Friday, June 27, 2014

Art & Music Homeschool Night

This week, the homeschool familes of Nampula hosted a presentation night with the theme of art and music.  The boys had worked long and hard on their projects and were excited to show off their work as well as cheer on their friends who had all worked hard too. 

For those who are far away, here is a look into their presentations.  Caleb did an artist study on Leonardo da Vinci.  His display included facts on the artist, a colored Mona Lisa and Last Supper and a depiction of da Vinci's workshop...including a lego corpse for dissection (one of the artist's studious past times). 

 And for his presentation:

Nathan did his presentation on poetry and music:

And his presentation:

As you can see, both boys did a great job. Not a bit of nerves even as they spoke in front of around fifty people.  We are thankful for the all the families who helped make this night a success and for the opportunity we had to be a part of such a fun time!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Knots in your Tiqvah (part 3)

This is the third and final part of a talk I gave recently.  You can find part one here and part two here.

So now that we have these two clear examples of unmet expectations, we once again are left asking, so what does this mean for me?  How does the way they respond to their unmet expectations shine light into my life?  Is it enough to change me in anyway?  I hope so, at least for my own life. 
We have now been in Mozambique for ten months.  I can remember for the first few months many of you asking, “So how is it?  Is it what you expected?”  In those first few weeks I can remember answering that it was what I expected for the most part.   Still, as our time has grown longer here, I can say more clearly now that in many ways it is not what I expected.  

My tiqvahs have been challenged in my relationships near and far, in my children, in serving the Mozambicans, in our ministry and in our very purpose in being here.  So as I look back at these two examples and ask how they responded to unmet expectations, I cannot but ask myself how I respond in like.

I wish I could tell you that I have responded daily without grumbling and despair, but then I would be lying to you and I think there is something in the Bible about the whole lying thing, so much better to be honest.  I have grumbled, complained, whined and in some moments been led to despair.  I think the hardest part for me has been the moments in which I have doubted God’s purposes for us here.  When I begin to think that He is not what I expected.  

As God has revealed to me how I respond through this study of unmet expectations, He has also revealed to me that I have a choice in how I respond.  If I walk away with one thing, if you remember one thing from this talk it is this:  When we have unmet expectations, we choose whether we respond to the circumstances created or to the character and promises of our Creator.  

For the Israelites, they responded to the circumstances around them.  They responded to the lack of water and food instead to the character of God that is promise-keeper and provider.   They responded with fear to the Canaanites instead of responding to the character of God that was their protector and who would lead them in battle as the Warrior King.  

For the disciples, I think they initially responded to their circumstances.  They responded to the death of their friend with fear and despair instead of remembering His character of love and His promise that His death was for their good and salvation.   I think they responded to His rising from the tomb and his ascension in a way that responded more to His character than their circumstances.  They were still under the tyranny of Rome, still without the physical presence of their dearest friend- yet they responded to His commands to go and teach with the power and presence of His character as never before.  

For me, I hope that I am learning to respond and trust the character of God over the reality of my circumstances of unmet expectations here in Mozambique.  I remind myself often that He is good, He is for me, He has a plan that is good for me and for this moment, He specifically intended for me to be a part of His plan here in Nampula.  

And for you?  What now?  I think it is safe to assume we all deal with unmet expectations and with tiqvahs that have been tied in knots.  It is also safe to assume we all respond to these unmet expectations in many different ways.  My prayer is that as you face yours this coming week that you will remember your  choice- will you respond to the circumstances created or to the character and promises of the One who created you?  Remember He is good.  He is in control.  He has a plan for you.  It is for your good and ultimately for His glory.  

As it says in Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think [or imagine, to Him that is beyond even our greatest tiqvahs], according to the power that works within us [His glorious power], to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When Your Tiqvah is Tied in Knots (part 2)

This is part two of a talk I recently gave.  Check out part one here, if you haven't done so already. 

We are not alone in having unmet expectations, nor in how we react to them.  As we look at some Biblical examples, we see we are in good company.

The first example that came to my mind thinking about unmet expectations in the Old Testament was the Israelites in the book of Exodus.  Here we have a group of people who have seen the power of God in amazing ways: 10 plagues, freedom from slavery, a dry walk across the Red Sea.  I think as they began their journey to the land which God had promised them, they expected a cake walk.  They expected to walk there in style and then for the people there to either bow down to them immediately or simply be decimated by the power of God even before they got there.

They did not expect the thirst of days in the desert without water (Exodus 15). They did not expect the hunger of dry lands (Exodus 16).  They did not expect the land to be full of giants, strong cities and mighty armies (Numbers 13).  They definitely did not expect to still be walking forty years later.  In terms of tiqvah or expectations, theirs had been torn down and crushed under the millions of steps through dry, rocky, barren terrain.  

And how did they respond?  They grumbled, complained, and whined.  They doubted not only their human leadership in Moses and Aaron, but the leadership of God himself.  In the end, as a result of their reactions to their unmet expectations, many of them chose to sin through idolatry, sexual immorality and rebellion…all of which ultimately led to death.  

That seems pretty extreme, right?  The idea that a reaction to unmet expectation can lead to death?  Glad I am not in their shoes walking through the desert and glad my reactions won’t lead me there.  But wait...where did their reactions start?  Grumbling, complaining, whining.  All of a sudden, I feel a little more worried and a little more convicted.  How often is my reaction to something not going the way I expected grumbling or complaining?  Not just that initial gut reaction of “ugh,” but a prolonged period of discontent with the circumstances because they were not what I had planned or wanted.  

Unfortunately, this is my reaction way too often for sure.  Will this grumbling lead to my death?  Unsure.  But this I know, a heart that is full of grumbling and discontentment is far more likely to choose to sin than one full of peace.  The Bible is clear that the result of sin is death- whether it is physical death, death of earthly relationships or even the death of a vibrant relationship with the One who created and loves me more than I can imagine- the wages of sin is death.  If my reactions to unmet expectations can start me down this path of death through a grumbling spirit, I want to be extremely careful in how I choose to respond when my tiqvahs are unrealized.  

In addition to the Old Testament example of the Israelites, we also have a clear example of unmet expectations in the New Testament example of the disciples.  

The disciples have put out their tiqvah in the form of the expectations of who Jesus is and what He will do for them.  Many of them left everything- family, careers, friends- to follow after this man.  He is their last and only hope.  He is their hope for freedom from the tyranny of the hated Romans.  He is their hope for physical prosperity in this world as they hope to rule beside Him.  He is their hope for eternal peace and rest with God.  He is their teacher, their friend, their Messiah, their conquering king.  

Then he is arrested.  He is beaten.  He is spit upon.  And the strangest thing to them…He doesn’t fight.  He is like the silly sheep which go so quietly to be slaughtered.  And their hearts cry, “Where is His army?  Where is His victory? How can this be?”  Then when it can’t get much worse, He is hung upon a cross and their greatest dreams ebb away with his dying pulse.  It is over-all they had planned, hoped for, dreamed of in this man, over.  The loud thud of the rock settling in front of His tomb echoes through the empty parts of their souls where once the greatest of expectations had dwelled.  

So there they are, their expectations shattered and what is their response?  They scatter in fear, they hide in despair and mourn all that is lost.  But in the midst of this, “On the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment.”  (Luke 23:56)  Even in the midst of their shattered expectations, they still rested in the One who had brought them this far.

Then, with the shouts of HE IS RISEN, their tiqvahs are turned upside down once again…for this Risen Savior, this Eternal King, this death-conquering Messiah is once again not what they expected.  He is far beyond everything they hoped for and imagined...He is now their tiqvah that will never fade nor disappoint.  And how do they respond?  Once again, they respond with their everything.   

So now that we have these two clear examples of unmet expectations, we once again are left asking, so what does this mean for me?  How does the way they respond to their unmet expectations shine light into my life?  Is it enough to change me in anyway?  I hope so, at least for my own life.... 
Check back tomorrow for the conclusion in part 3.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Expectations or When Your Tiqvah is Tied in Knots (part 1)

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share at our weekly English fellowship.  I wanted to share it here on the blog as well, but broken down in parts over the next few days.  I hope you stick through it and learn from it as I truly did. 

When I was praying and thinking over what I was to share tonight, I had a couple of options that seemed to come to the forefront.  I continued to pray and think over the things God has been showing me recently and settled on the theme of expectations.  That’s right, in God’s wonderful sense of humor, the one who is expecting is up here talking about expectations.  I am a big fan of visuals to accompany talks like this, so maybe the belly will help you remember what we talk about tonight.

Twelve years ago, this coming August, David and I began our wonderfully, blissful married life.  Well, except for the part that it hasn’t always been wonderfully blissful.  Take Saturdays for the first six months of our marriage for example.  By the end of Saturday afternoon, and I mean almost every Saturday afternoon, we would end up arguing about something.  I kid you not.  I can remember thinking, “Ugh, we are arguing again…oh wait, it is Saturday, that is what we do.”   It took a good six months for us to realize the pattern and the cause of it.  

There we were, two adults with two very different expectations of what a Saturday should look like.  My idea of a great Saturday was you would sleep in a little, lazily start your day with a good breakfast, maybe go out for lunch or for a few errands.  Overall Saturdays were to relax and regroup from a long week at work.  David, on the other hand, thought Saturdays were to get all the little things done that were neglected through the week.  He wanted us up early, a quick breakfast, followed by a good cleaning of the apartment, grocery shopping and so on.  These were two very different expectations of a Saturday and needless to say, fitting them into one Saturday each week caused us quite a bit of conflict.  

While we have learned to compromise and work out what a Saturday in our household looks like over the years, I still hold onto the lesson I learned during that period of life- unmet expectations have a huge impact on relationships and on life in general.  Unmet expectations not only provide the foundation for conflict and anger, but also for disappointment, discouragement and even despair.

So what do I mean by unmet expectations?  By expectations I mean those things that we look forward to, things that we regard as likely to happen, our hopes & dreams, but even more deeply, things that we fully plan to happen…though those plans might be more on a subconscious level.  In Biblical terms , the Hebrew word tiqvah, which is used for expectation in some versions of Psalm 62:5 is often translated as hope as well.   Psalm 62:5 in the Amplified Bible says “My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him.”   Whether tiqvah is thought of as hope or expectation there is a sense of an outcome associated with it as its root word means to wait or eagerly look for, to long for or linger for something.

It is also interesting to note that this word tiqvah is also translated as chord or line and is used specifically in the story of Rahab in Joshua chapter 2.  She hangs a red “tiqvah” out of her window to let the invading Israelites know where she and her family are waiting for them as they attack Jericho.  This “tiqvah” is her last hope, her expectation and the means to her desired outcome of salvation with the Israelites.  

And so it is with us.  In our relationships, whether it is with our spouse, children, family or friends; in our jobs and ministries; in our future plans and in our moment by moment daily plans, even in our belief of how God should coordinate our lives and the universe- we hang out our tiqvahs- ours hopes and expectations…waiting eagerly for the outcome we for which we long and desire.  

And then, more often than not- our tiqvahs are cut, torn from our hands or tied into knots by the reality of our circumstances.  Something happens and we are left with the thoughts, “I didn’t see that coming; That is not how that was supposed to work; Why can’t it just go my way this time?”
Unmet expectations exist on many levels, anything from expecting chicken for dinner and getting beef to the unexpected death of a child or dear friend.  Needless to say, our reactions to unmet expectations will vary depending on the levels of intensity as well.  Still I think like in many other aspects of life, how we react in our “small” unmet expectations can build and impact how we react to the large ones in the end as well.  

We are not alone in having unmet expectations, nor in how we react to them.  As we look at some Biblical examples, we see we are in good company.... to be continued tomorrow with Part 2...
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