What Did You Expect?

A Reflection …

Some individuals approach marriage with the thought that their spouse will meet all their needs… the proverbial knight in shining armor or captivating Cinderella.

One of the assessment tools I use when doing pre-marital  counseling evaluates the intensity of  unrealistic expectations. Such expectations can be a setup for disaster. When the honeymoon is over and reality sets in; the wake-up call is far from blissful.  Of course unrealistic expectations can happen in many other areas of life and be as equally jolting.

Using a different assessment tool, I discovered something about moi and that is my number one talent/strength is *connectedness. Like all strengths and gifts it has its weaknesses… and for connectedness one of them is idealism. In other words…unrealistic or idealistic expectations. As I surveyed my life I saw places in my past where this rang true… two instances stood out. One was a company I had worked for that boasted of a mission statement that was little more than words on a page.  The second was a philanthropic group I worked with for a short stint. Some of its volunteers appeared to be driven by ego and self promotion with little concern for its mission. At least that’s how I saw it. My reaction in both cases was disappointment, but worse a critical spirit.

Prov 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Haughty is an ugly word, but I’m afraid it may have fit well in these incidents. With this new insight, it was time for me to own up and face the music. Time to repent and allow God to do the heart work that needed to be done.

I am reminded at what the Lord said to Israel in Jeremiah 18:6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…” God continues in His mercy and grace to mold this piece of clay…me, a work in progress. For the record, He has much work to do, but I trust Him and His promise that says, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” Phil 1:6

I rejoice…it’s a new day.

*Clifton Strengthsfinder

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Facebooktwitter

” FOR NOW WE SEE IN A MIRROR, DIMLY…”

My wife and I just got back from vacationing in a sleepy little town in the Adirondacks, where by the way, it was about 20 degrees colder than home.

On our first night we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant and began chatting with our waiter. He was a young guy who just finished college and my wife June asked him where he was from.  His reply “New Jersey”. So I asked where in New Jersey.  He said “Point Pleasant Beach”. Too funny…It’s a small world.

I always bring a few books to read while on vaca. I opened up one loaned to me by a waitress who works in a breakfast place we frequent. She told my wife, “I think your husband might like this” and gave it to her to give to me. She was right. The book is called Through The Eyes of a Lion written by Levi Lusko. I would highly recommend it.

The author makes a statement that I am still contemplating. “For every person who has been destroyed by suffering, there are probably ten who have been wrecked by their success. Trust me when I say this: The issue isn’t whether your life is going well or falling apart; the question is, what makes you so sure you can tell the difference? Things are seldom as they appear.”

I leave this with you and would love to hear your thoughts.

It’s a New Day…Live it!

 Facebooktwitter

Summer Is Over…But Here Is An Uplifting Word!

I trust you had a great summer! I saw this video of Denzel Washington speaking at a college graduation…powerful advice. Please give it a view.

Put God First - Denzel Washington Motivational & Inspiring Commencement Speech YouTube play

It’s A New Day…Live it!Facebooktwitter

SHAME OFF YOU

Have you ever been shamed…perhaps by a parent, a teacher, a boss, or your spouse? There is nothing that cuts to the core of one’s being than being shamed. There is nothing redemptive in it…nothing. Author Gary Chapman says, “How we respond to these voices from our past will determine our future…We were not created to live under cloaks of shame.”

In a recent blog post by Christina Patterson she states, “Where guilt has to do with feeling bad about what we do, shame is feeling bad about who we are…We can experience both guilt and shame at the same time, and many times we do. Shame, however, is more relational. It has to do with feeling like a failure in the eyes of others and how we perceive ourselves.”

When we are shamed, the assault takes its toll. The effects can last a lifetime unless the shame is dealt with. It becomes our dirty little secret. It’s avoided, we hide it, no one is allowed to know about it and the authentic self is lost, buried under all of the pain.

From a Biblical perspective when sin was born so was shame. In chapter 3 of Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. Later we see in verse 7, “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.”

Please notice their reaction. They immediately tried to cover it, not deal with it or confess it. Instead, they hid it and wanted no one to see it.  That is exactly what we do today. A few verses later God is looking for Adam and he told God,  “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

This is crazy. Alan D. Wright writes in his book “Free Yourself, Be Yourself”,  God never uses shame to motivate us toward right living or excellence. He never motivates us by withholding His love from us.  “God does not motivate by withholding love, but by giving love.”

So here is the good news, we can be free of shame if we have the guts to confront it and receive the healing offered. Truly, God’s grace and love is amazing! Often the hard part is forgiving ourselves.

Be encouraged, work through the process. Go for it!

YOU ARE WORTH IT!

 

 

 Facebooktwitter

This month begins year 3 of my blog. This month I am doing something different. My new post is posted on our church website, the title is “A Hard Heart”. It deals with a faith that is grown cold. If this is of interest to you, just click the title.

For the past year, I have been writing monthly. For year 3, I am not sure how often I will be posting, but I will let you know.

Thank you for your interest.

Blessings,

JoeFacebooktwitter

LET IT SNOW

 

This photograph is one of the wooden walk bridges in Spring Lake, NJ. I took the photograph in 2010. It is one of my favorite snow images that I’ve captured over the years. Except for my sore back from shoveling it… I like the snow.

With the sheer beauty of it comes a stillness, a quiet, as a fresh blanket of white covers the earth. I love the muted sounds of cars driving through the new fallen snow. Everything seems so peaceful…at least for a time.

Granted, some people don’t the like the snow. And I get it. A few years ago I drove home from Raleigh NC in a brutal snow storm. Lots of prayers prayed during that drive by me, and by others for me. Crazy I know, but I still like the snow.

The funny thing about a snowstorm is; you can rail against it, shake your fist at it, but what good will that do? There is a prayer known as the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Let me share a part of it with you. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

So if you can’t change it… then accept it. Slow down and spend time with your loved ones. Read a book, spend some time in prayer, write a poem, a song, a blog. Go out and build a snowman. Turn off your smart devices, relax. Work on that new idea that has been floating around your head. Whatever your decision, just don’t waste your energy complaining about the storm. Use the time, don’t lose the time. Your time is too precious and so are those around you.

It’s a new day…live it.

 

 

 

 Facebooktwitter

 

Christmas 2017

It’s crazy… 40 years ago this month I experienced the biggest change of my life, Emmanuel, God With Us.

Growing up in a church I knew about Him, but I didn’t know Him. As a of matter fact that language would have been foreign to me… and yet that is why He came; for me to know Him.

The invitation He offered me, He offers you, He offers it to everyone. But you must respond to it…receive THE gift.

My prayer for you this season is that you will.

Merry Christmas,

JOE

 

GOD WITH US
00:00
--
/
--
Facebooktwitter

It’s amazing how we allow our focus to shift from the have’s to the have not’s. All of us in America have much to be thankful for, no matter how hard things get or have gotten. I read this quote last weekend and it really helped to see things from a different angle, the have angle, “Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairytale.” Wale Ayeni

On a bad day when asked “how are you doing?” I have responded, “Livin the dream.” In those moments my last thought is this is someone else’s fairytale or dream…nightmare maybe? All of us have been there. And nightmare may be overstating it, but that’s how we are feeling.

Life is made up of many moments, many seasons. In the bible, the book of Ecclesiastes offers us this from chapter 3,

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

The text does not necessarily condone, it simply shows us the seasons of life… the haves and the have not’s. In the same book, Solomon writes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” So that crazy place, hard place, yes even the joyous places we’ve experienced, someone else has been there.

So no matter what season you are in this Thanksgiving, my prayer for us all is we find “the much to be thankful for”.

Blessings,

Joe

 Facebooktwitter