Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Merry Christmas Camping to All

Boy Scouts pitch their tents in an area, inhabit it for a few days, hopefully leave no trace - unless they are improvements - and then move on. While there, they get to know the terrain, the water sources, fauna, wildlife and hiding places.

When foot soldiers deploy, they set up their tents, temporarily occupy foreign soil, get acquainted with the "locals” and seek to bring peace and safety. When their mission is accomplished, they pack up and go home.

Nomadic Bedouins live on the move, seeking pasture for their sheep or camels, looking for food for their families. Encampment means setting up their huge tents, settling in for a few weeks or months while ready to head on.

The Jews in the wilderness – after Egypt - had no permanent place to worship God. So, the LORD gave them plans for a mobile worship facility - the Tabernacle, the Tent of meeting. Here they sacrificed to and served the LORD.

When the Cloud or Fire that lead them stopped, they camped. It was God saying: stay here, set up the Tabernacle, My Tent and worship. When the days were complete, they struck the Tent and the Cloud led them along.

How do these Christmas images grab ya? If I threw in some wise men, would it help? How about mutant flying reindeer or a bloated, bearded Senior in slick red P.J.s? "Ho, ho, NO" you say?

If you want the classic Christmas story, turn to Matthew or Luke. If you want tent talk, read John's gospel. Do not expect any angels, mangers or maligned Inn Keepers. John tells us about the eternal Word who was with the Father who took on skin and bones. He speaks of a Life that is light. He - well, read it for yourself from John 1:1-4 & 14:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men... vs. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (NKJV)

While this offers little to market for the holidays, it makes up for it with some awesome theology. It also takes us back to our bivouac and answers: Who sneaked tents into the already crowed Christmas panoply? The "dwelt among us" in verse 14 is camping talk. It literally means: Jesus tabernacled, pitched His tent, encamped among us.

From John, we learn that the Word, Jesus, is co-eternal with God - not a new part of God's product line for the holidays. No, Jesus, also self-existing, created all of God's product line (see also Colossians 1:14-17). Jesus is called life: the kind of talk reserved for the Divine.

Keep in mind this Christmas that His birth was not His beginning. He was from the beginning and was the beginning, the Creator of all. Yet, He left the Father’s side to be with us. The Word became flesh and moved in our neighborhood.

As if this was not deep enough, the eternal Creator who is life - just like the Father - is also light. When the Light came into the sin-darkened world, He provided illumination, a “show and tell” of the Holy God.

So the spiritual (the Word), became physical. The eternal One became temporal (i.e. "in time", not temporary). God as man with us, or as John put it: He pitched His tent among us.

Did God's ultimate Scout, the firstborn, leave a trace? Yes! Talk about getting to know and fixing up the place!

Jesus, the ultimate Army of One, is our means of peace with God. His mission was accomplished. Remember His powerful "It is finished" battle cry? Can you say simper fi - always faithful? Hooah!

Was He on foreign soil? Yes and no. Though He made it, and came to the ones and place He made, they did not receive Him. The Master of the house returned to be treated like an intruder.

Thankfully, those who do accept Him as the true Owner are given the authority to become God's sons and daughters - all the ones believing in His name (see John 1:11-13). How hospitable to Him are you?

Jesus himself is both God's holy Tabernacle and the lamb offered for our sins. He is the eternal Word who chose to reside in humble, temporary fashion among us to provide a means of fellowship with God.

This homeless Nomad from birth still wants to feed His sheep. He wants to gather all those who are His, be their living water and heavenly food. Jesus invites us into His tent for fellowship, a life relationship. He alone can make us happy campers.

In his first letter, John wrote that this Word was no mythical figure. No, Jesus, the Word of life could be heard, seen, studied carefully and even handled. He reminds us that Jesus' followers - that he - did just that.

John continued: "... that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3 & 4 - NKJV). Jesus, John tells us, is to be experienced, declared and shared with all.

When we look at our new pup-tenting Neighbor, we see glory. This unique One, the Father's Son, is still full of grace and truth. Merry CHRISTmas and happy camping with Him.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Looking Up & Looking Ahead

It was just a short car ride with Uncle Roy, just down the path at Bancroft Bible Camp. Yet, it yielded two great phrases that I’ve been pondering for months.

Though retired, Rev. Roy Thomas is part of the staff of Bancroft Bible Camp. A WWII Vet – he was across the island from Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 – Uncle Roy has learned a thing or two in his many and often hard years.

An orphan boy from Chicago’s south side, Roy was a pastor for many years. He and his hard working spouse Evelyn, have faithfully and diligently served the Lord in many roles and places.

Getting out of my car that day to go into chapel and lead singing at camp, Roy cheerfully told me: "Keep looking up." Live with an eye to the sky, anticipating the Lord’s return. Things may be bad down here, but be encouraged, He will return. This is a source of hope and accountability; be ready.

This gentle, playful soul must have sensed the humor of telling someone who was about to drive off to "Keep looking up". So Uncle Roy – as he known by countless campers at Bancroft – added with a smile and twinkle in his eyes: "But keep your eyes on the road."

This was more than just a witty word of driving advice. This in fact completed the encouragement to "Keep looking up." Yes, we must live in light of the blessed hope, the return of Jesus, the setting up of His kingdom, the consummation of the ages. We are also to be faithful and wise servants day by day.

"Keep looking up. Keep your eyes on the road" - not a bad couplet. One could do worse for spur of the moment advice. Live in light of the hope of heaven. Live out your calling while here on earth.

Can one be – as the phrase goes – so heavenly minded you are no earthly good? Yes, if you do not keep your eyes on the road, traveling the path Jesus laid out for you, fulfilling your calling which God sovereignly designed just for you (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 8:28-39; Jeremiah 1:1-11; Psalm 139).

I recently looked through a Hymnal and noted that the first 80 plus songs were about heaven. Not about God per se, but about mansions, streets of gold, rest and the sweet bye and bye. Frankly, the impression I had was one of escapism.

Do not misunderstand: I praise God for His gracious promise of heaven through Christ (John 14; Revelation 20-22). Yet, I somehow sense He did not mean it to be an excuse to just wait out our time here.

Much like the exiled Jews in Babylon, we are told to settle in and serve Him until the time is right (see Jeremiah 29:4-14); an eye on the road, and an eye towards heaven.

With apologies to my Catholic friends, there are more Protestant monks than any other variety. You know them – might be one. People who have so orchestrated their lives that they have all but eliminated life-contact with anyone but other Christians. God warned against such faulty living (Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

Between continual internal church events, having Christian mechanics, grocers, beauticians, these functional Monks rarely have to risk involvement with the lost. Even their dog goes to a Christian Vet, where other Christian dogs congregate. May I add, Christian fleas are the worst.

Such Monk’s quick forays into the world are done holding their spiritual breath: in and out, avoid contamination, minimize risk of compromise. Yet, they also eliminate any chance of helping others, having impact, being salt or light. People who live only looking up will not be found in service to their Master, wasting their talents (Matthew 25:14-30).

We can also be consumed with keeping our eyes on the road. I find that when I am solely looking ahead and not looking up, as I ought – remembering Him and why - I become frazzled and fruitless. Remember Martha (see Luke 10:38-42)?

When we get too busy going and serving, taking care of life’s business every day, in every way, living in overdrive, we need to get back to turning ours eyes towards heaven.

Casting an eye upward helps me remember why I am running so hard (see Colossians 3:1-11). As Twila Paris sang: the warrior is a child, who needs in the midst of life’s battles to drop their sword and look up for a smile.

Wisdom can’t be contained. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. We bring out what we have stashed in. Roy was kind enough to remind me to keep the faith, be hopeful, live with obedience and anticipation: keep looking up.

Roy was also seasoned, sensible and – with all due respect – silly enough to remind me to be alert, take care, fulfill the job that was at hand: keep my eyes on the road.

The Lord took my dad home about three years ago. When an older man is now fatherly to me, I have a new appreciation for it, even at age 46. Young pups, don’t kid yourself: we always need wisdom that comes from those with experience. Especially those like Uncle Roy & Aunt Evelyn who keep looking up and keep their eyes on the road.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Penny for My Thoughts

A Penny for My Thoughts

Dedicated to All who Don’t feel
Worth a Plug Nickel

Rejected: what a painful process. It speaks directly to our sense of worth, value, loveliness and love-ability. "Reject": what an ugly label, crushing to the soul. My bank recently reinforced these truths for me. Before you wonder which bank to avoid or what I did short of robbing it, allow me to explain.

Counting coins can be a pain. Our bank has a wonderful machine that does that for you – at a price – 3%. Well, if time is money, we deemed a three-penny hit on the dollar worth the work it would do and time it would save.

So, coin bucket in hand, it was off to the lobby to dump the pennies, a few nickels and maybe a shiny dime or two into this very cool device.

It was worth the three cents to watch the machine with its little
conveyor’s belt, digital screen and buttons to push. Cheap entertainment! Coins counted, we took our tally slip to the window for our cash. Yes!

It was then I noticed it. A coin, beat, bent and I guess hard to count was sent to a coin return labeled "reject". My heart went out to this little penny. The big bad machine had spit it out, deemed it of questionable worth and not counted it among our happy haul.
Inflicted with illustrationitis – common to pastors - I fell in love with this penny – my brother. Scooping up this little lost lamb, I set it aside for future use. Not to spend, mind you.

The unbent coins presented no problem for the machine – which I shall now rage against. Since they fit its mold, its tolerance levels, its spectrum of acceptability, they were deemed of worth. Not so my little Lincoln image-bearing penny. It was a reject.
Yet, irony of ironies, after all the other pretty little coins had had their spin in the machine, they also lost some value – 3% is still 3%. It cost them to be counted worthy of the counter’s standards. They were in fact tarnished in worth and now in the belly of the beast.

But my penny – which I still have – of different bent than the others, though called a reject, kept its full value. With my claiming it as my own, its value has soared. I would not take a dollar for my penny. It not only reflects Lincoln, but yet another Great Liberator.

Called from the world, Jesus has stamped His image on and in us. Scuffed and scarred by sin and the world, defaced and devalued – labeled rejects - we have now fallen into new Hands. Like my 1977 S cent (I think it is an S– its hard to read), He has called us His very own – blemishes and all.

For those who stay on the world’s conveyor belt and let it size them up, they come out diminished, lumped together with all the other mere coins. They are cheapened by the very thing that allured them with its bells and whistles. They are reduced to tally slips to be cashed in as they are left behind.

Make no mistake, this world sees things differently than God. This Machine rages against God, His values, His ways, His people. Though its invitation is tempting, the process and product it is culpable for is nothing to brag about.

God, collector of rejects, seems to do poor public relations work. When was the last time you sought to be numbered among life’s losers and failures? Talk about an image issue. Yet, as the Word says, not many mighty, not many noble or brilliant, nor many powerful are called.

He uses the weak, the simple, the lowly and despised. The things that are not much in this world are His trophies to show to the world who His kind of people are.

Not losers and rejects per se, but anyone, everyone who will humble himself or herself and let God call His name over them. Why? So no one can boast before Him. So those who do boast can boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:25-31; Jeremiah 9:23, 24).

Are you tired of the world’s lies, its false fancy front? Tired of trying to measure up and knowing you are one more scratch away from being rejected? Refuse the world and its lusty, boastful ways. The fallen world and those who love it are all passing away. Those who do God’s will last forever (1 John 2:15-17).

Come to the One who showed His love for us while we were yet sinners. Those who come to Him – any of any kind, shiny new dimes or marred cents – He will in no way cast out (Romans 5:6-11; 8:28-39; 10:8-13). Only with Him, through His grace, is their acceptance. Rejects lose their labels and have their full value redeemed by none other than God Himself.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mercy or Justice? Your Druthers

She leaned forward against the rail, tightly clutching her purse,
clearly tense, and embarrassed. Almost pale with fear and intense with
earnestness, she responded to the Judge who had called her name,
brought up her case.

This tired looking woman - wife and mother - was facing the Judge on
drug charges. Possibly it was a pain medication that got out of hand.
Maybe a party-lifestyle caught up with her. For whatever reasons, she
was buying, using and being spent up by drugs.

What had been private was now all too public. Whoever happened to be
in the courtroom that day - like me for instance - could hear of her
woes, see her tighten in shame.

How many other places would she have rather been that day? How many
"highs" would she have foregone to avoid this uncovering of her low
condition? How many concealed, dark escapades would she have
exchanged to prevent this in the light-of-day exposure?

The Judge was straightforward but respectful. She respectfully
answered him. She did not deny her offense. She did not make excuses.
She publicly confessed crime, admitted her problem.

Remarkably, several others whom the Judge summoned that session
stayed seated as they seemingly chatted with the Judge. Some even
saying, half mumbling, "yeah" in a culture and a setting that expects
and deserves "Sir" at a minimum.

Unlike those, she stood, looked at him, spoke respectfully -
reverently if you will - and owned up to her crime. Instead of
concealing her sin, her problem, her law offense, she came clean.

As a result of her demeanor and decorum, she received mercy. The
Judge became her Advocate. Speaking to the Prosecutor he said, "Here
is a lady that has abused drugs and now they are abusing her". The one
who could sentence her now himself sought mercy for her.

"Ma'am, are you in treatment now?" he asked. "No", she replied
without any hesitation born of calculation. "Will you seek treatment?"
he asked. "Yes", she replied, even offering to help them catch those
who sold her the drugs.

"Is your husband supportive of you in this?" the judge inquired,
further displaying concern for her beyond mere satisfaction of the
law. "Yes", she said, honoring a man who stood by his woman.

Turning now to her Counsel - court appointed, state funded - the
Judge said "help me here. What can we do for this woman?" The next
moments were spent discovering and discussing treatment options for
her. Where could she go? Who would be able to take her right away?

Making his intentions and heart abundantly clear, the Judge addressed
all those involved in making decisions about her future with these
unforgettable words: "I don't want jail for this lady, I want treatment."

Obviously relieved and even somewhat revived from having felt mercy's
sweet touch, a different woman walked out of that courtroom. It is
quite likely that she was unaware that they, in that Kingsport
courtroom, had just incarnated Proverbs 28:13-14.

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD,
but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." (NIV)

Mercy is a reprieve from deserved justice. It is available and freely
offered to all who will 'fess up and come clean with God through Christ.

If you need some courage and encouragement to come out of hiding, drink
in some or all of these passages about God, His mercy and you: Romans
5:1-11; 8:1- 2; Psalms 5:1-7; 32; 51; 57:1-5; 2 Samuel 24:14; Isaiah
55:5-9; Hebrews 4:12-16; James 5:7-11; 1 Peter 1:3-7; 2 Peter 2:9-12.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A “How to Guide” for Suffering

I have a couple of “Dummy” books at home. You have seen the type: A Dummy’s Guide to computers, playing guitar… I am afraid to ask what it means to have those books and still not be able to play a guitar or be a computer whiz. Does that make me a step below a dummy? (A rhetorical question – no need to reply.)

Worse than having Dummy books and still being dumb is having God’s Book to all us dummies (sheep) and not following it. His “How To” guide for life is the most sold, owned, maybe read yet least followed of all – if I may – self help books.

The Apostle Peter, a fellow dummy at times, for all his bumbling was also very pastoral. In a letter to believers who are suffering for their faith, he reminds them to not be surprised at such treatment. Instead, rejoice you are suffering like Christ and resolve to stay true to God. Peter wrote:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name… Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:12-16, 19 - NASB).

We are to recognize that trials – harsh, fiery ones - will come. Do not be surprised. This may sound basic, yet I have to confess wrong expectations at times when life gets hard. Ever heard yourself singing “Why me, Lord? After what I have done for You, given, sacrificed, this isn’t fair. What did I do to deserve this? I’ve lived for You and this is the thanks I get?”

Have you ever starting slugging down a glass of ice tea on a hot day, to discover it was coke? Even for those who like both, the initial surprise and sudden gear shifting can make the best tea taste bad - for at least a moment. It was not what one expected.

Since expectations are powerful things, they must be biblical. They can rule and ruin relationships as much as reality can. Jesus’ disciples who expect only smooth sailing are set for a sad surprise. Sometimes, like those to whom Peter wrote, hardships and abuse are our earthly reward for living for God.

Mistreatment for living for Christ is promised to God’s people. In this world, Jesus assured us, we will have tribulations. If they abused Me, your Master, He warned, expect the same as My servants. Our trials may be severe, ongoing and even fatal. Ask Stephen, James, Paul or Peter (read Hebrews 11:23-40).

Instead of being surprised, rejoice, Peter says, when you share in Christ’s suffering. From realizing to rejoicing is a huge step. It moves from the mere cognitive (“yep, Christians suffer”) to the emotional and volitional (I get to suffer with and like Jesus - cool).

If you are taking a beating because your actions are Christ-like, rejoice and glorify God. You are sharing in Christ’s suffering, blessed with God’s Spirit and glory. They rest on you. Also, you do not have to be ashamed before God or man. Instead, you can glorify God for having the name Christian – one of Christ’s.

If life is hard because you have not been living for God, then quit applying for the martyr’s crown. Repent! Do not conveniently confuse God’s spankings and life’s consequences with persecution (See 1 Peter 2:19-25 and Hebrews 12:1-7). Paraphrasing the original Rocky (Peter): if you suffer for your sin, well, duh. What is the glory in that?

However, if it is because you obey Jesus you do not get a promotion, or a date or lose friends, rejoice, even in the pain and tears. Such followers can be confident in the Judgment (vs. 17-19).

When suffering, it can be very tempting to compromise our convictions and pull away from the Lord. Thus, Peter writes that we should resolve to stay committed in hard times. Instead of shrinking back into so-called safety, we are to stay in the arena and do His will.

Those who suffer according to God’s will are to trust their souls to the capable hands of our faithful Creator. Entrusting yourself is to make a permanent deposit of your life and fate with God. No quick withdrawals when the market looks rough (Luke 12:48; 23:46; 1 Corinthians 15:58)

Knowing that the One who made us is faithful, we are far safer with Him than any FDIC guaranteed deposit. We are to serve, obey and do good (see 1 Peter 2:12, 15, 20; 3:13-17). There are no excused absences from obedience or service to God. Sin or spiritual slippage is not winked at because of extenuating circumstances.

A few meddlesome questions: does your way of life risk persecution for His sake or are you “safe”? Are you confused or angered when doing right leads to tough times? Do you expect better treatment than Jesus received?

Do you rejoice when mistreated like your Master (see Acts 5:41)? Do you allow God to refine you through trials, thankful to share His name? Are you on loan to God on your terms, ready to withdraw in hard times? Are you trusting your faithful Creator and doing good?

If instead of suffering for Christ, you shrink away in fear like Peter once did, then follow Peter’s pattern in John 21: Repent, restate your love and commitment for Christ and return to your place of service, feeding and tending His sheep. As Peter later lived and wrote, believers are to be ready to face trials for their faith in Jesus, rejoicing and resolutely faithful to God in the midst of them.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Unwrapped Gifts? No Way!

Maybe I am just simple minded. I said maybe. I like (need?) things to be simplified. Not simplistic, per se, but broken down into understandable parts, easy to grasp and go with.

It takes little skill to make things complicated. Jesus – thank God – was noted not just for His profound depth, but His understandability. The common folk loved to hear Him teach.

Spiritual Gifts are yet another Christian teaching that we have made complicated and confusing – a sad propensity of Jesus’ followers, not a gift. “How do I know which gift I have? Which gifts are still active, most important, needed, spiritual, trustworthy…?”

I guess that is why Simon Peter’s simple take on the Gifts appeals to me. In his to-the-point style, Peter lays out two big categories of gifts that God’s Spirit gives to His children: speaking and serving. He makes clear our gift’s source, how we are to use them, and their goal. Read it for yourself:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10, 11 ~ NIV).

Now, isn’t that refreshingly straightforward and forward moving? Here is my simple summary of this teaching on gifts from God’s Spirit to His people: You’ve got one, so use it to His glory. Questions?

Peter is writing to scattered, suffering Saints. Though on the run because of persecution, they are not exempt from using their giftedness to serve God and others. Knowing that Christ could come at any moment, these praying, loving, hospitable people (see 1 Peter 4:7-9) are to be faithful stewards of God’s diverse gifts, using them to God’s glory.

Whether you knew it or not, you have one too. Congratulations! May I offer a definition? Spiritual gifts (Greek word charisma) are the special empowerment and abilities given by God’s Spirit to each believer to do ministry that builds up Christ’s body (the church) and blesses others to His glory (see also 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

God Himself has picked out the perfect gift for you - no one size fits all. He gives it to you to help others. It is a gift to others from God that resides in you. So, as Simon Peter simply says about spiritual gifts – you’ve got one!

We have five kids, all still at home. Could I in any way convince you that they leave unwrapped Christmas gifts laying around the house well into February or March? Would you buy it if I told of tripping over ignored presents, having to move still-in-the-gift bag goodies? No?

It is as unthinkable that God’s children would leave His gifts to us unwrapped, unused, and undeveloped. We are to be servants with and stewards of His gifts. A major method God uses to get His truth and love in people’s lives is through His people. If Jesus Himself served others, so must we (see Mark 10:45; John 13:1-10; Luke 19:11-27).

Reviewing: Spiritual Gifts, you’ve got one, so use it and, lastly, do so to magnify your Master. Everything, even our giftedness, is to be for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

With more Petrine precision, Simonic simplicity – humor me – we find two broad categories of gifts: speaking and serving. You are gifted to either share God’s truth with words or serve up God’s love via deeds.

A speaker of God’s truth are you? Great! Here are the parameters: speak as if you were uttering the very words of God. No pressure. If God didn’t say it in His word, if God wouldn’t concur with it, don’t offer it in His name. Seen any Christian TV lately? Lord, forgive us.

Have you ever faced the holy fear James 3:1 offers? “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Again, no pressure. See also 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Acts 7:38.

More of a serving kind of person, are you? Super! If God spiritually outfitted you to serve others, make sure you do by His strength, in His will and name (Matthew 20:25-28; John 15:1-7). When you lend a hand, cook a meal, fix, sit and cry with, give, baby sit, clean, count, organize, do so by His grace, to His praise and glory.

Spiritual gifts are not trophies to be polished and displayed, but tools to sharpen and use! If the use of your gift leaves people more impressed with you than God, something is amiss. We are signs. A sign that does not point to something beyond itself fails at its main task.

Is this a big deal? Well, for starters, a most full expression of God’s glory is at stake. Not to mention hurting people who need God’s truth, God’s hands, feet and hot casseroles. Could that explain that extra money you came into, that truth you learned from God’s word, those needs you saw that griped your heart? Talk about a need for a troop surge!

Need help diagnosing your gift? Ask the Christians around you. They have probably seen it in you. What do you find yourself doing – almost automatically - when there is need? What do you do for God and others that builds them up and brings you joy? What floats your ministry boat?

For further study, dig into these lists and examples of gifts, none of which are given as exhaustive: Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 12. Give the Spirit some tools to work on in your heart and mind by memorizing 1 Peter 4:10, 11 and 1 Corinthians 12:7.