations.  Through them other believers became recipients of these blessings.  As for Christians it must be remembered everyone has at least one gift from God (1 Cor 7:7), but it was only in the apostles these gifts were made perfect.

A New Spirit

When people unconditionally surrender to God they will be blessed with renewed lives, and be led by a discerning Spirit.  Billy Graham (b. 1918), an evangelical Christian said, “Some people have a warped idea of living the Christian life.  Seeing talented, successful Christians, they attempt to imitate them.  For them, the grass on the other side of the fence is always greener.  But when they discover that their own gifts are different or their contributions are more modest (or even invisible), they collapse in discouragement and overlook genuine opportunities that are open to them.”  The essence is that people not only have a gift or gifts from God, but they must be able to recognize, and use them wisely.  They mustn’t be anxious, and envy other Christians who have different gifts than them.

It’s obvious that whether our gifts are great, or small, our missions must never be viewed as part-time activities.  They are to be our source, and must be animated by the Spirit as we proclaim the Word of God.  There will however still be pastoral challenges as believers become involved in social outreach programs.  Nevertheless, people ought to use their gifts wisely to touch the lives of those around them.

God’s Blessing

Russell D. Moore (b. 1944), an evangelical theologian and president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission wrote, “In the New Testament, we don’t find our gift through self-examination and introspection and then find ways to express it.  Instead, we love one another, and in so doing we see how God has equipped us to do so.”  Spiritual gifts bring us to the exact place where we must be.  It’s also true people can’t have these gifts without loving, and serving God, and our neighbors.

To have authority calls for the fulfillment of God’s commandments for service in our churches and communities.  This is all part of having renewed personal encounters with others.  Christians do so when they bring their message of hope to them.  These blessings come to them as they practice a Christ-centered morality.  Believers then experience osmosis with those living on the periphery of their lives.  These gifts become profound blessings when people discover their spirituality.