Living with Expectancy

13 Dec

I never know what to expect from little kids when they pray.

Lee, A seven-year-old boy, was asked to say thanks for the Christmas dinner.  The family membersBoy_DoIPray4BrusselsSprouts bowed their heads in expectation.

Lee began his prayer, thanking God for his Mommy, Daddy, brothers, sister, Grandma, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food.

He gave thanks for the turkey, the stuffing, the Christmas pudding, even the cranberry sauce. Then young Lee paused, and everyone waited … and waited.

After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the Brussels sprouts, won’t he know that I’m lying?”

Can’t you just imagine how that family laughed? That was probably not at all what they expected.

Like children looking forward to gifts on Christmas morning, Christian of all people ought to live with great expectancy. Our hope is in God!

Cindi McMenamin, in her book, When God Sees Your Tears, wrote:

“God knows exactly when you are ready to receive the desire of your heart, and He will not act a moment too soon or a moment too late when it comes to doing what is eternally best for you.”

God’s timing is perfect, and He wants us to trust Him while living with expectancy.

This is so clear in a passage about prayer. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we asked of him.”

I’m not talking about “expectations” – a prideful attitude that insists God do things our way. I’m talking about expectancy – placing our hope in God and believing He will work!

There are a number of ways we can live with expectancy. Here are just three:

1. We can live with expectancy as we read God’s Word. We can ask, “What are you going to teach me today, Lord?”

2. We certainly can hope in God’s character and unfailing love, expecting Him to work in us  (Psalm 62:5; Psalm 147:11b; Romans 5:5). He is working in us, giving us the desire and power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:12-13).

3. We can, as a result, expect to see many changes as our heavenly Father makes us more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:15b).

Oswald Chambers wrote, in My Utmost for His Highest (January 25),

“Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.”

I like that! Leave room for God. That speaks to having a hospitable, God-welcoming heart, doesn’t it?

Christians have many good reasons to wake up each morning with expectancy. Here is just one: We who walked in darkness now walk in light (Ephesians 5:8-10).

One of my favorite scriptures is related to this: Isaiah 9:2 — The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Living with expectancy, then, includes:

  • seeking and waiting for God in prayer and in His Word;
  • trusting His character and His love for us;
  • anticipating how He will work in and through us; and
  • participating in a great adventure—walking as “children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

Expectancy … it’s a wonderful way to live!

How does your life show that you are living with expectancy?

- Dawn

Photo adapted, Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Advice on Advice

6 Dec

ListenToGodlyAdvice“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality,” said humorist Erma Bombeck. “It doesn’t’ matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”

I’ve had a lot of people say they wanted to give me a piece of their mind, but at the moment, they didn’t seem to have much to spare!

Most of us are better at dishing out advice than receiving it. As a young woman, I actually got pretty good at listening to my mom’s advice, and then doing exactly what I wanted to do (sometimes the opposite of what she’d advised).

The problem wasn’t that her advice was all that bad. Sometimes it was excellent. The problem was, I didn’t have an open, teachable spirit. I was stubborn. (OK, I’ll say it. I was too proud to listen.)

Dr. Gail Bones, in her book Living CrossWise, gives advice on advice. “The Bible is clear,” Gail wrote. “We need to be willing to ask for—and heed—advice.”

Proverbs 13:10 says, “Wisdom is found in those who take advice” (NIV).

I need to learn how to listen to counsel—with my heart, not just my ears—and then compare it with scriptural truth.

Good counsel might come from an wise counselor (Proverbs 11:14) or from a faithful friend (Proverbs 27:9). Godly counsel can unlock many problems!

“We are equally responsible to be available to share our wisdom by offering godly counsel to those who are coming up behind us,” Gail wrote.

Yes, I also need to learn how to give advice that is wise and biblicalsometimes comforting, sometimes challenging. God counsels us in our struggles so we will know how to counsel others! (See 2 Corinthians 1:4). Counseling comes easier for me than “listening,” but I must be sure what I share comes from the Lord’s wisdom (Isaiah 50:4; 2 Timothy 3:16).

Proverbs 10:11 explains the blessing and encouragement of godly words: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (ESV). There is great power in our tongue (Proverbs 18:21; James 3:1-12).

The Bible’s wise advice on advice is simple: (1) Listen to godly counsel; and (2) Learn to give godly counsel in a godly way.

Can you think of some particularly wise counsel you received that changed your life or helped you become more like Jesus? How can you learn to be a wise adviser?

- Dawn

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Quirky Wonderful

29 Nov

In popular culture, quirky means being “weird” in an endearing way people or things just weird enough to be interesting and intriguing, but “not weird enough to repel, not creepy.”

Some of the quirky people and things I’ve seen are:

  • Girls and young women painting the nails on their ring fingers different colors from the rest of their nails.BeardAndMoustacheCompetition
  • People who make shish kabobs using chopped hot dogs and pineapple chunks.
  • A whole group of people who grew strangely-shaped beards and mustaches for a national championship in Germany. [Right: American Justin Kellermeister, 2013]
  • Most of the unusual deep-fried foods at our local fair. (Actually, I haven’t decided if they are quirky or yucky. Deep-fried butter sticks anyone?)

You may know some quirky people. You may even be one. I’ve been accused of being quirky … and weird … and strange. But it’s OK. Quirky people have existed throughout history.

Laurie Wallin describes three quirky-but-wonderful well-known “weirdos” in her book, Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful.

  • Abraham Lincoln was a bit quirky lanky and uncommonly blunt. But he was also known for his eloquence, wit and spirituality.
  • Thomas Edison was quirky too. He embellished stories to make an impression and was known as a prankster. But Edison’s creativity and innovation gifted the world with many inventions.
  • Clara Barton was quirky in her perfectionism and lapses into martyrdom, codependency and poor self care. Yet she was also empathetic, kind and determined in caring for others.

Laurie believes even Jesus in his humanity had characteristics that might seem like “quirks” to people. But He “handled them well,” she said.

To some, Jesus might have seemed “irrationally bossy” and, at times, “unfocused,” Laurie said. Jesus stopped to heal people, be with children, and even make an impromptu appointment with a tax collector sitting up in a tree. It was as if He was following a separate agenda that often surprised His disciples. (And He was! See John 5:30; 6:38; 17:4.)

Jesus’ desire was to obey the Father’s will and please Him in all things, and sometimes that made Him seem odd to the world; at least, it put Him at odds with the culture.

Jesus’ “bossiness” and “seeming attention deficit disorder” were wrapped up in his desire to glorify God, and His availability and love, Laurie said.

I’ve thought about this weirdness thing quite a bit.

Sometimes I don’t want to be different. Sometimes I want to conform. Even when I know that’s not what God wants (Romans 12:1-2).

If I want to fear God rather be consumed with what people think of me (Galatians 1:10; Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31), there will likely be times I will appear quirky to people – weird, unusual, strange, out of touch with the culture. It may be years (or maybe never on earth) before people realize there is a purpose behind my weirdness. And it may take a while for God to transform my weirdness into wonderful.

How much better our relationships would be if we understood how God wants to transform our weak traits through His strength and use us for His glory. Every trait has a “Dark Side” and a “Life Side,” Laurie explained, and it is in that “Life Side” we glorify the Lord as He fully intends us to do. When we become more like Jesus, we will handle our little quirks well too.

God created me (and you) with uniqueness; why would we ever want to blend in with everyone else? The Lord wants to use our unique qualities (quirks, weaknesses and all) for His glory, to accomplish His will and to bless others.

He wants you to be Quirky Wonderful!

What quirks do others see in you? How can you allow God to transform your weirdness and make it wonderful to the praise of His glory?

- Dawn

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