Using my Gifts

Another assignment was to write about how we can more effectively use our gifts and God-given personality in our lives.

I should begin playing guitar and singing more often around the house. Maybe even write some songs for Kasen. Miranda has been after me for years to play more often and specifically wants me to play for Kasen. I’ve just gotten lazy about getting the guitar out, so this is one area that I could easily make a change in.

I use my gifts and talents all the time in church. I teach Bible Studies, lead groups, step out in faith on certain  projects, and I lead the congregation in worship on Sunday mornings with the musical abilities God has given me. My personality comes out in everything I do. I often wish I had more opportunities to teach outside of the youth program. I could certainly be more effective in using my gifts if I could arrange for some other people to help in the areas where I’m not gifted. This has been difficult, because volunteers are hard to come by, but I will make it my goal to find some help with attendance, finances, organizational/administrative stuff. This would free me to do the things I’m gifted in – looking into the future with faith, teaching, leading/training others, thinking creatively, etc.

As a youth minister, church is my work.

Letter to God

OK – So evidently in class the other night (while I was in the hospital) Dr Ayers, gave a journal entry assignment to write a letter to God describing how we feel about our spiritual gifts and what areas we should improve. Here we go:

Dear God,
Gosh, that’s not near enough of a salutation, but there aren’t enough words to truly give You the greeting that You deserve either. I want to take a moment to express my gratefulness for the spiritual gifts You’ve given me. Growing up, I would never have guessed that I’d be the man I am today. Your presence in my life has truly been transforming and the gifts You’ve given me have been a huge part of that work. I was the kid who hid behind the curtain in elementary school, and now You’ve got me in front of groups of people telling them the good news! In this latest assessment, it seems that You’ve given me the gifts of leadership, teaching, and faith. Although I’d never taken this test before, I’m not surprised by the results. When I looked at the results, they resonated in my soul. You have truly made me this way and in discovering these gifts, it’s as if I had known them all along – like uncovering something that was already there. I’m so excited and feel so blessed that You have given me the privilege of being a steward of these things and I’m excited to see how they will be used. What places will You carry me to use them? How will You craft them inside of me so that they will become sharper instruments in Your hands? Lord, help me to completely surrender to You. I do not want to be a bad steward. I would love to one day see You and hear the words “good and faithful”  used of me in regards to how I used these gifts.  Lord, it may be strange, but I also want to thank You for giving me the weaknesses that I have. I am clearly not very good at serving, giving, or compassion and so those are great opportunities for me to grow. They will also be areas where I can learn to trust in the body of Christ and grow by watching them. I understand that these areas are probably areas where I will get myself in trouble, areas where I will fail, and be criticized, but these are also opportunities. I will be able to demonstrate my love for You by being obedient in these ways.  These may very well be the greatest demonstrations of my love for You. It’s my prayer that I will be able to honor You in all of life. I want to honor You by working within my giftedness and efficiently serving You, but I also want to honor You in the ways that make me uncomfortable and probably don’t come as easy to me. Allow me to bring You glory with how I live. Thank You for breathing life into my bones and giving me these opportunities. It’s a privilege to be by Your side and to serve You. It’s an amazing honor for a finite sinful man like me to be given such beautiful opportunities to make eternal differences by being a steward of these gifts. I don’t want to let You down, but I’m gonna need Your help. I also trust that You will help – so Thanks for that too.

Luv ya! Steve

America Lament

Eagle We had to write a lament for class the other night about America. Anyway, when we got to class, Dr. Loken asked for us to read them to the class. I’m pretty comfortable getting in front of people and preaching or doing music or whatever, but for some reason, I wasn’t very comfortable with this. Anyway, I just told myself, to get over it and do what needed to be done. Some of the other people had really good ones, which made me even more nervous, but I just jumped up and did it anyway.

Here’s what I read:

Eagle’s Wings

Once soaring across the sky,

It’s wings now clipped, the bald eagle cries.

Once flying in freedom and majesty,

Now grounded by sin. What a tragedy.

The American dream, it doesn’t make sense.

Two and a half kids and a white picket fence.

Is that all we want? All we imagine and desire?

What about God? Aren’t His dreams much higher?

We sing “Land of the free and home of the brave,”

We fought for freedom to worship, but use it to misbehave.

I don’t see bravery at all anymore,

Except when it’s sin that we’re standing for.

We have an American idol who’ll be famous and rich,

But he’s not what our forefathers dreamed of as they sailed from the Brits.

We celebrate independence on the fourth of July.

But what of dependence on God that we deny?

On all of our money it says “In God we trust”

But it’s for money itself that our citizens lust.

We’re proud of our government – the world’s largest democracy,

But it’s turned out to be nothing but hypocrisy.

America the beautiful, that’s what they say,

But that beauty will fade, when God we betray.

Our wings have been clipped by our sin with a sting.

But if we wait on the Lord, we’ll rise up on Eagle’s wings.

In the end, I’d say it went pretty well. Don’t know if it’s really something I’d say I was real proud of, but it was certainly a beginning for me.


Wish_1 Evidently in the class I missed a couple of weeks ago, my professor gave an assignment for our journals. Here’s the assignment: If God gave you one wish, what would it be and why?

Of course my first response is “more wishes,” but I’m sure that’s not gonna qualify for a “good” answer. The truth is that this is really a tough question. I think that as humans, our initial reactions would be those selfish sorts of things like: wealth, fame, mansions, trips, health, etc. But then I think about what I should desire as a Christian and I come to more unselfish things like: for no hunger or pain in the world, or maybe I should wish for world peace, or for everyone to know Jesus. I also think about some specific people with specific problems that I’d like to make wishes for. I might even wish for some things for my beautiful bride. Another thought I have when I think about this question is “What would Jesus do?” or “Is there a Biblical example I should follow here?” I don’t know about what Jesus would do, but Solomon is a pretty good example and he asked for wisdom. God rewarded him for it too. Hmm. . . . .what about me though. . . . . .It’s really tough to decide on one thing. I have a few regrets in my life that I wish I could “do over” but nothing that would warrant a wish – I mean, I’ve really learned from those things and they help make me who I am today.

Man this is hard. There’s a part of me that would wish for a family of my own one day. I’d also wish to be a part of a starting a new church someday in the future. I would love to be able to study and teach the Bible for the rest of my life. And eat Blue Bell ice cream every day. I’d also love to have the ability to write songs like my friend Jon, or maybe a voice like Briscoe’s. I wanna travel the world and especially go back to Israel again. I wanna scuba dive the great barrier reef, and snow ski the swiss alps. I wanna see Hawaii & Australia, and I wanna visit my compassion international child, Yigremachew, in Ethiopia. I wanna do mission work for a minimum of about 6 months somewhere and if I had to choose right now, It’d be Africa – maybe with the “Mercy Ships” folks.

OK – I finally got to my real answer: If I could have one wish from God, it’d be that I could stay in the center of His will for me for the rest of my life. I don’t get there very often, but the few times that I’ve really been in step with Him have been amazing. Even if I wasn’t getting to do some of the things I dreamed about, those steps with Him were always incredible!

I wish I could say I’d give up all those other dreams, to be in step with Him, but the truth is that even if He gave me my wish, I’d probably still be wishing for something else – of course it wouldn’t be a “Godly” wish but I’m not very good at those kinds of things anyway. It’s sad, but also very true that I’m much better at selfish wishes.

How ’bout the rest of you guys – what would you wish be?

My 10 Commandments

10commandments In class last night Dr. Loken asked us each to spend about 10 minutes and write our own 10 commandments around each of these 10 topics listed. It’s a good exercise; I’d encourage you to do it too. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Priorities – I will keep my personal relationship with God above my job.

2. Worship – I will worship outside the church.

3. Reverence – I will pay attention to the little things God has done. (Is there such a thing as a “little” thing?)

4. Time – I will faithfully continue my devotional time with Miranda.

5. Authority – I will respect the people God has placed above me, even if I disagree with them.

6. Life – When I have them someday, I will raise my children to know true life – that which only God can give.

7. Purity – When my thought life is tempted, I will seek the “way out” described by 1 Cor 10:13. “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

8. Property – I will sacrifice my own stuff/desires so others can have more.

9. Tongue – I will speak what is right, true, noble, pure, uplifting/encouraging, and honoring to God.

10. Contentment – I will enjoy all that I have in spite of what the world tells me I need.