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Humour, Sillimess and Games / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Philippa on May 19, 2018, 09:20:11 PM »
 Health Professionals in Heaven

Three nurses died and went to Heaven. They were met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter, who questioned them.  "What did you used to do back on Earth?" he asked the first nurse. "Why do you think you should be allowed into Heaven?"

She told him, "I was a nurse at an inner city hospital. I worked to bring healing and peace to many sufferers, especially poor children."

"Very noble. You may enter."

And he ushered her through the gates. He asked the same questions to the next nurse.  "I was a missionary nurse in the Amazon. For many years I worked with a small group of doctors and nurses to help people in numerous tribes, healing them and telling them of God's love." The second nurse replied.

"Excellent!" said St. Peter. And he ushered her through the gates as well. Finally he posed his questions to the third nurse. She hesitated, then explained, "I was just a nurse at an HMO."

St. Peter considered her answer for a moment, then told her, "Well, you can enter, too."

"Wow!" the nurse exclaimed in relief. "I almost thought you weren't going to let me in."

"Oh, you can certainly come in," St. Peter told her, "but you can only stay for three days."
Humour, Sillimess and Games / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Philippa on May 19, 2018, 09:17:24 PM »
 Police Stop

John and Jessica were on their way home from the bar one night and John got pulled over by the police. The officer told John that he was stopped because his tail light was burned out. John said, "I'm very sorry officer, I didn't realize it was out, I'll get it fixed right away."

Just then Jessica said, "I knew this would happen when I told you two days ago to get that light fixed."

So the officer asked for John's license and after looking at it said, "Sir your license has expired."

And again John apologized and mentioned that he didn't realize that it had expired and would take care of it first thing in the morning.  Jessica said, "I told you a week ago that the state sent you a letter telling you that your license had expired."

Well by this time, John is a bit upset with his wife contradicting him in front of the officer, and he said in a rather loud voice, "Jessica, shut your mouth!"

The officer then leaned over toward Jessica and asked. "Does your husband always talk to you like that?"

Jessica replied, "Only when he's drunk."
Humour, Sillimess and Games / Re: Jokes
« Last post by Philippa on May 19, 2018, 09:12:14 PM »
Church Cake!

Have you ever told a white lie?

You are going to love this especially all the ladies who bake for church events  Alice was to bake a cake for the church ladies' group bake sale, but she forgot to do it until the last minute.  She baked an angel food cake and when she took it from the oven, the center had dropped flat.  She said, "Oh dear, there's no time to bake another cake."

So, she looked around the house for something to build up the center of the cake.  Alice found it in the bathroom a roll of toilet paper.  She plunked it in and covered it with icing.  The finished product looked beautiful, so she rushed it to the church. Before she left the house, Alice had given her daughter some money and specific instructions to be at the bake sale the minute it opened, and to buy that cake and bring it home.  When the daughter arrived at the sale, the attractive cake had already been sold.  Alice was beside herself.  The next day, Alice was invited to a friend's home where two tables of bridge were to be played that afternoon.  After the game, a fancy lunch was served, and to top it off, the cake in question was presented for dessert.  Alice saw the cake, she started to get out of her chair to rush into the kitchen to tell her hostess all about it, but before she could get to her feet, one of the other ladies said, "What a beautiful cake!"

Alice sat back in her chair when she heard the hostess (who was a prominent church member) say, "Thank you, I baked it myself."
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Sweetpea on May 19, 2018, 09:02:31 PM »
Making It Right
Apr 18, 2018 | Arlene Pellicane

Today's Truth
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

Friend to Friend
I went to get a snack from my refrigerator and as I opened the door, the plastic jar of mayonnaise fell out. I put the mayonnaise back in the same spot, grabbed my snack and quickly shut the door.  A few hours later, I returned to the refrigerator and guess what happened?

The mayonnaise fell out again but this time, the top cracked and mayonnaise splattered on the floor. As I cleaned up the mess, I wondered, “Why didn’t I move the mayonnaise to a different spot before?”

I knew it was going to fall out again.  My little mayonnaise incident reminded me of how it’s easier to just get on with life and perhaps continue in sin than to change. It required effort to find another spot in the fridge for the mayonnaise and I was in a hurry. But eventually, there would be a price to pay for my neglect.  Sin starts out small. It advances stealthily in increments. For example, most people never intend to have an affair. It just starts with a conversation in the break room with a co-worker. You bump into each other a few days later and before you know it, you’re looking forward to your next encounter. You might choose to carpool to a work event after all, there will be other people in the car. Then you decide to grab a cup of coffee together.  Right when we sense we’ve crossed the line into sin, we must stop and express sorrow to God. If we continue on our course of sin, we will experience the sorrow of the world which leads to death. There’s a different kind of sorrow that’s much better godly sorrow. Today’s verse says godly sorrow brings repentance a change that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.  Repentance is preceded by sorrow. When we sin, we ought to feel distress. We can pray “Lord make me sensitive and aware when I sin against You.”

These kinds of prayers can help us avoid many collisions caused by sin, leading to a heart full of regret.  God stands ready to pour out His grace on us. Christ died so our sin won’t wreck us. It can instead of the opposite effect. 2 Corinthians 7:11 (NLT) continues to say “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.”

You can make things right before God and with others. It begins with humility, godly sorrow and repentance.
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Sweetpea on May 19, 2018, 08:44:08 PM »
Taming Your Child’s Tongue
Apr 17, 2018 | Guest Writer

Today's Truth
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  Luke 6:45

Friend to Friend
“Mooooomy, I want some juuuiiice!”  Whining

“You’re stupid!” Disrespecting

“Tommy’s not doing what you told him to do!” Tattling

“No, I’m not going to clean my room!” Disobeying

“I didn’t take a cookie from the jar!” Lying

What causes a child to speak such tender words as “I love you” and “You’re the best mommy in the world” in one breath and in the next say something terrible?

Before I had children, whenever I thought about my future family, I envisioned happy, well-mannered little darlings who always obeyed. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. What happened to all my plans for great parenting and well-behaved children?

The stick turned blue. Twice.  In short order I became the mom who was consistently taken aback when her kids spoke foolishly, whether it was in the form of whining, lying, or talking back. With an expression of shock, I would ask, “Why do you act like that?”

After a closer look at the Word of God, I realized I was asking the wrong question.  Jesus explained, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34).

In other words, there is merit to the old saying, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”

Our sin does not begin with our mouths; it begins with our hearts. I slowly learned to quit asking, “Why does my child sin?” and began to ask myself, “When my child sins, how might I point him to the fact that he is a sinner in need of a savior? How might I help him understand and live in the power of the Gospel?”

Through much prayer and searching the Bible, I found that having a three-step plan of action for getting to the heart of behavior, reproving children biblically, and training children in righteousness can make a positive difference in how we respond to a child’s need for correction.

Step 1: Getting to the Heart of Behavior
A wise parent will learn to move beyond the words of her child by addressing the issues of the heart. After all, if the heart is reached, the behavior will take care of itself. Jesus set the ultimate example for how to probe the heart of another in order to draw out what lies within. When dealing with sinners, Jesus did not shake his finger at their faces and tell them what they were doing wrong. Instead, He would ask thought-provoking questions in such a way that the person to whom he was talking had to take his focus off of the circumstances around him and onto the sin in his own heart. Heart-probing questions cause children to evaluate themselves, which helps them recognize their need for Christ.

Step 2: Reproving Your Child Biblically
In Matthew 18:15 God commands that we reprove those who are caught in sin. A biblical reproof exposes wrong by shedding light where there is darkness. Fortunately, God has faithfully provided us with all that we need to speak wisdom and truth into the hearts of our children. We need not look any further than the infallible Word of God. Once we have determined the issue of the heart that drives the outward behavior, we can then address the offense in accordance with Scripture.

Step 3: Training Your Child in Righteousness
It is never enough to tell kids what not to do; we must teach them what to do. In the book of Ephesians we are told to put off the old self and to put on the new self (4:22). Teaching children to “put off” wrong behavior comes naturally for parents, mainly because we find wrong behavior unpleasant, but the key to successful parenting is found in training them in righteousness. It is equally important, if not more important, that we teach our kids to replace what is wrong with what is right.
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Sweetpea on May 19, 2018, 08:36:55 PM »
Help For a Heart That Worries
Apr 16, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Friend to Friend
The prophet Isaiah said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor is his ear to dull to hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)

Though I know in my heart this is true, I still sometimes go back and forth between doubt and worry as if  God’s arms are short and his ears are dull. My friend Erica does too.  She came to my door with a package to deliver and a story to share. I signed for the package and we began to catch up. Her kids are grown. Mine are teens. Her daughter just got married. My oldest just went to college. Mama to mama we shared and cared.  “My daughter and her new husband might be moving to Chicago. I have to be honest, Gwen,” she said seriously, “I’m not doing well trusting God with this. I’m struggling with anxiousness and worry.”

I listened and nodded with understanding, knowing full well the strain of worry and anxiety.  Then she perked up and shared a story that went something like this.  God impressed a message on my heart this morning that challenged and convicted me! I just have to tell you about it. I ride motorcycles. Have for years. I love the feeling of being out in the open air. It’s exciting and invigorating. When I ride, I feel vulnerable and alert. It’s risky and requires balance, it’s much more difficult than driving my car, but I ride because it energizes me and makes me feel alive.  This morning I rode my bike to work while it was still dark. I don’t usually do that because the headlight is small, so the light is dim. As I was riding, I began to thank God for allowing me to ride my bike to work. I thanked him for allowing me to feel alive and energized along the way. And as I did, He spoke to my heart. I sensed He was saying, “Erica! This is what I want my relationship with you to be like: exciting, risky, and energizing, like riding your motorcycle! But instead you take your car with me. You want to feel safe. You want to see with brighter headlights. You grasp for more control, by worrying and fretting about things you can do nothing about. In doing so, you miss out on a faith that is alive and energizing a faith that trusts me and takes risks.  She shared that story with tears and conviction in her eyes. We were both moved and challenged. It left me with a fresh longing for deeper faith.  I want to ride.  I want to take risks with the star-breathing, mountain moving, speak through a burning bush, unpredictable, and unsearchable All mighty One!  God does not call us to a safe faith. He does not promise that we will have a clear view of all that lies ahead. He does not promise us simplicity. Instead, God invites us to embrace a vibrant faith that trusts Him. A faith that is alive and energized, in spite of the unsteady unknowns. His arms are not too short to save and His ears are not dull to hear. He is powerful, capable, compassionate, merciful, holy, just, and faithful.  These truths should hush our noisy doubts and calm the anxieties that seek to unnerve us.  God is sovereign and His ways are mysterious.  In the center of all of my questions this one resounds: who better to trust than God?


Hardly.  My paycheck?

My medical chart?

My emotions?

I might as well chase the wind.  In contemplating this, I journey back to what the Bible has to say on such things.  “Live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 56:3-4)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Is the Lord calling you to trust Him with something or someone today?

Decide to ride.
Christian Talk & Advice / 10 Things All Healthy Church Members Do
« Last post by Sugar_and_Spice on May 18, 2018, 11:00:11 PM »

10 Things All Healthy Church Members Do
Jolene Underwood

When a large number of people left our last church, we were asked, “Why didn’t you leave? All your friends have gone.”

I replied, “Because God hasn’t told us to go.”

There were plenty of reasons not to attend anymore, but I believed we were to stay even though it was hard.  Years later, we ended up leaving under different circumstances and the situation was even more painful. Deciding to stay or leave was based on more than what was uncomfortable or disliked. I don’t know if we made all the right choices, but I believe God can help us find ways to live as a healthy church member in whatever church He leads us to attend.  The word “church” can imply a local building and congregation, or the body of believers globally. For this article, I am referring to a broad spectrum of Christ-following believers committed to a local body that meets regularly in a building. We each have our individual roles to live and our own lives to lead.  Consider these ten tips to help you become a healthy church member.

1. Seek God First

It may seem obvious but seeking God first and foremost comes before anything else. When we seek Him regularly and put our faith in Him, we will have an anchor for determining how we should live and what we should do in tough situations.  Our anchor cannot be the pastor, a charming leader, a talented music team, or the activities a church does or does not do. Our anchor is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Seek God first through regular prayer, individual study in God’s Word, and by choosing to hear and rely on the Holy Spirit over self-focused desires. Choose God’s guidance, ways, and timing every time there is confusion, disruption, and discontent.

2. Live Out of the Overflow

What goes in affects what comes out. When we fill our hearts, minds, and choices with anything that opposes God’s character and will, we will feel the impact in negative ways. It affects our relationships and our ability to live well as individuals free in Christ.  We cannot pour out from what we have not put in. We cannot minister to other souls when our own is neglected and not filled by God. We cannot fill our hearts and minds with God-opposing input and expect to God’s light to shine through us. We must take care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. A close friend can help evaluate where we might be running on empty.

3. Build and Develop in Relationship with Others

Many verses talk about loving, serving, building up, encouraging, and praying for one another. We are designed to live in relationship with other people by a God who is relational in nature.  Connection in community means engaging with each other through the ups and downs of life. When we first step into a community, we work through awkwardness. We often connect on similarities and areas of agreement. When our differences in personality, beliefs, and choices come to the surface, the strength of a relationship is tested. We are each responsible for responding in healthy ways and working towards stronger connections.

4. Participate in the Exchange

When I hear people talk about how this church didn’t appeal to them, and that church didn’t have this thing or another, I often think, “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.”

In reality, I think it goes both ways.  One of the most fundamental components to any relationship is the way two people interact. There is an exchange of giving and receiving from both parties. This holds true in our relationship with God and with others in the church body. As members of a church, we ought to participate in giving of ourselves to the lives of others. We also need to receive. It is in the exchange that we grow and help others along the way.

5. Align with God and Within Yourself

I hear people talk about aligning yourself with God and His Word. I take this to mean that we are to act in ways that align with what God desires and commands. Our hearts are to align with God’s heart. This includes how he sees us and other people. Too often we can get disjointed by focusing more heavily on one aspect of God over the whole. If we place our emphases on God’s commands, we can miss God’s heart. Likewise, we can focus on the love of God and his heart towards others in ways that distort us from living aligned with his commands. Both are important and require the Holy Spirit’s active role in our lives to give us guidance.  Healthy church members also become aligned within themselves. When we say one thing and act in ways that oppose it, we are not aligned. We may say we believe something, but our actions reveal a different, deeper belief. As we pursue God’s truth and actively walk with Him in areas of spiritual growth, we will become more aligned within ourselves as well. Our words and actions will line up.

6. Cultivate Your Soul

It’s easy to live as if we only need God on Sundays. We can fall into a rut of living for ourselves during the week and then relying on our pastor/preacher to pull us out on the weekend. We might expect their message to make us feel good or fire up our spirits, but it’s not their job to refuel our souls.  We must pursue the hard work of pulling out lies and distorted beliefs, then replacing them with truth. We must choose to lay our ways down for the ways of God. If we want to be healthy church members, we must let God transform us from the inside out. As He does, we can experience more of Him and enjoy Him more fully. We are also equipped to know and love others and be known and loved by them.

7. Slow Down and Savor the Sabbath

Our busy lives deplete us in many ways. We might skip out on fun, relationship building events, and physical activity. We might also skip out on sleep and helpful times of quiet that are without distractions from work, technology, and daily tasks. Constant busyness takes a toll and it robs us of intimate moments with our Creator.  Slowing down includes leaving margin for rest and fun. It also means intentionally pursuing times of quiet. In moments of solitude, hearts become still before the Lord and we learn to hear from God. God gave us a gift in the Sabbath. We are blessed by coming into closer union with Him when we set aside time to connect our heart with His.

8. Own Your Log

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says to stop looking at the speck in other people’s eyes while there is a log in our own. This spiritual metaphor should remind us that we are not without sin. It might be easier to see what’s wrong with another person, but it’s necessary to own our own sin and need.  We get tripped up by seeing another person’s sin as greater than ours. While some are more harmful and destructive, none are greater in the way they separate us from a holy God. We cannot make another person do anything, but we can own our own sins and repent of them before God. This includes our pride, our self-protection, and other ways we live for ourselves and not empowered by God. We must recognize our own failings and let God help us in them.

9. Activate Faith

We can live passive lives by expecting others to fix us. We want leaders to make us feel good and often expect God to miraculously modify our circumstances towards our preferred interests. Doing so is costing many of us in ways we may never know.  If you are waiting on God to answer a specific longing and question, ask Him what He is saying. Sometimes He wants to reveal something we’re unaware of. If you are waiting for things to change, it could be God has something different for you to change.  Choose to actively walk with God on a daily basis.

10. Live a Life of Surrender and Humility

The life of a Christian is a life of surrender. True surrender is done willingly by choosing to trust that God’s plan, timing, and ways are better than ours. It means giving up preconceived ideas about how things should be and our limited understanding of how God works. It means valuing ourselves and others as God sees us. Choose humility and surrender your view for His.  These ten things are not an exhaustive list, but they are a great start for any believer seeking to live as a healthy church member. To go deeper, consider these 31 Choices to Live Well and this free printable with verses for additional study on how to become a healthy church member.

Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear
2018 May 09
Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhood the fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.  I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.  God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.  Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me?

I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.  Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles.  It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.”

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.  “On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.
Devotional / Re: Daily Devotion
« Last post by Shadow Rider on April 17, 2018, 11:48:01 AM »
A Love That Stays
Jan 16, 2018 | Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
I will maintain my love to Him forever, and my covenant with Him will never fail.   Psalm 89:28

Friend to Friend
I took a few pictures the other day with what I call my “big girl camera.” You know, the kind with a lens that adjusts to things near and far, making objects change from blurry to clear with a simple twist. It’s amazing to  look through a viewfinder and watch what is hazy become crisp and clear.  Lately I feel like I need this feature for my soul.  Have you ever felt that way?

My week has been a bit of a blur and this distracted heart needs a good refocusing. So I turn to the Word of God, and the adjustment begins. A man named Ethan penned psalm 89. He wrote the psalm to celebrate the throne of king David and the prophetic promises God made regarding the eternal nature of Christ’s future reign.  It’s a moving read; full of promise, praise, and wonder. A declaration of God’s holiness and steadfast love that seals the destiny of all who place their faith in Jesus.  I read it and am refocused on the hope of God’s power, righteousness, justice, faithfulness, and strength. I’m reminded that the indescribable and unsearchable Creator of the universe invites you and me, His small, but cherished creation, to walk in the light of His presence (verse 15).  I’m reminded that God is not distant, but near.  That He offers to sustain and strengthen all who are His. That God works through my weakness with power that is perfect and that He hears the cries that rise from haughty human lungs as they breathe His holy name: Father, God, Rock, and Savior.  I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. “If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness ... (Psalm 89:28-35, emphasis mine)

I read these words these promises from the heart of God and my soul is stirred deeply.  God maintains His love.  His covenant will never fail.  Even when we fail, God does not.   Even when we disobey His commands and run away from all that is good and holy, He loves us. Yes, consequences will be handed out, but His LOVE will remain. When we are faithless, God will not betray His own faithfulness to us. He will not go back on His word on His promise of salvation on His covenant of grace through Jesus.  God swears on His own holiness that the finished work of Jesus is enough. For me. For you. For the remnant of all who’ve been kissed by mercy’s hope.  With a heart that is refocused on clarifying truth and vibrant grace, I turn from my blurry heart haze toward God’s love that remains unfailing for all eternity.
The Chatterbox / You Failed Me
« Last post by Shadow Rider on April 17, 2018, 11:16:00 AM »

You Failed Me
By Kurt Bubna -
January 3, 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from two different men, “You failed me.”

Neither one of them used those precise words, but what each did say was clear. They both had unmet expectations of my leadership and me, and they felt like I had let them down.  And in many ways, I had.  I own that reality.  Without a doubt, in over 40 years of leading, I’ve made many mistakes. Fact is, my leadership blunders, oversights and missteps are common and have led to lots of frustrating moments for others (and me).  I’ve said it a thousand times: Unmet expectations are the source of most conflict. When someone anyone doesn’t do what you think they should do or does something you didn’t expect, the natural response is disappointment leading to struggle.  I am more aware of this painful truth than you can imagine.  Especially now.  The two guys I mentioned matter to me a great deal. One I have viewed as a brother and the other as a son. And it kills me to know that I have let them down. For days now, I’ve gone through a range of emotions from hurt to frustration to anger to depression. It hasn’t been pretty (ask my dear wife).  It took me awhile, but I finally got on my face and prayed.  “God, what’s wrong with me? Why does it seem like the one thing I’m ‘good’ at is letting others down?”

I even had some empathy for Elijah, who once prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4).

Relax. I’m not suicidal. No need to call 911 for me. But I did pray, “Lord, I’m good with going home anytime now.”

Elijah had just come off an incredible victory. God had used him to defeat 450 false prophets on Mount Carmel. (You can read about it here.) However, when threatened by Jezebel, Elijah became afraid and ran for his life. He went from ecstasy to agony and then ran off alone to be in the wilderness where he prayed, “Just kill me, God. I’d rather die at your hands than at the hands of anyone else” (my paraphrase).

Elijah was overcome by emotions. He lost sight of the bigger picture. Now, alone, discouraged and feeling like a failure, he wanted to take the easy route. He wanted to quit.  Been there.  What I love about our God is that even when He finds us in the wilderness hiding, He meets us there right there in the midst of our pain. And then He speaks, “Get up. Stay the course. No easy route to heaven for you! I’m not done with you yet.” (Read about Elijah’s encounter with an angel and then the Lord here.)  So, early this morning, I’m sitting in the dark, staring out the window, praying (more like complaining to God about my recurring idiocy as a leader), and the Holy Spirit whispers to my soul:

When you fail someone, in whatever way you do, that does not mean you are a failure; it means you are human.  That word wrecked me in a very good way. It was the Lord reminding me, “Get up. Stay the course. I’m not done with you yet.”

I’m literally weeping even now as I realize.  I’m human.  I fail.  But in God’s eyes, I am not a failure.  I am His.  I am called.  I still have a job to do.  He’s not done with me, yet.  That, my friends, is epic grace.  For the record, I will fail others again. I will fail you. As God so clearly reminded me, it’s a human thing.  That doesn’t excuse my failure. That doesn’t mean I don’t need to grow. Of course, I do, and by God’s grace and in His power, I will continue to mature.  But you know how we grow?

We fail.  We confess our sins and inadequacies and weaknesses.  Then we walk in forgiveness.  And we learn and grow.  It’s a human thing.  It’s a God thing.  It’s our ever-present reality on this side of eternity.  And it’s OK.
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