Archive for December, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations

Awaiting the New

It might take a transformation!

As a pastor, I find getting along with difficult people to be one of my greatest challenges. Learning to deal with them effectively requires me to face my own unrealistic expectations of them and of me.

I often expect Christians to be spiritual rather than carnal. However, through the years I have come to realize that I deal with carnality everyday; so why should other Christians be different than I?

 I have discovered that believers are more likely to be carnal than they are to be spiritual. We must recognize that this has always been true in the Church. After all, most of the books of the New Testament speak to carnality issues, more than any other topic. Had these believers been spiritual, great portions of these books would be missing from our Bible. If I need those portions, then so do most folks in the Congregational setting.

Second, I find myself expecting difficult people, along with every other person in the Church, to love me. Somehow I get the feeling that I am failing in my ministry if I can not earn the love of every person in the Fellowship. This unrealistic expectation creates incredible self-induced pain, because there is no Church where the pastor is loved by everyone. At any given season, 10 to 20 percent of a congregation would prefer to have someone else as their leader. Learning to accept this as normal, frees me from the bondage of  seeking the approval of every person; while my primary aim is to please the Lord Jesus Christ. 

God finally brought me to the place where I realized it would be sufficient for me to live my life rooted in the love of Christ.

 The Apostle Paul’s prayer has become my focus; “to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:18-19)

Filled with all the fullness of God!

 Learning to break free from unrealistic expectations took a transformation in my thinking. I needed to recognize that the way I thought was robbing me of the fullness I was after in God and could never maintain. Staying filled required consistent visits to the “Throne-room of Heaven”, where I sense the love of Christ revealing the Father’s heart toward me… and in me. With my root system in the heavenly soil of God’s love; there comes a change of focus for me and a freedom to be myself. It also puts a renewable resource in my ”love tank”, so that I can love others more effectively.

Bring the Goods

Following the Signs

Immanuel is Found

I am grateful that God wants to bring renewal to hungry hearts and pour out spiritual rain upon the dry and thirsty soul.

Our cry is for more and although we’ve just begun our quest for a supernatural move of God… it has become quite obvious that carrying the Glory requires integrity and Truth in the deepest places. Hunger alone is not enough. The attributes that arise out of transformation are essential to sustaining our commitment to seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt 6:33).

 Plainly we must become a people who are committed to pray with passion and purpose… living from the overflow of His Presence.

 Historic revival can be within reach, but it must be identified by its intimacy with God… not hype.

 The move of God we are after calls for a great harvest of souls as well as a reformation of society and culture; its not about more meetings. Somehow God is going to make His people a shining light upon the Earth.

 I believe integrity shapes our ability to reflect the heart of Christ in this season.

 Our ability to be transparent and real about the Christian life means acknowledging that our success depends upon the Holy Spirit. People have seen enough of the hype to last five lifetimes and overall they are fed up with living with false promises that carry no power.

 We must bring the goods to the table.

The Apostle Paul said people’s faith should not rest upon the wisdom of men, but upon the power of God… not on the eloquence of any preacher’s speaking, but upon the demonstration of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:3-5).

That Old Frog

...with a new eye

That Old Flowered Frog

With a shoestring and a square knot I could hold the two sides of the box together, but it would never make it through the rain. Its not that I really need this silly old frog; but… well he is a symbol of friendship to me. As an orphan kid, moving from home to home, he really was the only consistant friend in my life. My great grandmother made him for me; at least that’s how the story goes and although he is flowered and the size of a huge pillow… he has been around for I guess almost 45 years. Its hard to imagine those early days, when being alone felt so overwhelming that I would run away just to see if someone would come looking for me; but so often nobody came.

 I remember having the opportunity to be adopted and feeling like maybe my new family would like that flowered frog as much as I did. I had loved the eyeball right off of that old frog. Perhaps we could put a new eye where now there was a blue piece of fabric. I used to believe it was cool to have a flowered frog that was a part-time pirate.

 So, today I will once again set aside this old frog; remembering well the moments of comfort he gave.

 What I have discovered is that when Jesus comes into a life; that life forever will be different. It experiences freedom from the “make believe”, symbols of friendship. Jesus is more than a Savior to me. He is a Friend… the real kind, the kind that loves back. He has become the Friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24).  

…even closer than that old flowered frog; which if I’m honest, are some pretty tough flippers to fill.

Just Lighten Up

Going "All Out"

Won't You Come In?

Okay, so my wife continually tells me to lighten up, because I can easily get a bit intense. I’ve got one of those type “A” personalities… driven, agressive and leadership oriented. Yea, you know the type, right? Well, its another Christmas season and we try to do this time of year, “all out”. The lights outside on the house, the three trees inside and some wonderful parties that bring folks together, to celebrate with us of course. Yahoo, its an entire family thing.

Well… I am struggling with one of our Christmas trees.

Its the most visible one; in the living room. There are three sets of lights on the tree and the middle set has half of the lights that won’t light up. They worked when we put them on there. So when the living room lights are off our tree looks as though it is wearing a belt! OOOH this erkks me. Are you catching my frustration here…. I just can’t look any longer. And to top it all off, last night when we had some folks over… guess what; they didn’t even notice!

Okay big breath – the bottom line for me is that Christmas is all about Jesus. So having a Merry Christmas this year is going to be about enjoying an imperfect tree. Makes me wonder how God puts up with us, amen? Or how Mary dealt with the concept of a barn delivery? Not perfect, but still capable of embracing the Savior.

PS. It just occurred to me; I could go down and fix the tree… or just lighten up. Help me Jesus!

Supernaturally Engaged

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” (Jn 5:39-40)

Have you ever felt something was in your way? Maybe you were driving some gravel road and had to get out of the car to move a branch or a garbage can? The Bible passage above shows us that even good things can become obstructions in our journey to finding the invisible God. The lesson here is that if you cannot get past the obstacle, you will not discover the joy on the other side.

God is calling us to engage our hearts beyond the natural, beyond our sensory perception… seeing, hearing and touching.

To be engaged in something is to become bound or obligated to it. These folks were so engaged in the Scripture, that they couldn’t imagine the very person standing right in front of them, could be their Messiah. This was an amazing moment; the same person they had longed for and communicated about, for hundreds of years, now stood before them and they stumbled over Him. There were lots of reasons, but the main ones were pride, jealousy and fear. If they really wanted to embrace the Messiah and engage the promises of God, they could have humbled themselves as Nickodemus had earlier. They could have recognized how well Jesus fit into the prophetic teachings of their Torah. But, they were engage in their natural position before men. They felt that if they opened themselves up to consider this Jesus, as the Messiah, they would lose their important role as those who judged for God.

“the just shall live by faith” (Hab 2:4).

Living by faith means letting go and trusting in an invisible God. We can find ourselves so tied to the natural realities that seeking purpose and value from the God you cannot see, feels overwhelming and spooky. Perhaps that is why engaging the supernatural realms of God, begins with forgiveness and the lifting of sin’s burden. We must let go of perceived reality and allow God to define the rules of engagement for us. He wants to be discovered, but He also wants the discovery to be authentic and real. God is spirit, therefore; we who look for Him are in great need of direction. Jesus said, “Come to Me!” and I will show you the Father, His heartbeat and His supernatural life!

  • “Come all who are weary” (Mt 11:28) …for rest and refreshing!
  • “Come all who thirst” (Jn 7:37) …for the drink of revival!
  • “Come and dine” (Jn 21:12) …for fellowship that restores strength!
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