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Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

It’s Your Timing That’s Off!

looking at watch2Check out this awesome promise given to the Israelites as God tells them about their promised land.

Exodus 23:25-30 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

To think that a blessing from God (Him basically wiping out all your enemies… literally clearing them from the land) to think that could be a negative thing… even a harmful thing is a bit shocking isn’t it. Me personally, the way I’m wired says, “lets get this done!” But look at the wisdom in verse 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. God knew exactly what to do, how to do it and when. His timing is perfect. The other interesting this is that He knew they needed to increase, they needed to change to make this successful as well.

God has made so many promises to each of us, but a lot of times it feels like His timing is a little off doesn’t it. Guess what I’m reminded of today. His timing is perfect. My wisdom is laughable to Him and I just might need to increase.

God Hurry Help!

God Hurry Help

Everyone has something going on in their lives. There is at least one area of your life where there is some kind of adversity or obstacle or resistance.  If that’s not true, give it a day or two.

James tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials… but come on… no one enjoys Resistance and Obstacles and Adversity…

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Most of you will agree with me that God will use your current circumstances for your good. Regardless of how you got there, God can use it for your good. Whether someone did something to you or you made a bad decision that got you there… whatever the reason, right?! We have all made bad decisions that got us into a pickle… We can look back and say “Yep I did that.”

What I’d like you to consider is this: What if… God is responsible for, or has allowed, your current circumstances… I want to let that sink in for just a minute… What if… What if God has orchestrated events in your life that have directed you into a not so good place…

Some of you right now are beginning to think “God is good… why would He do that?” well stick with me. Would you just consider with me that the adversity you’re facing is God’s doing… for your good.

Here’s what I know to be true, Muscles only grow by experiencing resistance. Faith grows the same way… you can spend years studying, but if you never get to apply your learning your just book smart…

OK So all that to say, there is a strength that comes from adversity.

God has created each and every man to have Impact and Influence. He created you a certain way… He wired you a particular way, and He has created and allowed circumstances and adversity to help mold you, and form you, and mature you into that very thing. AHA! I’m starting to understand James a little better now!

The following is a familiar story but it’s right inline with what we’re talking about.

A man finds a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

Here is an interesting thought… If God really IS orchestrating some adversity in your life to help you grow into the man He has created you to be. He has got to be saying “Bless your heart” when He hears you praying prayers that sound like this:

God hurry help
God get me out of this
God make a way
God rescue me
God fix this

So what I want you to consider is this. Take your current situation, your current season, take that thing that you’ve been praying to God for His help to break or release or rescue. Come on… Let’s get real honest for a minute… what is it? is it a financial hardship? is it a heath issue? is it a relational problem? Marriage, children, siblings? Are you going through life lately asking “What the heck is going on?!”
What if… just maybe, this thing you are trying to escape or fix is God’s doing or “allowing” FOR YOUR GOOD!

Jeremiah 29:10-11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

How about Joseph: can anyone relate to Joseph? Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Here is the verse about Joseph (Genesis 39:21)… Really a theme throughout his life that just blows me away.

Genesis 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor… WHAT! If you know Josephs story there are plenty of years in his life that didn’t look very kind or favor filled! Here are four things Joseph knew to be true:
1. God is in control;
2. God is at work even when it doesn’t seem obvious;
3. God’s work in our lives is complex and multifaceted; and
4. Even if everything is against us, God is for us.

Let me give you a personal example. In 2005 my wife and I were separated for 11 months and 14 days. She left for a lot of reasons but most importantly was the fact that I was not providing for my family the way I should have been.

What I was trying to do, and praying for God’s help to do, right up to the time she left was trying to save or prolong what had become a very dysfunctional relationship. We weren’t friends, we had grown apart, etc. I’m praying “God fix us”, “God help this business I’m trying to start to prosper” and He won’t… He didn’t… and today I am so very grateful he didn’t… You see I, and if your honest, most of you; we all want the easiest, quickest way out of painful situations and circumstances. All God had to do was answer a prayer or two I had prayed… Simply allow a few prospects to become customers… to me at that moment that’s what needed to happen… that would have fixed things.

The truth is, that would have prolonged things and the existing relationship… but come on, that’s a whole lot better than separation or divorce right… or so I thought. You see, I had one perspective (God help fix this spot I’m in) and God has His perspective… His is always better by the way. His perspective was this; I don’t just want to prevent separation or divorce, I want your relationship to thrive! I want you and Kirsten to both become more healed and whole so that you can love one another again… so you can like one another again… so you can be a help to each other and foster love to each other, your children and others. In addition to all that I want the Glory! I want you and those around you to have no other explanation… But God.

You want to know the problem with His perspective? To accomplish it, His plan involved almost a year of separation, His plan involved a time out of sorts to do some needed work in our hearts. His plan involved pain. His plan involved me having to learn and grow and change. His plan involved some hard work. His plan involved sacrifice.

All that to say, today looking back, I have proof if you will that God was much more than a bystander or someone to “help me out”. He orchestrated some things… even some hard things… all for my good

God is in this! Remember Genesis 39:21 “But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor…” well the Lord is with Michael and He is extending kindness to me, and giving me favor… AND the same is true for every one of you! The Lord is with you, He is extending Kindness to you and showing you favor.

Can you just for a minute begin to look at your situation, your circumstance, your dilemma in a new way. In a way that has God in control and responsible, to see you though… to show you kindness and favor? I hope so!

You have questions and doubts, but God doesn’t. You have fears and struggles, but God doesn’t. Walk like that. Talk like that. Lead like that.

Have You Ever Been In A Funk?

In A FunkIf we’re honest, we have all been in a funk from time to time. We’ll I’ve been in one for about 10 months. Some of you are saying “Really?” and others of you are saying it’s about time you admitted it… or got over it. A little while back I told a friend that I felt a million miles away from where I was a year ago. A year ago I had this passion oozing out of me. I was getting ready to pastor a church… to love on and do life with a group of people I had grown to love deeply. And not only was this my hearts desire, it is something God had told me would be so years before. And rather miraculously He was making it so without any pushing or manipulating from me.

Well, all of the momentum God had created to divinely fulfill the desire of my heart and launch me into this new season came to a sudden stop… and I was heartbroken. I’m telling you my eyes leaked for weeks just thinking about it, and then God did something; He healed this hurt place in my heart. He helped me understand this was a good change, one He orchestrated. And while I felt better, I’m telling you I was in a different place. That passion I mentioned before was gone and while I can tell you I don’t believe I was ever bitter, I was different… Empty is the best word I can think of to describe it.

Based on some needs of my family we begin looking for a new church home and we attended some great churches, but I’m telling you this guy who had come to love the Bride of Christ was now wondering at times if She was even relevant. I asked myself questions like, “If my children were all grown… would I go?” I’m telling you I just felt hollow… for the first time since meeting Christ a dozen years ago I wasn’t even sure where I fit in the body of Christ.

I have had a zeal for ministry to men for a dozen years. It is something that just burned in my chest. I’ve blown it in so many ways men can blow it. Absentee father, Unfaithful husband, Workaholic, Horrible provider, Pornography addition and then some… So much so that I can relate to just about every man. And God has redeemed and restored and rescued me. He has given me beauty for ashes in so very many areas of my life. He’s done so not only because He loves me but also for me to be a messenger of hope to others. With that said, I believe the honesty and transparency of these blog posts can be helpful to men, but I haven’t posted a thing for a long while because I didn’t think I had a relevant thing to say…

I had gotten trapped evaluating my past and present trying to determine my future.

Gideon is a great example of this. Check this out; Judges 6:13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Ever felt like that? “If the Lord is with me… Where is He?” “But now He has abandoned us” Our prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling… God isn’t speaking to us like He once did… I think we’ve all been there at one time or another.

I don’t have a magic bullet for you today… I wish I did. So I’m just going to outline some of the mistakes I made leading into, and while in this “funk” to communicate what God is teaching me in hopes that I will come to know it more deeply, and that it might be a help to someone else today or in the future.

Mistake Number 1: Isolation

I know, I know, everyone would say that’s a no brainer but I’m telling you I’m more insulated than most men I know from being able to isolate and yet this past year I was able to pull back without any sirens going off. No I didn’t go “dark” but I’m a little afraid oh how easy that might be to do. Long story short; you can be surrounded by people and still be alone.

Mistake Number 2: Filling in the blanks

I believe many of us here have had the pleasure to hear God speak to us personally… In so many different forms. Through His word, a vision or dream, From Him directly, a prophetic word. Through our spouse or children. So many ways. I cherish those times… I write them down and put them in my journal. And while sometimes God’s message is a very specific like No. Yes. Go. Stop. Those may not be easy to obey but they are very very clear. Other times it is a lot more vague like “what I’m about to do is so you may preach My Word to those who don’t know Me”. Which leaves a lot of unanswered questions like “ok what are you about to do, how long does “about” take, and what time does this start?”

Well hearing God speak those words to me was awesome but it was like this big blank canvas and those words were barely enough to paint the sky in this new picture. I held on very tightly to those words and this new picture/vision and as the years progressed some things seemed rather obvious to me and I filled in the blanks. I filled in the blanks and created this beautiful picture and I’d stared at it, I memorized it, I prayed over it. But the problem is I painted in a lot of the blanks and my paint dried and became static. Today I understand that God’s economy is a much more fluid picture that continues to grow and change… It’s much less rigid than the ones I/we create. I have confused some of the things God has said as destinations, instead of what I believe them to be today, which are points along the journey.

In that fluidity is the adventure! And every man is wired by God for Adventure

Mistake Number 3: Holding too tightly

God has done some amazing things for me… miraculous things, things I will forever cherish. And in this current season I am just beginning to understand that even holding too tightly to the things of God from the past may restrict His ability to do a new thing in my life today.

Think about that picture I just talked about… what if you have done most of the painting in that picture and God is trying to fulfill His plan for you, and yet you are holding so tightly to that version of your future. It might be grand in your eyes, but I Promise you it is inferior to God’s best. I believe this is the case for me.

And what I’m finding is it takes time to clear away space for a new vision, a new dream, a renewed direction. We can hold so tightly to what God has said that we leave no room for His plan because we have filled in so many of the blanks for Him. Continuing to look at that picture we can get stuck there in a place called “I guess this is as good as it gets” or “I guess maybe I didn’t hear exactly right” or you fill in the blank. But it’s stuck nonetheless.

And in God’s deep love for us He wont let us stay stuck. He repositions us…  and MAN! That’s uncomfortable! When it seems like God is pushing the reset button. When He seems to be doing things that are contrary to what He’s previously said, and not congruent with this beautiful picture we’ve painted.

I am reminding us all today that you were made to be awesome, incredible, and creative… and the enemy’s job is to minimize you. You are suppose to bear fruit… Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was not producing fruit.

Sometimes it’s tempting to back off, resign ourselves to defeat, and live in the shadows when the going gets tough.  Don’t! God has designed an amazing adventure for every one of us. You have potential you have yet to begin to tap, and if your not smack dab in the middle of your adventure today… WHY NOT?

Here’s what it took for me to get some clarity. It took a break with routine – Getting out of the complacency of my day to day. For some that might mean getting away… For some it’s your electronics, you’re so “connected” you’ve forgotten what quiet sounds like. Some of you it could be pushing too hard… Working so hard you are not leaving room for God to move.

If your feeling stuck or a little like me or Gideon. Take a break from your routine; Stop asking the same questions you’ve been asking God and just show up and see what He might say if you give Him a blank canvas. Maybe even inviting Him to push the reset button.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

Conditioned To Quit

My daughter just got a job as a hostess for the summer at the Pisgah Inn on top of Mt. Pisgah (say hello to Haley if you go). We drove up to see her Saturday and take a look around, and as we are leaving I think, it would be challenging and fun to ride my bike up here, so we push the odometer and find out that it’s 25 miles from there to our house. Sunday afternoon I head out on what will be my farthest ride, not to mention more climbing than I’ve ever done (5,300 feet!). 
 
So I’m off… and at the 15 mile mark I’m feeling pretty good. At mile 20 I’m hurting, and I tell myself only five more miles to the top! At 23 miles I’m telling myself, “You can do this! Only 2 more miles.” Then at 24.5 miles (a half mile from my destination) I expect to see the Pisgah Inn in the distance, at the very least a sign… And there’s nothing. The only thing in front of me is the road, and it’s getting steeper. 25 miles in, There is still nothing and I hit a wall, my legs ach, my lungs ache and my mind says quit. I start having thoughts like, “the odometer from yesterday was obviously wrong, it could be another mile or it could be 6 more miles, you can’t make it that far, QUIT!” For two and a half hours I’ve been conditioning myself to make it 25 miles. My expectation was at 25 miles I would have reached the top and could take a short break before the fun ride down.

My expectations, more than my conditioning got me to the 25 mile mark. There was a driving force behind it. It was motivating; but every inch I travel after 25 miles was painful, uncertain and filled with negative thoughts and doubt. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about turning back. Long story short, I reached the top after 27.5 miles. The last 2.5 miles were the most grueling I’ve ever ridden.

Here’s what I learned. My expectations conditioned my mind and body to go a certain distance. I’m a very positive person but this conditioning drowned out any positivity that was trying to get to the surface. If I had set out with the correct expectations, (that the top of the mountain was 28 miles away) I would have made it, and would have done so without the uncertainty, negativity and doubt.

Your expectations are conditioning you. If they are not set properly they lead to disappointment and resentment. Take a quick personal inventory; are your expectations conditioning you to continue or to quit?

What are you expecting to happen in the next 90 days?

  • In your business
  • In your marriage
  • In your relationships

Expectations That Lead To Disappointment

Expectations are a funny thing… There are positive and negative expectations and people who see the world around them in a pessimistic or optimistic light. The old glass half full or half empty thing. Beyond that it’s possible that you are setting your own expectations or someone else is setting them for you. At dataBridge we talk a lot about managing our clients’ expectations… that’s an example of having your expectations set by someone else. We’re telling our clients what to expect and it’s our job to make sure it happens. Let’s narrow this discussion down to just the positive expectations we set for ourselves.

Here are just a few of my expectations for the coming year. I expect my relationship with my wife and kids to get better. I expect to ride a few 100 mile road bike races. I expect my company to grow by 50%. I expect my church to double in size because so many people are meeting Jesus. I expect to have more friends. Whether you have verbalized them or not you have some expectations too. What are they? Want to lose 10 pounds? Want to get a better job? Want to meet the man/woman of your dreams? Just having expectations, hopes, and dreams doesn’t do anything for you in regards to achieving them. In fact it’s just the opposite. Having an expectation is like having a plant that you hope will flower. If there isn’t some action on your part, if you don’t water, fertilize and care for the plant guess what… you are going to be disappointed and the same is true with your expectations.

I don’t want to discount prayer. Prayer is revolutionary! Prayer is asking God to do His part. We’re talking about your part. :0) I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t purposefully do some things to make my relationships better. I’m going to be painfully disappointed if I go out to ride 100 miles if the farthest I’ve ever ridden is 50 miles. There are action steps or milestones that must be accomplished for each expectation to be met. What are you expecting? Now what is the next thing you need to do?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

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