Monday, December 5, 2011

Whose Expectations?

There are times when expectations can be a wonderful thing.  We all love overwhelming someone's expectations and going beyond what they thought was going to happen.  Going the extra mile to help a friend.  Taking the time to make something extra special for someone.  Even just showing up when they expected to be alone.

The other side of expectations is that they can be a miserable master.  Almost no where in life do we find a place where expectations are used as the basis of what gets done.  The weather isn't metered out on some complex algorithm based on what people expect.  Businesses cannot possibly meet everyone's expectations.  If a business runs a promotion to give something away, people expect that they should win.  So if they don't, the business should give more things away until they win.  Expectations keep moving forward.  It does not take long for something that was just what someone wanted to become far less than ideal because of changing expectations.

How do we deal with such changing expectations?  If what is perfect today will tomorrow be less than perfect, and next year be completely wrong, how do we make decisions?

A business that succeeds will not look to meet every expectation.  It will focus on providing it's service to the best of its ability.  The truth is, to succeed, it will miss some people's expectations.  Even Apple does not meet everyone's expectations.  Some expect that they should get a free or less expensive price because of buying a product right before the new version comes out.  Some expect that prices shouldn't be quite that high.  Apple ignores some potential customers because they understand that they cannot meet everyone's expectations.

As Christians, we may face the problem of expectations from time to time.  It hurts when we find that we have failed at meeting someone's expectations of us.  So, how do we look up as the title of the blog suggests?  Easy, we do just that.  We look for what God's expectations of us are.  I have not been placed on this earth to please everyone, but to please God.  The expectations of others should have an impact, but much more important are the expectations of the God who loved me, called me, saved me, and is preparing a place for me.

I hope your day is joyful in the service of the King today!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Busy days . . .

In the 3 months since Jonathan was born, it seems like the days have moved at a rapid pace.  Just about a month after his birth, we had Vacation Bible School at the church.  We've had gardening, canning and freezing chores, a few small building projects and a long to do list that doesn't seem to get much shorter.  As soon as I get one item crossed off, several more have sprung up.  I've been doing some work on the van to get things in proper working order, which seems to be a never ending process as well.

In the midst of it all, God has been very good!  He continues to meet our needs as He promised.  He continues to grow, stretch and develop us.  He continues to surprise us with His goodness.  Want some examples?

Jonathan has been a better sleeper from early on than any of our other children.  What a blessing to have rest.

The garden hasn't produced well, but it has provided plenty of fresh food.

We got over 2 bushel of pears off our tree this year.  (Looking forward to when all the trees are producing)

Our KitchenAid mixer died, under warranty, and we get a new one delivered shortly.

Our KitchenAid food processor had a recall (11 years ago), I just found out about it and called to get a replacement blade.  They are shipping us a new food processor.

We picked over 3 bushel of apples this morning even though our trees only have a couple of dozen apples.

We are able to pay our bills.

We have plenty on our table, and even enough to share.

We enjoy the cooing & crying of babies every Sunday in church.

And on the list could go.  Even with the hustle of life, it is good to be constantly reminded of God's goodness.  I was challenged not too long ago with the question "What if all you had today were the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  I'm glad God doesn't keep track like that, and grateful for the added blessings I never asked for, and often forget to thank Him for.

Don't forget to notice His goodness today!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Looking up - Thankful for God's Blessings.

Just a short blog update after an extended gap on the blog.  It's hard not to look up and be thankful at the birth of a new baby.  Jennifer always impresses me with her strength and the switch from sorrow to joy is always a reminder of God's promise that (loosely translated) 'Sorrow is for the moment, but joy comes in the morning'

Jonathan Wayne Hadley 
Born June 23, 2011, 5:41 AM
8 lbs., 10 ozs.
20 1/2 in.

- Until next time,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Time For Everything

Our lives are filled with events each day, each week, each month.  Some we enjoy, some we try to avoid.  This week has been full for me of events.  Just over a week ago, a 39 year old man was killed in a motorcycle accident on the local highway.  His mother, who goes to our church, called to see if I would do the funeral.  On Friday, I met with this dear family to prepare for the services, and to grieve with them in their loss.  On Saturday, we found out a young lady in our church had gone into labor, and her husband and her were anxiously anticipating the birth of their first child.   On Saturday, the weather was clear enough to run the tiller through the garden to break it all up to start getting ready for planting in the coming days and weeks.  On Sunday, we celebrated what Christ has done on the cross for us in the Communion service, and through our regular services, rejoiced in our God.  On Monday, I went to the hospital to be there for the couple who were still awaiting the birth of their first child.  I stayed until I had to leave to get home and finish preparing for the funeral.  We returned Monday from the funeral to hear that the baby had been born.  On Tuesday, I was required to report for jury duty, and remembered that there is an importance to justice being done - whether through conviction or acquittal.  Yesterday, I was reminded of the need for rest.

I don't know where your day is, or what events will find you today, but I want to remind us all of the words of Solomon.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiasets 3:1-8

So what do we do with all these times and seasons?  I'm glad you asked!

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

I suppose, if I was clever, or consistent in my blog, I would have posted this yesterday, and called it Wisdom for Wednesdays, or Wisdom Filled Wednesday.  So I guess this must be Truth for Thursday.  I hope you have a great one!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Still blogging

I know.  I've made it a whole month without a new blog entry.  Not quite a record for me, but since I've sat down a number of times to try to write, I can only assume that I have writer's block.  I usually have plenty of life experiences that I use to show how life can sometimes get us down to apply God's Word to to point our focus up.  This last month has just slipped by without something jumping off the page for me.  I wanted to share some of the thoughts that have been a part of what I've been learning and mulling over this past month or two.

Isaiah 40:27-31, I Corinthians 1-3.  Don't worry, I'll give some explanation as well.  Having just started a series through I Corinthians, I have been impressed by the need to glory in the Lord (ch.1), Paul's example of how he did that in Corinth (ch.2), and the reasons why glorying in man is foolish (ch.3).  In between the first two chapters, we interrupted with a message from the personal growth series - growth in dependence from Isaiah 40.  Together, they have continued to impress me with our need for God on the one side, and the utter foolishness of trusting our own strength on the other (or the wisdom / strength of any man).

My problem is that I have always tended toward an independent spirit.  I don't like to ask for help.  I have been working on being a gracious recipient over the past few years with mixed results at times.  Yet my need is constant, and no amount of pushing, or driving on my part will meet that need.  Maybe my slowness to write a blog entry on this topic has had to do with my slowness in growing in this area.  What I do know, and have seen to be true, is that we are to glory in God.  When we look to him for strength, he provides it.  When we work for his glory, he is glorified.  Step by step, and day by day, the challenge for God's Word for us is to keep looking up.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, 
from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, 
which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: 
he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel 
shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: 
the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, 
nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: 
he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out 
and thy coming in from this time forth, 
and even for evermore.
- Psalm 121

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Identifying the problem

I like to think of myself as a problem solver.  Hopefully, I'm better at problem solving than I am at blogging.  Then again, I don't think of myself as a blogger.  The 2 months since the last post would rid me of that.  For me, I blog when one of life's lessons jumps out at me from the circumstances of life.  Today's problem solving reminded me that our first place to look for a problem isn't always the place where the problem lies.

Today's problem? A sharp pain in my toe.  I walked in to check on our baby chicks this morning, and leaned over to check on the temperature in the incubator, when I felt a sharp pain in my toe.  It felt like I had stepped on something sharp, so I got down on my knees and felt around on the ground.  Just a few days ago, I had been tweaking the design of my incubator, which involved cutting some hardware cloth.  I thought I had picked up all the little pieces of wire, but the sharp pain in my toe told me otherwise.  I scoured the ground, looking with my eyes, feeling with my hands, but all I could come up with was a few small pieces of chick food that had fallen on the floor.  Oh well, I thought, I'll find it later.

About 30 minutes later, I was downstairs at the computer, and as I stood up, I felt the same sharp pain in the same toe.  My first reaction was to glance at the ground, but before I even focussed on the ground, I realized that it was the same toe, and the same place on the toe the pain was coming from.  I sat back down, picked up my foot, and saw the 1/4 inch sliver sitting in my toe.  Problem now solved.

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that we often look the wrong place for the solution.  "All of my friends are selfish and inconsiderate, I must need new friends!"  Of course, maybe we are selfish and inconsiderate, and it bothers us because we have the problem.  "People only come to me when they have a problem, or they want something," or maybe we are the ones who have been keeping score in friendships rather than being true friends.  "All of my bosses at work have been overbearing idiots!"  Or, maybe we don't have a submissive spirit necessary to make an employer/employee relationship work properly.

How many times do we walk around with a sliver in our toe, blaming the pain on everything that we walk on?  How often do we blame others when the problem is ours?  Is there a solution?  You can count on it!  The Bible has all of our solutions for life and godliness.  Today's solution?  Well it comes from Matthew 7:1-5.  And without further delay, here's the solution:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

I hope you have a great day today!  And I hope you will be able to find the source of any pain that you have been encountering in many different circumstances.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fitness is an interesting topic in many ways.  When I was younger, I thought you could tell fitness by appearance.  Someone who was thin was obviously fit.  I didn't have anything to worry about in the area of fitness because I was thin.  It is amazing how we equate physical appearance with physical fitness, even now I find that being my goal.  I want to get fit by losing weight.  Truth is, I do not need to lose weight to get fit.  I need to properly fuel my body, and give it the exercise that it needs.  When those things are accomplished properly and continuously, my body will be as fit as I can make it.  My fitness goals are not to be able to run a marathon, or fit into clothes I used to wear.  My goals involve exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes or more and eating 1800 calories or less a day of nutritious food.  From this, I hope to lower my weight by about 20 years.

Spiritual fitness is an interesting topic for many of the same reasons.  We think that if a person looks right, if they do the right things at the right time, that they are spiritually fit.  In the spiritual realm, it would be impossible for someone to be spiritually fit without Christian fellowship, but being in church on Sunday does not make a person spiritually fit.  As Christians we try to equate how we appear with how 'spiritual' we are.  But the same truths hold.  To be spiritually fit I need to: properly fuel my spirit and exercise my spirit as it needs.

To feed my spirit, I need to be in God's Word.  I cannot control how much my spirit grows through feeding, but I can control the amount and quality of the food I give it.  I could read 20 chapters skimming and not get much food.  I could read 2 verses flippantly and not get much food.  But I could read any amount of scripture prayerfully and looking for understanding and benefit my spirit greatly.

To exercise my spirit, I need to live out what God's Word tells me.  Firstly, I need to exercise myself unto Godliness.  Secondly, I need to take advantage of ministry opportunities that God brings into my life.  I have the opportunity to disciple my wife and children, the opportunity to give to my church, the opportunity to pray for the needs of others, the opportunity to give to missions, the opportunities to meet needs in the lives of others through my time, labor, or finances.  We could list dozens of opportunities that each of us have everyday.  Our spiritual fitness depends on proper feeding, and how many of these opportunities we take.  This is not to equate business with fitness, and we certainly might find it difficult to meet all the needs before us, but as we stretch to care for the properly prioritized opportunities in our lives, we give ourselves more opportunities to become more fit in our spirits.

"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
- I Timothy 4:8

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nuggets of Gold in the Ho-Hum of Life

Having begun again on January 1 to read through my Bible, I again encountered the genealogies of Genesis.  As I read, I don't study them for hours on end, but I try to find some aspect of them to focus on as I read through.  After several times through the Bible, more and more can be gleaned from these 'ho-hum' passages of God's Word.  This time?  In the genealogy of Noah, I saw that Shem lived 500 years after he begat Arphaxad.  Then Arphaxad had children at 35 years old, and I got to thinking how many 35 year generations would fit in a 500 year span of time that Shem lived.  Round figures? 15 generations.  So I started my mental math calculations of which generations Shem would have been able to know personally.
Genesis 11:10-26
Shem --100 yrs. old begat
500 yrs.  Arphaxad --35 yrs. old begat
       403 yrs.     Salah --30 yrs old begat
                403 yrs.  Eber --34 yrs old begat
                    430 yrs. Peleg --30 yrs. old begat
                          209 yrs.  Reu --32 yrs. old begat
                                 207 yrs. Serug --30 yrs old begat
                                     200 yrs. Nahor --29 yrs. begat
                                        119 yrs. Terah --70 yrs. begat
                                           135 yrs. Abram --100 yrs. old begat
Shem was 490 years old when Isaac was born.
Isaac -- lived 180 years
According to the Bible, Shem, the son of Noah, died about 30 years before Isaac died.  Isaac was 150 years old when Shem died.  Isaac had the opportunity to know his great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather Shem.  Yet, Isaac was 35 when his grandfather died, 30 when his great grandfather died, did not know his great, great grandfather, or his great, great, great grandfather.  13 when Arphaxad died, 43 when Salah died, and 74 when Eber died.
Abram had left his country and his kindred, so Isaac probably did not know many in his family.  On top of that, I believe the Tower of Babel happened in the days of Peleg.  Which means that Even if Isaac had the chance to know Peleg, Eber, Salah, Arphaxad and Shem, we don't know if he would have even known their language.

So what's the nugget of Gold?  Well, all of these men lived before the days of the written word of God.  Moses is still 400 years from being born, and yet these men were faithful to God.  Their faith was passed down generation to generation.  Granted, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob received special revelation from God, but these generations were faithful to pass along God's truth to their children.  With all the truth we have available through the printed Word of God, our task is easier.  If these men in these generations could be faithful, we have no excuse but to pass God's truths on to the next generation.

Maybe the numbers aren't as exciting to you as they are to me, but I hope you will be encouraged by God's preservation of His truth through Shem's generations and encouraged that God will always preserve His Word.

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
- Matthew 5:18

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Challenge

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing in the first chapel of the year at Bethel Baptist Christian Academy in Jamestown, NY.  I got on the schedule early, so I had my choice of dates this year.  I gave the kids a challenge that I wanted to share here, as well.

What would happen if your relationship with your spouse, or a good friend, only consisted of time, or conversations, when someone else asked you to spend time with them.  What if you ignored all requests from the person themselves, and would only communicate with them when someone else asked you to.  What type of relationship would you have?

You might be thinking, "No one would expect a relationship like that to survive, no one!"  But many times, Christians expect just such a relationship to survive, and even be healthy.  Many people who attend church on a weekly basis only pick up their Bibles when someone else (Pastor, S.S. teacher) asks them to "Open your Bibles to . . ."  Some people rarely pray unless someone else leads them in it.  And yet, many times, this type of a relationship is expected to be beneficial in a person's life.  I think it is obvious why such a relationship would have very limited benefit.

So what can we do about it?

First: We need to be people of God's Word.  Nothing of any spiritual value will happen in our lives apart from God's inspired Word.  Nothing.  So if we want something to happen in our lives, we must get God's Word into our hearts and lives.  We must read it, we must digest it, we must live it.  If you have never read it through, this would be a good time to start!  In just about 15 minutes a day, you could read through your Bible this year.  In 30 minutes, you could read through your Bible twice in a year.  And which of us doesn't waste at least that much time each and every day?

Second: We need to spend time in prayer.  To have a relationship, we need to communicate both ways.  Prayer is an opportunity to allow God to tune our hearts to His.  And informed by our reading of His Word, our prayers will be effective and beneficial in our lives.

Third: We need to be people of God's House.  We need to make a commitment to be in God's House as often as we can.  Why?  For added opportunities for learning.  For the encouragement of others who are walking down the same road.  For the joy of celebrating our Lord together.  For the fellowship we have by being with people with shared values, beliefs and goals.  For the accountability in our walk with the Lord.

If we are purposeful in these areas during the coming 12 months, we will see much spiritual benefit in our lives.  We will be a vessel that God can use for His glory.  We will see God working in our lives in ways we have never seen before.  Are you up for the challenge?  Will you improve in these areas of your life this year to see God work through you?  I hope you will.

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 3:13-14