Spiritual Gifts

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I have news.

Big news. News some of you have been waiting four years to hear.  And you can say you read about it first here.

I am pleased to announce that the Spiritual Gifts Commissary (SGC), after lots of coffee, reviews of old church bulletins, and listening to hours of Spurgeon sermons on cassettes, has officially declared a new collection of Ten Spiritual Gifts You Won’t Find in the Bible.

This is exciting.

No longer are you limited to a narrow list of spiritual gifts found in places like Romans 12, Ephesians 4, or 1 Corinthians 12.  The Holy Ghost can manifest Himself in all sorts of ways.  Still skeptical? Consider this:  Past surveys have indicated that more than 20% of American Christians claim to have spiritual gifts never mentioned in scripture.

That many fired and wired believers couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Right?

Anyway, by definition, a spiritual gift is an unusual ability to demonstrate God’s life and power in ways that can’t be explained by talent or random circumstances. And according to the Bible, all believers have some sort of spiritual gifting.

But what? How can you know?

That’s where the SGC comes in.  In addition to the 17 gifts mentioned in scripture, they have explored other ways that people in Church World demonstrate such other-worldly force, it must be a gift.  Possibilities include the gift of condemnation, complication, or word of ignorance.  It would be well worth the time to review the original list here. Or even better, check out the lists here and here.  Who knows? Maybe the pointing towards your anointing can be found tucked away in one of those.

But wait! There’s more!  Here, in alphabetical order, are ten more Church World manifestations that may well explain how you or someone you put up with love are endowed. [click to continue…]

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Geese Fog

The day was cold.

Cold and foggy.

Cold and foggy and damp and dreary and what in God’s name was I doing out in it?

Walking, that’s what.

Walking and praying.

Praying and walking.

And I didn’t care about how cold or foggy it was because on this day I was desperate and yearning for an audience with – and a word from – God.

Anyway, I had a jacket.

It was one of the last times that I walked the 20-acre boundary of the church I had planted. And on this day the cold heaviness of the West Texas air was only exceeded by the cold heaviness in my spirit.

I got about halfway down the fence row, asking the Lord to speak to my heart. I so desperately wanted to hear His voice.

What I heard instead was the honking of the geese overhead.

Listening for God, I could only hear the dissonant, grating sound of geese. Can you relate?

Looking up, there was no way to see them, the fog was so heavy and low-hanging. But I could sure hear them.

I laughed to myself because of a recent conversation I’d had with my wife. She hates the sound of geese.

Eventually I did see them in the mist – surprisingly lower than I had imagined. And they were dealing with the same fog I was dealing with. Nevertheless, they flew in perfect formation, in a straight line.

And that’s how the Lord spoke. [click to continue…]

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Be the Light

I don’t think I’d have to argue long to convince you we’re living in a dark world.  Tune in your favorite news source and it seems that it’s a daily reminder that whatever was dark yesterday has only gotten darker today, and – get this – the only “fix” for it is to change the rules and make yesterday’s “dark” today’s “light.”

Pardon my cynicism, but pay attention to what everybody is calling “evil” today. All other things being equal, a decade from now people will openly declare it as “good” or “right” or necessary.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be surprised that the world has its own answers to the messes it’s in.  Even now, in the United States of Iowa, one Democrat and 72 Republicans are mixing it up with the locals, presenting themselves as the light of the world.

I think you know better. [click to continue…]

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Standardized TestEver take a spiritual gifts test? I certainly have, and many of the courses I teach for different universities use them.  And while I’m quite sure that surveys designed to apply psychological testing procedures to operations of the Holy Spirit can help us sort some things out, I still get a little uneasy about them.

Why?

Most are written so that even an unbeliever could take them and point to a “spiritual gift.”

Every one starts with a philosophical or theological assumption you may or may not agree with.

Every one tries to systematize something that, in scripture, seems hardly systematic.

Sooner or later somebody says something like, “I took this a few years ago and my gift of faith was a lot stronger then.”  What? Seriously?

So I thought maybe it was time for something radically different. Why don’t we go back to the source and see if there is actually a spiritual gifts “test” in the Bible?

Radical, I know, but stay with me. [click to continue…]

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(A Conversation)

InterviewDon’t confuse your business with your delivery system.

What do you mean?

Your “business” is the value you bring to people. Your delivery system is the way you deliver it.

Okay… I’m still not sure I get what you’re saying.

Okay, let illustrate it.  Let’s pretend it’s the year 1900, and you own one of the dominant businesses of the day – a railroad company. What’s your business?

Railroads?

AAAANNNNK!  You lose. Twenty years from now you’ll be out of business and replaced with trucks.  Anyway, who gets up in the morning wishing somebody would give them a bunch of steel and cross timbers?  Let’s try it again.  What business are you in?

Uh, transportation?

Good.  You may survive this after all.

Okay that makes sense, I suppose.  But I’m not a business owner.

Of course you are. [click to continue…]

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There seems to be a for Dummies book for everything – over 1,600 titles and growing.  They must be doing something right.  For 20 years, Wiley has published “a reference for the rest of us” covering such far-ranging titles as running a bar, acne, Windows, and wikis.  There’s one for Christian prayer and yes, one for leadership.  The premise for each of the books is always the same:  keep it simple and clear, offer cheat sheets, keep it light-hearted, and give easy-to-comprehend “get in, get out” tips.

With all due respect, maybe it’s time for a different approach.  Maybe instead of presuming ignorance and moving up from there, somebody should presume that he or she is writing to geniuses.

They just may not know it yet.

Nowhere is that more real than in the area of leadership.  Often both leaders and non-leaders approach the subject as if becoming a leader is a power we gain to overcome weaknesses, information we gather to overcome ignorance, or favor we gather to overcome anonymity.

But what if you already had the power, the understanding, or the favor?  What if you’re already a leader, but just didn’t know it because nobody ever seems to recognize your unique genius?  What if you’re beating your head against the wall trying to get better in an area where you routinely stink it up – all the while ignoring or running from areas of your greatest power and influence?

Maybe it really is time for a different approach.  How about Leadership for Geniuses? [click to continue…]

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Bells are ringing, people singing, and joy reigns throughout the land!.  Once again the Spiritual Gifts Commissary (SGC) has convened and after much deliberation and consultation, they are prepared to introduce a fresh new batch of spiritual gifts you won’t find in the Bible.

A spiritual gift is an unusual ability not explained in terms of natural talents.  Through spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit manifests the life and power of Christ through ordinary believers in extraordinary ways.  Different lists of them are found in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4.

A few years ago George Barna reported that when asked what their spiritual gifts were, 21% of Evangelicals listed gifts that are not mentioned in the Bible.  I was intrigued with the possibilities, so I made up a list of my own.

Then last year, the SGC rolled out the 2011 edition.  Seriously, why limit yourself to the Bible when you may actually have the gift of complication, confusion, or criticism?

Based on observations of Christians’ behavior patterns world-wide, the SGC is proud to offer these 10 manifestations as the latest installment of spiritual gifts you won’t find in the Bible.  This many believers can’t be wrong.  Right?  Here they are in alphabetical order: [click to continue…]

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Descants of the Soul

by Andy Wood on June 15, 2011

in Life Currency, Love, Words

There’s this song I want to tell you about.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First I want to tell you why I want to tell you.  Or why you pass the word, purchase that ticket, read another book with that theme, or are drawn to a certain genre of storyline or TV show.

It’s all about the descants of the soul.

I don’t remember when I first noticed it or when I first mentioned it to somebody else, but it’s been a while.  I began to notice that there were certain movies I found myself drawn to.  No matter whether it was comedy, science fiction, intense drama or cheesy love stories, I found I was a sucker for stories where one person could make a profound difference.

It was my first discovery of the descants of the soul.

“Descant” is a musical term that in its most literal form means “a different song.”  More precisely, a descant is an independent, ornamental melody sung or played above the main theme in a piece of music.

In life, it’s the story behind the story.  The “song” that leaps from movies to music to conversations to dreams and has a way of knitting them all together.

A descant of the soul is an inner “melody” that sings to you – and through you to others.  I have found that it’s also one of the ways that the Lord can uniquely speak to you or get your attention more quickly.

Descants of the soul are recurring themes that move us, fascinate us, and sometimes call us to action or faith or risk or change.  [click to continue…]

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Frankford and 82nd.  Sitting at the light.  Laura Kate (age almost-3) and I have been on an adventure.  And she is about to ask me a very important question.  But first, a slight rewind…

“Laura Kate, first we’ll go to the grocery store.  Then we’ll go by Grammy’s office and pick up some prizes she has for you.”

“That’s an awesome plan,” she says.

In between, she learns six (count ‘em) verses of an Easter song her uncle Joel and I wrote when he wasn’t much older than she is now.  Which brings us to the traffic light near our house on the way home.

“Papa,” says the voice in the back seat.  “Are you growed up?”

“What did you say?” I reply.  “Am I growed up?”

“Yes,” she says, very seriously.

“Yeah,” I mutter.  “I’m growed up.”

“Yay, Papa!  You did it!

Sometimes I wonder.

I wish it was that easy to claim maturity.  Sometimes I think I’m still a kid when it comes to such things.  And sometimes I feel, well, old.  But there’s a difference between growing up and growing old.  Peter Pan and his Lost Boys were only half right.

It’s OK to be a baby when you’re still a baby.  But there comes a time when the word of God and the world of people come together to shout, “Grow up!” After addressing the Corinthians as a pack of carnal children, Paul writes to the Ephesians that “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

How do you measure your maturity?  How do you know when you’re growing and when you’re floundering?  Let me hasten to say that maturity isn’t found in big words or fat bank accounts, or your ability to make babies or get a job (although keeping a job may impress a few people).

In gauging your maturity level, I have found five things that act as measuring rods for progress.  You are as mature as: [click to continue…]

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Occasionally I come across somebody who remembers an era when I sang a lot or wrote a lot of music.  They graciously tell me they miss that, and openly wish I would return to it, or “do something with it.”

Honestly, it feels nice to hear that.  But I won’t be singing “He’s Alive” this Easter, and I haven’t written a song that doesn’t end in “oh, doo-dah-day” in 13 years.

Even more frequently, I see somebody who heard me preach, or was in a church where I served as pastor.  More kind words.  More open wishes.

Truth be told, if feels nice to hear that, too.  But so far I’m not planning on preaching this Easter, and I haven’t served in a church leadership role in 16 months.

Do I miss those things?  Of course.  But that doesn’t mean that the gifts and callings behind them have been shelved or warehoused.  Just redirected.

In an often-quoted Bible verse, Paul says that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).  He’s referring to the Jews and their place in God’s heart and plan.  But the implications are much broader than that.  It speaks to Gentile me.

It speaks to you, too.

“God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or calls someone.”  That’s how God’s Word translates it.  Eugene Peterson says in The Message that they are “under full warranty – never canceled, never rescinded.”

You can run from your calling or abuse your gifts.  You can make stupid choices that limit your effectiveness.  You can be distracted by the world or rejected by the church, deceived by the devil or pursued by trivia.  But your dead ends or detours haven’t changed your gifts and calling, and you’d be wise to recognize that.

Oh… sorry… you still here?  I was preaching to myself and got distracted.  Anyway… [click to continue…]

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