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Great Expectations


Most people live in a tension of having expectations about something and subsequently dealing with the reality of whether or not those expectations become a reality.

This happens at work, ministry, marriage, and just about every area of life.

The reality of this tension means people usually do one of two things. They either set high expectations and are disappointed when those are not met or they stop having expectations altogether in order to avoid disappointment.

But there is a viable, healthy third alternative:

Set your expectations high, but be satisfied when you don’t meet them.

Continue to aim high. Dream big and want the best for things in your life. This allows us to accomplish greater things, to excel, and to do more than we think we might have otherwise.

But… whenever you don’t meet the mark set by those high expectations, don’t get discouraged. Be content. Be satisfied knowing that you did what you could and continue having high expectations.

Where do you typically find yourself in this tension?

Practical Potluck Theology

I like food and I like parties and I think God does too. I also think the church is overdo for some practical potluck theology.


Numerous passages in Scripture encourage the enjoyment of food and drink (Eccl. 9:7; Isa. 25:6; Rev. 19:9.) Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding party (John 2:1-11). He enjoyed enough dinner parties to be accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matt. 11:19) and he shared a post-resurrection beach barbecue with his disciples (Luke 24:40-43). 1 Corinthians 10:31 even says, “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Every aspect of a Christian’s life, including a potluck, has the potential to honor God.

So here are three practical tips for making the most of our church potlucks:

1. Make It Homemade

Far too many potlucks reveal the same scenario. It’s minutes before meal time. Little thought or effort has gone into preparing, so a mad dash is made to the grocery store. The cheapest, most convenient item is snatched up and subsequently plunked down on the table. (I understand that not everyone has the funds and/or talent for food, but this is not usually the issue.)

Instead, pull out your best recipe, spend some time in the kitchen (or over the grill) and put some heart and soul into it. It shows that you care and it’s a tangible demonstration of love for those who will partake of your culinary creation.

2. Consider Others

Potlucks have a way of turning humble saints into greedy gluttons (reference the Corinthians and Paul’s rebuke in 1 Cor. 11:17-34). The first few leave a tornado-like path of destruction while the rest of the poor souls sift through the rubble.

Let’s remember that this meal is not about getting your needs met (in this case, your stomach full) and it’s not about everyone getting what they want. It’s about people coming together in unity and doing what they can to demonstrate that other people are more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3).

3. Be Present

The best kind of feasts include much more than what goes in our mouths. They involve celebration, laughter, conversation, and people being present in the moment. While the food and drink should be savored and enjoyed, so should the people.

Be where you are. Don’t rush through the moment. Interact with others… tell stories. Get to know someone new. Laugh, play and take your time and don’t keep your face stuck in your phone.

When we do these things we will begin to understand and experience for ourselves why God values the celebration of the shared meal.

What have you experienced at your church potlucks and food celebrations? 

Making Progess- Four Simple Steps to Getting Where You Want to Be

Most people have an area of their life, either personally or professionally, they would like to work on to make improvements. The challenge isn’t having the desire to make something better, it’s actually doing something about it.

Doc - Jan 24, 2013, 12-05 PM

Here is the simplest approach I’ve found to make changes in whatever area you want to work on.

1) Know where you are.

This is the easiest step and probably the reason you’re even thinking about making changes in the first place… there’s an element of dissatisfaction.

2) Identify where you want to be.

Be as specific as possible. The more you can “see” what it would look like and be like the better.

3) Decide what you have to do to get there.

This is your “to-do” list. Again, be as specific as possible without bogging yourself down to the point that you get overwhelmed.

4) Do it.

This is always the hardest step, but when we see how the “doing” actually moves us where we want to be, it serves as a powerful motivator.

What other advice or recommendations would you offer to help someone get where they want to be?

The Secret to Anxiety Free Decision Making

People make thousands of choices every day. While most are fairly trivial, all of us occasionally face decisions that carry greater weight. The pressure to make just the “right choice” often results in a deluge of negative emotions including anxiety, fear, and even paralysis in making the decision.

Decision Dice

Many times, the pressure is actually self-induced based upon an untrue assumption. What is the assumption? Perfect knowledge.

It’s stating the obvious, but the truth is, human beings are not omniscient (all-knowing.) That means we do not have perfect knowledge and we will never entirely understand the myriad of factors related to any situation. This is why Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart… do not lean on your own understanding.”

So, take into consideration any wisdom that God has given that relates to your decision and make your choice. You may or may not make the perfect decision, or even the best decision, but that’s okay. Why? Because of the secret to anxiety free decision-making… grace.

God’s grace is not only sufficient to cover our sins, His grace is sufficient to make up for any and all of shortcomings that come as a result of our sinful condition of imperfect knowledge. (Even our most self-assured decisions are guarded by His grace.)

Don’t have all the facts? It’s okay, you have grace. Afraid you might make the wrong decision? Don’t fear, rest in God’s grace. Feeling anxious over what’s best? You shouldn’t. Remember the unfailing power of God’s grace that is completely and totally sufficient to make up for any imperfections in your decision.

What decision are you facing right now that you need to trust God’s grace for?

The Social Media Sham

Social media has a lot going for it. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all the others have a place and a purpose, but they also come with a warning.

A friend shared a story about his recent visit to the “happiest place on earth.” As they stood in line waiting for a ride, he noticed two brothers nearly killing each other, only to be interrupted by their mother who told them to stop and smile so she could post a picture to Facebook.

Thus the danger or social media… it’s not reality.

When it comes to social media, we capture the highlights, not the humdrum. We capture the meal, not the dishes. We capture the smiles, not the tears. We show the world our best moments and conveniently leave out the rest.

Sure, a trip to the beach includes smiles and sunshine, but it also includes packing, driving, trudging through sand, sunburns, malicious seagulls bent on destruction, individuals oblivious to their body-to-bathing-suit ratio, and sand stuck in various cracks and crevices. Those things rarely make it in.

Not Reality

Why does it matter? The things we see and read in the world of social media don’t accurately represent life. We only get the highlights.

If we use what we see on social media as a means for comparison, we run the danger of being discouraged and disappointed with the reality of our own lives. My marriage won’t measure up, my kids won’t measure up, my church won’t measure up, my friendships won’t measure up… nothing in my life will measure up.

Yes, we should capture the smiles and share them with the world. But, we should also find contentment in the ordinary and the mundane that makes up a great majority of our lives. Stop comparing. In the ‘unreal’ world of social media, you’ll always come up short.

For the Better

With the exception of some deeply religious hypocritical leaders, people really liked hanging out with Jesus. And it wasn’t just because of the cool miracles.

Plenty of people really liked having Jesus around because he always made people and situations better. Funerals and wedding parties… better. A trip to the well by a licentious women… better. Worship in the temple… better. A party with drunks and prostitutes… better. Walking down a dusty road… better. Fish fry at the lake… better. Every person, every situation, every moment was better because Jesus was there.

Jesus was there, so life was there. Hope was there. Love was there. Encouragement was there. Peace was there. Truth was there.

What about us?

There is never a time or a moment where our presence does not have the potential to have an effect on the people we come in contact with.

How do conversations shift when you join in? How does your home change when you walk in the door? How is work different because you’re there? How does your presence in your faith community change? How is your neighborhood or community affected because you are there?

If we’re anything like Jesus, they’ll all be better.

Are You Listening?

I had a disappointing phone conversation recently with a local government leader. The heart of my disappointment came from having something to say, but not being heard. I can’t cast judgment though, because I often find myself on the flip-side of the situation.

It’s a common occurrence simply due to supply and demand. The amount of time leaders have to listen is usually disproportionate to the amount of people who have something to say. The key is not necessarily hearing everything from everyone, it’s how you make them feel.

I have no advice for leaders who don’t want to listen, but for those who genuinely do, here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Affirm that you want to listen.

Validate the other person by telling them that you do want to hear from them. This could be as simple as, “I really want to hear what you have to say.”

2. Explain why you can’t listen.

Unless you work for the CIA, most leaders can divulge why they can’t talk at the moment. Again, something as simple as, “I’ve got a busy schedule this morning…” or “I’m sorry, you caught me at a bad time…” goes a long way.

3. Offer an opportunity to listen.

Instead of just brushing someone off, tell them when you do have time to hear from them. “Can I call you back in 10 minutes?” or “I have a 30 minute window in my schedule next week.” Most people will be understanding of your limitations and will appreciate what you can offer.

“…let every person be quick to hear…” James 1:19

The Leadership Lie You Need To Stop Believing

Leaders often make the mistake of assuming other people dislike the same work they do. Because of this, they are hesitant to ask for help or to delegate in the areas of their weakness, assuming other people dislike it as much as they do.

But it just isn’t true.

Here is the simple fact: The thing you hate doing is the exact same thing someone else loves.

One of two things happens when leaders fail to recognize this: 1) The leader continues doing things they despise and therefore the thing is done poorly or 2) They never do the thing at all.

Either way, everyone on the team suffers (as well as the organization.)

Don’t assume everyone else hates the same things you hate. Ask, delegate, look around. Start with the assumption that someone else is sitting around unfulfilled, waiting to do the same thing you’re avoiding.

When you get people doing the things they love, you will be happier, others will be more fulfilled and the whole team will benefit!

Are you doing (not doing) something right now that someone else might love? Who on your team might love doing it?

God Wants Our Circumstances To Change Us

Three Reasons Not to Go to Church

People have all kinds of reasons for why they go to church. Here are three of the worst:

1. It’s Cool.

Please don’t misunderstand me… cool is cool. I love the “wow” factor as much as anyone. But, cool has a couple major faults.

First, cool as a motivator produces consumer-driven Christians. We start to view churches like we do restaurants and clothing stores… “What do they have to offer me?” If I’m dissatisfied with something, I take my business elsewhere. As soon as another church offers something “more cool,” I bail and move on.

Second, when churches major on and prioritize the cool factor, it feels like they have to compensate for Jesus. Like He can’t stand on His own merit. It reveals an underlying doubt about whether Christ is enough and if Christ is not enough, people always get sold something far less that pales in comparison.

2. It’s Comfortable.

While Jesus wants us to experience comfort (2 Cor. 1:5), he never intended for us to be comfortable. In fact, he said just the opposite, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23. The whole “taking up the cross” part means rejection, humiliation and possibly even death… all the antithesis of comfort.

Any church that makes you feel like you can settle in and take it easy has lost the plot. Worse yet, it will keep you from experiencing the kind of bold, desperate, adventurous faith Jesus intended you to have.

3. It Makes Me Feel Good.

Church should occasionally make us feel good. Good that God is sovereign. Good that Christ defeated sin and death. Good that salvation is free. But, if it only makes us feel good, something’s wrong.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 offers the following warning: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth…” Sometimes the truth hurts, so “itching ears” will find teachers who only tell them what they want to hear.

But, church should occasionally make us squirm. It should make us feel convicted as we confront our depravity and sin. It should make us feel discomfort as we face our self-centeredness compared to other’s unmet needs.

Do you agree or disagree with these reasons? What would you add to the list?

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