Expectations

>> Saturday, February 25, 2012

By definition, expectations are just that, something expected. The media is full of talk about expectations … politics … body and home makeovers … talents.
 
I’ll leave the politics alone. But the body makeover shows give the contestants huge expectations that are unrealistic and unhealthy when talking about results. The young, impressionable audience watching these shows is already self-conscious about their body image. If they buy into these expectations, they are in for a lifetime of unmet expectations and perceived failure … sometimes dying … to achieve that skinny body.

I’ve watched some of the American Idol programs. Contestants fainting … being taken to the hospital and given IV’s to hydrate their abused bodies. Being the next American Idol is all they live for. If they can just attain that status, life will be forever great.

As I’ve listened to the politicians … seen videos of young people starving themselves for beauty … and watched the singers, I’ve been thinking about expectations … especially when it comes to church. I’ve seen people leave over a name change on the door … or because the singing is boring … or too loud.

We all have a set of expectations for our church. Many simply expect the church will always be like Jesus. Are those expectations reasonable, much less Biblical? My church did a study in the book of Acts for 40 days … and found conflict, complaints, dissension, factions and unmet expectations.

I learned years ago, that a church is full of people who are going to act like people. They may disappoint us, hurt us and tick us off. No church will mesh perfectly with our ideal of what the church is supposed to be.

There is only one Person who can meet all expectations, so we might as well learn how to get along in the only church we have here on earth.

Exactly why do we go to church anyway?

“Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand new song; praise Him in the company of all who love Him.” Psalms 149:1 (MSG)


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Unusual Answered Prayer

>> Friday, February 24, 2012

The pastor asked if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayers.  

Suzie Smith stood and walked to the podium.  

She said, "I have a praise. Two months ago, my husband, Tom, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn't know if they could help him."  

You could hear a muffled gasp from the men in the congregation as they imagined the pain that poor Tom must have experienced.  

"Tom was unable to hold me or the children," she went on, "and every move caused him terrible pain."  

"We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Tom's scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place."  

Again, the men in the congregation cringed and squirmed uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible surgery performed on Tom.  

"Now," she announced in a quivering voice, "thank the Lord, Tom is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely."  

All the men sighed with unified relief.  

The pastor rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had something to say.  

A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium. 

He said, "I'm Tom Smith."  

The entire congregation held its breath.  

"I just want to tell my wife the word is - STERNUM."  

(Author Unknown)


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Life Lesson from the Man Next Door

>> Thursday, February 23, 2012

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"


"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away. The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories … every picture, every piece of furniture. Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said.

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said. It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filled his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

"Jack, thanks for your time! - Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most was ... my time."

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said. “And by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

(Author Unknown)

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Worth Fighting Over

>> Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In the late 1960’s, before anyone coined the phrase Presidents’ Day, I happened to live in the Washington DC area. George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd was a big deal … lots of gigantic sales. My sister-in-law … who lived in the same area … was a shopper. I had never been, so she decided to show me how it was done.  

Since we both sewed, she chose a fabric store as the site where my lesson would occur. Lace trim was on sale for .22 a yard. And so we entered the fray. I had never witnessed anything like it. She waded right in … elbows flying … along with some shoving. Not nice words from many mouths assaulted my ears.  

“Come on. You’ll never get any just standing back there.”  

I refused. No lace on earth was worth that cat fight. She did share her spoils and I have remnants of that lace trim today.  

On this Presidents’ Day (which, according to my research, is not officially a Federal holiday) my memory of that day is still very clear. As those thoughts captured my attention, I wondered just what is it that is important enough to me to fight over like that?  

Very few things.  

Saving the life of a loved one is high on my priority list … husband … children. I would try to defend the defenseless. But there is one situation that calls for my undivided allegiance … my stand for Christ. I’ve never been asked to choose between Him and death, but in some countries that is a regular occurrence. With a gun to my head, would I still fight for my loyalty to Christ?  


It’s a choice I may be demanded to make some day.


“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” Rev. 6:9 (NASB)


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Grey-Haired Brigade

>> Monday, February 20, 2012

They like to refer to us as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs.  Some of us are "Baby Boomers" getting ready to retire.  Others have been retired for some time.  We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were.  We have worked hard, raised our children, worshiped our God and grown old together.  

Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill, and that is probably true.  But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.  

In school we studied English, history, math, and science which enabled us to lead America into the technological age.  Most of us remember what outhouses were, many of us with firsthand experience.  

We remember the days of telephone party lines, 25-cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.  For those of you who don't know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators.  A few even remember when cars were started with a crank.  Yes, we lived those days.  

We are probably considered old fashioned and out-dated by many.  But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off.  We won World War II, fought in Korea and Viet Nam 

We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.  We wore the uniform of our country with pride and lost many friends on the battlefield.  We didn't fight for the Socialist States of America; we fought for the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."  We wore different uniforms but carried the same flag.  We know the words to the Star Spangled Banner, America, and America the Beautiful by heart and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing.  We have lived what many of you have only read about in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America 

Yes, we are old and slow these days, but rest assured we have at least one good fight left in us.  We have loved this country, fought for it, and died for it, and now we are going to save it.  It is our country and nobody is going to take it away from us.  We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to keep.  There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.  

You have tasted socialism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don't like it after all.  You make a lot of noise, but most are all too interested in their careers or "Climbing the Social Ladder" to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting.  

With all the education we gave you, you didn't have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank the 'Kool-Aid.'  Now you're paying the price and complaining about it.  No jobs, lost mortgages, higher taxes, and less freedom.  We entrusted you with the Torch of Liberty and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.  

Well, don't worry youngsters; the Grey-Haired Brigade is here, and in 2012 we are going to take back our nation.  We may drive a little slower than you would like but we get where we're going, and in 2012 we're going to the polls by the millions.  This land belongs to "We the People" and "We the People" plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.  

We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to our grandchildren.  So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our country, and thank God for the old geezers of the "Grey-Haired Brigade."  

(Author Anonymous, Grey-Haired Brigade Member)


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Boise State ... or Denver

>> Saturday, February 18, 2012

I’m a Boise State football fan … or maybe I should say was. Kellen and his peers have graduated and moved on. At one of their games, I purchased an orange and blue baseball cap that says Broncos and has a picture of a horse’s head on the front. The little strap across the back says Boise State.  

Yet repeatedly people have said to me, “Go Broncos. I love Denver.” A little miffed that they would mistake Boise for Denver, I researched the colors and logo for Denver. Guess what? The website was orange and blue and had a horse’s head.  

My husband recently presented me with a t-shirt that says Boise State on it. No more confusion about where my loyalties lie. In the grocery store and at the gym … wherever I wear my t-shirt … people comment on their love for Boise State.  

So I wonder … as I go through my day … what am I telling others about my faith? Does carrying my Bible declare me a Christ-follower? I don’t take it in the grocery store … or to the gym. Do my words … or even my facial expressions … tell others I am a fan of Christ? Just as the Denver Broncos and Boise State have the same colors and logo, so there are many religions that look the same.  

My new t-shirt clearly states I’m a Boise State fan. And so I ponder exactly how to make it clear to those around me I love Christ.  

“Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.” Philippians 2:14-15 (MSG)


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Troubling Encounters

>> Friday, February 17, 2012

The following quotes were taken from insurance and accident forms.  

Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.  

As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.  

My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.  

The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.  

An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.  

I told the police that I was not injured, but removing my hat, I found I had a skull fracture.  

A truck backed through y windshield into my wife’s face.  

A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.  

The guy was all over the road; I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.  

I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.  

I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.  

The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.  

The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.  

I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.  

I was on my way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing me to have an accident.  

(Taken from Insights – by Charles R. Swindoll)


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The Tongue

>> Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It’s everywhere … on television … in the newspaper … on the radio … in magazines … and even mentioned at church. Valentine’s Day. And the focus is on what to get her for this special day … something that will show your undying love.  

Who decided Valentine’s Day was just for the female? Don’t the guys deserve a show of love too?  

This brings me to the crux of this blog. Spending money to buy me something is fairly easy (if he remembers). But words are so much more important to me. Words that regularly let me know I matter to him … I’m important in his life … and that he cares about my happiness.   

The tongue has the ability to embed words in our minds … words that encourage us and give us warm fuzzies … or words that destroy any hope we may have for our future.  

This morning Chuck Swindoll spoke of a man I’ll call Bill. At an early age, Bill’s father told him he would never be more than a bum. Now in his 60’s, Bill is wealthy … his home filled with expensive artifacts. But that is still not good enough. Bill is always seeking the next big purchase … still trying to prove to his dead father that he’s not a bum.  

A counselor at school told one of my loved ones they would never be good for anything but washing dishes. Words like that can crush a spirit. Words spoken to me as a child held me in a dark prison for years.  

We are in control of our tongue. So today, on this day of love, think about the words you speak. It doesn’t take many to bless or destroy.  

Choose carefully.  



“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:5 (NLT)


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One Bad Apple

>> Saturday, February 11, 2012

It’s a weekly date … our trip to Costco.  I’m not sure I would ever go there except it’s so important to my husband. But the ritual is now ingrained. I no longer ask “why?” … just “when?” He gets lost in the “techie” section and I spend time at the book table. When we join up again, it’s time to select our food purchases.  

Yesterday I bought some Gala apples … in the plastic container that’s kind of like an egg carton … separate cups for each apple. Later, when it was time to place the apples on the conveyor belt, I noticed one apple was a different color than the rest. One push in the top of it and I could tell that apple was bad … through and through.  

So I exchanged the container for one with all good apples.  

But I kept thinking about that one bad apple. No matter where we go in life … work … school … church … there will always be at least one bad apple. That plastic apple container was designed to prevent any apples from touching; therefore, the one bad apple was not able to contaminate any of the other apples.  

As Christians, we have the same type of safeguard … a buffer … from the bad apples. We are never commanded to keep ourselves separate from the non-Christian … just to keep ourselves protected. When we keep our mind on Him … He provides the barrier … preventing any corruption from occurring.  

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-17 (NLT)  


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Travel Plans

>> Friday, February 10, 2012

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.  

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.  

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have actually made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.  

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not much on physical activity anymore.  

I have also been in Doubt. But Doubt is a sad place to go and I try not to visit there too often.  

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm. 

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.  

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense. It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart. At my age I need all the stimuli I can get.  

I may have been in Continent. I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an age thing.  

(Author Unknown)

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The Soft Sound of Humming

>> Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My world was full of sound. As I walked on the treadmill, Chuck Swindoll’s voice came through my headset, expounding on the word of God. The gym’s radio was doing what it does best … blaring obnoxious music … if you can call it that. To my right … two treadmills down … were two ladies … friends … talking and laughing. I heard the clank of free weights and then the thud as they were dropped to the floor.  

Yet I could hear humming.  

To my left … two treadmills over … a lady walked steadily … holding on to the machine … eyes closed … and softly humming. I knew the song. Amazed I could hear her above all the other noise, I forgot Chuck as I listened to song after song. She was in her own world … totally unaware she was having any affect on me.  

That’s a perfect example of how I desire my Christ-like life to be.  

Our world is so full of chaos … noise … and activity, that the soft sound of a Christ-like spirit is difficult to hear. Some of us blare our song like the obnoxious music from the radio. Others laugh and talk about surface things, never really saying anything important. There are those focused only on building themselves up. They go through life lifting the weights of Bible study and more Bible study, that they never really touch the life of another.  

And then there is the person who loves God … and others … who softly hums in the background … a song about being real and caring about people. That’s who I strive to be.  


“ … but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” I Peter 3:4 (ESV)  


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Turbulence

>> Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life is full of turbulence. The problem is not the turbulence, but how we handle it.

As a child, I was programmed to be afraid of everything. My mother and I walked almost everywhere. The church we attended was on the other side of town. Someone from church would come by and give us a ride twice on Sunday and once in the middle of the week. Mother endured these terror filled trips to be able to get to church.

Many years went by before flying in an airplane was an option for me, but I was terrified at the thought. Days before the trip, I began to feel sick. As I packed, tears ran down my face. They continued to flow on the way to the airport and as we waited for the flight. The most terrifying moment of all was when we were at the end of the runway, ready to take off. I would force myself to take deep breaths.

But I would not let the fear make me stay home.

Then came the windy morning when my husband, John, and I had tickets for a plane trip. A ferocious wind gust awoke me … and there was no more sleep. We packed and drove to the airport … with the wind jerking the car around. I had no tears, but told John I felt funny. They announced a 30-minute delay … and then another 30-minute delay. The plane had some mechanical problem. Finally the announcement said we would need to re-book … that plane could not fly. The reason given … the flight to Pasco from Seattle had encountered so much turbulence that a passenger had hit the ceiling and broken a panel on the plane. They could not get it fixed, so we would have to take the next plane.

Then that plane was canceled … due to turbulence.

We were re-booked for a flight at 2:30. By now, I was not in good shape. The time came to board. I did not feel right, but we got settled in our seats. John always goes to sleep even before the plane takes off. He put his head back, closed his eyes … and then sat up and looked at me.

“Are you ok?”

I shook my head … unable to speak … fighting for my breath. I was in trouble. For the next 30 minutes a battle raged. The airplane was assaulted by turbulence on the outside, but I was having my own struggle. John kept squeezing my hand … and praying. I felt like I was in a battle for my life. The thought that repeated over and over in my head was, “I can’t let the devil win”.

Unbelievable turbulence … inside and out.

Over time I was able to take a deep breath. Slowly I took in more and more air. By the time I was breathing normally, we began our descent into Seattle … still being bounced around. But the tumult on the outside no longer mattered. I felt drained and exhausted, but very victorious. I had been hit by unexpected turbulence … and made it through.

What do you do with the turbulence in your life? Do you just let it throw you around … jerking you sideways and up and down … like that airplane? Or do you turn to the God who is in control of all turbulence, both inside and out?


“Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

  

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Fun Sentences

>> Friday, February 3, 2012

- We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

- Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

- I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

- Women will never be equal to men till they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they're sexy.

- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

- You don't need a parachute to skydive, but you do need one to skydive again.

- The voices in my head may be fake, but they have good ideas!

- Hospitality is making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

- I scream the same way whether I'm about to be eaten by a shark or seaweed touches my foot.

- Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go.

- You're never too old to learn something stupid.  

(Author Unknown)



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