The Expectations Challenge

Expectations. We all have them. Of ourselves, of others, of the abstract concept we call “life.” It’s nearly impossible to walk through a given day without having or expressing some sort of expectations.

I see believers all around me, both on social media and within the in-person church, who express anger, cynicism, frustration, bitterness, and even hatred because other people don’t meet their expectations. How come they do this, how come they don’t do that, why is this X way, how come it isn’t Y way? These questions are embedded in our thinking and reveal an innate sense that certain things or people “should” be a certain way (that we determine) and a desire for justice. Continue reading

Refresh Friday

God means to make you more like Christ with a gaze toward heaven, not focused on comfort and the things of this world. Puritan John Flavel has some thoughts on this; take the time to read slowly and reflectively.

“Is it indeed for the saints’ advantage, to be weaned from love of and delight in ensnaring earthly vanities; to be quickened and urged forward with more haste to heaven; to have clearer discoveries of their own hearts; to be taught to pray more fervently, frequently, spiritually; to look and long for the rest to come, more ardently?

If these be for their advantage, experience teaches us that no condition is ordinarily blessed with such fruits as these, like an afflicted condition.

Is it well then to repine and droop because your Father consults the advantage of your soul rather than the gratification of your humors? Because he will bring you to heaven by a nearer way than you are willing to go? Is this a due requital of his love, who is pleased so much to concern himself in your welfare? Who does more for you than he will do for thousands in the world upon whom he will not lay a rod or dispense an affliction to them for their good? (Hosea 4:17).

Photo credit: fotointeres.ru

Photo credit: fotointeres.ru

But alas! We judge by sense and reckon things good or evil according to our present taste. Take heed that you overlook not the many precious mercies which the people of God enjoy amidst all their trouble. It is a pity that our tears on account of our troubles, should so blind our eyes, that we should not see our mercies. I will not insist upon the mercy of having your life given you “for a prey,” (Jeremiah 39:18); nor upon the many outward comforts which you enjoy, even above what were enjoyed by Christ and his precious servants, of whom the world was not worthy.

But what say you to pardon of sin; interest in Christ; the covenant of promise; and an eternity of happiness in the presence of God, after a few days are over?”

— from Keeping the Heart; Or the Saint Indeed, John Flavel (1627-1691)

Life is fleeting and passes away quickly. I pray that if only for a few moments today, you can see the light of heaven even through your tears, pain, grief, distraction, busyness, or struggles.

No Answers, Prayer, Mercy

In my recent post, Not Having All the Answers, I shared with you a struggle that an important person in my life was having and that I worked hard at not coming up with all the perfect theological and scriptural answers to help him solve his problem.

Today I have it on my heart to share the end of the story. Or you could say it was the beginning.

The person is my brother and the problem he faced (without going into his private details) was a legal one (albeit minor). A wrong attitude on his part combined with a falsehood told by the law enforcement side brought him to the day where he had to face things — but he was tempted to run away instead (literally). Depending on the mind of one judge, he could face an unknown amount of jail time. Long enough and he’d also face the upheaval of losing his business, dog, house – in short, his life.

For weeks, he struggled, prayed, wrestled, rationalized, talked, went back and forth, and fought mentally and spiritually over a decision that either way could change his life forever. For weeks, those of us who love him supported, listened, and loved him without telling him what he should do. Continue reading

Refresh Friday

You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation, a rock rising above the storm. 

– Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Letter, March 9, 1843

Today I take a break from regular posting and encourage you that when you “feel” far away from Christ is the very time He is closest to you. I pray that you would know His presence in a very real way today.

rose_in_the_clouds_red_storm_see_railing_hd-wallpaper-1095412

Photo credit: hdwallpapers.cat

The God of Mercy and Comfort

(Part 1 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,   2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV

Paul begins this section of 2 Corinthians by pointing to and praising God. Paul often praises God, but in this case, he praises him specifically for being the God of “mercies” and “comfort.” This is our foundation for the entire passage (3-11).

mercy

Photo credit: info.alliancenet.org

When you think of mercy, what do you come up with? To me it’s something you do or say to or for someone in need that brings them relief. You lend your strength to a person who is weak. You hold them up when they cannot hold themselves. Here Paul uses the Greek word oiktirmos, meaning “to have compassion on.” It is not the usual word for “mercy” in the Greek, as it indicates a deep, reliable compassion toward suffering that we can depend upon receiving from God.

In other words, God is always there when you need Him. He is unswerving in His faithfulness to you. He is not simply standing from a distance observing that you are struggling; rather He sees and is affected in His heart by your difficulties. He is near and willing to intervene, whether that means sending you a person to help, changing your circumstances (but not always!), or most importantly helping you see how He has acted mercifully in the past. Continue reading