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The last day of 2011. Sitting in stand #9 since 5:45 this morning. As the rays of the early morning sun penetrate the trees, shafts of light reach the field in front of me. it’s hard to imagine it’s enormous power. As it warms the earth, fog lifts and moves under it’s influence. Fog so thick, it looks like it’s snowing. I can actually see millions of tiny droplets drifting through the air & into the windows of the box stand. A few minutes ago, a coyote swiftly crossed the field. I wish I could follow it and observe what it is doing now. Searching for food, water? Hanging out with other coyotes? Or maybe bedding down to take a nap? I can only wonder. I can’t go into his world any more than he in mine. Which, by the way, I will be returning to soon.

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Expectations

Christmas has come & gone. The question has been asked, “Did you get what you wanted?” In other words, “Were your expectations met?” We live in a world of expectations. In business, employers and customers have certain expectations.

In our personal lives, we place expectations on others, and often wonder and ask ourselves if we are living up to the expectations of others. We even do it with God, don’t we? Contemplating if we are meeting His expectations for us, then wondering if we ever can, then often just giving up. Then we do the same to Him- thinking He should do, act, be, a certain way, the way we think He should be.

Expectations- they can be a positive, motivating force in our lives, and also a crippling one, filling us with unworthiness, self-doubt, shame, and anger. So, we just take them as they come, hoping for the best, but, for the most part, end up disappointed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is, we have control over all of these expectations.

I have realized this through personal experience. It started a few years ago, as I was dealing with the relationship with my dad, and how that had, and still was, affecting my present life. There are some wounds there from the past, and his behavior has not changed. One day, acting on a suggestion from a speaker, or maybe an author, I asked God to father me. I felt total confirmation that He would, and He has. I also thought that the relationship with dad, past & present, would now be resolved. Well it was, but not just by this one thing. Something was still wrong. As I thought about how my new dad, my heavenly father, would never let me down, I also thought about what high expectations I had of God. Then it hit me. The whole problem was that my earthly father had not lived up to my expectations. And who placed those expectations on him? I did! And who can remove those expectations? I can!

So I acted. While not verbally to him, I released him from all the expectations I had put on him. He is no longer under the requirement to act any certain way (and never was, really, only in my mind) I still love and respect him, but no longer will his actions, past or present, affect my life in a negative way. What a difference! Our relationship is better than it has ever been. I am grateful God showed me this truth, and allowed my dad to live long enough to see our relationship restored.

But regardless of whether or not a dad, or any other person, is still alive on earth, the restoration for me, for us, still happens.

I have since used this same process of releasing expectations in many other relationships as well. Marriage, co-workers, pastors, the list goes on.

So next time you “didn’t get what you wanted”, honestly look at what expectations were not met, and who came up with those expectations. If it is you, which most of the time it is, remove them. Then you won’t be carrying a burden that was never meant to be yours to start with.

It’s up to you. You have the power. And with God, all things are possible.

God is Like a Dog

With Halloween here, I was reminded of something I had written 3 years ago, and would like to share it:

Journal entry Nov 1 2008

“God is like a Dog”

Got home last night after safely navigating the obstacle course around trick-or-treaters, parents, trailers, 4-wheelers, and the occasional deer. It had been a fairly stressful day, most are now it seems. I felt I needed to unwind, just get away for a minute or two. I needed to go see Max. Max is my dog. Picture a black long hair Border Collie/Pit Bull mix. Max is getting old now, but he still is so happy to see me.
When I decide to visit him in the back yard, he can hardly contain his excitement.
This time was different though. No, Max was still delighted to see me, but when I looked in his eyes, I saw God: Always patiently waiting on me. Genuinely happy to see me. Filled with excitement that His precious child had decided, for whatever reason (it doesn’t matter), to spend some time with Him. It doesn’t matter if it’s been minutes, days, months, or even years since I’ve spent time with Him. It doesn’t matter if I have mistreated Him. It doesn’t matter if I have forgotten about Him or abandoned Him. He is still glad to see me come to Him. The past forgotten, this is a new day.
Max won’t be with us much longer, and I’ll miss him. But my Heavenly Father will always be there, patiently waiting with open arms, happy for us to spend some time together.

David

(Max died 6 months after I wrote this)

MAX after his annual summer haircut

We often talk about ‘The promises of God” Those wonderful,  joyous things He has promised us in His Word. There are songs about them, sermons about them, books about them. That old familiar hymn comes to mind – Standing on The Promises of God. I had always looked at it as something I could hold on to, stand on when times get tough, problems arise, when life comes at us hard and fast. After all, he has promised good to me (plans to prosper, not to harm – Jeremiah 29:11) and I can  recall  past times He has been true to His promise of good.

But recently something changed in the way I think, as I realized all of God’s promises are not good. It happened last week. Not having spent much time alone with God lately, I set aside some time one day. As I opened my Bible, it flipped straight to the book of Joshua, and I read these verses: You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promised had been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. Joshua 23:14-16 NIV. 

Joshua, just before his death, is speaking to the people of Israel after he had led them into the promised land. He reminds them, and us, that God has always come through with every single promise  for good he has made, but also tells us that he will come through with His promise for bad if we go off and serve and worship other gods.

Now wait a minute, I thought God was good, wants the best for us, and loves us. Why then, does he make this promise of bad things? Two reasons are apparent to me : 1. He is fair and just in all things. 2. He loves us, wants a relationship with us, and knows what it takes to shake us up and turn us back to Him so we can live out life His way, finally recognizing that His way is the best for us.

To sum it up, God does promise good, a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11), and also promises that, if we turn to anything besides Him, he will take away the good he has given us until we return to Him.

So here I go – standing on the promises of God, but now with a deeper sense of His love for me, knowing that not only does He want good for me, but also knowing that He will do whatever it takes to bring me back to Him.

You see, all of God’s promises really are good! 

 

Not Alone

A beautiful morning! The sun warms me as it rises above the Rockies. I am sitting alone on the deck of the meeting/rec building at Sky Corral Ranch near Bellevue, Co. We are here doing construction projects to help out this wonderful ministry.

I sit alone, but am not alone. Alone with God, but not like it’s just 2 people. No, I’m once again reminded (as I was here last year) just how big God is. He is all around me. You can’t help but know this through the sights and sounds in these majestic surroundings.  The sight of the green grass, the lake, the donkeys, and the mountains. Wow. The mountains. What a display of The Creator’s power. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, He has covered them with beautiful trees, standing tall like strong towers. And rocks. Big, solid, immovable. Intertwined with His creatures; walking, running, flying. Living an endless adventure with no boundaries. Then to top it off, blue sky with white wisps of clouds. And that bright, seemingly endless source of energy, the sun. And who knows what lies even beyond that? It’s an intriguing mystery I hope God will show us one day. I feel sure one of two things will happen regarding that: Either it will be revealed to us, or it just won’t matter.

And then there are the sounds. Birds chirping, water running in a small stream, distant sounds made by who knows what kind of animals. And the murmur of people talking. Yes, I am alone, but only a hundred yards or so from the other people here. God’s greatness is shown in them also. They are brothers and sisters in Christ. Family. Friends. Companions in life and God’s work. Jesus with skin on. Yes I sit alone, but am I? I think not, as I feel His presence surround and engulf me. Who would want to be anywhere else? Thank you Lord for reminding me of your unending presence.

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made the heaven, and earth, and the mountains. Psalm 121: 1-2 The Message

Lazarus

Most of us know the story of Lazarus. He was a friend of Jesus, who Jesus brought back to life  after he had died and had been in the tomb for four days. You can read the whole story in John 11. Now I have read this several times, but the other day I saw something in the story I had never seen before (as often happens when we read God’s Word). Verse 44 says: the dead man came out bound head and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them “loose him and let him go”

What a great picture of how we are to live our lives! When we realize we are dead without God and let Jesus take over our lives and our sin debt, He brings us life, brings us out of the tomb, so to speak. But then what? We are still bound, bound up with the effects of sin, both ours and others. Bound up by wounds, brokenness, habits, addictions circumstances, etc. So what do we do? We have been saved, but are still bound up.

Look at how Jesus handled this with Lazarus – Jesus said to them “loose him and let him go” Jesus didn’t just command the linen strips & cloth to drop off (even though he could have). He told those around him, his friends and family, to “loose him” God wants us to be “loosed” from what binds us up, and he wants us to do it through others. We have to be willing to put ourselves and our needs out in the open with safe people we can trust. We also have to be willing to get next to those dirty, nasty smelling people God has so graciously brought “out of the tomb”, and help them unwrap what binds them. This is not easy. It takes raw honesty, and humbleness. But it has to be done.

Now the best part: the last 3 words in verse 44 “let him go” After we allow others to help us loose what binds us, and we help others do the same, we can be “let go” to live out the life God has for us. But this is not a one time process, don’t get caught in that trap. No, we are, with each other, continually loosening what binds us. And with each strip that is removed, more and more of our true self, our true heart is revealed. In this lies freedom. The freedom to live out of who God made us. And as a good friend of mine says:  “fellers, it don’t get no better than that”

Nail it to The Cross

Sunday, April 10th there was a choir led worship event at my home church, Ridgecrest Baptist in Madison MS. It was great! Great music, woship, participated in  communion, and there were 3 wooden crosses down front, and one in the balcony. During one song we sang about the blood of Jesus, people had athe opportunity to write something down on a piece of paper, and literally nail it to the cross. Something they needed to let go of, give to God.  So many came that we sang a couple of extra songs to give everyone time. Watching all of these people, I realized how so many are hurting, and that there are so many needs.

But at least some are taking that first step of acknowledging their need, admitting they are broken, and powerless to handle it own their own. This is the first step to a real relationship with God. This is also the first step in the 12 step program, most often thought of as for (and initially developed for) alcoholics, but something we can all benefit from. (The same concepts are in the Bible…..more on that later)

It’s like the verse in that great hymn Amazing Grace: Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. Through His grace and love for us, God first has to bring us to the point that we realize we need him. Now this takes a lot more doing for some of us than others, and some never accept that fact.

But then, after He shows us we need Him, He is there for us! Forgiving us where we fail. Teaching and guiding us through His Word, others, and the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that great? It all starts with being open and honest about our struggles, realizing and admitting we are broken and need Him.