#Write31Days – Post 19 – Surprise, Surprise!

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We all love surprises, well the good ones anyway.  It’s the long distance friend who shows up on your porch as a surprise.   Or, the flowers that your husband sends for no other reason than to let you know he was thinking of you.  For the woman who long gave up on trying to have a baby, the positive sign on a little plastic stick is the surprise of a lifetime.  Surprises come in all sizes, shapes, and reasons.

Not all surprises are welcome.

Being fired from your job is not the surprise you wanted this morning.  An unexpected death is the surprise that can change the life you had always anticipated.    Child Services knocking at your door because a neighbor saw your kids playing outside unsupervised, definitely not part of your plan for the day.  The phone call that your annual exam came back positive, and you need to see a specialist… not the surprise you want to share with your family.

Life is a roller coaster ride.  We have good days and bad.  There are days that go as planned, and others that couldn’t be further from how you imagined they would turn out.  Our lives can be changed and uprooted in the blink of an eye.   Not every phone call brings exciting news; nor does every piece of mail or email that comes your way.

It is easy to allow our thoughts to dwell on these negative circumstances, and forget all of the good the Lord has gifted to us.  Life is full of surprises, but the Lord is not.  He is constant, unchanging, unrelenting, and unmoved by whatever the world throws at us.  He has seen it coming, His Word has prepared us for how to respond, and He will be there to comfort us through the process.  In the end, He will be glorified… regardless of what it is the world surprised us with.

We are told….

Love your enemies.

Be of good cheer.

Live at peace with others.

Do not worry, or be anxious.

Do not be afraid.

Rejoice, always.

Think about whatever is lovely, pure, just, honorable, commendable.

Do not seek revenge, pursue love.

God wants us to respond in all things, in a way that honors Him.  Which means we respond with love, faith, trust, hope… we are to have a positive attitude, thankful in every circumstance.

This doesn’t mean we enjoy whatever obstacle or unwelcome surprise comes our way.  It means that we find our joy in the Lord, trust that He is working out a good thing, have faith that He will carry us through it, and are secure in our hope that He will be glorified in the end.   In spite of our circumstances, no matter how difficult they are, we respond with a positive attitude that reflects our assurance in God.  It is one of the ways that we show that we are not conformed to this world, but are different because of Him.  Our response is our light in a dark and dreary place.

We know that surprises will happen, because man is unpredictable.  We may not know when it is coming, or what it will look like… but we know that unexpected things are going to happen.  We can prepare for them by learning more of God’s Word, thus we will be better equipped in how we respond to whatever surprises come our way.

giveaway

For the rest of October, I will be giving away FIVE COPIES of Authentic Intimacy’s newest book, authored by Dr. Juli Slattery

25 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask About Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

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You will receive ONE entry for each of the following ACTIONS:

  • Comment on ANY of my #WRITE31DAYS posts from the month of October
  • Retweet ANY of my #WRITE31DAYS tweets from the month of October.
  • Comment on ANY of my Instagram photos for the #WRITE31DAYS challenge, from the month of October.
  • Comment on ANY Facebook post related to my #WRITE31DAYS posts, from the month of October.

That’s it!  You get one entry for every action, the more you do… the more chances you get to win.

One copy per winner, thus FIVE winners will be chosen.

All comments and retweets must be in by MIDNIGHT EST October 31, 2015.

Winner will be announced on November 5th, 2015

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I HAVE A PET PEEVE

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I am a person who will read bumper stickers.  Pretty much whatever is ahead of me, I’ll look.  I will admit that I have been known to even position myself in traffic, if one catches my eye that looks interesting, in order to be behind the person at the traffic light.  Maybe it is the reader in me, that is compelled to consume words.  Or, perhaps, it could be simply my humor seeking out something to make me chuckle.  Occasionally, I shake my head for wasted time.   Then there are the times, my jaw will drop and I hope that none of my children we reading along with me.  To this day, I don’t believe my children know that I am reading bumper stickers at traffic lights.  I do try to keep my crazy under wraps, as much as possible.

There is one pet peeve I have, in regards to bumper stickers.  It is when I see a bumper sticker that alludes to the driver being a Christian, particularly when their behavior on the road is anything but Christ-like.

I’m a fairly good driver, if I do say so myself.  I can drive an automatic and a manual.  I can parallel park, near perfectly, despite the fact I only have to do it about once a year or so.  I’m not overly aggressive, nor timid.   I don’t rake up tickets or have lots of accidents.  People are not afraid to drive with me, and in fact I have taught quite a few people how to drive.   But, I am also human.  Which means that it is entirely possible that I might make a mistake.

Each day, I drive our three children to three different schools.  I then make the same run in the afternoon.  My children are in 3 different schools, but, I actually pass through a total of 6 school zones, twice per day… five days a week.  Yesterday, as I was on my final trip home, my daughter had asked me a question & I was thinking through the answer.  What I didn’t realize is, in my distraction, I had mistaken the speed limit sign for the “End School Zone” sign.  (Both are white, rectangular signs with black lettering)  So, I began to accelerate to the normal speed limit for that area.

That was when the man, who had the “Real Men Love Jesus” bumper sticker on his truck, rolled down his window & began to yell and wave his hands at me.  Yes hands, plural.  Meaning he didn’t have his eyes on the road, nor did he even have a single hand on his steering wheel.  All the while, his daughter is in the seat next to him.  Yelling, at a woman in a car with her daughter.  At first I really had no idea what his commotion was about, then I saw the actual end zone sign.  I realized my error.

I wondered after the incident….

Did that scare his daughter?  Did he care that it scared my daughter, and potentially me?

Did he not realize that he was just as guilty of making a mistake as I was?

Did he not think that instead of yelling at me, he could have waited until we were stopped at the traffic light, rolled down his window… motioned to me… and calmly said “Hey, you know that you were still in a school zone?”.

Did he really think it was appropriate for a man to speak to a woman that way in the first place?

And then, I thought about his sticker…. and wondered….

Did he realize that every where he drives in that truck, where that sticker is plain for all to see, that he is a public witness to Christ?

Is that how Christ would have talked to me, to anyone?

Is that how we want to represent Christ to the world, when we make a spectacle of our selves like that?

The word says:

James 1:19 — My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Proverbs 14:29 — Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.

Psalm 37:8  — Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Proverbs 222:4  — Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered

That was just a sampling of the scripture that warns us against our anger toward others.  Scripture also offers us the suggestion of how we are to treat others, such as:

Ephesians 4:29 — Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

We are supposed to forgive as we are forgiven, to extend mercy and grace in the same measure (if not more) than it has been extended to us; and we are supposed to help each other by guiding, shaping, building up, redirecting, mentoring.

Ephesians 4:32  —  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

There was nothing wrong about this man choosing to address the mistake I made, but there was definitely error in the manner in which he did it.  The world was watching, because we were not to the only two people on the road.  There were cars around us.  I bet they saw that bumper sticker too.

Which reminded me of another situation I saw recently.  A man was wearing the t-shirt of a ministry he works with in the local grocery store.  It was vivid and caught my attention, but only after I heard this 40+ year old man yelling and berating his elderly mother.

When we walk out the door in that Christian t-shirt, or drive off in our car with the Jesus fish bumper sticker…. we are openly professing our faith & people are watching.

What do they see?  Do they see Christ in you?  Are they blessed by their encounter with you?

Or, do they see something else?