Editorial Note: We are thrilled to bring you the following blog which was written and first published on July 16th, 2020 by Melissa Reeve on her blog “Because of a Sticker”.
Published with permission.
OUR OWN TALENTS
There’s a story in the Bible about a man who goes on a trip, and hands out assignments while he’s gone. He gives 5 talents (a measurement of money) to one slave, 2 talents to a second slave, and 1 talent to a third slave. When the master returns home, the first slave has doubled his money. The second slave has also doubled his money. The third slave tells the master that he’s a harsh man who reaps where he hasn’t sown, and so the third slave was afraid and buried the money. He hands back his single talent. (Matthew 25:14-30)
There’s a lot of pressure on Christians to find a ministry, do it well, pour 100% of yourself into it, and see thousands of people make a decision to follow Christ. That’s not always realistic. Sure, everyone has a calling, a skill, a way to impact the world for Christ. I’m not saying anyone is unable to contribute. But not everyone is the apostle Paul.
In the Bible, we see people with all manner of skills and levels of ability be effective for God. We see people planting churches (Acts 14:1) and preaching to thousands (Acts 2:14-41). We see people sewing clothes for widows in the community (Acts 9:39). We see people performing miracles (Acts 14:3), and we see people donating money to brothers and sisters in Christ who live in poverty, even when they themselves had little to give (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). We see people make an impact on the world around them in large-scale, impressive ways, and we see people make an impact in smaller, less impressive ways.
You know what? Big and small were both recorded. We know that the apostle Peter gave a sermon that led thousands to believe in Christ. We also know that Tabitha sewed coats for widows. Both acts were considered important enough to preserve in the Bible.
I’ve struggled with the parable of the talents. Often there are only two points of focus: the slave who had 5 talents and doubled it, and the slave who misunderstood the master’s character and was too afraid to try. It becomes a binary issue: incredible success, or total failure. I’m not convinced that’s the point. After all, there is a slave who was successful with a middling amount of resources.
The second slave was given less responsibility. The master knew he was good at his job, but not as good as the first slave. Still, the second slave took what he was given, and did a great job. He wasn’t expected to keep up with someone who was noticeably more gifted. He was expected to live up to his own abilities, and he did. He did very well, and upon his return, the master said, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!” That’s exactly the same response the master had for the slave who had doubled 5 talents.
Two slaves did the best they could with what they were given. The master gave them reasonable expectations based on what he knew their capabilities to be. When the master returned, he congratulated them both on doing a good job.
God knows what gifts, talents, and abilities each person has. He gave them to us, after all. He gave some people the ability to plant churches. He gave some people the ability to sew clothes. Both are important to the people whose hearts they touch.
It’s easy to look at how we’re trying to serve God and our church community and feel like failures if we can’t personally point to several hundred people and say, “They found God because of me!” But that’s not reasonable. We’re not all gifted evangelists. Still, we all have our gifts, and are expected to use them the best we can.
It takes the pressure off when we realize that God does not expect us to compare ourselves with others. We’re expected to live up to our own gifts and abilities. I’m not the apostle Paul. That’s okay. I don’t have to be. I don’t have to wonder if God is disappointed that I haven’t planted churches, started a Christian foundation, or held a meeting to tell thousands of people about Christ in one night. Maybe that’s just not my gift. If so, that’s okay. I just have to succeed at my own calling and stop looking at the callings of others.
By: Melissa Reeve
Hillsong's "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" seems fitting as we think of functioning in our giftings.
Photo Credit: T. Lau
I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1:3)
I have been blessed to call Arlington Woods Church my home church since 1967 when my family moved to Ottawa so my father could start work at Carleton University. Back then, we were meeting at Knoxdale Public School while waiting for the original church building to be built. My mother faithfully brought us kids to Sunday School though people tell me I spent a lot of time hiding behind my mother’s skirts since I was a painfully shy child and still learning English.
I am grateful for many at Arlington Woods Church who befriended my immigrant family and blessed my brother, sister, and me as our Sunday School teachers, mid-week club leaders, and youth group and young adult leaders. In time, my mother, sister, brother, and I all came to faith.
Some of you took a special interest in mentoring a painfully shy teen. You gave me opportunities to serve alongside you in Sunday School, the mid-week kids’ club, and the library. You introduced me to Wesley Acres Camp, where I worked several summers as a cabin leader and flipping burgers at the Raven Snack Shack.
As a new Christian, Dave had joined Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) while studying at Acadia University. After graduating, Dave moved from small town Nova Scotia to work in high tech, in the big city of Ottawa, where he joined IVCF at Carleton University, where I was studying. Dave and I met while volunteering with IVCF’s International Student Ministry friendship program. You welcomed Dave when he was looking for a new church. In 1987, you celebrated with us as Dave and I got married in the original sanctuary, the present-day fellowship hall. In 1992, you supported Dave and me when we took a giant and crazy leap of faith and moved to Tokyo, Japan for our 3-½ year international adventure.
You welcomed Dave and me back as parents of two young children and walked with us as our family grew to include two more daughters. You were a big help when those two both came seven weeks prematurely. Just as you had blessed my siblings and me growing up, you blessed my children with your leadership and friendship.
As my children grew, you gave me opportunities to serve in kids’ ministry and, in time, allowed them to serve alongside you and me. In recent years, you supported me when my parents had various serious illnesses and encouraged Dave while he was out of work. You gently encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and take on some leadership roles. You warmly welcomed me in your small groups, where I continue to grow. This summer, you celebrated with us as my firstborn was married in our current sanctuary.
As I look back over 50 years, I see God’s faithful hand in blessing my family in various seasons of life through generations of our church family - some who are still here, some who moved, and some who are with the Lord. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. So, thank you, my Arlington Woods Church family. May God bless you and continue to bless others through you.
By: Christine Villeneuve
Last week we featured Part 1 in this 2-part post from Naomi Priddle who recently went on a mission trip with YWAM to Hawaii and Nepal. This week, we are featuring the second installment which focuses on Naomi's experiences in Nepal and how she applied the lessons of overcoming her fears.
- The Editorial Team
“FEARS" – Part II
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)
We arrived in Nepal and I discovered that one of the main things we had to do was, guess what, evangelism! It was a little more complicated in a foreign language but we had translators to help and it all worked out. I can recount numerous stories of God filling me with a boldness in the streets of this foreign land and allowing me to be His light in a country so overwhelmed with darkness. I didn’t let fear slow God’s work through my life. Instead, I allowed Him to radiate brilliantly through the way He changed my heart for His glory!
What I really hope you hear through these testimonies is that we cannot let fear hold us back from doing what God wants us to do. I write this hesitantly because I know that I fall prey to fear constantly, but it’s something so very important to our faith and I think that even taking the smallest steps can slowly enlarge our ‘comfort zones.’
I have been studying what God has to say about fear and I selected two of the many passages to share with you. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Initially, when I read this verse, I sort of felt convicted, thinking that my fears were showing that I was not trusting in God completely. However, I began to realize that this verse is not trying to make us feel guilty, rather; I think it’s trying to reassure us of God’s perfect love and to remind us that we have nothing to fear. God loves us and He doesn’t want us to be scared, because He is in control and when we let Him do His work in our lives, it always turns out for the best even if getting there is scary.
I really want to emphasize that stepping out in fear brings freedom. If we fully trust in God, holding His hand, so to speak, and letting Him work through our fears and weaknesses will allow us to see incredible things happen. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing God work in powerful ways through our weak human hands. “‘“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Don’t hinder Him from working wonders in your life and in the lives of those around you. Let God’s Holy Spirit flow through you and give you the ability to live bravely. Don’t let the enemy weigh you down with fear but know that your Creator, your Heavenly Father, is always there to protect you, to hold you and to guide you. Be free from fear, because once you overcome your fears, you will experience perfect love and there is nothing like it.
When you do step out in your fears you are not alone. Even if there is no one physically around you cheering you on, rest assured that God is with you and has armed you with the fiercest of weapons - the Name of Jesus Christ. There is nothing and no one who can stand against that Name.
Satan has to leave the room when you utter the name of Jesus! And that’s exciting, it should get you fired up about fighting a battle against evil alongside Jesus our Lord and Saviour. If your fears are stopping you from doing what God wants you to do it’s Satan trying to stop you from overcoming the darkness of this world. Take hold of this power and defeat fear, because fear is from the enemy and God wants you to realize that you don’t have to fight this war from a posture of fear because Jesus has already won for you.
The other day in Church we sang this song called “What a beautiful name” by Hillsong. One verse goes like this:
“What a powerful Name it is, Nothing can stand against, What a powerful Name it is, The Name of Jesus”
How true is this! How great and powerful is the Name of Jesus!
Once we realize the power that is in the Name of Jesus, we will be unstoppable warriors for God. Don’t let fear stop you, step out in faith and experience how rewarding it is once it has been conquered. Jesus is with you. His great and mighty Name can move mountains and shake the earth. God wants each and every one of us to shake the foundations of this earth with Him.
Refuse to be held down by human thoughts and fears and let God work miracles through your life! Be a Daniel, go into the den of lions and be unafraid. Be an Esther and stand up for your people even if it means death. Be an Abraham and be willing to give up your son for the love of God. Be a Moses and speak even when you don’t think that you can. Because the living God is with you and He will close the mouths of the lions, He will reward your bravery, He will see your faithfulness and He will give you a voice and fill you with words to speak.
He is mighty to save and He cannot be stopped.
Photo Credits: Naomi Priddle Photo 1 - Naomi and team leaving for Nepal; Photo 2 - The Girls in Kurtas, (traditional women clothing in Nepal) Naomi is wearing the green wrap.
By: Naomi Priddle
This week we feature Part 1 in a 2-part post from Naomi Priddle as she gives us a glimpse into her recent mission trip with YWAM. Next week, Part 2 will describe Naomi's missionary experiences in Nepal and the lessons that God revealed to her about fears. You definitely will want to see how this phase of Naomi's journey unfolds so come back next week to find out.
- The Editorial Team
“FEARS" - PART I
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’. (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)
Fear is something that God has been really speaking a lot to me about recently. I think it’s something that, in the past, has slowed me down or stopped me from maybe, going all in for Jesus. A couple years ago at Camp iawah (In All Ways Acknowledge Him), I completed a leadership training program called “Roots”. On the first day of the program, one of the leaders drew a circle on the board and inside he wrote the words “comfort zone”. He then drew a bigger circle around the initial one and within the two circles he wrote the word “fear,” explaining that it represented the things that we are scared to do because they’re outside of our comfort zones. Outside both of those circles he wrote “panic zone,” describing the things that are so far from our comfort, they cause us to panic. That’s when we start to feel that gut-wrenching fear, the all-consuming terror that takes away our breath. He began to explain that the next four weeks of our leadership training would push us outside of our comfort zones and close to our panic zones. He explained that the only way to grow is to step into our fears and slowly our comfort zones will grow and things that once seemed scary won’t anymore and things that were once absolutely terrifying will only be a little scary.
The message of that leadership training has stuck with me ever since. I’ve often thought about how true it is. It’s like exercise; the only way to expand your lungs is to push them, sometimes so far that you run out of breath. But I honestly don’t think that I truly lived this out until I went on a six-month mission trip to Nepal via Hawaii, with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). Because it’s one thing to say you’re going to go beyond your comfort zone, but when it comes down to doing it, it’s really very much harder to act on.
So, at the beginning of this school year, I found myself in Hawaii surrounded by many people I didn’t know in an unfamiliar place and very far away from home. I was scared. And I began to think about that circle graph from my leadership training at Camp IAWAH a few years ago. I realized that the next six months were going to be filled with terrifying experiences and I was going to have to choose to get outside of my comfort zone and grow. It was about time I conquered my fears, but all this would have been super impossible without God.
Of the many experiences from my time in Hawaii and Nepal, one of my favourite testimonies is how God took one of my fears of street evangelism and developed it into something I quite enjoyed. One of my biggest fears in life is talking in front of big groups of people, but really this fear could be translated into talking to random strangers about my faith. I’m not huge on going up to people that I don’t know and talking to them, let alone talking to them about my faith, my beliefs, all things controversial and uncomfortable. The first day I arrived in Hawaii I found out that one of the things that would be required of us was street evangelism every other Friday night. Going back to that circle graph, I would say this was pretty far into my panic zone. When you throw in the fact that I was sitting with a bunch of people I didn’t know; I was pretty much ready to go home. But that wasn’t really an option so I stuck it out and I got to know these people who became my family for the next six months.
Fast forward to the first night of street evangelism where we were split into two teams; my group headed to a town called Hanapepe where they celebrate a Friday night “art-walk” with vendors selling food and art and people from all over come and enjoy the balmy Hawaiian breeze. Our group began the evening by sitting in a circle in the park, praying before going out. Our leaders asked us to express our feelings in order to pray against any fear so that we would go out in boldness allowing God to speak through us. I remember sitting there feeling surprisingly calm.
I had been dreading this night but as I sat there I felt at peace and I knew that God was with me.
We were partnered up with another member and I was paired with one of our staff members, which was simply intimidating. We had a goal of praying for at least one person and things went so smoothly that we prayed for probably 3 or 4 people.
It’s surprising how receptive people are to prayer; it really makes them feel loved and noticed. You should try it some time.
My first night of street evangelism went so well that those Friday nights grew to be one of my favourite things that we did in Hawaii.
I got excited to share the gospel with people I didn’t even know. Don’t ask me how this happened because even as I write it, it sounds a little bit crazy and way out of character for me. All I can say is that God was changing my heart, I didn’t let my fear stop me and God used that in powerful ways.
Photo Credits: Naomi Priddle. . Photo 1 - Naomi on a roof in the Himalayas; Photo 2 - Naomi with team at the Hanapepe Art Walk
By: Naomi Priddle