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!

Poetry Saturday—God Is Present Everywhere

They who seek the throne of grace
Find that throne in every place;
If we live a life of prayer,
God is present everywhere.

In our sickness and our health,
In our want, or in our wealth,
If we look to God in prayer,
God is present everywhere.

When our earthly comforts fail,
When the woes of life prevail,
‘Tis the time for earnest prayer;
God is present everywhere.

Then, my soul, in every strait,
To thy Father come, and wait;
He will answer every prayer:
God is present everywhere. —Oliver Holden

Love Re-members

love-re-membersChristians often talk about God in terms of the “Trinity.” That is, the One True God revealed in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp, especially since the word Trinity doesn’t specifically appear in the Bible. But make no mistake, just because the word isn’t there doesn’t mean it’s not true. Consider…

  • God’s Three-in-One nature is first exhibited when man is created (Genesis 1:26).
  • When the prophesy is given about Jesus being born in human flesh, He is given all the titles of the three Persons of the Godhead (Isaiah 9:6).
  • At Christ’s baptism we see Jesus in human form, we see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, and we hear the Father’s voice announcing His approval of His Son (Matthew 3:16-17).
  • Jesus Himself said He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to the Christians (John 14:16).
  • And just as Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His followers to baptize people into all three Persons of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19).

But I think the best expression of the Trinity is revealed in three simple words. John talks about how all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in the life of a Christian. And then he sums it all up in three words—

“GOD IS LOVE”

Each Person of the Godhead is encouraging and illuminating and pointing to the other Persons in the Trinity. Love is perpetually being received and given. We humans are created in God’s image … we are created to receive and to give God’s love. That’s why John tells us that we know and rely on the love God has for us (that’s the receiving part), and that whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (that’s the giving part).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were dis-membered from God. As a result, every human in their natural state longs for connection with God and others, but feels separated, isolated, unloved, and even unlovable.

Love re-members! 

Jesus came to be broken and crushed and to feel the pain of separation from God. It was out of this brokenness that He could do the work of re-membering us to the fullness of the Trinity.

When Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples, He took bread (which is made from broken wheat kernels) and wine (which is made from crushed grapes). He told us as often as we eat the bread and drink the wine we are to remember how He was broken and crushed for us.

Remembering Christ’s work on the Cross re-members us to the fullness of the Trinity. 

Sin and satan want to keep us feeling separated, unloved, and unloveable. But when we were the least worthy of His love, God—Who IS love—was broken and crushed to re-member us to Him.

If you feel lonely, separated, isolated, unloved or unloveable, I urge you to remember what Jesus did for you. He loved you enough to be broken and crushed for your re-membering to all of God’s love.

Check out this video where I explain this amazing thought in more detail…

Thursdays With Oswald—Life-Altering Regeneration

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Life-Altering Regeneration 

     Personality merges, and you only get your real identity when you are merged with another person. A man has his individuality transfigured when he falls in love. When love or the Spirit of God strikes a man or woman, they are transformed, they no longer insist on their separate individuality. Christianity is personal, therefore it is un-individual. … Our Lord never spoke in terms of individuality…but in terms of personality, “that they all may be one.” … 

     We are much more than we are conscious of being. Our Lord said the Holy Spirit would bring back into our conscious mind the things He had said. We never forget anything although often we cannot recall it; we hear it and it goes into the unconscious mind. Things go on in our unconscious minds that we know nothing about, and at any second they may burst up into our conscious life and perturb us. The Spirit of God enters into a man below the threshold of his consciousness. When He will emerge into a man’s conscious mind no one can say; when He does, there is an earthquake, and the man has to readjust his life in every particular. The Spirit of God entering into the spirit of a man brings a totally new relationship to things. … 

     If all Jesus can do is to tell me that I must be holy, be what I never can be, present me with an ideal I cannot come anywhere near, His teaching plants despair; He is nothing more than a tantalizer and I wish He had never come. But if He is a Regenerator, One who first of all can put into me His own heredity, then I see what He is driving at in the Sermon on the Mount—that the disposition He puts in is like His own. … 

     The Spirit of Christ comes into me by regeneration, then I have to begin to form the mind of Christ, begin to look at things from a different standpoint.

From The Shadow Of An Agony

Our Heavenly Father will never force His love on us. Jesus Christ will never make us receive Him. The Holy Spirit will never change us against our will.

But our Heavenly Father will direct our lives to bring us to our wits’ end. Jesus Christ will constantly woo us with His love. And the Holy Spirit will continually bring to our conscious mind all that Jesus says to us.

The choice is mine—Will I continue to live my life my way, or will I yield to the life-altering regeneration that the the Father, Son and Spirit lovingly offer to me?

Poetry Saturday—Overheard In An Orchard

dsc_0023Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
     “I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
     Rush about and worry so.”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
     “Friend, I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father
     Such as cares for you and me.”
—Elizabeth Cheney

Thursdays With Oswald—Stay True To The Word

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Stay True To The Word

     We must disabuse our minds of the idea that God sits like a Judge on a throne and batters humanity into shape. …

     We have to remember that an enthusiasm for humanity which ignores the Bible is sure to end in disaster. … 

     It is quite possible for the human mind to blot God out of its thinking entirely, and to work along the line of the elements which are the same in every man, and to band the whole of the human race into a solid atheistic community. … 

     When men depart from the Bible they call humanity “God” in differing terms; the use of the term “God” means nothing to them, God is simply the name given to the general tendencies which further men’s interests. This spirit is honeycombing everything, we find it coming into the way we talk of Christian experience; there is creeping in the idea that God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are simply meant to bless us, to further our interests. … 

     Watch the tendency abroad today; people want to get rid of Jesus Christ, they cannot prove that He did not live, or that He was not a remarkable Man; but they set to work to dissolve Him by analysis, to say He was not really God Incarnate. Jesus Christ always upsets the calculations of humanity; that is what made Voltaire say “Crucify the wretch, stamp Him and His crazy tale out,” because He was the stumbling block to all the reasonings of men. You cannot work Jesus Christ into any system of thinking. If you could keep Him out, everything could be explained. The world could be explained by evolution, but you cannot fit Jesus Christ into the theory of evolution. Jesus Christ is an annoyance to satan, a thorn in the side of the world at large, an absolute distress to sin in the individual.

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Oswald Chambers always penned wise words, but what makes his words so wise is that they are solidly rooted in Scripture.

In the above passages, Chambers warns us what happens when we forget the word of God as given to us in the Bible:

  • We see God as harsh and unloving
  • We make short-sighted decisions
  • We build a community in our image
  • We all have a different idea of who God is
  • We make “God” fit into our own molds
  • We water down who Jesus is
  • We create new worldviews not consistent with God’s design

Bottom line: Stay in the Word. Make Bible reading a regular part of your life, so that you don’t get caught up in the churning waves of “popular” culture.

8 Quotes From “Culture”

cultureIn Culture, you will find a collection of chapters from various A.W. Tozer books all addressing the theme of how a Christian should behave in worldly culture. If you are concerned about influencing the culture for Christ (instead of being influenced by it), I urge you to read my review of this book, and then pick up a copy for yourself. Below are a few quotes from Culture that caught my attention.

“The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. … The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example, and He knew no divided life. In the presence of His Father He lived on earth without strain from babyhood to His death on the Cross. God accepted the offering of His total life, and made no distinction between act and act. ‘I do always those things that please Him,’ was His brief summary of His own life as it related to the Father (John 8:29). As He moved among men, He was poised and restful.”

“A Christian is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament.”

“Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.”

“You cannot get miracles as you would get a chemical reaction. You cannot get a miracle as you get a wonderful act on stage by a magician. God does not sell Himself into the hands of religious magicians. I do not believe in that kind of miracles. I believe in the kind of miracles that God gives to His people who live so close to Him that answers to prayer are common and these miracles are not uncommon.”

“Our trouble is not that we refuse to believe right doctrine, but we refuse to practice it. We have the peculiar contradiction of believing the right thing and living the wrong way.”

“It seems that the average person spends more time and intellectual labor each year filling out income tax forms then he or she spends in a lifetime trying to learn from the Scriptures and from the light of the Spirit what the church is and what he or she ought to do about it.”

“I would also have in our body the power of the Spirit of Christ. I have said that the average gospel church could get along without the Holy Spirit—and many do. We are praying for revival. What is revival? It is when the Holy Spirit takes over the work that is His, instead of being pushed aside into the benediction. He now becomes the Chief Executive of the church, running it. ‘But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you’ (Acts 1:8). That means that the Spirit of Heaven should come to a company on earth with His all-prevailing gifts, power, and grace, with His life, His illumination, and His discernment. This is not fanaticism; this is not any weird religion. This is just what the Bible teaches.”

“Did you read the Bible or watch TV more this week? Think of the time you have spent. How many half-hour periods did you spend with your Bible, and how many did you spend with amusements? We do not take our faith seriously enough.”

I will be sharing other quotes from Culture soon. If you will enter your email address in the “Subscribe” box to on the right side of the page, you will be notified as soon as new quotes are posted. You can also read Tozer’s quotes from this book, as well as other empowering quotes that I share daily in Twitter and Tumblr.

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