Archives For failure

Expectations

October 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

expectations

No matter what age we are, we tend to rely on our expectations. For instance, this morning, our older daughter told the younger that it was crazy hat day at school, and gave her a crazy hat to wear. The only reason the older one did this is because she had a better hat in mind for herself.

The problem occurred when the older kid couldn’t find the hat she had in mind and took the first hat back that she had given our younger daughter. The younger one screamed and cried and threw a fit. Her expectation was that her Sissy would keep her word and let her use the hat. The circumstances changed and expectations met selfish reality and although I wasn’t there, it was a tough situation for my wife.

It happens, right? We expect certain things in life. Expect that it will turn out the way we planned. Sometimes we expect we will graduate high school and go to college, but sometimes people don’t get accepted, don’t have money, don’t have the grades. Sometimes we graduate college and expect we can get a great job and end up working part time at a local taco shack. Sometimes we get a specialized graduate degree and really have high expectations and end up doing something not at all related. Sometimes it’s confusing and heartbreaking when things don’t happen like we expect.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, though. Really and truly. It’s ok! I’m just sorry it took me so long to figure that out.

The thing about expectations is, they can really hold you back. Sometimes we are stubborn about it, too. “No – I went to school for this, I’ve wanted this my whole life, and I am going to do this!” What if God has a different plan for you? That’s ok with you, isn’t it?

You know this verse, I know you do. Jeremiah 29:11. Here’s a different translation you may not have heard – “I have not lost sight of my plan for you, the Lord says, and it is your welfare I have in mind, not your undoing; for you, too, I have a destiny and a hope.”

Think on those words. Meditate on them. Realize how significant it is that God would say something like that to people like you and me.

Do you think your situation, regardless of what it is, caught God by surprise? He was just bebopping around in heaven, looked down and saw you hanging by a fingernail off the side of a cliff and said, “Wow that’s surprising to me. I didn’t see that coming at all.”

NO! He has not lost sight of any of us! He has a plan for us, and it’s a good plan – way better than anything we could ever come up with on our own.

My plans led to the confusion and heartbreak I’ve experienced, but God’s plan is always about destiny and hope – we all have a destiny that God has planned and that should give more hope than anything! More hope than the best job, more hope than a winning lottery ticket. More hope than you could ever imagine!

You, like me, might be thinking though that you are so far from where you thought you’d be that it’s hopeless. You might even be feeling worthless, like a failure, like you’ve messed it all up. I’ve been there, in fact I deal with that almost every day. Sometimes I feel like I wasted my whole life. I feel like I tried to do what God wanted me to do and failed and now I’ll never know what he really had in mind.

The good news is, this feeling is pretty common, and even better news is that with God, nothing is wasted. Not your most mind bending failure, not your lowest point, not anything. No single thing is wasted. God can and will redeem it all! That’s how big he is, and that’s how much he loves you!

Another verse – And some context first. Joseph was a man of dreams, and his brothers were so jealous that they threw him in a ditch and told his dad he was dead. Then they sold him into slavery. Then he was put in prison for something he didn’t do. These events make up the bulk of his life. For the majority of his life, if you look at it from the outside, you would think, “Wow it really sucks to be you. No, really.”

During all those years it would have been so easy for him to think, “you know what? This stinks, it’s not going to get better, my expectation was, based on my dreams that God gave me, that I’d be living in a big house and have a book deal with a movie option. And here I am rotting in jail. My life has been a waste! Why God?”

But in Genesis 50:20, we see that he didn’t just get out of jail, but that he’s the #2 guy in all of Egypt. He’s pharoah’s right hand. There is only one person with more power than him in the entire earth. And he gives God the glory for it! He says, “You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good — so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved.”

What others meant for evil, God can turn to good. When your expectations fail you, God’s dreams for you will restore your hope. Don’t waste another minute on your plans! Go to God, discover his dreams for you, learn to follow him, and his dreams will become your dreams!

What do you think God is saying to you right now? What do you think his plans are for you? Ask him, and he’ll show it to you, and give you everything you need to fulfill your destiny!

Roach Motel

October 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

roach motel

I used to live here. This is a google street view screen shot of where I used to live. It was a long time ago. The place doesn’t look any better than it did back then.

No heat, no AC, about 100 square feet of living space. I had a sleeper sofa and a 13″ tv, a little bitty fridge was built in and it had a small sink and a single burner on top. The person who lived there before me must have had a dog because of the smell and the fleas.

There were asbestos ceiling tiles, dark fake wood paneling, and a single, bare light bulb hanging down from the middle of the ceiling, which was plugged into the only outlet in the room. Basically it was an extension cord with a light spliced on at one end, and it was stapled to the wall and across the ceiling. And yes, it had a pull-chain on it.

The bathroom was 5×5 and had a 5 gallon water heater. I would fill the tub up with hot water only, wait 30 minutes and fill it again for a lukewarm bath. The door would not lock or stay shut. It had a padlock on the outside, and I put a box in front of the door at night.

I lived here for a year. The rent was $100 a month, plus utilities and cable tv. When I moved in I was making $0. I didn’t know where I would end up or how long I would be allowed to stay.

None of this was the worst part. Not even close. The worst part was the roaches. Now, in a regular home, if you get up at night and turn a light on, there might be a roach, but it’ll disappear pretty quickly – under the sofa, behind the fridge. This is when you know it’s time to get an exterminator out.

The roaches in my little slice of heaven had no shame at all. They didn’t bother hiding because this was their domain. I was the interloper. They would sit and stare at me, waiting for me to go to sleep so they could try to eat my face off.

I tried to get rid of them. I complained to the landlord and she gave me a can of spray. Which they laughed at. I tried glue traps next. I was going through about 12 a week and didn’t put a dent in them. I didn’t know what to do next.

Now, at that time I was working at a local Ace Hardware. I had a lot of roach related items to choose from. Bombs, glue traps, sprays, powders. The only thing I never tried was a roach motel – I figured, I’m already living in one, why buy another. So as a last resort, I got a pack of 4 bug bombs.

I knew I was going to be gone for a weekend, so I set off all 4 of them on a Friday night, and went on my way. I came back on Sunday around 5. When I opened the door, this nasty, greasy mist came out and hit me in the face. It was covering everything. I turned on the light, expecting to see a bunch of dead bugs. Out of the literally hundreds of roaches, maybe only 5 had been killed, and I’m pretty sure they died of old age, or maybe a laughter induced aneurysm.

So I did the only thing I could do. I gave the owner two weeks notice and found a better place. A way better place. A nice little place.

When I did that, a lot of things changed. I got promoted at work, I met Cheryl, I got a new to me car that actually ran, and I started getting heathy. It’s a wonder how healthy a person can be who doesn’t have bugs crawling all over them at night.

None of this is a metaphor. It’s all true. But on the other hand it is a metaphor because I was in a very dark place – physically yes, I lived in Satan’s armpit, but it was really bad mentally and spiritually as well. I was depressed and felt abandoned – by friends, by family and by God. All my dreams were crushed, my spirit was crushed. I felt like I deserved to be where I was because I was a terrible person, and terrible people suffered like I was suffering.

Did I ever mention my neighbor? A very old man. VERY very old. He coughed all night and during the day he watched soaps. One day I was working on my car, trying to get it running, and he came out with some iced tea for me. He asked me if I went to church anywhere, and I said no, I had been a pastor, but now I’m working at Ace.

He invited me to come to his church, and I did. Just a sweet little church out in the middle of nowhere. After a time, I became their youth pastor. I was so messed up when I went there, but they were patient with me, very gracious, very loving. I didn’t do much more than play games with the kids on Wednesday nights and lead singing on Sundays. But they loved me and after a time, I began to feel better about everything. And then I met Cheryl somewhere along the way and we moved to Texas and got married.

Listen – it was no accident – not any of it. The roach motel, the old man, the church, meeting my wife. God led me through all of that. He was with me at rock bottom when I had roaches biting at my fingers, and he is with me where I am today.

The situation is, I still need a little rescuing. Who doesn’t, right? We all go through times where we forget that God is there, that he’s real, that he is in control. But he is. Things are so great right now! Family is good, cars are running, we have a nice house and great kids. Any or all of that might change tomorrow. But today I will praise God for what he has given me, and when tomorrow comes, I will continue to praise even if its all torn away.

My lesson from the pit was to learn to be thankful – and I am so thankful!

Where are you right now? Mentally, physically, spiritually? Thank God for it even if you can’t see anything to be thankful for. He will hear you, and things will improve. I didn’t just get lucky, I was blessed, and the same God that pulled me out of the roach motel wants to bless you too! Learn to give thanks in everything, and everything will change in your life!

 

Eclipse

October 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

eclipse

Tonight at Freedom Ministry Training, the leader did a personal ministry session in front of the entire group, so we would know in general what it looks like to do this type of ministry. One person from the group came forward and shared some very personal struggles and the leader walked her through it. The end result was freedom from those struggles for the participant.

During the session, I realized the number one thing I need to be free from is my dreams.

I know I’ve said this before, but when I was a “vocational minister” some aspects of my ministry I was very good at. I was a great preacher and teacher of the Word, and for as long as I can remember this was the only dream I had for my life – to preach the Word.

Once the session started, the leader asked the participant what she wanted the outcome of the session to be, how she wanted God to work in her life, what she needed to be free from. If it had been me, my answer would be that I want my dreams to die.

I can’t handle the burden of my dreams anymore. I can’t handle having these desires and these abilities and having no way to use them. I want those dreams and desires to die so that I can live.

Some of you may have seen me or heard me speak. It’s like I am a totally different person. I stand tall, I’m full of energy, my voice projects to the back of the room. I like the idea that all eyes are on me, that every ear is tuned in to what I am saying. It’s not just fun for me – it actually feeds a part of me that is otherwise starving. A part that might not need to be fed that way.

The burden of this dream and gift I have is that fulfilling it feeds an already over-inflated ego. Maybe it’s not even correct to call it a gift. Maybe it’s just an ability that’s innate to me – I got it at birth and like a 3rd ear, I just need to have it cut away.

Maybe it’s time to redefine the dream. If it had been my session tonight, I’d have wanted the old dream to die, and I’d want to be given a new dream. Not my dream of a perfect life for me, but God’s dream of the perfect life for me. His dream, if I could discover it, would supercede everything. Like an eclipse. His dream would overshadow everything else in my life. I would know that dream for a certainty, and it would become my dream, too.

If it had been my session tonight, I would have discovered that my pursuit of my selfish dream fed me more than it fed others, and the ministry that God called me to all those years ago wasn’t about me and my ability. It was about hurting people – and like a vampire I fed off them instead of feeding them.

If it had been my session tonight, I might have learned that regardless of what I have done, regardless of how I have acted, in spite of the people I disappointed, God still loves me and there’s still hope, there’s still a calling and there’s still a dream for me.

I would have learned that I am forgiven. I would have learned that I’m accepted. I would have learned that my deep need to be heard can be filled by God. He listens! He hears everything I say and it’s important to him!

If it had been my session tonight, I might have experienced healing and freedom from these things. I might have left feeling renewed, energized, alive! I might have seen God’s mighty hand extend over me – blocking out every distraction, every selfish impulse, every self serving thought and desire.

But, then again, it wasn’t my ministry session tonight :)