How are you under pressure? When something has to get done NOW and YOU have to be the one to do it, how do you handle it?
Right now, I have to get a bulletin article written. It is Wednesday afternoon and, well, the bulletin presses need to roll...and I have no clue what to write about.
So...how are you under pressure? When you have a project due at work and the deadline is fast approaching and the boss is breathing down your neck, does the pressure make your work better or worse?
Many times pressure will adversely affect the outcome. We just hurry up and get it done so that it is done. If it is right, that’s great. But if it is wrong we can always say, “Whoops,” and maybe the boss will allow us to try again.
What about in our Christian lives? Do you ever feel pressure as you seek to live as a “sojourner” and “exile” in the world?
The world wants us to conform. The world wants us to behave like it does. The world wants us to use its values. That, the world says, is how we are to act.
Jesus, in John 15:19, tells us, though, that we do not belong to the world. We may live in the world, but Jesus wants us to seek to change the world in which we live, not be changed by the world.
He tells us we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt seasons (makes better) the things around it. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus calls us lights and, as such, that we should cause those around us to praise God.
Sincerely seeking to be a Christian means that we do not allow the world to shape us. Sincerely seeking to be a Christian means that that we allow the one who made us form us into what He wants us to be. Sincerely seeking to be a Christian means that we share that desire to follow Christ with everyone around us.
That is God’s will for us. That is God’s plan for us. That’s what God wants you to be doing right now.
So, feeling the pressure yet?
It’s been at least a year...maybe longer...since I played golf. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to play golf, I have.
I’ve made plans to play, then had the weather not cooperate in one way or another.
I’ve wanted to make plans to play, but time just would not allow it.
I really enjoy playing golf, I just haven’t been able to find someone to play with me.
I honestly think that some of the people I’ve met recently don’t even know that I ever played golf. They may think less of me if I shared my love of the game with them.
If I went and played golf now, those who have been playing golf all along are just going to point at me, stare at me, and laugh at me.
I’m afraid that if I went and played now, though, that I could hurt someone (myself included). I mean, my “slice” is really going to be amplified now (not to mention the other faults in my game).
I’m such a bad player now, that if I went and played golf I would just slow the group I’m playing with down...probably even slow down everyone on the course.
I played golf for a while when I was younger...that’s more than I can say for a lot of people...so I should be OK.
I’m just not sure if I really want to play again, after all, lots of people have never played golf or played and gave the game up and lived happy lives.
All the golf course people really care about is taking my money. They really don’t care about me at all.
Friends, we’ve got some brothers and sisters who haven’t attended our Bible classes or worship assemblies in a very long time. Perhaps they are using some of these same excuses mentioned above for not attending.
Maybe they want to come, but keep being “providentially hindered.” Maybe they make plans, but then something else they really want to do comes up. Maybe they are afraid of what their friends would think if they let them know that they are a Christian...maybe they are afraid of what the Christians at church would think/say about/to them.
Perhaps they are afraid their faults would be exposed for all to see. Maybe they feel they would just drag the whole congregation down with them. Maybe they feel they attended enough when they were younger...lots of people have quite attending church and lived happily the rest of their lives, I mean, really, all the church cares about is their money!
One day soon, I really hope to get rid of all my excuses and play golf again. Maybe all I need is for someone to invite me to play with them.
Maybe someone is just waiting for YOU to invite them to come back?
Have you ever been in a situation where you expected someone to do something or act a certain way...and they didn’t? Or has the shoe ever been on the other foot and someone expected something of you, and you failed to live up to their expectation?
Expectations can sometimes get us into trouble. When expectations are met, everything moves along smoothly. But when they are not met, that’s when trouble rears it’s head.
Sometimes we have low expectations. When that is the case, those expectations are easily met.
Sometimes our expectations are just about right, and many times they are met; though, on occasion the person/situation fails to live up to the expectations.
Sometimes we have high expectations...and these expectations are rarely ever met.
What if I were to tell you that God has certain expectations of those who call themselves “Christians”? Would you expect those expectations to be low, about right, or high?
If you look at what Christians are called to be in the New Testament, I would have to say that God’s expectations for Christians are VERY HIGH.
In fact, God’s expectations for YOU are so high, there is no possible way for you to live up to them by yourself. So God far exceeded anyone’s expectations and sent Jesus to “cover” for us.
So does this mean we don’t even have to try? That Jesus is going to “cover” for us no matter how we live? Absolutely not!
In 1 John 1:7 we are told, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son (continually) cleanses us from all sin.” (FYI: I added “continually” because of the Greek verb tense.)
What this means is that so long as we are giving our best effort to meet those expectations God has of us, that the blood of Jesus will make up the difference when we fall short.
Well, as I write this on Wednesday afternoon, Monica is about to leave Rachel at the Little Rock airport. By the time many of you read this at our services tonight, she will be in Atlanta preparing for an overnight flight to Paris, France...then to Florence, Italy.
I’m sort of struggling with this whole, “my little girl is old enough to travel seven time zones away all by herself” thing.
We did find out last night, though, that she does “know” another student who is going on this trip. A boy she last saw when they were 3-4 years old (while I was preaching in Delight, AR) is also going to be at H.U.F. this semester.
Rachel, we hope, will be able to visit Asiago, Italy while she is there. Asiago is where Monica’s great-grandfather is from...so she will hopefully get to experience some family roots first hand.
Her Bible class for the semester is on the apostle Paul’s life. She’ll actually be able to go some of the places Paul went and learn about his life that way.
You’re probably wondering what my point is, right? Well, this is what is called “processing.” I’m processing Rachel growing up. I’m processing the not too distant future Rachel and Jamie will both be going to school at Harding (thankfully in Searcy).
Life is just zooming by. Just yesterday Monica was taking Rachel to kindergarten for the first time...now she’s taking her to the airport to go to school in Italy. And let’s not even talk about taking both girls to school next fall!
Everyone has problems, everyone has burdens to bear...preachers are no different: in fact we have problems and burdens that others really would not understand.
Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
My family has a heavy burden we are experiencing right now. Please keep us in your prayers and you will be helping to bear this burden more than you will know.
Special note of thanks for your prayers: She made it safely to Florence...one day down, 78 to go!