Archives For dreams

Ch-Ch-Changes!

December 14, 2013 — 2 Comments

ChangesLess than 5 years ago, Cheryl and I didn’t have two pennies to rub together. In spite of each of us having pretty good jobs, making pretty good money, we were broke. We were also *broken*. Without hope – lost. We were ashamed of where we were in life. We were in a really good church, but afraid to talk to people about our situation. We were all alone -

(Still don’t know what I was waiting for, and my time was running wild. A million dead-end streets and every time I thought I’d got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet. So I turned myself to face me but I’ve never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker.)

I wish I was kidding about all this – but about every other week, something was getting shut off – water, electric, phone, cable. Cheryl’s car was even repossessed once in the middle of the night. I remember sitting in the dark, lighting candles for light and warmth, wondering what we could sell on Craigslist to get our heat back on. I wasn’t even thinking about Christmas. We had a tree but there was no reason to even put it up – we had nothing to put on it or under it.

(Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes – don’t want to be a richer man. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes - Turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.)

During this time, I was reminded of a similar feeling Christmas, many years ago, when I learned that my wife (at the time) was having an affair and wanted me to move out of our house. It was too late for me to make any other plans – parents were at my sister’s house on the east coast, all my friends were out of town. So I packed up a few things in my car and drove off, but the car broke down about 20 miles from where I was headed. Then there was a literal blizzard…I thought I was going to die in a 1971 Buick Skylark, in a snow storm, sitting behind a convenience store in the middle of nowhere.

One thing I knew, in both these situations, was that something was not right between me and God. I was a pastor during both these trails. I knew, more than most people know, WHO God is.

But like Jesus said, the demons know as well. And tremble.

(I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream of warm impermanence, and so the days float through my eyes. But still the days seem the same, and these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.)

As it was, we were going to lose everything. Our home, our cars, our jobs. Our lives.

We didn’t start out thinking we would ever end up like this. We had dreams! We had plans and goals! We had it all figured out and what in the name of all that’s holy happened? How did everything get so bad? It’s like our dreams had soured, and our lives had rotted away.

(Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes - Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – turn and face the strain. Ch-ch-changes - Where’s your shame? You’ve left us up to our necks in it. Time may change me, but you can’t trace time.)

Even now, if I told you everything was fine, I’d be lying. Different? Yeah. Better? Way. Fine? Define fine.

We have a Christmas tree, but we haven’t put it up yet. Christmas is 10 days off. We are lethargic – mentally, physically and spiritually this year.

(Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.)

One thing is different between then and now – the way we know God. That one little thing changes all things. He is not just a god (yeah with a little “g”) that we know, pharisaically, in our heads. He is not a god who sits and watches. He is not a list of commands to keep, holidays to observe, or doctrine to learn.

Our God is real, he is One, and when I say I know Him, I mean in a way that involves my heart more than my head. The Truth is setting me free – I know this Truth and His name is Jesus – and He doesn’t care about my Christmas tree, my light bill, or whether or not I love my job. He cares that I know Him – intimately, experientially – and when I do, all these things will be added.

Our God is a warrior God who fights for what is His! And WE ARE HIS!

It just seems like there is so much trouble, so much pain this time of year. But there is more than enough hope to go around. Turn your eyes upon Jesus! Look full in His wonderful face – and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!

 

- Lyrics above in parenthesis are from “Changes” by David Bowie, and “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson

Perseverance

June 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

perseverance

If you could only know how tired I really am – tired of work, tired of church, tired of hearing the “perseverance” message. Like the (admittedly awesome) perseverance message I heard at church last night. There’s way more to it than the following, but this is what I heard:

  • Don’t quit!
  • What you’re looking for is just right past the next difficult challenge!
  • Don’t give up!
  • If you quit now, you’ll never see what’s around the next corner/over the next hill/behind the next door!

It made me want to vomit. I can’t hear this anymore. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t not quit anymore.

Ok – now that all the whining is out of the way, maybe I can move on.

I reallyreallyreallyreally want to just give up, but I can’t. No matter how hard, no matter how long, no matter how much it hurts. There’s been too much giving up in the past, too many people hurt because I lost my nerve, too many lessons learned.

What I thought was – look at all these successful people. It must have been so easy for them to get where they are. Look at them – out in front, doing what God designed them to do. God must not have had a plan for me since it’s so hard, and it’s so hard I just can’t do it anymore so I will do something else and forget about this.

Stupid. That’s what that was. And listen, taking the easy path is not so easy. Average is just as hard, in different ways.

What I mean is, if you’re not living your dream, you still have to live. You still have to work. You still have to provide for you family. And whatever job you end up in still wants quality work from you, and you have to do quality work while carrying the baggage of being a quitter – the person who ran away from their dream.

I so hate the word perseverance. I will find every dictionary on the earth and mark that word out with a Sharpie. It’s a bad, bad word when you’ve turned your back on your dream. If you’ve turned your back on your dream, hearing that word makes you crazy. It gets you into arguments, it makes your stomach hurt. It makes you want to go to Barnes & Noble with a Sharpie looking to do some vandalism.

I googled the word “perseverance.” Mostly to check that I was spelling it right. Did an image search, too. A bunch of pictures of cute sayings about making lemonade out of lemons came up. Here’s a few:

  • When life gives you lemons, squeeze the the juice into life’s eyes.
  • Life giving you lemons? Be glad it’s not (insert random horrible disease)
  • Unless life also gives you water and sugar, your lemonade is going to suck
  • If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic
  • If life gives you lemons, you better blog about it
  • If life gives you lemons, keep them, because FREE LEMONS!

I like that last one. At least you’ve got something, right? Actually, I think I will make life take them back. I want a refund. Not store credit. No, I don’t want to trade them for limes. I want to trade them for something better. I want to trade up. I don’t want your stinking lemons. I demand to speak with your supervisor because these lemons are not what I want.

This is the part where you find out who you are, what you’re made of. Are you a quitter? Are you going to whine some more, then skulk back to that 9-5 and accept that this is what life has handed you, or are you going to take this life that you’ve been given and do something with it? Something only you can do – something that God dreamed up, put in your head and will take more than what you are to accomplish?

There’s a hazy future out there – that’s why it’s called a dream. When you’re in a dream it can seem so real, but when you wake up it all gets fuzzy. If you could just remember the details, maybe you could make something out of it.

Getting from A to Z sometimes takes you all the way through CDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWX&Y. And the people you meet, the challenges you face, and how you face them – those things determine how long it takes you to get there.

What I think I’m finding out, in my old age, is that perseverance is the work you do after you get tired of doing all the work you already did. Someone famous said something like that, don’t remember who. But yeah, thanks for that.

Someone else, also kinda famous, said something like this - “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed. Renewed day by day.

How?

By not focusing on what to an eternal, powerful, loving God, are light and momentary troubles. By fixing our eyes on what is forever. By living in the Kingdom right now!

Fear is a liar – fear says “you can’t do this – it’s too hard, it will take too long, it will cost too much.” Tell fear to take it to your Dad. The enemy – and Satan is your enemy, don’t doubt it for a minute – wants you to be afraid, so that you will settle for average. God has so much more for you than average!

How long it takes you to get there is up to you -

Low Hanging Fruit

January 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

 

peach tree

When I was a kid, I was like Forrest Gump – if I was going anywhere, I was RUNNING! Where I lived, the land was divided into one mile square sections, and I would run around the section my house was on almost every day. I didn’t have a good reason, I wasn’t in track, I just liked to run.

One day, in the summer, it was really hot but I ran anyway, and when I was still about a mile from my house, I started to feel pretty bad. I didn’t have any water, there weren’t any other houses around. If there’d have been a pond I would have jumped in it. Then I remembered Spencer’s Peach Orchard. It was just right up over the next hill!

Now, I wasn’t into stealing fruit, but I figured that anything that was in reach was fair game. There were branches hanging right over the fence, and the fruit was almost eye level, so I took a few peaches, sat in the shade, and before long I felt refreshed and was able to make my way home.

One of my favorite verses, one that made me think of this story, is Psalm 37:4 – Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What I was thinking, as I was running, was “I sure wish I had some cold water right now!” Peaches, ripe peaches, right off the tree were so much better! The peaches took away my thirst, filled me up, gave me energy, and I was able to get home after eating them.

God is able to do so much more for us! The bible says “take delight in the Lord.” It’s like low hanging fruit – it’s no effort at all, just reach out and take it! It’s yours – there’s no reason to let it just sit there – take it!

Once you do, the door is wide open for the blessings of God to fall upon you – if you take what He offers, He will give you the desires of your heart!

How many of us walk through life, from activity to activity, relationship to relationship, experience to experience – and maybe all these things are even good things – but we still feel empty at the end of the day. This is not what God wants for you – He wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first you have to reach out and take something that He is offering you. He is offering you the chance to be delighted with your life!

Trust Him to do this, trust Him to be your delight in life, and then expect that he will give you your heart’s desire! There’s nothing greater in this life than a relationship with the Lord – He will fill you, He’ll quench your thirst, He’ll renew your strength. All you have to do is reach out and take it!

Anticipation

November 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

christmas-tree2

Right now, my kids are going crazy. Because we are aggravating them. We had our Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, and the day after T-Day we went out and bought a nice new tree, wrapped all the presents and put them under the tree. The very first thing Trinity asked was, “Can we open one present early?” “Nope” was the only answer she got.

She went to the calendar, started counting and realized that she would be staring at those gifts for over a month. Zoey doesn’t care as much, but she kisses her presents goodnight before going to bed.

What is it about anticipation? It’s maddening, but still often it’s a very sweet feeling – you know something good is coming, you may not know when, or maybe you do. And you’re so excited you can hardly wait! It’s going to be so good! Your heart is pounding, you’re out of breath, your mind is churning! Anticipation can be fun sometimes!

Sometimes, though, anticipation drives us crazy and just leaves us there. Anticipation can make a person bitter. That’s what happened to me.

I knew something good was coming, I didn’t know what or when, and it stopped being something I was looking forward to. It was taking too long. I was restless, impatient, so I stopped waiting. And the anticipation – the fun kind – ended and I got angry.

Anticipation is supposed to be a good thing – it’s supposed to be the waiting period between where we are or what we have and the awesome/wonderful thing that is to come. We are supposed to be excited every time we think of it, we are supposed to daydream, we are supposed to contemplate how different things will be when the time comes.

I knew God had something good for me, and I lost focus. I forgot that he is good. I forgot that he loves me, that he wants good things for me. I forgot who I was in him – and I became someone I wasn’t supposed to be.

I became angry, resentful, apathetic. I didn’t care what God had for me anymore. He wasn’t going to pony up, so I would get all I could out of life on my own. That plan never really took off, either. And then it got even worse. All because I forgot that I’m God’s kid, living in his kingdom already, and that the down payment of all that is to come has already been given, that I can live victorious and free regardless of my circumstance.

So I wallowed in anger, hate and self pity. I was a Scrooge, year round, until I began to be reminded of everything I had forgotten. I began to be encouraged, prayed over, loved by others who had no reason to love me. I began to heal from the past – the self imposed things and the imposed upon me things that had broken my spirit

Something I just heard today from Steven Furtick - sometimes we have to wait because God is preparing us for what he has prepared for us. Sometimes we are not ready to step into our destiny! Sometimes we need to grow, learn, trust, pray and over time become who God dreamed we would be – then he gives us what he has prepared for us.

And that is some sweet anticipation! I can’t wait! I’m like a kid at Christmas! My present is right there, staring me in the face – all wrapped up with loving care, with pretty paper and bows and when God says, “Ok it’s time” all the pretty wrapping in the world will not stand between me and what he has prepared for me, and what he has prepared me for.

It’s slow going right now though. I know some very specific things I need to work on. Other things I have a vague idea about. I’m getting there. But I know that the future God has for me is right there! My current thinking is I could probably step right into that destiny at any time. I think if I continue on my current path, It’ll happen and all of a sudden I’ll wonder, “what just happened?”

Psalm 27:13-14 says, “I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” I know what’s coming, just not when or how – and I’m ok with that!

How about you? Have you lost that sense of wonder, of anticipation? These are some of the sweetest things in life – unless you get too impatient, unless you try to do what only God can do. You can’t force your way into destiny – it’s a gift that God will give you when you’re ready to receive it!

Sunglasses At Night

October 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

I wish I was half as cool as Corey Hart. I can only wear my sunglasses at dawn and early dusk. Its just not the same.

There was a time though, when I was much, much younger. A time when I had hair and was a little less pudgy. It was then that I wore my sunglasses at night.

I wore them for a variety of reasons. I was very cool. Hey – at least I had a healthy self image anyway. Most of the reason was because I liked to drive around with my high beams on and when people would flash me with theirs I could say, “Ha! Your bright lights don’t hurt me – I’ve got sunglasses on!”

Pretty stupid, right? Me and a friend named Danny did this all the time, in addition to a variety of other things. We also threw pennies out the car window into oncoming traffic, and trashed our youth minister’s yard when he was on vacation. Yeah and this is just the stuff I can share in public. None of what we did was anything that would get us totally arrested. Maybe hassled by the cops a bit, but not anything real bad.

Another reason people wear sunglasses is because they are trying to hide something. Once in college I got into a fight with a friend named Charlie. He was and is a great guy. I was really upset that a girl we called Bubbles had decided to put me right into the middle of the friend zone. So, I partied a little which in this case means I barely knew who I was then picked a fight with a guy who was totally sober.

He beat the everloving tar out of me. The whole right side of my face was the size of a small cantaloupe, and he hit me so hard the inside of my eye was blood red. So I wore sunglasses day and night for weeks so people wouldn’t see. And yes, they were Wayfarers. Just like Corey Hart.

Again – stupid, right?

The thing is, we all tend to hide the bad stuff. We do something or think something or say something and then live in denial – “Nope, wasn’t me. It must have been someone who looked or sounded or smelled like me, but it wasn’t me.”

Did you know that most people, even when presented with evidence that they definitely did what they were accused of, still deny the truth?

Why is this?

Shame. And guilt. We all live with shame and guilt, but these things are not from God. They are from the enemy. God is not interested in shaming us or making us feel guilty. These feeling are associated with keeping things hidden. God is interested in shining the light into all the corners of our lives so that everything hidden is brought into clear view. That way we can deal with it – and allow God to cut those things away.

Shame and guilt can keep you from your destiny. Shame and guilt can ruin your life, ruin your dreams. And this is what Satan wants for you. He wants to destroy you and keep you from fulfilling your purpose in life.

I know all this from experience – it happened to me! I had guilt for many years. I had guilt over an event in my life and it tainted everything that happened for years afterward. When I gave up that guilt and shame, I was able to start living in my God given dream again.

I’m not saying God didn’t love me and didn’t bless me at all during this time. But I fell way short of my potential during those years because I was hiding something – something that was eating away at my soul.

I love sunglasses. I have several pairs, and each has a particular function. Some I wear because they look cool, some if it’s really sunny, some if it’s overcast. I don’t hide behind them anymore, though. I have no shame, no guilt and nothing to hide!

What is God saying to you right now? Take a minute and think about something you are struggling with. Ask God to show you what the lie is that keeps you struggling with this. Ask God to show you what His truth for you is. Give up the lie and live in that truth! Live in His dream for you! Be joyful, fulfilled, a blessing to those around you! You can’t do any of that living with guilt or shame. Give it all to God right now!