It’s a no-brainer to say that when we expect things, we hope for and anticipate something. Without boasting even a bit, I think I can safely be dubbed the “Queen of Expectations.” The expectation gremlins popped up early in my life. I remember having glorious ideas for my birthday party or a holiday, only to grow despondent when the day didn’t match up to the rosy-hued picture I had developed in my mind.
There’s nothing wrong with expectations in and of themselves. And it’s easy to see, when digging around in the soil of our hearts, that we have all kinds of thoughts and plans for our lives. All well and good. Expectations aren’t the problem. But when we come face to face with thwarted plans, dismantled hopes, and unanswered prayers, what then? Will we respond with gentle faith and trusting submission to God’s unfolding plans for our lives? Or will bitterness, anger, self-pity, fear, or depression emerge from the miry clay of unbelief?
For the past twenty plus years I have been a pastor. For the past twenty plus years I have been in and out of counseling. Counselors love me because I’m the classic blame shifter who is easy to spot. “What brings you in today?” My wife has issues. “Why do you think you struggle with anxiety?” Because my seven kids are driving me crazy. “Why are you so filled with fear and anger?” Because my congregation keeps picking on me. It’s like I’m still a child in a grown man’s body. The problem is still out there and not inside of me. When will I learn? Deep inside my regenerated heart, something is still off. Conversion doesn’t eliminate the battle […]
More often than not, if we are honest, most of our time is spent in the direction of self rather than the direction of others. And, if we are really honest, most of our days are spent pampering ourselves rather than serving others. Something is seriously out of whack. The Heart is the Problem The heart is mentioned over 900 times in the Bible and 77 times alone in the book of Proverbs. Often when the Bible talks about your heart, it refers to the core of who you are. It’s your thoughts, motives, emotions, personality, and the spiritual part of your makeup. Your heart is basically who you are. One of the more well-known verses on the heart is […]
Life is about relationships. This simple, profound statement is the theme of a new book from Shepherd Press: 31 Ways to be A One-Another Christian: Loving Others With the Love of Jesus Authors Dr. Stuart Scott and S. Andrew Jin will take you a journey to discover the wonder of the power of relationships. The three Persons of the Trinity exist in eternity in a perfect relationship. Jesus says in John 17 that eternal life is knowing God and his Son. So we can readily see how the authors conclude that “People, created in the image God, are made for relationship.” We are made to “One-Another.” This is especially true for believers in Christ. To be in Christ is to […]
Gentleness requires at least two things: faith and courage. Faith Authentic gentleness is part of the Spirit’s fruit. Thus, faith is the only way to access the power of gentleness and show the wonder of gentleness. Courage To do anything that is possible only by the power of God’s Spirit requires courage. Why? Because to follow God in any area means to deny the desires of our flesh. Being biblically gentle is not natural. Now if you think being gentle is weak and non-confrontational, then you might not see why courage is needed. However, the Spirit’s idea of gentleness is all about confrontation and strength. Let me repeat that. Gentleness is about confrontation and strength! When a harsh or […]
Solomon warned about the destruction of an unguarded, wandering heart in Proverbs 4:20-27. Verse 23 gets most of the attention in this passage: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. However it is important not to miss the warning that follows to keep your feet and eyes, that is, your heart and your body, from wandering away from what is right: Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Solomon is retelling the hard lessons he learned from his father, […]
Abram and Lot had a good problem. The Lord had blessed them abundantly, so much so, that they needed to separate because the land could not sustain them both. Abram offered a gracious plan to Lot. He told Lot to choose the direction he wanted to inhabit and he, Abram, would go in the opposite direction. It was a generous offer! However, Mr. and Mrs. Lot made a choice that did not reflect the honor of God as Abram’s did. Standing on the high plains, they looked down at the rich and lavish lower valley of the Jordan River. They chose what was best for them, or so they thought. The land was well-watered and beautiful, earning the name “The […]
God provides his people with unique gifts that make life special. One of those gifts is joy. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can bring the wonder and endurance of joy to the human experience. Joy is the fruit of his Spirit given to you by virtue of your new birth in Christ. The world around you knows a sense of joy because of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. (Acts 14:17) However, the fullness of joy is found only in the wonder of Christ. Because true joy is the fruit of Spirit it touches every part of your life. Whether in happy times or sad, in times of plenty or want, the joy of the Holy Spirit […]
If you are like most people, you like to laugh and have fun. And if you are like most people you seldom pray for God to help you have fun. If you are a teenager praying to God to have fun may appear counter-productive: what does God have to do with having fun? That is a really good question! As strange as it may seem, fun is God’s gift to us. If it was not for God we would have no clue that fun was even a thing! All the things that are good in life come from the hand of God. It is true that humans can distort the good things that God is given. But just because people […]