Pleasing People vs. Loving People

For many years, I have struggled with confusing these two things.

I’m beginning to understand the distinction as I get older.

Pleasing people:

Can be Stressful

Can Cause worry

Can stir up strife

Can bring division

Can Cause envy

Can cause us to focus on our own ego.

When we are trying to please people—we will have with it expectations from the person(s) we are trying to please. We will never meet anyone that will meet the expectations perfectly.

In short, I have found pleasing people turns out to not have much to do with the other person and more about what’s happening on the inside of me. Maybe I’m really just trying to please me. Now that’s a thought.

Pleasing people is small minded and comes with it baggage.

On the contrary love is so much bigger than me. Real love can’t be limited the way pleasing people can. Real love is free and not a burden. Love doesn’t have expectations. Love doesn’t keep a record of wrong. Love tears down walls, it doesn’t put them up.

If there is conflict when all your doing is loving that person, rest easy—remember it’s not about pleasing them. Shake the dust off your feet, move on and keep on loving them.

We are called to please God not man. When we put that as priority we can love our fellow man the way we are called to.

Pleasing people starts with me and ends with me. Loving people starts with God and ends with God.

I don’t have this down the way I wish I did, but God is gracious. He is sufficient and helping me in my weakness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Have a blessed weekend!

Johanna

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Epic Story

For the last few days, I have been listening to film scores. I love this music with its big orchestral sound, rolling timpanis, the swell of violins, the ethereal voices. When I listen to it, it takes me on my own journey. My life to a soundtrack! Clearly movie producers and writers, see the value of music in telling the story. Music penetrates past the words and the scene and seems to seep down into our souls.

As I was walking the trails, I had my epic soundtracks going on my phone, and I was overcome with the beauty that surrounded. The leaves were falling down on the tree covered paved pathway, and the music made it seem like I was walking through Narnia! I thought to myself, what I am experiencing is something bigger, deeper, and meaningful, than just a feeling. I was paying more attention. If you think about it aren’t we drawn to anything epic!? Don’t we want to live an epic life!?

As a Christian I believe we are all called to an epic life! Each will have its own story line within the main story line. Isn’t that epic!? We are called to be brave and take on the adventures that God lays out. We are called to be a hero or heroine in the name of Jesus lifting his name high above all else! And finally we will have the most epic ending, and you can’t really call it an ending, because our ending is really just the beginning! We are His masterpiece!

We must choose which road we will take. Do you want to travel down the lane of a lost heart, working to make ends meet, trudging through life with chains wearing you down, like Bob Marley in Dickens, A Christmas Carol? Or choose the road that has meaning and purpose? I’m not going to say it will be an easy road; His way is the narrow way, we are told. It will take more courage, more faith, but we will be part of an epic story beyond what we could imagine. We will be fully alive, not zombies walking around just getting by.

Think of many of your favorite Bible stories, one Epic story after the other all pointing to the main story of Jesus! They just had to take courage and follow His lead. What will the choice be?

Get in on the adventure! Your epic story is waiting.

What will your soundtrack be?

Blessings,

Johanna

Aging vs. Maturity

Aging is automatic, maturity is not.

I know this to be true, because sometimes, even now at the age of almost 40, I can act like a 10 year old. How embarrassing. I catch myself. I will react in a way that I did when I was a kid.

I suppose one good sign is that I noticed.

Be willing. Be conscious. Be uncomfortable. Be willing to face discomfort. Awareness is the first step.

Just like we don’t grow up physically overnight, we don’t mentally, emotionally mature overnight either. It’s step by step choices.

Maturity is not just learning how to behave and conduct yourself. We can do this and still be really immature.

Maturity is earned through conscious actions.

Maturity happens when we can set aside our pride and ego. Maturity happens when we love when we don’t feel like it.

Maturity happens when we choose to have a good attitude despite our circumstances.

Maturity happens when we admit we are wrong.

Maturity happens when we are willing to hear criticism. Maturity happens when we commit to something and follow through when the going gets tough. Maturity happens we get up and try again when we’ve failed.

Maturity happens when we choose to be gracious even if not deserved. Maturity happens when we sacrifice what we want for what we need. Maturity happens when we give of our time and resources for the benefit of another. Maturity happens when we forgive. Maturity happens when we choose to not complain and whine.

Maturity happens when we are willing to hear advice and wisdom from others.

Maturity happens when we serve.

Maturity happens when we trust in God.

Maturity is a step by step growth, there is a physical maturity, emotional maturity and spiritual maturity.

The physical happens automatically, the emotional and spiritual do not. It’s our daily decisions and how we react to what life throws at us, that ultimately helps us in our maturity.

I’m so glad God is patient with me when I have an emotional meltdown or I sulk and want to act like a 5 year old. God is helping me in my weakness, and knowing that I can get back up and keep running the race that is set before me. I can rely on Him for strength.

Maturity happens when we keep running the race. Quitting and standing still won’t do.

So keep running. Every hurdle you come across, know that God is your strength and you will jump those hurdles and if you trip and fall, get back up and keep running. Press on to the goal, the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Blessings and have a good weekend!

Johanna

10 Ways My Parents Loved Me

My dad is getting ready to do a speaking engagement at a men’s group he attends and it’s on how to love your children and grandchildren. I’m writing from the perspective of the child being loved and how that love was demonstrated in my life.

We all like lists, right? I do.

I made a list of 10 ways my parents demonstrated their love for me growing up.

1. They sometimes said “no.” I didn’t always get what I wanted when I wanted. I tried, boy did I try. I even found a note to my mom that she saved that said “please can so and so come over we won’t make noise and we will clean up.” I’m not sure if they gave in, but I remember many times no matter how hard I begged it was still, “no.”

2.They corrected me. When I got out of line, I got a talking to and paid the consequence. This taught me that there are consequences for your actions.

3.They taught me how to be orderly and responsible. I had chores and I didn’t get $5 for doing them. There was no bribery.

4. They talked with me about life, purpose, and value. I have memories of asking about the universe and other deep subjects and my dad willingly talking with me. We also would talk after seeing a movie about some of the philosophical or theological points. He taught me how to be discerning of these things as I navigate through regular everyday life. My mom always had great wisdom too. She was more practical and frank about things, a great quality she passed on to me.

5.They Laughed and had fun with me. Made music, went shopping, took me and my friends on outings. My dad would joke around with me and my friends a lot. Such great memories. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!

6. They listened to me. I never felt, that because I was a kid, that I didn’t have anything valuable to say. I always felt valued.

7. They taught me to be forgiving and gracious.

8. They taught me the value of giving and thinking of others. My mom set a beautiful example of thoughtfulness and a generous heart.

9. They taught me that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t like. Don’t whine. Sometimes there are sacrifices that have to be made. Sometimes life can be hard, but be an overcomer. Be courageous.

10. They taught me above else to honor the Lord and put him first. They prayed with me. I have memories of me and my dad praying before going to school in the morning.

They demonstrated this in their own walk with the Lord. They taught me the scriptures. I’m so thankful I have God’s word hidden in my heart because they planted that seed.

How these things have benefited me, almost goes without saying. Every one of these 10 things(and there are many more than 10) have impacted me as a person greatly.

I realize that not everyone has this story and even my story is not perfect. No one loves perfectly except God.

If you can’t relate to my story, please know that God loves you perfectly in all these ways and infinitely more.

Ultimately He is love! And God demonstrates it perfectly through Jesus.

We love because He first loved us!

Blessings and have a great weekend!

Johanna

Rejection

I never really experienced rejection growing up as a kid, at least not on a scale that I can recall deep feelings.

It wasn’t until I got into young adulthood that I started experiencing this where it made lasting impressions.

When someone says, “no I don’t want you,” whether it’s a love relationship, friendship, family relationship. The key word is relationship. We are not robots and we live and thrive through our relationships.

And when someone says, “nope I don’t want what you’ve got. I don’t want what your giving,” It is a pierce through the heart. It penetrates deeper than most anything else.

I have recently gone through a couple of rather painful rejections, and it still stings.

Through these experiences, God has been teaching me three things:

1. It’s not about me. I’m forced to stop thinking about how hurt I am and start loving and forgiving. The broken relationships have a much bigger picture than I can ever see. God is doing something greater. He is making all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose. Can I trust that? Yes I certainly can. What He says, is a promise.

2. We are created for relationships, yet there is one relationship that should be above all and that is with Jesus. Is He number 1?

3. I am sharing in Christ sufferings. Jesus was/is rejected. All of his sufferings, rejections were for us. Jesus knows this hurt, this pain, but He loved, he forgave those that rejected and hurt Him.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Over and over Jesus shows us how to deal with this. Repay with love!

I think the only way God can get through to us on a personal level is to show us a glimpse of the rejection he received/receives. He is teaching me that this is a part of my becoming more like Him.

Be encouraged! He has overcome the world!

1 Peter 4:12-13

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Thursday Reflection – Expect Comfort

Have you ever thought about the beatitudes, specifically, “blessed are they that mourn.” At first reading of the beatitudes, it kind of sounds like God desires us to be sad and have a rough go at life. These are the people that are blessed? Right? But of course if all that was said was, “Blessed are those that mourn” and nothing else after that then yes I suppose that would be the conclusion, but there is one little word, “for” –this word connects the next part which is God’s desire for us. “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.”

We all want and need comfort, and God knows this. Do we expect it from Him? P.B. Power said, “Man’s expectation is generally a prelude to God’s action.”

Live in expectation of his comfort to us that he values, and desires for us. He longs for Eden to be restored for us one day as much as we do, but we must look to him as the primary source and way.

I’ll leave you with this scripture to take with you as a promise. Expect it.

Isaiah 51:1-3

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness

    and who seek the Lord:

Look to the rock from which you were cut

    and to the quarry from which you were hewn;

look to Abraham, your father,

    and to Sarah, who gave you birth.

When I called him he was only one man,

    and I blessed him and made him many.

The Lord will surely comfort Zion

    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;

he will make her deserts like Eden,

    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.

Joy and gladness will be found in her,

    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Thursday Reflection – Rights or Obedience

The scripture I was reflecting on today was Philippians 2:5-8 (Msg)

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

We all know our rights, but what are those really?

America says, we have rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

If you get arrested, you are read your rights. You have the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.

Some think education, and healthcare are rights. What about I have the right to do what I want with my body.

The big one I hear screaming is “EQUALITY!” Equality of gender, income level. Fairness.

Go back and read the scripture above, where does any of that fit in? Rights, equality, fairness.

What I see is Jesus gave up all that and lived in obedience.

We don’t like the word obedience as much as rights, equality, and fairness. It just doesn’t have that little ring that our ears like to hear, yet obedience is what is required of us, but obedience is not a bad word. It’s a loving word. We confuse obedience with another “O” word. Obligation.

Obligation says, I have to, even though I don’t want to. Obedience says, I love, therefore I will.

I’m no saint. I struggle. Sometimes I cry out, “Lord, it’s not fair!! Don’t I have some kind of rights?”

Or I’ll turn my nose up and say “but Lord, I don’t want to!”

This happens more than I’d like to admit, but God is gracious with me. His mercies are new every morning,

What is God asking of me, of you, of the church? Are we listening? Are we being obedient? Or are we reading our rights? Are we concerned with equality? Are we drudging along in obligation?

Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He also said, “deny yourself and take up your cross.”

His way is so much better than we can even fathom. Trust Him!

The next section in Philippians says,

9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Our obedience will also bring us great rewards! We will one day wear a crown!

Blessings! Have a wonderful weekend!

In Christ,

Johanna

Thursday Reflection- Eternal Tax

So….I am taking a break here as I do my taxes. Yes I’m one of those that procrastinates and waits for the automatic extension. I’m a heathen!!

Let me tell you how much I hate doing taxes. I’m self employed and they make it pretty hard on our kind.

Heaven certainly won’t have taxes?! Or will it? We will be giving everything back to God for his glory and loving every minute of it.

REFLECTION-

I was thinking about the verse, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

Clearly, Jesus was making a distinction between the kingdom of this temporal world and the kingdom of God. We have obligations in both. One of the hardest things is to balance that distinction and to not get caught up in just seeing the temporal.

It is very important to pay our earthly tax, but how much more our eternal tax?

In what ways are you contributing your eternal tax? Are you procrastinating and filing an extension? Are you cutting corners, trying to find those loopholes? Are you slipping behind on your payments and feeling like you’ve got a mount of debt.

I’m guilty of all those, but God is gracious! He paid the debt! We can rest easy. His burden is light!

On the other hand, God’s grace is not a license to be careless and negligent. I think it’s a good idea to examine ourselves, and do inventory over how giving we are of our resources, time and talents for the glory of God! It’s all His to begin with anyway.

Lord help me to not be selfish, stingy, and greedy with what you have given me.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Now back to those earthly taxes. 🤪

Johanna

Thursday Reflection

I’d like to try something on every Thursday. There are so many godly people that I have met through this blog, I thought it would be nice to interact more. I would love to hear thoughts on different biblical and theological subjects.

I realize we are a forgetful people and we need to be reminded and encouraged by our Christian brothers and sisters. God never meant us to do it alone. I know we have our home churches and I am so thankful for that, but for all of us introverts, this is a real comfortable way to interact. hahaha!

So for today the reflection/question is:

Joy and happiness are not necessarily synonymous. We can have happiness and feel a great joy, but we can have joy and not necessarily feel very happy.

It’s very easy to pair these two up. How do you define happiness and joy, and what have be your experiences?

“The Priestly Blessing”

Numbers 6:24-26

“May the Lord bless you and protect you;

25 

may the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

26 

may the Lord look with favor on you

and give you peace.”

God’s blessings

God’s protection

God’s glory

God’s graciousness

God’s favor

God’s peace

His blessings for his children INCLUDE protection, the light of His glory, His grace, His favor, His peace.

We can’t have real peace without His blessing.

No matter what I face God will bless; protect, be glorified, be gracious, grant favor. And for this reason I can have peace.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7

IN CHRIST JESUS is the key. God can not bless us through our own works, we are defiled without JESUS. Jesus makes us righteous so that GOD the FATHER can bless us.

Jesus is our high priest. Only through Him can we have the blessings from God that gives peace that passes all understanding.

Look to Jesus he is the source to sustaining and real peace. No self-help book in the world will give you that. In the beginning was the Word! Blessings were spoken over people as in the Old Testament with the Jewish benedictions.

Jesus is that eternal spoken Word. We can choose to receive it or reject it. Jesus is the Word!