Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crazy Love - Time to reflect

I started reading Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" last night. Wow. So powerful and so so real in the way he communicates.

He has a companion web site that has two videos that you should watch. I'll make it easy by embedding them here.

The first one is "The Awe Factor of God". This video is on the site and also on YouTube.

It is impossible to watch that and not think about how this world "so isn't about you". We were made to worship.

But if talk of worship is greek to you, then watch the second one "Just Stop and Think".

Lord, I pray that these videos touch hearts today and that 2009 would be a year of falling in love with you with a Crazy Love - crazy, relentless, all-powerful, unconditional love, like you give to us freely.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Antidote to disappointment in relationships - the Love Dare

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is eagerly promised at weddings, but rarely practiced in real life. As a result, romantic hopes are often replaced with disappointment in the home. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

A major source of disappointment in a relationship is when our expectations aren't met.

I'm learning that the issue of expectations is one that is often easily fixed by improving communication, if you recognize the real issues at hand and to deal with the other person in love.

My husband used to get irritated with me when I didn't do something that he expected me to do. The problem was that he wasn't telling me what he expected (I know you never have this in your relationships!), or if we had discussed me doing something specific, he often would leave of the little detail of when he expected me to have whatever it was done.

Even simple things could cause a major fight. One example is when recently he asked me to help with the laundry (I'm fortunate that he normally takes care of it) and he expected it to be done in a few hours, taking care of each load right when it finished. That was the picture that he had formed in his mind (his expectation). I had in my mind that as long as I worked it in by the time I got to bed (multi-tasking a dozen things in between), that was ok. In the end, it wasn't the laundry that was the issue, it was how we were communicating. In the past when I would ask him why he didn't tell me what he wanted, he would respond that he "shouldn't have to". Maybe this is a guy thing, but I just couldn't figure out how to transform myself into a mind reader.

Now I'm not usually slow, but we've been married for 18 years and it just occurred to me this week to ask him to write down his expectations so that we can discuss them and both be on the same "page".

The fact is that I love him and don't want to let him down and I especially don't want to be a source of irritation to him. After years of this same issue recurring, combining love and communication was a great way to solve the problem.

Other sources of disappointment in relationships can be lying and inconsistent behavior. I wish I could provide as easy an antidote to those challenges. I know for a fact that dealing with people who disappoint you by trying to extract justice (pointing out their errors according to the law that you've laid down) doesn't work. It doesn't bring about perfection, nor does it instill a desire to change.

We must instead look at the model of hope that comes from serving a God that does not lie and cannot change. His way when we let Him down involves mercy (not getting what is actually deserved) and grace (getting what is not deserved - His unmerited favor).

Hebrews 6:17-20

17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Anchors hold a boat firm in a storm. Verse 19 of chapter 6 says that our hope in God is an anchor for our soul. The fact that He can't change and doesn't lie is our hope. So even if you have a spouse, a child, or a friend that continually disappoints you, hold firm to your anchor. Mirror His unchangeable nature of love in your dealings with him/her and know that eventually, love and grace will win out.

In the recent movie Fireproof, the main characters in the story were in a dysfunctional marriage. The husband was given a copy of a book called the "Love Dare", which had a 40 day plan of demonstrating love outlined for him.

I won't spoil the story, but if you are in a marriage that has been filled with disappointment and it can't be fixed by simple changes in your communication, try the Love Dare. Give God a chance to fix your relationship. Go see the movie if it is still playing near you.

"Lord God, my heart and mind always vears back to justice and the law when I am disappointed by someone. Your mercy is beyond my comprehension and grace is beyond my nature. Change me to look more like you today and everyday that we get closer to standing beyond the veil with you, our High Priest."

Chicke Fitzgerald

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Fitzgerald Family

Happy Holidays. Here is the Fitzgerald year in pictures in lieu of our normal holiday letter.

See you next year!

Chicke, Michael, Kiera and Sergey (and JoJo)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Gift of Grace

Hebrews 4:15-16 We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of GRACE, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I'm wondering today at the use of "receive" and "find" as it relates to mercy and grace (in that order).

I began understanding mercy under Pastor Fred Sindorf's teaching about the mercy seat at the Risen Savior church in Milwaukee (well, West Allis to be exact).

I definitely experienced God's mercy in those days - unmerited favor or more simply, not getting what you deserve. Mercy is the direct opposite of justice - getting precisely what you deserve.

But in the 30 years hence, I still lived somewhat under the law/justice mode, expecting punishment whenever I didn't live up to God's standard. Make no mistake, I know that God was not happy with some of the choices that I made, but it was my choices He hated, not me.

It was only 3 years ago when Michael and I went to a Tres Dias weekend that I "found grace". Or should I say, it found me. I now fully understand the rest that is possible through his sympathy with our frailty, instead of expecting punishment. And I know that someone else stood in for my punishment, which is the ultimate form of grace.

I want to share with others His rest, which is understanding His GRACE.

Lord, use me to demonstrate the peace and rest possible through your grace. Thanks for the gift of grace and serenity in the midst of chaos.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

God's Gift - Our Treasure

2 Timothy 1:6 Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you.

2 Timothy 1:14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Everything we need to get through life is ours. Power, love and discipline are the tools - God's gift to us.

We don't earn gifts, they are given at the giver's pleasure. These gifts are a treasure and the Holy Spirit is their guardian in us.

I need to call on the Holy Spirit to remind me daily that I already have ALL that I need as a child of the King. I will today kindle the gifts.

Lord, thank you for power, love and discipline. They are all that I need. I accept your gift of power over sin and situation, unconditional love and discipline in all areas of my life.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

In God We Trust

Ever wonder why people put their trust in little pieces of green paper? While works of art in their own right, as the current state of economy proves, they are in fact, not worthy of our trust.

The acts of less than 100 men and women, leaders in finance, government, banking and insurance have brought this country and in fact the world economy to its knees. Which, by the way, is right where God would want us to be under the circumstances!

The thing that we often miss is that even our money has a reminder to us of its own frailty and that we as a country should remember that it is in God that we must trust.

God is not in recession and His economy is not in a shambles. His laws are about giving, not hoarding and about loving and sharing, not living in fear.

Step into His throne room and lay your needs at His feet. He's "especially fond" of you and He's waiting.

Chicke Fitzgerald