Expectations

It is so easy to be moved from being satisfied to dissatisfaction when we allow our own or someone else’s expectations run the show.

Not all expectations are bad. I am referring to the expectation that you will be able to pull off the unrealistic perfect family gathering this weekend! We see those photos in ads where there aren’t any dirty dishes or dust bunnies and every outfit blends or coordinates with every outfit in the photo and all of that is accented by the perfect food, makeup, and….well, the list goes on. Media and advertising have painted unrealistic and unattainable “picture perfect” moments for us to try to reproduce in our own homes.

Can you imagine how long it takes to set up those photo shoots?

And when we aren’t able to pull it off we become dissatisfied with what we have.

Don’t do it. Don’t go there.

Folks, it isn’t happening at our house. We won’t be serving perfection but we are serving love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. We have been busy with life so we might be a wee bit tired and the house isn’t perfectly clean. We didn’t buy new dresses. We probably won’t be color coordinated but we will be enjoying one another’s company. When it is time to share the big meal, my goal is for all the food to be ready at the same time but even that isn’t always easy.

Expectations. Sometimes they kill the joy of the moment!

God sent Jesus in an unexpected way to save ordinary people like you and me. Jesus died an unimaginable death to set things right with God on our behalf. This isn’t the picture perfect situation by the world’s standards but God’s love for us is perfect, so this evidence of God’s love is perfection.

God has given you His all. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to be satisfied with all He is and all He is doing.

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect love!

Seasons

I do love the routine of the seasons although there are some seasons I like better than others. I like the general predictability of the seasons within a year but even the “unseasonal” events make life interesting.

I have always enjoyed the seasons of parenting and rarely wished the days away. I enjoyed each moment as it came. And if I was in an ugly moment, I knew that it would change shortly. When it was a sweet moment, I savored it knowing it would also move quickly to the next.

I also enjoy the seasons of the Church Year. Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. It is a very busy week at our church for the entire staff. It probably is at yours as well. There are many people putting in many hours of preparation. Pray for your pastors, musicians, janitorial staff, secretaries, bulletin designers, printers and collators. Pray for the many who will attend church only because it is expected in their family. Pray for God’s Word to be preached effectively and for many ears to hear the Gospel, pure and true.

And as you travel through this Holy Week, consider the walk Jesus took for you. Pray for a greater integration of His gifts of love, mercy, and forgiveness into your life. As His gifts pour out into your life let them flow unrestricted to those around you!

Are You Stuck in a Bad Chapter?

Ever wonder how King David from the Old Testament (shepherd boy, giant slayer, and man after God’s own heart) could possibly walk so close with God and then end up so far away from God by committing adultery, murder, and failing to protect his family? It happened just one step at a time. An unchecked heart and unconfessed sin can lead both you and I astray very quickly. David’s story didn’t end there…and ours doesn’t need to either….

Sometimes we think receiving faith in Jesus as Savior eliminates all of our temptations and rebellious, sinful decisions. It isn’t true, but it sure would be nice. We do, however, get to experience the nudging of our conscience from the Holy Spirit. You and I can try to stifle and smother those promptings and go our own wanton way for a long, long time but the consequences will catch up to us eventually.

Don’t try to still the small voice of God. Confessing your sin will be a turning point in a difficult chapter of your life. Consequences won’t likely be eliminated but God can and will grow you in His love and grace.

God can redeem all situations and longs to be reconciled with you!

Keeping It Real

When was the last time you had an honest heart-to-heart conversation with someone you trusted? My prayer is that you have a person (or two) with whom you can share a deep burden and be real about how things are going in your life. Sometimes I get caught up in what I want my life to look like or what I think it ought to look like that I occasionally misrepresent my reality by not sharing my struggles. And sometimes it is easier to not reveal the struggles and stresses in my heart. But if I only mention my “woohoo moments” then people who don’t know me well have no idea that I have many moments when I blow it or they are unaware of things that I am “in limbo” on.

Where is the balance?

It is hard to know what to share, how much to share, with whom to share, and when to share it. I certainly can’t share everything all the time. I don’t know that it’s wise and it would take all of my day! But I do know that a part of being in and creating a sense of community is sharing my struggles as well as my joys. We are imperfect people living amongst imperfect people in an imperfect world. We each have recurring struggles and sins — sins we cannot seem to shake. Some of those sins are even addictions. Sometimes it’s downright ugly. Usually so.

Some of the power of a stronghold is released when it is brought out into the light. Confession brings embarrassment and shame at times but it also can foster accountability. Some struggles are evident but the secret ones are probably the most damaging. So be careful to not invest all your energy on spiffying up your outward appearance. Allow God full access to transform your heart. Be willing to be humbled by confession–it doesn’t always need to be to a person–sometimes a confession is only meant for God. But consider allowing a trustworthy someone else know one of your most difficult struggles. You may find a great prayer warrior and your friendship will likely move to a deeper level. But you don’t know until you try.

If we want people to “be real” with us we often need to “be real” first. Do you have a friend you can be honest with about the ugly parts of your life? I pray you do or you will soon. Always ask God for discernment on what to share and when to share it. And be prepared to hear some real stuff. This is real life. We each experience real struggles. We all need real hope and forgiveness. I am so thankful for God’s hope and forgiveness in Jesus and our privilege to live together in community with one another ~ sometimes we are called to listen and sometimes we are called to share but I also believe we are called to “be real”.

License & Location

(part 2 of 5)

A good rule of thumb for fishing is to have permission to do it. A permit allows you to fish many places, but not all. Always consult with the owner of the property where the water is located. If you are on private property, I don’t know that you need a license but you certainly need permission.

As soon as I thought about permission being granted I started thinking about Job. Let’s take a look at the conversation between satan and the Lord in Job 1:6-12 :
 

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (NIV 1984)

Not only was permission granted: Job was suggested. But that is another topic for another day.

God called the disciples – actual experienced fisherman –  to be “fishers of men”. God calls us today to be fishers of men, but we aren’t the only ones fishing. Satan is also “on location”! While satan is powerful, God is the Almighty. And while it is good to be aware of satan and his minions, it is far better to know God and study how He works! 

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. [Matthew 4:18-20 NIV 1984]

Jesus used the fishers of men analogy because it works. It is easy for a fisherman to see the parallels. I love it when God uses common language to express His extraordinary Truth, don’t you?