When You Aren’t Being Used to Your Full Potential

You are gifted. God has made you unique and given you a number of natural abilities and spiritual gifts “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). There’s just one problem.

When You Are not Used to Your Full Potential

(Photo by Photodune)

You feel you have much more to offer than your situation allows you to contribute. Am I right?

Honestly, I think most of us—all of us—find ourselves not utilized as much as we could be. In fact, the Bible shows 3 reasons your full potential isn’t being tapped.

(And why that’s a good thing.)

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5 Things to Do In Israel You Maybe Haven’t Thought Of

Most Christian tours to Israel follow a predictable route. Begin in Tel Aviv, work your way up the coast, and spend a few days in Galilee before driving south to Jerusalem. Time is short.

5 Things to Do In Israel You Maybe Haven’t Thought Of

(Photo: Harvesting wheat at Yad HaShmonah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But if you find yourself in Israel with a day or so to burn, you might want to try something unusual. This post will highlight 5 things to do in Israel you probably haven’t considered.

I wrote last week about volunteer opportunities for Christians in Israel—a wonderful way to demonstrate our faith in the land we call holy.

Whether you’re into learning, walking, climbing, talking, or thinking you’ll likely find one of these uncommon activities inviting.

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15 Volunteer Opportunities in Israel for Christians

Most Christians who travel to Israel go to experience the land of the Bible—and they should. But there’s a unique way to experience Israel that 99% of visitors don’t get to do.

Volunteers at the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.

(Picture: Volunteers at the excavations at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel.)

Not long ago the Israel Ministry of Tourism asked me to identify some volunteer activities that Christians would enjoy. These range from activities any tour could do in a couple of hours to volunteer opportunities that last for months, depending on one’s availability, ability, or interest.

Obviously, you don’t have to be a Christian to participate in these volunteer opportunities in Israel, but here are 15 I think you would enjoy.

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Jesus—God’s Ultimate Missionary

Years ago some American missionaries stayed in our home. They told us about an animated evangelist they saw try to communicate to a Russian audience—through a less-than-animated translator.

Jesus—God's Ultimate Missionary

(Photo: The Moscow skyline, by Dmitry Azovtsev)

The evangelist began, “Okay folks, tonight I want you to tell the Holy Spirit something! I want you to say, ‘Yeeessss!’” (pronounced with three syllables).

But instead of translating the passionate “Yeeessss!” the interpreter flatly translated, “Da.” And when the evangelist hollered, “Now, give God a hand!” the interpreter translated the words literally—and the audience stared at one another in confusion. (“Give Him what?”)

The words were translated, sure, but their meaning failed to connect.

Jesus, on the other hand, was a perfect translator. Here’s how.

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Why You Should Send Your Pastor to Israel

Give Your Pastor the Gift of Bible Lands

Your pastor likely has never seen the places he preaches about each week: the holy city of Jerusalem, the waves on the Sea of Galilee, the rocky slopes of the Judean wilderness. You can change that.

Jerusalem from east

(Photo: Jerusalem from east. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

To your pastor, these places may be mere words on the pages of his Bible—places he’s experienced only in his mind’s eye through pictures, Bible atlases, and travel videos.

Your pastor’s seminary gave him the biblical languages. But YOU can give him the Bible lands.

It’s easier than you think. Here’s how.

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17 Lessons I’ve Learned My First 25 Years in Ministry

I have been in fulltime Christian ministry for 25 years. (Hard to believe.) I have served as a music minister, a senior pastor, a writer, and as a leader in a parachurch ministry.

16 Lessons I've Learned My First 25 Years in Ministry

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The last quarter century has taught me lessons I’ll never forget. I learned them in the trenches of time, disappointment, and even failure.

Although some of these principles may seem to apply to those in vocational ministry, all have application to us as believers. Whether we’re parents, singles, marrieds, or even disillusioned with church—these apply.

In no particular order (except the first one), here are 17 of them.

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Your Power has a Purpose

Leonard Bernstein, the late great conductor of the New York Philharmonic, once was asked: “Mr. Bernstein, what is the most difficult instrument to play?”

Your Power has a Purpose

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He replied:

Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.

Bernstein nailed the problem—not only in music, but in all relationships.

Very few are willing to be second, because being second requires someone else to be first, which requires giving instead of taking.

In the movie Schindler’s List, one of the most powerful scenes shows Oskar Schindler is speaking with a Nazi commander who had a habit of impulsively shooting Jews.

Watch this scene and think about the power you have in your life.

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My Yom Kippur Conversation about the Messiah

The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.

She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.

She smiled and shook her head no.

Western Wall Plaza

(Photo: Western Wall Plaza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.

Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.

“Do you keep them?” I asked.

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Learning from Ants, Plants, Bears, and Jesus

Try to guess the common reason for these acts of nature:

  • Why does the cactus turn itself perpendicular to light?
  • Why does the bear get fat before hibernation?
  • Why does the olive tree rotate its leaves?

The answers are all the same.

Learning from Ants, Plants, Bears, and Jesus

(Photo: Mosaic of a bear at the Caesarea Byzantine mansion. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Each is preserving for the future.

  • By turning to avoid heat, plants preserve moisture.
  • By stuffing itself with food, the bear can sleep a long time without eating. (I wish I could do that.)

God designed His creation—from plants to animals to people—to be savers.

The problem with people? We need a lesson on saving from ants, plants, bears—and Jesus.

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The Widow’s Mites and the Value of Your Heart to God

The true value of our hearts is hidden. But sometimes we reveal its value by how we give—not by how much. That’s the currency God cares most about.

The Widow's Mite and the Value of Your Heart to God

(Photo: The widow’s mite(s) were like these 2000 year old copper coins. By Royce Bair / Creative Commons license)

On His way out of the temple for the last time, Jesus sat down in the Court of the Women and observed those who made donations to the treasury. To be sure, this seemed an odd place to pause.

But the Lord had a lesson to teach His disciples.

It’s a lesson on how He values our hearts.

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