Naturally, we want visitors to stay. We achieve this through conversation. Here are three tips informulating a welcoming exchange.
My cat ate my homework. She really did. The little fluffball was angry because I wasn’t giving her snuggles. Thus, she would have her vengeance. She started snacking on my piles of papers.
The excuse of “my dog ate my homework” is a classic. A replacement for admitting we were too lazy to complete the process. Laziness. It seems a term lost on a generation that is so “busy.” Rushing around between work, school, and volunteer work, none of us have time to be lazy. Unless, *gasp*, our laziness is evident through the amount of time we spend on social media, Netflix, and avoiding working on our real life relationships.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
Looking to an ant as a role model is humbling. The tiny little creatures we can trample underfoot can outdo us in time management, teamwork, and productivity. Ouch go our egos.
Laziness can disguise itself in countless forms. The unwillingness to work fulltime. Avoiding the gym. Refusing to put extra thought into planning healthy meals. The acrobatic moves we all perform in trying to reach the remote without our bums leaving the couch. #RealTalk
Fostering a strong work ethic is a holy call. It’s not just something our moms instilled in us through whoopings and time outs.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
This verse calls us to be hardworking in every aspect of our lives, as an offering to the Lord. Some of us, however, rather sit this one out. Eat some Nutella. Binge watch “The Office.”
We often blame our laziness on outside sources. Too tired. Too uneducated. Too weak. But Proverbs 6:7 makes our responsibility clear when it says an ant “has no commander, no overseer, or ruler.”
We can’t blame our actions on others. Especially when it comes to our time management and work ethic. We can make a thousand excuses as to why we can’t give 100%, but excuses will only bite us in our blessed assurance later.
Our laziness can harm the people reliant on us for support, monetarily or otherwise. However, laziness has a huge effect on the perpetrator as well.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”
Poverty is a dark place to be. A wasted life even darker. None of us want to wake up to our 30th birthday and realize our existence has contributed nothing to the world. Our reputation is one of unreliability. We have no nest egg, accomplishments, or relationships (those take work too). The saddest thing, however, would be realizing we haven’t contributed to the Kingdom of God. All for a little rest.
Everyone has an aspect of laziness in their lives. Where they don’t give their all. A section in which an ant outdoes them. Again, ouch to the ego.
Laziness takes effort and consciousness to combat. Self-examination and reliance on God can reveal parts in our lives that need work. May we all work harder than an ant, squishing them with both our shoes and our work ethics.
Now, I need to go salvage my homework from my cat.
Last week we discussed gold rapper chains, dragon’s stashes, and cash (Click here for part 1, click here for part 2). All these riches referred to the inheritance awaiting us in Christ. An inheritance found in placing our expectations in Him. God promises His saints a reward in heaven for their faithfulness to Him. Just as a father delights in giving his children gifts, our Father waits to shower us with the blessings of His love (Matt. 7:7-11, James 1:5).
Hold up, bro. The treasures awaiting us in heaven are a lifetime away. Heaven meets some sooner than others, but for the average American, it takes 79 years to reach the pearly gates. Seems like a long time to wait. Like waiting for a pot pie to microwave. Or waiting at the DMV. Or waiting for your crush to text back.
So, how do we get through this waiting room of life, eagerly longing to bask in the glory of God? There’s no fast track. No smart phone powerful enough to pass the time quickly. There is only hope and patience. As they say, “patience is a virtue.” It’s a virtue some of us would rather live without. But, unfortunately, it’s as necessary as our daily shower. At least, we hope everyone deems daily showers necessary.
Behold, the scriptures below.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see.”
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
“For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.”
Placing expectation in Christ requires faith. Like those trust falls we all did as kids, where we fall backwards into our friends’ arms, we must trust that placing our hope and expectation in Christ will fall into provision. As discussed before, God, in His prefect power and glory, is the most reliable source for expectation. He sticks to His promises and brings good things to those who wait and don’t wander.
We must be careful not to fall away from our hope due to boredom in life’s waiting room. Or the pain of current circumstances. Tempted by immediate gratification, many Christians fall into lust, greed, and envy. In a culture built on instant pleasure, waiting is getting harder. But with God, all things are possible.
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
As the finite beings we are, we cannot conceptualize the extent to which God provides an answer to our longings and waiting. But our longings are framed in time, which makes the anticipation and payoff so much more satisfactory when it is finally reached. Of course, as Christians, our actions shouldn’t be motivated by receiving more riches in heaven. It’s crucial, however, to understand that we were made to be in communion with Christ. Our hearts desire for all our wants and needs to be fulfilled in Him. In heaven, these longings will be realized.
Christ is the steady and unchangeable source upon which we should build our hopes and expectations. Placing our desires in Christ, rather than the promises of the world, gives us hope of an inheritance in heaven, accessible through the glory of His might and majesty. Finally, we must patiently await the fulfillment of our hearts, resisting the temptations of this world.
This concludes our series on unmet expectations:
Expectations don’t have to end in heartache. Dreams don’t have to be crushed by a sinful world. Hope isn’t a lost or illusive idea. Our greatest hopes and expectations can be realized in Christ, if only we surrender our desires to Him (Psalm 37:4).
God is powerful. God is faithful. More faithful than the rising sun. The best, in expectation, is yet to come.
Last week we discussed sunrises, the hellish heat of the Arizona desert, and underwater basket weaving (click How to Deal With Disappointment Part - 1). These obscure ideas were connected to the sadness of unmet expectations and ill-
placed hope. Placing our hope in perishable things only leads to disappointment. However, placing our hope in God will always breed joy and fulfillment. Now, we’ll explore the rewards of putting our expectations in the right place.
First, some scripture:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where
thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth
nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
Upon placing our hope in our heavenly father, our expectations will always be met when they collide with God’s provision (Psalm 37:4). As a reward for placing our dreams in the right place, we are promised riches of many kinds. Cha-ching.
There is money to be made in this life. For sure. This is America, after all. Land of the free, home of the beef. Whether we work at Wendy’s or as a top attorney, cash is available if we work for it. However, even if we earn more money than the Kardashians, the riches of this world don’t compare to the promised inheritance of God’s children.
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people."
As children of God, our actions should never be motivated by storing up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Our “good deeds” should be done out of our love for Christ and people. However, there is no wrong in acknowledging that we are promised an inheritance. God is so excited to bestow us with heavenly crowns. Maybe Olympic-sized swimming pools. Gold rapper chains. You never know. If our heavenly inheritance wasn’t a motivator for placing our expectation and hope in God, the Bible wouldn’t have mentioned it continuously (Revelation 3:11, James 1:12, 1 Cor. 9:25-27, 1 Thes. 2:19, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, 1 Pet. 5:2-4, 2 Cor. 5:10).
The dragon stash-sized riches mentioned above are secured for us by God’s glory. The “glory”
characteristic of God in the New Testament is often used in conjunction with hope. Glory is the utmost ability of God’s unchanging nature, and the assuredness of His complete power and majesty (Col. 1:1-6, 27, 3:3-4, Romans 8:16-18, 1 Peter 5:10). With the unchanging power of God, our promised inheritance is safe. Safer than a bar of gold in a safe within a safe, guarded by the secret service within an underground bunker in the center of the earth surrounded by a moat of lava. THAT safe.
Christ is the unchanging factor in which we can place our hope, absent of disappointment. The
unchanging glory of God gives us access to a hefty heavenly inheritance. The inheritance awaiting us is rich, but it will take patience to attain. Cue the Jeopardy music, as we must practice patience for next week’s blog: “How to Deal With Disappointment – Part 3.”
Imagine sitting on a ridge of a mountain, looking toward a higher mountain just miles before you. Feel the cool autumn breeze on your face. Hear the birds chirp as the blue tint of dawn colors the foliage of the mountain. Ah, there it is, the yellow light of the sun peeking over the hills, intensifying with every second. The expectation of sunrise is overwhelming.
For many people, especially young adults, expectations rule the mind. Like an overbearing mother expecting all her children’s grades to be A+++. We’re under pressure, realizing that at the same time we are solidifying our life expectations, they are impossible to attain.
The average expectation plan may go as follows. Go to our top college. Graduate at age 22. Start our dream career at age 23. Get married at age 25. Buy our first house at age 26. Have our first kid at age 28. Have our last kid at age 35. Retire at age 55. Enjoy good health and a long life. Have good friends and healthy loved ones. Have the perfect, most attractive, most charming spouse. Make so much money that the swimming pool in our backyard is filled with $100 bills. Make it rain.
Then life hits. Our mom gets cancer. We’re single at age 30. Our startup flops and we’re left penniless. The losses keep coming, and suddenly, our hopes and expectations completely dissolve. Like a snowman in the hellish heat possessed by the Arizona desert. Seriously, it’s too hot there. Even for Satan.
There is a place, however, where we can put our hopes and expectations without being disappointed. That place possesses three things:
1. A constant, unchangeable source of expectation
2. A promised inheritance of full life and riches
3. Patience in waiting for the results of hope
1. Unchangeable Source
First, some scripture.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
"And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Ah, yes. Hope and shame. We’re reminded of the optimism we had when first leaving our parents home. Becoming a rockstar. A video producer. A Navy Seal astronaut lawyer. Proving to our father that yes, we can be successful at underwater basket weaving. When we don’t become great at the things we’d swore would make us happy, our dreams are lost and shattered. We realize we are powerless to changes that come with life circumstances.
What can be found here, though, is the unchangeable factor which leads to the fulfillment of dreams and ambitions: Christ. Humiliation is not a part of a dream placed in Christ. Problems only arise when we place our hope in earthly things. Things that are vulnerable to life changes. Like underwater basket weaving. What happens if you run out of oxygen, huh?
If we direct our focus on God, pursuing His desires for our lives, He will never disappoint us. Hope in Him will not put us to shame. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” says Psalm 37:4.
God never changes. He is more faithful than the rising sun. Over the mountains. As we watch.
With that short truth bomb, we’ll talk about the promise of a heavenly inheritance in “How to Deal with Disappointment – Part 2.” The expectation is overwhelming…
Spilling coffee in the car. Favorite jeans ripping. A dead fly in the salad. These are the makings of a bad day. As the ungrateful beings we tend to be, we’re bound to tell Lucy, her great aunt, her great aunt’s dog, and whoever else will listen, about our horrible day.
“Research shows that most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation,” says Travis Bradberry, an expert on emotional intelligence. Science also finds that complaining causes brain damage. It comes as no surprise, then, that the bible shows complaining eats away at a person’s soul. Let me explain.
Finding a new shortcut to work can be enough to make a grown man dance on his tiptoes. Like a ballerina. In a tutu. We like shortcuts. We like less work. So do our brains. By complaining repeatedly, our brains form new shortcuts in our thoughts. Like whacking away underbrush on a trail, the more a person complains, the more they enforce the shortcut. Pretty soon, complaining is our brain’s go-to in every conversation. We literally change our noggins with constant whining (click How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity).
Complaining also affects the part of the brain responsible for memory. This is also the part of the brain responsible for Alzheimer’s. Maybe we don’t want to risk damaging it by verbalizing rage at our half- frosted donut. HOW HARD IS IT TO EVENLY SPREAD WHITE GOO OVER A PASTRY?!
Complaining isn’t ALL bad. If complaining is done with a purpose, it can help a person’s brain by processing emotion. We need to know how to healthily discuss our problems and emotions with friends and family. “Complaining” to loved ones in this way allows us the opportunity to find a solution through their suggestions (click Complaining, For Your Health).
Complaining is damaging when it doesn’t problem solve. It even affects our social lives. People will avoid us like dog poop on a walking trail if our only function is bringing them negativity.
Who are the people we actually enjoy talking to in life? Why do we like talking to them? It’s usually because they listen to us, offer sound advice, and make us feel comfortable and at ease; which brings us to the spiritual damage of complaining.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
The Bible has a few things to say about whiny words. It goes along with the whole “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak” notion. It’s not that God doesn’t want to hear about our worries. He does (Philippians 4:6). However, our worries become other people’s burdens when the complaints are petty and nonconstructive.
Paul, a dude who’s seen stuff worse than two-week-old meat in the church potluck chili, was a man who valued thankfulness. He wrote the following words while he was under house arrest. Alone. Probably getting carpal tunnel from writing so much of the New Testament...
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Again, Paul wrote this after being tortured for the gospel, jailed, and continuously persecuted.
Contentment, joy, and peace can be found in Christ, if only we pursue Him.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
That’s right, folks. We need to have our conversation partner in mind during the conversation. That means assessing the impact of our complaint about the half-frosted donut before we say it.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
Wowza. Grumbling about the frosting status of our holed pastry is attributed to being “warped and crooked.” Complaining can also dull our God-given light more than black boots covered in mud. Whining dims the shining we’re equipped with to share the gospel.
The spiritual summary of complaining is this: complaining causes individual discontentment, a disregard for others, and damage to the ability of a believer to share the gospel.
The physical summary of complaining: complaining rewires the brain, causes social harm, and should only be done if it is used for problem-solving.
If we want to be complaint free, we can actively seek God’s strength, through prayer, to aid us in ceasing our grumbling. We can also be more mindful of our words, catching ourselves when we start to whine. It takes work to break any habit, but complaining is certainly a habit worth breaking. Even if we ripped our favorite jeans.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
"In our postmodern, hyperindividualistic society, we are faced with many difficulties, time constraints, and misconceptions leading to a limited understanding of the Bible and a passive adherence to Christ's teachings and call to discipleship. Coffee talks is a gathering of people who break through the mundane and discuss how to follow Jesus, how to read and understand the Bible, and how to live out the Gospel in our lives. We meet at the hanging tree on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 6 PM. Come join with us on this path of following Jesus and practicing the way of life set out before us by Him."