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My Food

Jesus said that His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him.

We eat for two reasons: for nourishment first and for pleasure second. Nourishment gives life. Lack of proper nourishment brings death.

Jesus received nourishment from doing God’s will.

How much of what you do gives you nourishment and life? (I’d actually love to hear a percentage!) How can you move closer to the center of God’s will?

Spenders or Investors: Relationships

Last week I wrote about the difference of spenders and investors in finance. However, the same principle applies to relationships.

During the early part of my life, I viewed myself as a geek and an introvert, and my profession as a software developer contributed to that. Any kind of technical job tends to separate you from the rest of the world because, like it or not, most people can’t intelligently converse with you about your work. Further, relationships are intimidating to the technical mind because they’re messy and don’t give you nice, clean measurable results.

This past year, however, I’ve started understanding the importance of relationships in new ways. I’ve discovered that relationships are one of the greatest motivators for me to change and grow, and I’ve discovered that they also provide one of the greatest means for me to influence others.

In relationships, spenders are the ones who use everything for themselves, and they use it right now. Spenders are easy to pick out. You pour deeply into their lives, only to discover moments later that everything you gave them has already been used up. When you leave them, you feel empty and worn out.

Relating with a relational investor is always life-giving. When you pour deeply into their lives, they pour deeply back into yours, and both of you leave feeling stronger than before. Investors are the ones who know that relationships aren’t about themselves. They understand that as stewards of what God has given them, they need to pour these things back out into others’ lives.

Investors look for investors. If you had a $1000 that you could give to anyone, would you choose to give it to a spender or and investor? In the same way, if you are going to give of yourself to someone else, are you not more likely to pour of yourself to someone who will multiply the things you give them? Similarly, if you want to attract investors into your life, you need to be bold enough to pour out into the lives of others.

Spenders fight to keep their tanks full because they have nothing coming back to them. Investors give all day long and go to bed fuller than they started, because they have mastered the relational art of taking something small and causing it to grow. Spenders are only aware of needs, but investors are also aware of their income sources, and they make deliberate choices to give based on their strengths. They learn to maximize their own talents and strengths whenever possible, and they choose to walk in the divine empowerment of Christ. They avoid needs that fall outside of those areas because they know they don’t have the resources for it, and they know that God has designed and called others to meet that area of need.

Go out and invest!

Spenders or Investors: Finances

I don’t know if this will evolve into a series, but I know I want to focus on two specific aspects of “spenders or investors”. This is a concept that is starting to come alive within in me, so let me get started!

The basic difference between spenders and investors is this:

Spenders give everything they have right now. Investors pace themselves to turn something now into more later.

In a recent one-year plan, I wrote a goal to change my thinking about finances to an investment mindset. Although I didn’t know what all this meant, I knew that my current perspective on money wasn’t working. Slowly, my mindset has been changing. After several months of fitful attempts, I’m finally getting myself on a budget, and I’m starting a cash-basis spending. This financial constraint has made me much more conscious of how I spend my money, but it’s done more than that.

Through this, I’ve been moving from a “survival” mentality to a “multiplication” mentality. Rather than assuming that I don’t have enough money, I assume that I do have enough, and I look for creative ways to grow what I have. Obviously, this is bringing dramatic changes my personal finances, but that’s not the focus of my attention.

Most importantly, this is changing my giving. I have had the assumption that I need to meet every need. This is another aspect of the “spender” mentality–that everything opportunity that arises needs to be a “yes”. An investor knows the limits of his resources and chooses his opportunities to maximize the impact.

Because of this “spender” mentality”, I have at times given until it hurt. (Believe me, it’s good to hurt sometimes!) However, I doubt this is as spiritual as it sounds. My problem was not that I was giving too much. My problem was that I was giving too little. What if I strategized to become as generous as possible with the resources God has given me? I realized that instead of giving $50 today, I might choose to give only $5 today, enabling me to give $500 in the future.

However, how will that happen? Currently, my income comes from three sources:

  • My salary
  • Gifts
  • Income-generating ventures

My salary has a ceiling, and gifts are an infrequent. This means the only area that allows for growth is income-generating ventures. As I’ve mentioned before, our personal income is our greatest financial asset, and I can use my salary to bootstrap my ventures.

My conclusion, then, is that the best way for me to be faithful with my income is to take what I have been given, grow it, and enable myself to give more over a longer period of time. Because of this, my immediate giving will decrease, and my generosity may be questioned because of that. However, I hope that I only become more generous, never less.

God desires to glorify Himself through His people. How can He receive the most glory through our finances?

Strength Is Ease

I’m coming to grips that even though Christianity is a journey of growth, it’s supposed to be easier than I sometimes make it. I was struck this afternoon by a simple thought:

Strength is not a measure of effort exerted; it is a measure of ease. Strength is the ability to do big things as if they were trivial.

Let me give you some examples. If you are strong with relationships, you make it look easy to relate with people. If you are strong with music, you can play complex music with apparent ease. The list continues.

In our walk with God, we should be getting stronger and should be doing certain things with greater ease. This is what our means to live by the spirit so that we use Christ’s power in us. It’s part of abiding in the vine.

I’m coming to realize that sometimes the people who exert the most effort in their spiritual walk are really those who are the weakest. Sometimes they’re also the ones who will be quickest to grow.

If you follow this road, you may actually question your productivity because it feels like you have done nothing. It need not be true. It may be your strength shining through.

Managing Your Gift: The Truth About You

I keep hammering on this topic because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I may have gotten quite a bit more philosophical than I have in the past, but these are things I care about!

Have you ever looked at someone and marveled at their abilities? Maybe they’re gifted in leadership. Maybe they’ve got great musical talent. Maybe they have a way with words. Maybe they have unusual relational skills. In the back of our minds, we often hear a whisper, “I could never be that.”

I have both good news and bad news wrapped up in a simple statement.

Humanly speaking, you’re not a genetic phenomenon, nor are they.

Sometimes we look at successful people and think that they must have some magnificent in-born talent. Did God give them a special talent? I have no doubt! However, I suspect the difference between your natural abilities and theirs is much smaller than you think.

Two false beliefs will keep you from success:

  1. If you believe success has everything to do with natural ability, you’ll never be motivated to try.
  2. If you believe success has nothing to do with natural ability, you’ll wear yourself out.

God has given you specific interests and abilities. These are your areas of greatest potential for success.

If you have a natural talent in music, what separates you from great musicians is probably mostly knowledge and practice. These are not something you’re born with. However, if you lack all natural talent in music, your chances of becoming truly great in music is very slim.

If you will succeed in your gift, you need to find other people who have become successful in that gift and learn from them, whether it’s through a personal relationship, or through their writings or other teachings.

There’s more.

Spiritually speaking, if you are a Christian, you are a genetic phenomenon.

As a follower of Christ, you have been adopted into the family of God. That makes you a son or daughter of God.

God has given you His Holy Spirit, who is a spirit of wisdom and understanding. Part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to empower you to go beyond your natural gifts and to give you supernatural power to fulfill your call.

God has also set some principles in place for your success. Do you want to receive more wisdom? It’s quite simple. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God, and you’ll become wiser.

God wants to glorify Himself through His people, and I believe He wants to empower people in ways that, when the world asks about our success, we can only tell them, “It’s God.” Like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, I want no shadow of doubt that it was God and God alone who brought victory and success.

Now comes your part again!

God has given you special abilities and talents. How does He want you to grow them? How does He want to show Himself strong in you, taking you beyond your own abilities and empowering you do great feats by faith?

Most of all, how can you use your life to bring greater glory to God?

Managing Your Gift: Clear the Static

You have a gift; how do you use it? How do you manage it?

This should probably have been mentioned at the beginning of the series. It’s a theme that is briefly mentioned in my book, when Zepho must decide whether to listen to his friends. It’s the problem of static.

All of us deal with static. These are the things that keep us from truly hearing the call of God.

Some of us don’t know if we’re truly loved.

Some of us are afraid.

Some of us are overly concerned about finance.

Some of us worry about disappointing our parents, our friends, or even God.

Some of us think God is angry.

Some of us imagine what others might think of us.

Since of us think we’ve missed our chance.

Some of us don’t know if we’ve got it within us.

All that is static, and it’s going to keep you from hearing the voice of God. These are invitations either to make agreements with the enemy or to anchor yourself in your identity in Christ.

Now it’s your job.What is the static on your life that is keeping you from hearing the voice of God and walking in your gift to glorify Him?