“Fan Into a Flame the Gift Within You”

I love to write.  It is something I have enjoyed going back well into my High School years and my creative writing classes.  The verdict is still out as to whether I am any good at it, at least as far as commercial success might indicate, but I continue to write and have been blogging now well over five years.  I also have two published books to my credit that receive high marks from those who have read them.  If I could be anything I wanted to be when I grow up, it would be to have a lucrative and successful career as an author and blogger.

I’m convinced that each of us are gifted with unique talents that can be determined very early in life if we pay close attention.  The most happy and successful of us are those who recognize their gifts, practice and perfect them and pursue them as a career or vocation.  Not all gifts are associated with the Arts.  You may be an excellent communicator or orator; your gift may be in leadership or organization.  Perhaps you excel in your knowledge of travel and destinations, or you are most comfortable behind the stove in a kitchen.  Most of us miss the boat in that we consider these things we love to do as mere hobbies and not potential vocations.  So we work behind a desk all day in jobs less than fulfilling but can’t wait to practice our grilling techniques on the weekend.  The luckiest people in the world are the ones who get to do what they love to do every day, and get paid for doing it!

There is a verse in scripture that reads to “fan into a flame the gift God has placed within you”.  When you fan a flame, you are feeding it with oxygen and causing that flame through your deliberate actions to increase and grow into a raging fire.  That gift doesn’t have to be central or limited to ministry as the context may indicate.  But sometimes we need to take a leap of faith in order to realize the potential of our gift.  And if we linger too long before taking the plunge, and if God has ordained this gift within us, he may help us along with a little push off the edge.  No one likes to experience unemployment, but many are the stories of those who found their dream jobs only after being laid off a job they weren’t really supposed to be doing.

Some dreams may be a bit more challenging to realize than others.  Not everyone who can sing will be a successful recording artist, not everyone who can paint will have their art work hanging in galleries.  As a want-to-be writer, I am but one of millions of bloggers and millions of self-publishers, and if my home city of Las Vegas were to place odds on me succeeding, they would be astronomically against it, perhaps 50,000 to 1 or higher. And to be honest, there are many times when I thought of just quitting and doing something else as I don’t receive many accolades or reviews on material I put out for public consumption.  And yet whenever I begin to feel like giving it up, God seems to give me a new source of material to write about.  Granted this material is often times a new set of challenges in life that I would not choose or prefer, the writing becomes my way of getting through difficult situations, such as the one I’m in  now, and in a way that encourages others who may be experiencing similar challenges.  It is apparently the gift God has given me, and if you will, the vocation, albeit low paying, that he has chosen for me.

What is your gift?  Can you write, sing, coach, teach, build, analyze, decipher, speak numerous languages, motivate, etc.?  What is your passion?  What drives you? The older I get the more I become aware of just how quickly time passes.  When your grandchildren are beginning to graduate from High School and attend college, you are smacked in the face with the speed of time and the inability to recapture precious moments lost or wasted.  Don’t wait for “some day” to pursue your life’s dreams.  Fan into a roaring flame that gift that is hidden within you while there is yet time to realize it.  God bless you on your journey.

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Fan Into Flame the Gifts Inside

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There is an episode in my childhood I will never forget. We were at a church function and the boys were picking teams for a basketball game. I was tall for my age, about twelve at the time, and being born in Indiana, the basketball capitol of the world, you might think I slept with a basketball, ala basketball Jones. Nothing could be further from reality. I couldn’t dribble except while eating and I threw the basketball like a baseball, and usually over the backboard.  I was picked dead last-I think I heard the comment “I guess we’ll take him”. Ouch. That hurt a lot. That night I made it my goal to never ever again be the last person picked by a team forced to take me. I bought a basketball and headed to Park Lafayette on the west side of Indianapolis every single day.  I spent four to five hours a day or more watching players, playing with those who were bigger and better than I was, practicing the fundamentals of dribbling, jump shots, bank shots, free throws, blocking out and rebounding (the NBA might find these fundamentals useful). In two short years I was a starter on the grade school basketball team and I continued working to become a starter in high school.  I had the size and the skills but I had done nothing to discover or develop then into ability.  I had to grow into my given skill set.

When I was younger my parents and friends noticed I was always tapping on things, tapping to music, tapping to anything that had a beat. So one Christmas they bought me a blue metallic Ludwig snare drum.  I played that thing in the basement every day until bedtime. In high school I decided to buy my first drum set, a used 5 piece Pearl set.

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Like with basketball I soon discovered that having the right equipment didn’t make me a drummer.  But the gift of rhythm was already inside me so all I needed to do was practice, study and observe others who were better than I was.  One year after purchasing the set I was in a Christian band and playing weekly around the mid-west.  In both instances, I did not create my own talent or gifts, but rather I developed that which was already inside me and did what I could to bring it out for my use and enjoyment.  I have seen seven foot men who couldn’t hit a layup and I’ve seen kids with 12 piece drum kits who couldn’t keep a straight 4/4 beat. We each have to discover our gifts and develop them through practice and patience.

The New Testament speaks about spiritual gifts we all receive when we come to accept and follow Christ. We are each given differing abilities so that we can serve each other in the body of Christ. 2 Timothy 1:6 says that we are to “fan into a flame the gifts that we have received”.  Accepting Christ and deciding to live your life for Him does not make you a minister, a Bible scholar or a small group leader anymore than buying a Bible makes you a believer.  Some in the body have not yet learned this. In working out our salvation with “fear and trembling” there is a learning process that must be accepted and endured. God does not give us developed spiritual gifts, but rather the seeds of these gifts that are ours to cultivate or fan into flame. 

There is something about fire that is captivating. I can sit around my fire pit at night and just get lost in the flames-something just draws me in and holds my attention. It is alive, ever glowing but changing color, always changing while remaining the same. The properties of these gifts God has placed within each of us should have that same affect when others see them at work in our lives. They should be compelling and inviting, showing the love and the way to Christ, opposed to the approach that much of today’s church has taken through Bible weaponry and hatred. But these gifts will remain untapped and dormant if we ignore them or rely on our favorite TV evangelist to somehow reach through the screen and zap us into super Christians through miracles prayers and a generous seed offering. 

Jesus’s parable of the talents comes to mind here. Three individuals were given talents based on their respective abilities.  Two of the three fanned into flame their gifts and doubled them while the one buried his deep with no thought or intent of growth. The two were deemed good and faithful-the one, not so much!  What are we doing to fan into flame that which God has planted in us upon our election?  Can we keep a beat or connect on a jumper, or would we be the last one picked because we have no apparent skills?  While age has decreased my ability to jump or ball the way I once did, spiritual gifts do not decay with age and remain eternal for the benefit and edification of the body of Christ.  God teach us to develop what you have richly given.