Tag Archives: Talents

Didn’t She Almost Have It All?

2 Samuel 14:14  Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die.  But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.

(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni) Whitney Houston bows after performing "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" at the 2009 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California November 22, 2009.

News over the weekend regarding Whitney Houston’s death did not come as a shock.  That’s not to say I didn’t find the news sad or tragic.  To be certain, she was a pop icon of my youth, and I adored her music and “clean” image way back in the day.   I dreamed of being able to sing like her, and often sang along to her music on vinyl.

One Moment in Time

Whitney was blessed with a “moment” in time, where she rose to the highest echelons and was dubbed the “Queen of Pop.” She won multiple Grammy awards, and was highly celebrated.  But somewhere along that road, she lost her way.

All at Once

The daughter of the well-known gospel singer Cissy Houston, Whitney clearly had some Christian influence in her life and even stated at one concert in recent years that Jesus saved her “all those years ago.” But through her marriage to Bobby Brown, she spiraled into a world of darkness, drugs and alcohol.  The once shining star dimmed as she relied on the wares of this world for her security.

Didn’t We Almost Have it All?

Some elements of Whitney’s  life story remind me of Israel’s first king, King Saul, who also “almost had had it all” – and like Houston, did for a short time.  The first king of Israel, he could have been recorded as one of the greatest kings of all time.  He was, afterall, handpicked by God himself.  God gifted him with the talent and ability to lead, and more importantly backed him up with strength and wisdom that was his for the asking.  But Saul forgot where that strength came from and through impatience and insecurity relied on his abilities and worldly pleasures – rather than God.  His relationship with the Lord could best be characterized as inconsistent, seeking Him only out of fear or when it was convenient.

Sometimes I see these qualities in my own life, and I don’t like it.

The Greatest Love of All

God is always willing to give us a second chance, and Saul certainly had many second chances.  He does not delight when we stray from him.  Instead, he devises ways to bring us back to Him.  For people like Houston, I hope she found it.  At her last public performance – 2 days before she died – she sang “Jesus Loves Me.”

I Have Nothing

A former pastor of ours used to say “You never see a U-haul hitched the the back of the hearse.”

It’s true – like it or not, when all is said and done, we have nothing apart from Jesus. At the end of my life, I don’t want people saying “She could have been so much more…” “If only she were more consistent in her relationship with Christ…”  “If only she wasn’t so self-absorbed….”  “If only she didn’t listen so much to the world…” “If only….”

I don’t want my life characterized by one moment. I want it characterized by the love of Jesus.  And at the end of my life, if the last song I sing is “Jesus Loves Me,” I hope people see that as a celebration of truth, not a haunting memory, because if we have the love of Jesus, then we truly do have it all.

Let’s Pray:

Thank you, Father for the reminders all around us of what it means to live a life in the world versus a life in you.  The world is full of pitfalls and waits to devour us like a ravenous lion.  As you did with Daniel, close the mouth of those lions and protect me.  Help me to seek you with all my heart and let my life be characterized by your love. Amen.

Taking it deeper:

How about you?  What lessons have you learned from “celebrities?”  How do you want your life characterized at the end of the day? 


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Filed under Hope, Pride, Protection, Seeking God

He’s (not) all that!

Suggested Reading:  Romans 11:33 – 12:3

My youngest son turned five last week.  To say we were unprepared for the attitude that accompanied the milestone birthday would be putting it mildly. Suddenly, in his mind, he was “big stuff”…no, bigger than that.  ENORMOUS stuff! Overnight, his ego grew so large that he actually told his best friend that they could no longer be friends because he wasn’t yet five!

This display of an over-inflated ego was an uncomfortable reminder of just how ugly being self-absorbed can look – both inside and out.

My son couldn’t claim any personal achievement in turning 5. His age is enslaved to a specific, unchangeable date on the calendar. His life was given to him from God and through God. In other words, he had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Yet he gloated.

The world doesn’t do us many favors when it comes to self-admiration.  The celebration of all achievements – large and miniscule – is out of control.  We give awards for winning, participating, being funny, best smile…For a few more of the absurd, go check your high school year book.

While accomplishing great things – and celebrating them – is not bad in and of itself, we are wise to remember that all our talents, abilities and successes are unique gifts from God, and God alone.  He alone deserves the praise and adoration – not us.

Romans 12:3 reminds us that we need to be careful not to think too highly of ourselves.  Each of us is uniquely gifted for a specific God-ordained purpose.  Oh, praise be to God!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” – Romans 11:36 (NLT)

Let’s Pray:

Our Father, you have given me unique talents and abilities.  I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!  Help me not to desire the praise of others more than hearing your voice say “well done.”  I want my life to be lived in praise to your glory and accomplish what you have marked out for me to do. Amen.

Taking it deeper:  Think about an area in your life where you are tempted to take the credit for a talent or success. Ask God to help you turn it over to Him and show you how to use it to His glory. 

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Filed under Gifts, Personal Reflection, Thankfulness

Face the music

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Matthew 25:14-28

Few things warm a mother’s heart this time of year more than watching her precious little cherubs sing in a Christmas choir. Oh, the little voices, the faces, the personality, and the stage fright!  While they can’t catch every word and phrase, boy can they belt out those choruses!

I love singing. While I don’t have many opportunities (or the time) to sing in a choir these days, my heart will never forget the exhilarating experience of singing in perfect harmony with 100 other voices. There’s indescribable power in that body of voices that you just don’t have with a single (albeit beautiful) voice.

Have you ever experienced a sensational presentation of Handel’s “Messiah?” It is, by far, one of my favorite sacred/symphonic/choral bodies of music.  Whether I’m an active participant, or an audience member I can’t hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” without goosebumps covering me, head-to-toe.  Still, I always find myself just the slightest bit envious when the soloists step up. Shaping every note in breath and space with flawless precision, they make the most challenging bars of music appear effortless.

Oh, to be able to sing like that!  What a gift.

While I can carry a tune, I’m painfully aware that my voice is not in any way, shape or form soloist material.  God blessed me with good pitch and the ability to read music, but my voice is definitely not a show-stopper.

Like my musical ability, sometimes God gives us gifts (or talents) that are more “average” in nature and were never intended to be displayed out front. Unfortunately, these gifts are sometimes hard to recognize – and receive. When the ability doesn’t measure up to what I want, it’s easy to say “I’m not very good at that…that’s just not my gift.” And we move on.

But imagine for a moment what it would sound like if those 100 singers belting out the Hallelujah Chorus had the same attitude? Would there even be any music?

God, in His infinite wisdom fashioned us perfectly – “average” gifts and all – to serve Him and serve others.  All His gifts are good, and He doesn’t regret giving even one of them.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I sometimes wish you’d given me other talents that I admire in others. Help me remember that even the “average” gifts are perfect in Your sight. You fashioned me this way for a purpose.  There are no mistakes.   Help me to use these gifts to bring You honor, glory and praise – forever and ever. Amen.

For discussion:  We tend to have a bad habit of comparing our talents with others and then feeling down because we fall so short.  Could it be that God made you average by the world’s standards, so that He might be glorified in a greater way?

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Filed under Average, Christmas, Contentedness, Talents