What If We Had Higher Expectations?

Humans are hardwired by God to be in relationship with Him and with others.

  1. God is a Triune God so each part of the Godhead is in relationship with the other parts—John tells us in his epistle that God is love, meaning there is both a Lover and a Beloved.
  2. We are created in God’s image—we are made to love and be loved.
  3. God affirmed our need for relationships with others—see Genesis 2:18.
  4. Relationships with others give us a return on investment, help in trouble, encouragement in dark times, and protection from attack—see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
  5. Christians being in healthy relationships with others is a testimony to just how powerful God’s love is.

Sadly, Brennan Manning pointed out that Christians “have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”

When I read this, I don’t want to throw in the towel, but I want to reclaim this awe and wonder! 

One of the things that will quickly kill relationships is having low expectations for the other person or for the relationship itself. This can be counteracted by having higher expectations for other people and for our relationships with them.

John Maxwell noted, “People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

Consider the high expectations that God had for a relationship with us. If He had low expectations, one of the best-known verses in the Bible would be, “God thought a few people in the world had something worth saving, so He sent a handful of angels to tell us His story.”

Instead, the verse tells us: God so loved the entire world that He sent the very best that He had—He sent His One and Only Son!

  • Jesus died for us when we were unworthy of His love
  • Jesus gave us all His authority to represent Him in the world
  • Jesus empowered us with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses
  • Jesus told us that our love for others would be a blazing sign to that we were His

Since God has this high expectation for us … what would happen if we had the same high expectations for everyone with whom we came into contact? What would happen if we believed the best for everybody, and then gave all that we could to bring the best out of them? I think that once again people would exclaim with awe and wonder,

“See how these Christians love one another!”

We will be talking more about Relationship Builders & Killers this Sunday and I would love if you could join me!

Favorite 2016 Posts

12 More Quotes From “Purple Fish”

Purple FishMark O. Wilson had some great heart-stirring thoughts on evangelism in his book Purple Fish (you can read my full book review by clicking here). He also did a great job incorporating thoughts from others in his book. Here are some of the quotes he cited in Purple Fish.

“Christians and non-Christians have something in common: we are both uptight about evangelism.” ―Becky Pippert 

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” ―Brennan Manning

“If you change how you see people, the people you see will change.” ―Rick Warren

“God wants us to have an encounter, so that we become an encounter, so that others can have an encounter.” ―Kevin Dedmon

“Prayer is the supreme way to be workers together with God.” ―Wesley Duewel

“Prayer evangelism is talking to God about our neighbors before we talk to our neighbors about God.” ―Ed Silvoso

“Nothing has done greater damage to our Christian testimony than our trying to be right and demanding right of others.” ―Watchmen Nee

“There is no point trying to size people up because souls defined measuring.” ―Ann Vovkamp

“Like it or not, you represent the entirety of Christianity to that person in that moment; that’s a lot of responsibility.” ―Christian Piatt

“If your weakness troubles you, cast yourselves on God. And trust in Him. The apostles were mostly unlearned fisherman, but God gave them learning enough for the work they had to do. Trust in Him, depend on His providence; fear nothing.” ―Francis de Sales

“You don’t fail when you invite people to repent and follow Christ and no one response. You fail when you don’t invite people to repent and follow Christ.” ―Craig Groeschel

“I define evangelism as ‘nudge’ and evangelists as ‘nudgers.’ Evangelism is awakening each other to the God who is already there. Evangelism is nudging people to pay attention to the mission of God in their lives into the necessity of responding to that initiative in ways that birth new realities.” ―Leonard Sweet

I also shared some quotes from Mark Wilson in a previous post, which you can read by clicking here.

Book Reviews From 2014

Quotes From “No Idols”

No idolsAs requested, here are the quotes I shared in my message this morning…

“In Greek the word idol has in it the sense of unreality. Plato used it for the illusions of this world as opposed to the unchangeable realities of eternity.” —William Barclay

“What we think and believe, we are; not what we say we think and believe, but what we really do think and believe, we are; there is no divorce at all.” —Oswald Chambers 

“Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized through personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any idea that does not coincide with mine.” —Brennan Manning

10 Quotes From “The Furious Longing Of God”

Furious Longing Of GodI love the way Brennan Manning writes! It’s so gut-level real. His words both convict me and encourage me to go deeper into God’s love. You can read my full book review of The Furious Longing Of God by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“The God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state—grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods—of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender.”

“The foundation of the furious longing of God is the Father who is the originating Lover, the Son who is the full self-expression of that Love, and the Spirit who is the original and inexhaustible activity of that Love, drawing the created universe into itself.”

“Pagan philosophers such as Aristotle arrived at the existence of God via human reason and referred to Him in vague, impersonal terms: the uncaused cause, the immovable mover. The prophets of Israel revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a warmer, more compassionate manner. But only Jesus revealed to an astonished Jewish community that God is truly Father.” 

“The degree of Abba’s love for me is in direct proportion to His love for Jesus. For example, I can love the mailman with twenty percent and my best friend with ninety percent. But with God, there is no division, no more and no less. God loves me as much as He loves Jesus. Wow!”

“First, if we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16)—‘God is love.’ In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity. Secondly, if we continue to view ourselves as moral lepers and spiritual failures, if our lives are shadowed by low self-esteem, shame, remorse, unhealthy guilt, and self-hatred, we reject the teaching of Jesus and cling to our negative self-image.”

“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.”

“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary.”

“Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange.”

“The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question, is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?” 

“How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.”

The Furious Longing Of God (book review)

Furious Longing Of GodBrennan Manning at times seems to tap into dimensions of our relationship with God that I had never considered before, and his book The Furious Longing Of God is a great example of this.

It is almost foreign in a Christian’s vocabulary, or even understanding of Scripture, to think of God furiously longing for a relationship with the people He has created. But God does long for this, and Manning pulls out those biblical passages and weaves them together with his own life story to create a hunger in us for more of God.

Each chapter builds on the previous chapter, creating in me a longing to experience God’s longing. This book is not difficult to read, but it is confronting. I doubt you can read Manning’s words are remain unmoved by God’s passionate, relentless, furious longing for you.

If you too long for a deeper relationship with your Creator, this is a great book to help you on that journey.

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading & watching from today…

“The true measure of ministry effectiveness is the extent to which we are able to lead God’s people into greater love for Him and His Kingdom.” —T.M. Moore

“Tragedy is that our attention centers on what people are not, rather than on what they are and who they might become.” —Brennan Manning

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” —Mother Teresa

“Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simple duty, for you and for me.” —Mother Teresa

The devil does not need to bother about us as long as we remain ignorant of the way God has made us and refuse to discipline ourselves; inattention and our own slovenliness will soon run away with every power we have.” —Oswald Chambers 

“There is something which we can do which God does. He does good to all His creatures, and we can do good also. He bears witness to His Son Jesus, and we can bear witness too.” —Charles Spurgeon

[VIDEO] Ken Davis always cracks me up. Check out this clip Arm Vs. Airbag.

Why do people get so annoyed over anything that looks “religious” to them. For people who claim God doesn’t exist, atheists get awfully mad at Him!

Book Reviews From 2013

In Name Only

Brennan ManningPhiladelphia, as most people know is “The City of Brotherly Love.” The original Philadelphia in Asia Minor was founded in the second century BC by a man named Attalus who, quite the contrary to cultural norms, kept his brother in a position of power and influence alongside him.

Where many leaders were suspicious of anyone who could make a claim on the throne, Attalus loved (the Greek word is phileo) his brother (Greek adelphos meaning “from the same womb”), so the city took on this name and attitude as well. After the city was leveled by an earthquake in 17 AD, Emperor Tiberius sent the funds needed to rebuild. Out of gratitude to the emperor’s generosity there was a movement to rename the city Neocaesarea in his honor. But the people liked being known for their brotherly kindness, so the name Philadelphia stuck.

At least it stuck in name only. As the first century progressed, Philadelphians bowed more and more to Rome’s influence and this city once known for kindness to all began to persecute Christians.

This reminds me of the United States of America today. Our pledge of allegiance still includes “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust” is still on our currency, and we haven’t repealed the First Amendment which gives us freedom of religion. It appears that we are a “Christian nation,” but in name only.

Many cast the blame far and wide, but as Jesus addressed the people in the first city of Philadelphia (see Revelation 3:7-13), we see the blame is on those self-professing Christians who didn’t live Christ-like lives. They were Christians in name only.

For those who “have kept My Word and not denied My name” Jesus promises a list of rewards longer than the list for any of the other seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation! Those promises are still in effect for those who will not deny Christ. More specifically for those who by their words and their lifestyle hold true to Jesus Christ.

Brennan Manning was exactly right when he said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

My prayer is that Christians everywhere would be known not just by the name Christian, but by the way they hold true to Christ and His Word!

Please join me next Sunday as we look at the last of the churches in our series The 7-Star Church.

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