That 5 Talent Life

A couple weeks ago, I heard the story of the talents, from the Bible. A story I’ve heard countless times in the past. But for some reason, this time…it hit me differently than it had before. Perhaps you’ve heard this story…

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A master gives each of his 3 servants a number of talents. The first man is given 5 talents. The second man is given 2 talents and the third man is given 1 talent. They each take them and later on the master comes back to get an accounting from the 3 men…he comes to settle debts. The first man returns with the 5 original talents given and has doubled his talents. He took what was given and used it to the fullest. Full stop! This is where it hit me.

Every other time I’ve heard this parable, I’ve focused on the 1 talent man who brought back only the 1 talent he was originally given. He’d buried it out of fear and therefore had nothing to show for the master’s investment, but the initial 1 talent. The parable is about faith over fear. The parable is about living out the best life you can with the talents you’ve been given! But for some reason it’s this five talent man that got me trippin’. The speaker asked if we’d ever known a 5 talent person. He asked if we felt we were a 5 talent person. And I had to answer…no. I’m not a 5 talent person. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have many talents, maybe even 5 talents to speak of. It means that I often choose to watch 3 episodes of Seinfeld over pursuing my dreams. It means that I may put something in my calendar that I really want to do, but when the day comes to do it, sometimes I chicken out.

For a very sad example: One time I went to a party in New York. There were going to be “people” there. Important “people”…”people” that I could meet and network with. That party had the potential to be a banner moment. I got dressed up…took a cab to the location…paid the cab driver…walked to the door of the restaurant…looked inside at the all the “people” and turned around and went home. Hating myself every minute I didn’t turn back around and use those talents to the fullest. This is one example, but there are countless times when I’ve buried my talents.

I want to be a 5 talent person. The speaker who was telling this whole story talked about meeting Billy Graham, a 5 talent man. No matter what you think of Billy Graham…the man used what was given to him. He spent his life using his talents. And when the speaker met Billy Graham, he knew he was in the presence of a 5 talent man. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t days when Billy Graham walked to the window of the party, looked inside and turned around. Every single one of us have days like that, no matter how many talents we have or how successful we are at using them to the fullest.

But the days you let fear win cannot outweigh the days you kick fear’s ass to the curb.

I want to be a 5 talent person. I want someone to meet me one day and say…”Damn, she’s 5 talent!”

So…how do I do that? How can I become a 5 talent person?

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Fear and Hatred in America

Donald trump hatred anger election blog post

I am baffled. I am disillusioned. I’m super confused. And there’s one word that can sum up all my feelings…TRUMP.

Donald trump hatred anger election blog post
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Someone please explain to me what the actual hell is happening in our country right now? How can anyone get behind the hate-mongering that Donald Trump has been spreading since the beginning of his campaign. Are we so desperate for something different that we’ll just accept the first racist, bigot that comes along and shouts…”Make America Great Again.” Sounds a lot like “Make America White Again” to me.

It’s true. America is a great nation. A nation of freedom and opportunity, where a person with a dream can come here and have a chance at seeing it realized. What will happen when we start erecting walls and kicking people out? What kind of dreams can we expect from a nation that is ruled by fear and hatred instead of dreams and aspirations.

I don’t like to get overly political in my blog posts. This is a happy place where I like to gush about Star Wars and Disney and Marvel and Jane Austen. A place where happy thoughts live. It’s hard to think happy thoughts when the prospect of a Trump presidency is even remotely possible.

The scene at his victory rally in South Carolina can be described as nothing short of scary. Trump shouts, “Mexico is killing us — absolutely. We’ll do the wall. Don’t worry. We’re going to do the wall. We’re going to do the wall and by the way, who’s going to pay for the wall?”

And the crowd shouts, “MEXICO!” 

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This scene conjures up the image of a young charismatic Adolph Hitler screaming about how the Jews were killing the Germans. That they needed to be eradicated. People adored Hitler and believed Hitler and were devoted to Hitler. The way people adore and believe and are devoted to Trump. They take his words as truth. And no matter what he says, they give him passes. They let the bar drop a little more every day. And no, I don’t think the comparison is undeserved or harsh. I think it’s spot on.

If you believe that Donald J. Trump is a follower of Christ, then I call into question your definition of a Christian. Christ spoke of peace. He spread words of love. He talked about loving God above all else and loving our neighbors second of all.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12: 30-31

Mark 12:30-31 The Bible love God, love your neighbor
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No commandment greater than these. Guess who our neighbors are…

The thing about harkening back to the golden age when America was “great” and ISIS didn’t exist…America was not without troubles in the “golden age.” Women didn’t have rights, African American’s didn’t have rights. Anyone other than white males didn’t have rights. There was a Civil War. There was slavery. There were 2 World Wars. There were concentration camps on American soil for the Japanese. There were assassinations and an arms race with Russia. There was a war in Vietnam and a war in Korea. Let us not forget the struggles that America has gone through to get to where we are today. America will never be without troubles.

See, we live in a sinful world. Plain and simple. And as long as we are humans, that sin will remain. The best we can hope to do is confront that sin with understanding and love. Not anger and suspicion and hatred. That’s not the kind of country I want to be a part of. That’s not the country I love. When America becomes something unrecognizable, what will we do to change the tide? What will be required of it’s citizens to uphold the freedoms that all men and women deserve?

America was never without greatness…what America are you living in, Mr. Trump?

Love is…

Every year, in January, instead of making a list of resolutions, I pick a word. A word by which I try and live my life. Last year’s word was Bold. And boy did I need that word last year!

This year I felt a tugging about a word, but I ignored my inner voice and went with the word Today. As in, “Live for Today.” “Seize the day.” “No day but Today.”

But yesterday God sort of turned me inside out. And He brought that word I had ignored in January back in my mind.
He brought me to 1 Corinthians 4…you know the verse.
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
Chances are pretty good that you’ve heard this passage before. I myself have heard it at least 2 dozen times. But to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever read these verses outside the context of a wedding ceremony and I definitely wasn’t listening. I’ve always considered it “the wedding verse.” Cringe worthy words for any singleton to hear.
So instead of hearing “Love is not rude, is not selfish and does not get upset with others” I’ve always heard… love is blah, blah, blah bride and love is blah, blah, blah groom.
And I missed the point.

Since it was the “wedding verse” it didn’t have anything to do with me. I tuned it out. Everyone around me would tear up and there I was rolling my eyes.

But this morning God said “stop it! Get your fingers out of your ears and listen.”
And dude! If God speaks to ya…you listen!!

Love is not just for brides and grooms. (Duh!) Love is meant for all God’s children. We were created to show love and give love and accept love.
And maybe I haven’t done the best job at loving. Not just strangers and enemies, but friends and family.

Another truth…I have a very hard time accepting love. Part of me still believes that maybe I don’t deserve it. And if I think that about myself…what does that mean for how I see other people?
This inferiority complex is a problem. I go to a party, I feel out of place. I see an actor I admire, I think there’s no way they’d want to talk to me. I have a crush on a boy and I think, well they’d never like me so what’s the point. And if I think I’m beneath other people, there must be part of me that thinks there are others who are beneath me.
Whoosh! I just got punched in the heart big time!

This is not the Christ-like perspective that God wants from me. He didn’t put that in me. That garbage came from somewhere else. And I’m not loving that it’s in there…waiting to strike.

The good news is, it’s never too late to change perspective. It’s never too late to make a resolution or turn over a new leaf.
So I’m turning. And I’m starting by rereading 1 Corinthians 4. Nope, I’m not at a wedding. I’m not wearing a bridesmaid dress and no one is standing at the altar except for me.
And I’m not standing anymore…

“Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous, it does not brag and it is not proud.
Love is not rude, is not selfish and does not get upset with others.
Love does not count up wrongs that have been done.
Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices over the truth.
Love patiently accepts all things.
It always trusts, always hopes and always endures.
Love never ends.”

My eyes aren’t rolling anymore. I’m not snickering or laughing.
I’m doing what I should have done at the beginning of the year. I’m making Love my word! I’m choosing Love. And not cringing or “bleck” ing when I say it.

We serve a loving God. A gracious God. But also a God of mystery. Not sure where this choosing Love thing will take me, but I’m just along for God’s ride. So I’m not gonna ask questions! I’m just gonna choose to love. And if you see me in a moment where I’m not being loving…I give you permission to call me on that! Part of loving is being accountable. And now I am!

What’s your word?