Moving Targets

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I HATE inconsistent and undefined expectations! I HATE inconsistent and undefined expectations to the point that I call them “moving targets!” I HATE trying to guess what a person wants! I HATE wondering if it is good enough or meets what they are looking for!

I HATE moving targets to the point where I give them power over me (hence the word “HATE”).  I become agitated, irritable, angry and frustrated. The worst part is, I take this out on those around me (thus becoming a “moving target” to them) leaving a wake of hurt and destruction. This is wrong on my part! It is completely unChristlike! (I have NO idea if you have ever experienced this; if you have, then I am glad I am NOT alone!!)

Humility and contentment go hand in hand. I confess, when it comes to moving targets, I am prideful (opposite of humility) and discontented. Instead of being honest and saying, “I am afraid to fail,” “I do not know what I am doing” or “I need help,” I turn into a monstrous person who is not fit for society.  As much as I do not want to say that, it is true. My pride and discontentment by moving targets truly becomes all consuming. I get so frustrated to the point where I just want to scream and hit something. God knows the situation I am in and yet I act as if He has forgotten me or it is His fault there are no clearly defined or consistent expectations. At times, I do not seek God because I am so focused on getting out of the situation that I try to handle this in my own strength, power, might, wisdom, knowledge etc.

Even though God’s Word tells me how to live and respond in every situation, I fall short more than I can count or even realize. Currently, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” is one of the most popular/trendy  verses.  Yet, it is in the realm of contentment that Paul makes this declaration. Paul is able to be content with much or little (Phil 4:11-12) because he knows that God’s grace is sufficient for him (2 Cor 12:8-10). I need to reclaim the real meaning of this verse and live content in whatever situation I am in (whether expectations are clearly defined or moving targets!).

The Bible is consistent, it is NOT a moving target. God’s Word is Truth and Standard. God is infallible and unchanging; man is fallible and ever changing.

Whatever moving targets that are in your life, I pray that you will know that God sees you, He hears you and He is not surprised by any of this. His grace is more than sufficient to help you (and me) live in humility and contentment.

Father God, confession truly is good for the soul! You know that moving targets, inconsistent and undefined expectations freak my soul and spirit! Lord, I pray that if this reader experiences this, they will know that You are with them. I pray this reader will find comfort in knowing they are not alone! I praise You Lord that Your Word is both Truth and Standard! I ask Lord, that for the reader who has NO idea what I am talking about, that You will give them words to encourage others who struggle in this area. Lord God, humility and contentment go together. Help me, help us be honest about what we are experiencing and not go at it alone. Help us to respond to moving targets in a way that pleases and honors You. May our responses to life’s situations be an encouragement to believers and unbelievers. Thank You Father for calming my anxiety, may You do the same for this reader. Lord God, may this reader hold me accountable to live in humility and contentment and may I do the same for this reader, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Plans

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I have been really pondering chapter 6 of Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God. The main point of the chapter is to stop/forget asking God’s will for your life. Chan is correct because very rarely am I asking God for His will moment by moment. I am asking God’s will in the sense of like a ten year plan! I know that God calls us to submit, obey and follow Him, yet I still want to know more than that! I have come to the conclusion that God will not give me the big picture because if He did, I would become focused on and motivated by the wrong thing.

Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells the Parable of the Good Samaritan. To summarize, there was a Jewish man who was beaten by some bandits and left half dead along the side of the road. A priest seeing this half dead man crossed the other side of the street so as to not help the man. A Levite (or Temple assistant in some translations) also crossed to the other side of the street when he saw the man in need. A Samaritan man (who would have been despised and hated by the Jewish people) had compassion on this Jewish man and cared for him.

What does this have to do with plans? Well, I think that if God gave me the big picture/plan, I would become/respond like the Priest and Levite. Sadly, I would miss the man/woman/child in need. I would walk with a purpose to go and do God’s business/ministry/will that I would miss the need right in front of me. In my pride I would think I cannot stop to help you because I am on my way to do a good work for the Lord. I know this about myself.  I can be SUPER task focused almost to the point of tunnel vision that I do not recognize the need around me (and in some instances I may not even care- man that is humbling to admit!). I also have no regard to the attitude that I display toward others because I am so focused on the “important” work that I am doing for God. I genuinely hate being interrupted (my mom, dad and husband can verify this!) and if God gave me the big picture, I know that I would look at that person’s need as an interruption/distraction to my day, my work and my plan.

I am in NO way suggesting that we should never ask for God’s will! What I am suggesting and want to challenge us with is to take inventory on our motives for why/how we are asking God for His will/plan. Are we asking God for His will to glorify Him or we asking God’s will/plan for our own comfort/security/ease etc.?

In my humble opinion, if we are loving God and loving others with the right motive(s), no matter what is going on around us, we are doing God’s Will. God will never will us to treat anyone with contempt, hatred, animosity, indifference etc. I have no clue where in your life you may resemble the Priest and Levite rather than the Good Samaritan. I encourage you to pray Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (NLT).

Father, it is so easy to want to please You and work for You and do things for You that we miss what is going on right around us. Lord, I ask that You help us to seek Your will with the right motives. Remove from us any fear and anxiety about the future. Help us to hold tightly to You and loosely to our plans. Father, I thank You for this reader. I pray that whatever it is they are seeking and searching for, that You will reveal Yourself to them in a way they clearly know is You. Reveal to us our pride and where we have attitudes like the Priest and Levite. Give us the strength and courage to respond like Christ. Help us to live and show Christ to others in this dark and hurting world. Lord, I ask that we lay our plans at Your feet, that we seek Your will in a manner that pleases You.  Lord God, I thank You for the opportunity to share. May this reader be an encouragement to others wherever You have them today, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

New Beginnings

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Sunrise, June 22, 2018. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

“My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you” 1 Peter 5:12 (NLT).

For the past two years Stacey and Kelly C have pushed, motivated and encouraged me to start a blog. I absolutely love to write; however, I fought this idea over and over again. So, what changed?

On July 25, 2018 before going to bed I read 1 Peter 4. For the next eight days, I had been ignoring the Spirit’s promptings to read 1 Peter. I finally obeyed the Holy Spirit and read not just 1 Peter 4 but I read all of 1 Peter in one sitting. To make a long story short, when I came to 1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well” (NLT) I started journaling prayers about using the gifts the Lord has given me well. Out of nowhere I wrote, “Lord, if I am to start a blog, I ask that You help me to step out in faith and begin TODAY.” From the moment that I wrote that prayer, I felt restless that God was doing something but I was not sure what/why/how. God’s clarity came in 1 Peter 5:12, “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in that grace.” Where Peter ends his letter, is how I begin this blog, which is confirmed by my life verses:

Vertical- “my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it to finish the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus- the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Horizontal- “I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (1 Cor 9:22b) and “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

I have NO idea if what you are going through is from God or from personal choices. What I do know is that God is willing and able to see you through your situation. It is my hope that this blog will help/motivate/encourage you in average, everyday life to “stand firm in [God’s] grace.”

Father, I thank You for this opportunity. I ask Lord, that You will meet this dear reader right where they are. I ask Lord, that as You have encouraged, empowered and emboldened me to step out in faith, that You will do the same for my fellow brothers and sisters. Father, I ask that You will use this site to be a place of encouragment for average, every day life. Far too often, we seek Your gifts and not You as the Giver. Lord, make us sensitive to You. Make us aware of the needs of those around us. May we use the time that You have given us on earth wisely as You prepare us for eternity, in Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

What is a “Blue Collar Theologian?”

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Everyone and I mean EVERYONE is a theologian and far too often we are cerebral or emotional theologians. We profess Christ, we think about Christ, we want to feel Christ, but our hands and feet are not doing the work of Christ.

In a post for my Introduction to Christian Theology class I referred to myself as a “Blue Collar Theologian” (it has stayed with me since). Too often it seemed as though we discussed Christ and His Work on the Cross but that it did not really apply to us, like it was only for the people we minister to. To be fair, our class was completely online, so I very well could be wrong about this (I hope and pray that I am!).

“Blue Collar Theologian” is a term/word/reminder to be humble and vulnerable for Christ. It is NEVER easy to be vulnerable and to show the outward signs of struggle, especially in professional or academic circles. Being a “Blue Collar Theologian” is a reminder that Christ is my Boss, my Master, He directs and guides me. I am His hands and feet. A “Blue Collar Theologian” is one who is willing to get in the trenches with people no matter how dark, ugly and dirty. A “Blue Collar Theologian” also recognizes when they need to lay aside pride and ask for help from their fellow believers when life is dark, ugly and mundane. A “Blue Collar Theologian” is one who will do whatever is required/necessary to help others to come to know Christ and to build up His Body.

Please know I do NOT nor am I suggesting that I get this right all the time or even most of the time! I fail a lot. Being a “Blue Collar Theologian” is not without risk. It is having the heart and mind of Christ with the boldness, courage and confidence of Paul. Being a “Blue Collar Theologian” requires me to decrease and Christ to increase (John 3:30). I pray you will join me!

Father God, it is my prayer that each one of us will become a “Blue Collar Theologian.” Lord, I ask that You will convict us where our theology does not align with Yours and where we are not putting Your Word into practice. Lord, may we seek You as we live out the faith You have entrusted to us. It is in Your strength that we are able to do anything. I thank You Father for Your grace, mercy and love. Lord, good theology moves from head, to heart, to hand. May we be so moved by You and for You that we will risk vulnerability and embarrassment to bring others closer to You. Lord, I ask that we will become “Blue Collar Theologians” in Jesus’s Name, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father, Amen!