Reality Minus Expectations = Esteem

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 102,600 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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Have you fallen into the trap of high expectations, and feel sad because you can’t achieve them? You aren’t alone. Too many people are on the same boat with you.

The neighbor has a new boat; now you want one. Mary has a better job, now you want a better job. You saw a guy drive by in a souped up hot rod, and now you want one.

It can go on and on. We seem to always want more than we have. We expect to be recognized as the most successful person in the neighborhood.

What this leads to is disappointments, depression, anxiety, etc. We have to face reality, and realize that maybe we can’t have that boat, job, or car that the other people have.

What we need to do is accept the spot where we are, and live a good life, of serving God to our fullest.

If we really live with that in mind that leads us to esteem. People see us as we are, and accept us as we are. They look up to us, because we aren’t trying to climb over people to get where we want to go.

So, Reality, (The way we are) compared to expectations, (Where we want to be) should look like this math problem solver.

Reality – Expectations = esteem. Simple math. Just face reality, and quite trying to reach such high expectations, and your esteem will be much higher.

If you are wallowing in the muck and mire, because you feel you are a failure. It may be because you expectations are above your reality that is right for you.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give  up!

 

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Expectations

He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” Psalm 10:6

There is no such thing as a trouble-free life. This is naïve, presumptive, and proud. Pride instills false confidence and unrealistic expectations. A man thinks himself immutable and omnipotent to conclude he will always be free from adversity. Jesus said just the opposite. He taught that we are not of this world, therefore the world will hate us (John 15:19). This is not an invitation to a life of ease. It is a guarantee for conflict. The naïve boast of an out of control optimism not based in reality. His house is built on sand, and he will experience loss when the first winds of suffering blow over his life. Pride sets us up for a fall (Proverbs 16:18). There is no way to totally shield ourselves from pain.

We who feel overly secure are never safe. There is no opulent home or outrageous bank account that can keep us from the inevitable suffering. Wealth sets us up for disappointment. Boastings are not buttresses, and self-confidence is a sorry security. Our confidence is in Christ, not in our ever-changing life of uncertainty. He has a perfect purpose outside of ourselves. He has a much greater and more massive meaning. We can expect great things from Him because He is great. He is immovable and immutable. We vacillate. We change. We struggle. We doubt. We fear. That is why we cast our lot with the Lord. When life happens and the bottom falls out, we have a solid foundation in our Savior.

Pride, on the other hand, brews naïve expectations. This is the ruin of fools. When they succeed, their confidence bloats out of control. There needs to be a dose of humility to bring them back into the realities of everyday life. Indeed, in your success do not seclude yourself from ordinary people. Make sure you engage with those who are still clearing their career path and muddling their way through marriage or struggling to raise kids. Engagement in the lives of others leads us to a more fulfilling life. It is in our success that we are set up to serve others. To give back is to govern like God. This is what He expects. Godly expectations lead us down the road of service and selflessness.

So instead of insulating our lives from all danger and risks, we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. We ask questions like, “What does God think?” “Will this opportunity contribute to my spiritual growth?” “How does my spouse fit into this plan?’ “What is best for my family?” “What will give me the most leverage for the Lord?” We seek to align our expectations with eternity. It is an ongoing process of dying to ourselves and coming alive for the Lord. So do not become disillusioned in your discomfort.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:12-13)”. It is not a life of ease that we need to expect, but a life of obedience. Moreover, do not expect money to be a cure-all. More money applied to naïve expectations sets us up for bitter disappointment. Instead, expect great things from God. Trust Him in and with your troubles. These are expectations for the mature of faith. Wisdom aligns our expectations with His. Expect this.

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Peace in the Storm

This weeks guest is a someone I count blessed to have in my life and call a close friend. I have never met him in person, I pray one day I enjoy that blessing, just to be able to say Thank You, for his heart and compassion, in person. He is a pastor, and author of “Give Faith a Second Chance”. He has been the receiver of second chances himself and can relate to “being at the end of your rope”.  With all the accolades I could provide for Christopher, his greatest assest is his heart for God and his heart for people. He has donated numerous copies of his books to the recovery centers I speak at so others may know God is a God of second chances, people he’s never met and may never met. His Goal only exist in furthering God’s Kingdom, not his church membership. I am very blessed to count us friends and hope you will also be blessed by his post

Peace in the Storm

Back before satellite, Doppler radar and “Stormtracker” technology, it was kind of hard to tell when a storm was coming, its severity, and when it would be over.

Along our journeys in life, wouldn’t be nice to have a life storm Doppler? The kind of warning that would let us know in advance that a job loss or problems with our kids or cancer diagnoses or loss of loved ones were coming.

Funny though, how we spend a lot of time, too much time, anxiously awaiting those kinds of things, that may or may not happen. Trouble sleeping, hypertension, frustration are all fruit of worrying. And yet, all the worrying and anticipating in the world can’t keep those kinds of storms in our lives from arriving and hitting hard.

I don’t think my brave friend Heather, 36, as well as some other women I know, spent much time worrying whether or not she was going to get breast cancer. It just kind of came out of nowhere. And now she is fighting a valiant battle, and winning; but nonetheless it is a weathering storm – physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s like the kind of summer storm that haunts all night long.

In terms of jobs, some people had warnings; many did not. Some with more than 20 years at a job, some with great employment records, have been hit by this economic storm. And try to find a job right now…very difficult – the storm lingers.

In marriage, there are peaceful times and there are stormy times. A lot of marriages are in the middle of storms – often because of other storms hitting at the same time. It can feel like you are stranded on a boat in the middle of a raging sea and storm with no one else around to help or understand.

A lot of young people find themselves in a constant storm of pressure and expectation. Caught in the middle of wanting to make friends and keep friends that have different priorities and boundaries than their own, and negotiating with high expectations of success in all things by parents and other adults. It must feel like the wind and waves just keep coming, hammering – making you wonder if the boat can hold together through the storm.

All of this is a lot like how the disciples felt in Mark 4:35-41. On a journey themselves across the sea with their mysterious friend who was napping in the stern, they were suddenly overwhelmed by a vicious, demon-like storm that came out of nowhere. The storm looked like it would spell the end for this group.

In terror, they turned to their peaceful, calm friend and leader and said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing!” Giving voice not only to their fears but to anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed and turned to a higher power for help.

The higher power in the boat and in this story of course is Jesus. But still the question, “Does he care?” The answer is “Yes.” But other related and important questions might be, “Does he care in a way that we are used to and are able to see (or willing to see by faith)?” and how about “Are we willing to trust and receive the kind of care and peace he wants to offer in storms?”

Awakened by his friends, Jesus stands up and rebukes the storm (just sounds cool) and says, “Peace, be still.” And all is calm – immediately. The reaction then and now is…awe. What can this man do if the winds and storms obey him? What power does he have? All power on earth and heaven.

And if he did and still does have all power on earth and heaven (which he does), what does that mean for us today?

“Why are we so fearful and faithless? For in many tragic ways, we are just that – afraid to rely on Jesus’ methods and motives, afraid to act as though God’s infinite resources were on the side of love,” according to New Testament scholar Halford E. Luccock.

Is it a case of “too good to be true?” Is it a case of his power seeming to not work in the past – failing to keep other storms from smashing our boats? It’s probably a lot of things.

But here is what I know and what I want you to know today, this moment. I know you or someone you love is facing a storm. I know that it is terrifying and it looks like you or they might not make it this time. I know that it feels awful and vulnerable and you feel powerless.

But I also know that Jesus is in the boat. And he is peace personified and he is saying, “I’ve got this” to whatever storms you or others are facing. And he wants you to know and receive the peace he has to offer you. And, I know it is hard to see it right now.

Maybe this is the time – that in the midst of this storm, instead finding or creating your own peace, instead of giving into fear, that you will look to the rear of the boat – seeing, saying, thinking and believing, “He’s got this.” Maybe this is that time…

 You can find more about Christpher at www.christopherbwolf.com and follow his blog at http://christopherbwolf.wordpress.com/

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Stop Playing the Victim

“I was a little afraid of him; not the boy himself, but of what he seemed to be: the victim of the world.”

People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.

J. Michael Straczynski

What is the one piece of advice that everyone should take? That one thing they can do to make a big difference? To stop being a victim. This has become so cliché , and so common place in our world, that we ignore it and don’t really think deeply into what it means. We say it without thinking about it. We become it without realizing it.

A victim compels others to rescue them by making them hostage to their alleged circumstances. He drags them into the darkness of his own making? Did I say of his own making? Yes, I did. No matter what your circumstances, you are responsible for your actions from this point forward. Where you are now is a result of your previous decisions and actions. Regardless of what has happened in the past however, you have the power to change your situation now.

When you play the victim and expect others to come to your rescue, you are shutting yourself off from that tremendous power that you have to make a difference. You are creating a self-limiting environment for yourself. You are failing to be 100% responsible.

Do I deny the reality of circumstances good and bad? No, but I do deny the benefit when you or I or anyone else focuses on them from a victim’s perspective. For every whine, somebody has a better case somewhere else. No matter what has happened to you, something worse has happened to someone else. If you demand people focus on victimhood, you owe it to others less fortunate to focus on them and not yourself. You’ll never win this losing battle of being the biggest victim.

Every minute you spend playing the victim, is a minute you spend not doing something about it. Aside from that, nobody else wants to hear it. You are just spreading the misery unnecessarily.

I am accustomed to seeing the suffering of others. It amazes me sometimes how many times a person will be delivered for a circumstance, and just when the pain begins to subside, they place themselves right back at the source of the pain. But if I act differently and incorrectly because of that feeling, then I am enabling them to remain victims. When I do anything to encourage a victim attitude, then I’m enabling that which I’m trying help them resolve. I have been there, placing myself back into the situation i had just escaped from, to only find that the pain and misery was still there. It had gone nowhere but patiently waited for my return. Those situations still exist in my life today, if i chose to give place to them, and i am absolutely sure the pain and turmoil is there, waiting for me. It will be as bad, if not worse, because each time we revisit those areas of our lives, that make us a victim, we inadvertently lose a little more of ourselves. We are building our own, self made prison, one by one we lay the bricks. The sad part is the majority of the time, we are also the only ones that have the key to escape, but out of fear, we will not take action.

This is hard to do. There is a tendency to think with our emotions and our compassion and I’m am often guilty of this myself. It’s a lot easier to throw money at someone than it is to figure out a way to encourage them to help themselves. Sometimes money is the easy way out. We feel all puffed up now that we have done our civic duty and we can quickly get back to focusing on ourselves.

There is a fine line and a difficult line for you to walk when you are helping others. You can help in a way which encourages them to take responsibility for themselves, or you can help in a way which enables and encourages the problem. When somebody falls down you can pick them up or encourage them to get up themselves. Your tender heart may encourage you to go to far. You must resist the temptation because you are not helping, you are hurting.

Most parents realize that they can go too far in protecting their children from the harsh lessons of life. As a parent I struggle with this too. Your heart tugs on you in an reaction that your mind knows is a mistake. Just because it makes you feel good for a moment, doesn’t mean you have helped. While we protect, they never experience, and therefore never grow. They will be ill prepared to make choices and decisions on their own. We have mistakenly harmed then in our futile attempts to protect them.

Clean up your own situation first. Refuse to be a victim to anything at anytime. Don’t give someone else or something else the power over you. Take immediate and massive action to do something for yourself. You will be amazed at how many people show up with unsolicited help. People are will be willing to help, but first they must be aware of the need.

Stay away from the perpetual victims. Quietly and respectfully encourage them to help themselves. Show them by example a way out. Whatever you do, don’t enable their victimhood. Whatever you feel in your heart, do the right thing.

Be Blessed

Michael

Excerpt from “Hiding in the Shadows” by Michael Clark

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