September 3, 2019
What’s your poison? I mean gift?
At first glance, you might think to yourself, “What kind of a gift is a poison apple.” There is a story behind the idea of a poisonous gift.
Back in 2004/2005, my family hosted an exchange student from Hanover, Germany, for just about a year. She (Katarina – Kat for short) was 17 years old at the time, while my daughter Heather was 14 years old.
There wasn’t too much of a language barrier, as Kat had been learning English since the 6th grade. The difference was that the English language Kat learned was what we might call, “The Queens English.” She spoke English very formally. While we here in the United States don’t speak English. That’s right, we don’t speak English. We speak American.
Compared to the English Kat spoke, and the American we spoke, full of our slang words, colloquialisms, partial sentences, and expressions like, “Sup, Hey, and stuffed like a turkey,” we were sometimes miles apart, yet we always had a good laugh about the language differences.
One incident was particularly funny while we were at the dinner table one night. We had purchased something for Kat, and handed it to her after dinner, stating that it was a ‘gift’ for her from us. What happened next was pretty funny.
Kat gave us an odd look and hesitantly took the wrapped ‘gift.’ I asked her what was wrong, and she replied, “Why are you giving me poison?” Now my wife Kathy, Heather and I were wide-eyed and say, “WHAT?”
We came to find out the word poison in German is, Vergiften. So Kat heard gift and presumed we were offering her poison. After a brief explanation and a hearty laugh, all was good. To this day when our family is together, and someone mentions the word gift (It’s a lot of fun at Christmas) we all look at each other and start laughing.
As I continue to talk about gifts, I’d like to switch gears and discuss Spiritual Gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. I’m a firm believer that we all have unique gifts given to us through God’s Holy Spirit.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
“The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit. To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God’s Spirit is present. Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean. But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
I also believe that during different stages in our lives, the Spiritual gifts we are assigned can change or at times be given to us temporarily. Looking back to when I worked in the retail food industry for 28 years, my gifts were leadership and organization. When I began working for the church, I slowly felt my gifts switch gears. Yes, I still maintained my leadership and organizational skill, but they were not as dominant as my gifts of fellowship, hospitality, and empathy that developed.
It’s interesting to see how my Spiritual Gifts have shifted again since I retired. I’ve had several people ask me, “What inspired you to write your book, “Adventures in Youth Ministry?” How are you able to write so many daily devotionals? Why did you start your own ministry, joegministries.com? Why did you start a webpage where you share, children’s messages, youth devotions, youth bible studies, and a weekly blog? All excellent questions that have made me think about the Why’s myself.
For many years now, when I write, I have shared with my wife that I can feel God’s Holy Spirit guiding my thoughts, and hands-on the keyboard. I also know when I’m going in a weak or wrong direction with my writing, because my gut clenches, and I’ve always felt that was the Holy Spirit saying, “Hold on let’s take a look at this and think about what we’re saying here.”
I just shared all that to tell you this. The daily devotionals, the website, the youth devotions, bible studies, children’s messages, and the blog all come from the direction of God’s Holy Spirit. He planted the seeds for all of these things in me, and when I prayed about the path for each and every one of them He said, “GO! This is what you’re supposed to be doing. Share what you have learned with the world.”
How about you? What has the Holy Spirit been nudging you to do? The most important thing is, are you listening as He whispers to you? This is where the, “Be still and know that I am God,” instructions are essential.
If you feel you’re not doing what you are supposed to be doing in life, in ministry, perhaps it’s because the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Now it’s time to slow down, be quiet, read scripture, pray, and listen for instructions, guidance, and direction. God’s help will come. Maybe not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but it always comes at the right time, which is God’s time. Be patient and allow God’s Holy Spirit to do His thing.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me, I listened, and I’m doing my best to follow through on His instructions, with His guidance. Don’t get the wrong idea, this has not been an easy task, it takes a lot of work and hours every week to put out the information I share. I even had a 17-year-old former youth spend almost 15 hours over two weeks helping me set up my webpage.
Yet I have to tell you this, I am full of joy because of what I’m doing at this stage of my life, and ministry. God’ Holy Spirit has ‘gifted’ me with some incredible gifts. Gifts of writing, storytelling, some biblical knowledge, and the ability to communicate well with others. It’s awesome. I am so blessed. And the best part is …. My gifts are entirely free of “poison,” just full of God’s love, direction, and encouragement.
Sorry just had to get the poison thing in one last time 🙂
Thanks for following my blog and other writings.
(By the way, I will be adding my daily devotionals to my website, very soon)