So your wife expects that you will not be home later than 5:15 pm. Your husband expects that the house will always be perfectly clean, your boss expects that you will always work overtime, your parents expect a 4.0 grade point every semester, and on the list goes. Not all expectations are bad or oppressive, so decide which ones you can live with patiently without fussing about them, and then do that, that is be patient and don’t fuss, verbally or in your thoughts.
Where and when possible choose to “go the second mile”, that is choose to do more than what is expected, when you only do what is expected you are a prisoner, when you choose to do more than what is expected you are acting in freedom.
In the Old Testament Daniel was expected by his captors to eat food that was in violation of Jewish dietary laws. They had this expectation because they believed it was the healthiest food, and would make Daniel strong. Daniel graciously suggested a test where he would eat foods that were approved by the standards of the Laws of God in the book of Leviticus for a time and then the “boss” could check and see if Daniel was healthier or not. Gracious communication can often clear up expectations and what they are doing to you.
Sometimes you simply do what you believe is best and right and you trust God and take whatever displeasure is directed your way patiently without getting upset or defensive.
Yesterday I wrote about the disappointment we feel when others don’t measure up to our expectations of them, and what problems those expectations cause in our relationships if we don’t learn how to control them by giving them to God. But what about the expectations that others have of us. As we become aware of them they will create a growing pressure in us to please those with the expectations and conform to those expectations because of the displeasure they communicate to us when we disappoint. A major part of the problem is that we can’t succeed at pleasing them because we are only doing what is expected of us, and as we do succeed at meeting the expectations the bar is constantly being raised. Husbands and wives do this to each other without even thinking about it, parents do it to their kids in the name of good parenting, and bosses and supervisors do it in the name of successful business. These expectations which are seldom identified or acknowledged make us prisoners and jailers to each other in our relationships. An added problem is that we often have multiple people with expectations of our life, and they are different, one with this set, and another with a different set of expectations. Whooooeeeeee!! That is not a fun way to live. One way to deal with these expectations that others have of us is to simply rebel, throw a fit, let them know in no uncertain terms that we are not their slave. That method of escaping usually just destroys relationships, and hurts people.
Let me suggest half a dozen things to do when you find yourself in a jail that others have built around you one bar at a time, one expectation at a time, and you would really like to be free of this jail. First, acknowledge that your wife or whoever does have expectations of you that are unreasonable, dishonoring, and that you don’t like. Try to be as precise as possible in identifying them in your thinking. Don’t fret about them and make them bigger than they are. Expectations that others have of us are like a piece of sand in our shoe, they irritate and pretty soon it is all we can think about. Second remind yourself that they set these expectations without thinking about what they were doing, we all do it and we are seldom aware of it. If it isn’t a purposeful attempt to control your life it is harder to get upset and feel used and abused about it.
To be disappointed is to be sad or displeased because something or someone didn’t meet our expectations. Expectations are a super big problem in our life. Our expectations of others causes us to be upset at them, hurt by them, and grieved by them to the point that we often terminate our relationship with them officially or unofficially. When those who are close to us, family, friends, and work associates sense our expectations of them they will begin to feel trapped by those expectations, and they become increasingly wary of serving us for fear that they will add to the already long list of expectations. As a pastor I find myself formulating expectations of various people because of their maturity level, position, personal strengths, and their history. I also have expectations of my wife, Patty, my kids, son-in-laws, daughter-in-law, grandkids, and waitresses at restaurants, and on the list goes. If they fail to meet my expectations I get irritated in my thoughts and feelings, and can work up quite a mental tantrum. If I find myself in that place of being disappointed, I write out what my expectations of that person are, that is I type them on my Ipad, I then delete the list and write a prayer in place of the list of expectations, “Dear Lord, I give You these expectations, if You want to stir and motivate them to do these things that would be great, but I am going to trust You. I will counter the disappointment I feel by looking for an opportunity to serve them. Help me to do that, and not to have a wrong attitude when I do.” When I give all expectations of others to God everything they do after that is gravy, and I try to be very thankful towards them for what they do.
I am using a two part epoxy in building my boat. It is very strong stuff and glues wood together well and is great in fiberglassing the outside of the boat. The problem is that I am very allergic to it, and if I accidentally get a little bit on one of my fingers I will get a rash on both arms up to my elbows, and it will itch like crazy. I try really hard not to get even a little, tiny bit on me, I wear rubber gloves , and take every precaution I can think of, but somehow I always end up getting a little bit on me. An itchy rash is an incredible annoyance, it doesn’t let up, and drives a person crazy. So what am I supposed to do with this irritant in my life? Ignore it? I wish I could! The book of James in the New Testament says that we are to “consider it all joy when we encounter various trials”. This would certainly fall under the category of “various trials”. So “consider it all joy”, does that mean I laugh and declare with enthusiasm that I am having the time of my life? Probably not, but I think it does mean that I acknowledge that as I patiently (no grumbling) endure it that my character is being developed, and that is a good thing.
Thanksgiving was super, especially having two, one Thursday and another one Friday, so let’s keep it going through the weekend minus the food, I for sure don’t need any more food. This Saturday night at 7 pm there will be a great Concert at Jefferson Baptist Church with those whom God has given a special gift of music to, blessing us with that gift, and also thanking the Lord for all He has done for us. Then we will have the same inspiring music again on Sunday at 9 and 11:30 am. If you don’t go to church anywhere else this would be a good time to choose to go. God is real, and He promises to draw near to you as you draw near to Him. This service would be a nice step towards God. You really have nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain.
Ephesians 5:18-20 says, “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”.
This passage says to “speak or communicate to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” and that will happen as these very gifted musicians bless our hearts, and the passage goes on to say, “giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus”, and we will do that as well. This is going to be a wonderful, uplifting, joy filled service, with a great sense of God’s presence.
Patty and I drove up to Trout Lake, Washington where my Mom, my sister and her family, and my youngest brother and his family live. Trout Lake is where the family dairy was and where I graduated from High School. It is about 30 miles straight North of Hood River Oregon, and very close to Mt Adams, a very beautiful place. We ate with and celebrated thanksgiving with my mom and my sisters family. Patty and I have 22 grandchildren with 23 on the way, my sister and her husband Monte Pearson have 24 grandchildren so it was a pretty big gang we ate with today. Our 8 kids, 6 son-in-laws, daughter-in-law, and 22 grandkids all love the Lord, and I think that is pretty special. Monte and Laura’s kids and son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, and 24 grandkids all are committed Christians as well, and it was such a special time being with them today. Before we ate we went around the room and each person shared what they were thankful for, and as I listened to the little ones clearly articulate thankfulness I glanced over at my mother and thought, “my, what a heritage she has”, 5 children, around 22 grandchildren, and I think getting close to 90 great grandchildren, and I think almost all are walking with the Lord. As I think about all that I have to be thankful for, a major one is that I was well parented. I can’t take any credit for the positive character traits in me, they are there because of my parents.
This past weekend I preached on 10 key commandments in the New Testament. One of the 10 was, “Love anybody God sovereignly brings into your life, that is you are nice to them, you aren’t rude to them, you look for an opportunity to help them.” There was a homeless person in the audience who heard my sermon, and today they showed up at the church, walked into my office and quoted that whole point to me, and declared that they were sovereignly brought into my life by God, and I needed to take care of them, and they wanted to live with me. They talked non-stop for about 15 minutes presenting their case and need, and I listened attentively trying to figure out the solution to this situation. I suggested some alternatives to their plan and desire, but they seemed totally focused on this one thing and would not be deterred from it.
Last year we let a homeless guy move into my “Man Room” I had built out in my shop where I had my weight set, a chair and some books and a heater, he stayed about 2 months. About 25 years ago we had a visitor come to church that was basically homeless, old, and legally blind, and we moved her in with us in our home and we had all 8 kids still at home, and she got her own bedroom. She stayed with us about a year. That turned out to be a good experience for us and a great learning tool for our kids.
As I listened to this person quote my sermon back to me I had to admit that this was a significant coincidence or indeed a sovereign act of God, and perhaps I was supposed to let them move in with us. As I listened I let them ramble on much longer than I typically would have, but I was processing this situation in my mind trying to figure out what was right and what was God’s will not wanting to take the simple, and easy way out, but also wanting to be wise and the protector of my family. As I listened they said something that made all kinds of whistles, bells, and red flags go off in my head, and I then responded graciously and but firmly that if they didn’t want me to try and find a shelter for them then they needed to be on their way, and I stood and escorted them out of my office. They left, but I am not sure if we will see more of them in the days ahead or not.
As I was thinking about the whole scenario over again tonight, I thought, boy, I hope I don’t get to heaven and find out they were an angel in disguise, that would be embarrassing even if I was in heaven.
The admonition in the Bible to seek God is repeated about a dozen times, and each time it is, there is a blessing attached. My favorite one is “those who seek the Lord will not be in want of any good thing” God says, “If you seek Me, I will let you find Me, and if you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you”.”If you seek Me with all of your heart, you will find me.” What exactly does that mean to seek God? It means that we truly want more of God in our life, God waits to be wanted. God will not be second place in anyone’s life, if we start putting other things and activities before God, He will “hide His face from us”. Life without God’s presence around us is depressing, without joy, and lacking in energy. Psalms 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy”. We seek God by reading the Bible, by giving Him time in prayer, by gathering together with other believers, and by worshiping Him. Psalms 42:1-2 are a couple of my favorite verses, “as the deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for you O God”. The more crazy life gets the more I seek God’s presence, because His presence gives me peace, joy, strength, and great security in regards to the future.
I preached and taught for 8 hours this weekend, and I am feeling all done in. I am sitting in my chair attempting to write this and I have to keep deleting and starting over because I am so brain dead right now. It was a great weekend, and I feel incredibly blessed that I got to preach and teach God’s Word. I am looking forward to tomorrow because I am going to work on my boat all day. I am expecting that I will get all the plywood on and get started on the fiberglassing. After a weekend of using my brain it will be nice to think about nothing but my boat, and to talk to just a few people. It is going to be a good week in that Thursday Patty and I are going to drive up and visit my Mom for thanksgiving, and then we will have a bunch of kids and grandkids over on Friday for barbecued brisket and lots of food and conversation. This coming Thanksgiving weekend we are going to have a bunch of our best musicians and singers do a concert at each of our three weekend services. It is going to be amazing and I plan on being incredibly blessed.
Years ago I read Francis Schaffer’s book “How Should We Then Live”. The book was very good, and resulted in much thought and reflection on my part on what was right and wrong based on what God said, not man, as Schaffer put it, “there is a true truth”. The book was basically about the difference in values and standards between the culture of the Western World and the Bible. The book came out in the mid 70’s when I was a student at Western Baptist Bible College in Salem, Oregon now called Corban University. The difference now between the culture of the United States and the standards of the New Testament are much greater than when I first read it. As I read and study the Bible, and attempt to teach it with relevance and accuracy the greatest challenge is stated in Romans 12:2 where the Apostle Paul says, “do not be conformed to this world”. We live our lives submerged in a nation with values and standards that are increasingly contrary to the Words of the Bible, and it is very easy to allow the morals and standards that are all around us to seep into the “true truth”. Part of the problem is that it isn’t very comfortable being radically different, which is exactly what a person who follows the Biblical admonition of “do not be conformed to this world” will become. The greater the difference grows between these two world views the more pressure there is to conform. When the New Testament was written the difference between the Roman Empire and the brand new Christian belief was probably much like today, which probably is why Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 16:13, ” be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong”.
But in the midst of the clash between our two contrary cultures there is the need to be loving, gracious, kind, and wise, which is probably why Paul followed up verse 13 with verse 14 which says, “Let all that you do be done in love”. So “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong, and let everything you do be done in love”. Sounds nearly impossible, but the person who successfully lives that life will be an effective ambassador for “true truth”. One of the principles of Schaffer that I keep in mind is that the greater the difference between the two cultures grows, the clearer and more obvious ” true truth” will become to those truly looking for truth.