Marc and I have had this book for longer than we have been married. It is a compilation from the folks at Renovare - our very favorite small group resource. My 2012 intentions include thoughtfully reading parts of this book.
Most recently, I read excerpts from John Bunyan. John Bunyan was gifted to preach in a time when only those with the right pedigree and connections were allowed to. Consequently, he spent a lot of time in jail where he wrote what he is most known for - "The Pilgrim's Progress". These quotes aren't from TPP, but even weeks later still have me thinking a lot about the stewardship of my life. (bold is my emphasis, and my favorite part)
"I began to see that the Holy Spirit never intended that people who had gifts and abilities should bury them in the earth, but rather, he commanded and stirred up such people to the exercise of their gift and sent out to work those who were able and ready. And so, although I was most unworthy of all the saints, I set upon this work."
"I perceived that although gifts are good to accomplish the task they are designed for - the edification of others - yet they are empty and without power to save the soul unless God is using them. And having gifts is no sign of a person's relationship to God. This also made me see that gifts are dangerous things, not in themselves, but because of those evils of pride and vainglory that attend them. Blown up with the applause of ill-advised Christians, the poor creatures who possess these gifts can easily fall into the condemnation of the Devil.
Gifts are desirable, but great grace and small gifts are better than great gifts and no grace. The Bible does not say that the Lord gives gifts and glory, but that he gives grace and glory. Blessed is everyone to whom the Lord gives true grace, for that is a certain forerunner of glory."
John Bunyan (1628-1688)