Archives For dreams

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!

Expectations

October 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

expectations

No matter what age we are, we tend to rely on our expectations. For instance, this morning, our older daughter told the younger that it was crazy hat day at school, and gave her a crazy hat to wear. The only reason the older one did this is because she had a better hat in mind for herself.

The problem occurred when the older kid couldn’t find the hat she had in mind and took the first hat back that she had given our younger daughter. The younger one screamed and cried and threw a fit. Her expectation was that her Sissy would keep her word and let her use the hat. The circumstances changed and expectations met selfish reality and although I wasn’t there, it was a tough situation for my wife.

It happens, right? We expect certain things in life. Expect that it will turn out the way we planned. Sometimes we expect we will graduate high school and go to college, but sometimes people don’t get accepted, don’t have money, don’t have the grades. Sometimes we graduate college and expect we can get a great job and end up working part time at a local taco shack. Sometimes we get a specialized graduate degree and really have high expectations and end up doing something not at all related. Sometimes it’s confusing and heartbreaking when things don’t happen like we expect.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, though. Really and truly. It’s ok! I’m just sorry it took me so long to figure that out.

The thing about expectations is, they can really hold you back. Sometimes we are stubborn about it, too. “No – I went to school for this, I’ve wanted this my whole life, and I am going to do this!” What if God has a different plan for you? That’s ok with you, isn’t it?

You know this verse, I know you do. Jeremiah 29:11. Here’s a different translation you may not have heard – “I have not lost sight of my plan for you, the Lord says, and it is your welfare I have in mind, not your undoing; for you, too, I have a destiny and a hope.”

Think on those words. Meditate on them. Realize how significant it is that God would say something like that to people like you and me.

Do you think your situation, regardless of what it is, caught God by surprise? He was just bebopping around in heaven, looked down and saw you hanging by a fingernail off the side of a cliff and said, “Wow that’s surprising to me. I didn’t see that coming at all.”

NO! He has not lost sight of any of us! He has a plan for us, and it’s a good plan – way better than anything we could ever come up with on our own.

My plans led to the confusion and heartbreak I’ve experienced, but God’s plan is always about destiny and hope – we all have a destiny that God has planned and that should give more hope than anything! More hope than the best job, more hope than a winning lottery ticket. More hope than you could ever imagine!

You, like me, might be thinking though that you are so far from where you thought you’d be that it’s hopeless. You might even be feeling worthless, like a failure, like you’ve messed it all up. I’ve been there, in fact I deal with that almost every day. Sometimes I feel like I wasted my whole life. I feel like I tried to do what God wanted me to do and failed and now I’ll never know what he really had in mind.

The good news is, this feeling is pretty common, and even better news is that with God, nothing is wasted. Not your most mind bending failure, not your lowest point, not anything. No single thing is wasted. God can and will redeem it all! That’s how big he is, and that’s how much he loves you!

Another verse – And some context first. Joseph was a man of dreams, and his brothers were so jealous that they threw him in a ditch and told his dad he was dead. Then they sold him into slavery. Then he was put in prison for something he didn’t do. These events make up the bulk of his life. For the majority of his life, if you look at it from the outside, you would think, “Wow it really sucks to be you. No, really.”

During all those years it would have been so easy for him to think, “you know what? This stinks, it’s not going to get better, my expectation was, based on my dreams that God gave me, that I’d be living in a big house and have a book deal with a movie option. And here I am rotting in jail. My life has been a waste! Why God?”

But in Genesis 50:20, we see that he didn’t just get out of jail, but that he’s the #2 guy in all of Egypt. He’s pharoah’s right hand. There is only one person with more power than him in the entire earth. And he gives God the glory for it! He says, “You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good — so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved.”

What others meant for evil, God can turn to good. When your expectations fail you, God’s dreams for you will restore your hope. Don’t waste another minute on your plans! Go to God, discover his dreams for you, learn to follow him, and his dreams will become your dreams!

What do you think God is saying to you right now? What do you think his plans are for you? Ask him, and he’ll show it to you, and give you everything you need to fulfill your destiny!

Eclipse

October 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

eclipse

Tonight at Freedom Ministry Training, the leader did a personal ministry session in front of the entire group, so we would know in general what it looks like to do this type of ministry. One person from the group came forward and shared some very personal struggles and the leader walked her through it. The end result was freedom from those struggles for the participant.

During the session, I realized the number one thing I need to be free from is my dreams.

I know I’ve said this before, but when I was a “vocational minister” some aspects of my ministry I was very good at. I was a great preacher and teacher of the Word, and for as long as I can remember this was the only dream I had for my life – to preach the Word.

Once the session started, the leader asked the participant what she wanted the outcome of the session to be, how she wanted God to work in her life, what she needed to be free from. If it had been me, my answer would be that I want my dreams to die.

I can’t handle the burden of my dreams anymore. I can’t handle having these desires and these abilities and having no way to use them. I want those dreams and desires to die so that I can live.

Some of you may have seen me or heard me speak. It’s like I am a totally different person. I stand tall, I’m full of energy, my voice projects to the back of the room. I like the idea that all eyes are on me, that every ear is tuned in to what I am saying. It’s not just fun for me – it actually feeds a part of me that is otherwise starving. A part that might not need to be fed that way.

The burden of this dream and gift I have is that fulfilling it feeds an already over-inflated ego. Maybe it’s not even correct to call it a gift. Maybe it’s just an ability that’s innate to me – I got it at birth and like a 3rd ear, I just need to have it cut away.

Maybe it’s time to redefine the dream. If it had been my session tonight, I’d have wanted the old dream to die, and I’d want to be given a new dream. Not my dream of a perfect life for me, but God’s dream of the perfect life for me. His dream, if I could discover it, would supercede everything. Like an eclipse. His dream would overshadow everything else in my life. I would know that dream for a certainty, and it would become my dream, too.

If it had been my session tonight, I would have discovered that my pursuit of my selfish dream fed me more than it fed others, and the ministry that God called me to all those years ago wasn’t about me and my ability. It was about hurting people – and like a vampire I fed off them instead of feeding them.

If it had been my session tonight, I might have learned that regardless of what I have done, regardless of how I have acted, in spite of the people I disappointed, God still loves me and there’s still hope, there’s still a calling and there’s still a dream for me.

I would have learned that I am forgiven. I would have learned that I’m accepted. I would have learned that my deep need to be heard can be filled by God. He listens! He hears everything I say and it’s important to him!

If it had been my session tonight, I might have experienced healing and freedom from these things. I might have left feeling renewed, energized, alive! I might have seen God’s mighty hand extend over me – blocking out every distraction, every selfish impulse, every self serving thought and desire.

But, then again, it wasn’t my ministry session tonight :)

zombieI’m sure by now everyone has heard of the “zombie” slayings occurring across the country. Some are attributed to drug use, some to just plain wacky behavior. What are we normal, non druggies/non wacky people to do at this point?

Two choices: We can welcome our new zombie overlords, or we can get the kids loaded up in the truck and head for the farm.

I bet between everyone reading this, we have enough combined firepower to start and end just about any conflict you can imagine – urban warfare, desert skirmish, jungle insurgency – you name it, we can do a double tap to the noggin.

Now, it’s not really zombies. Just messed up people. Not zombies. Not yet anyway. But be aware, it could come at any time, so we need to be ready, we need to have a plan. If it happens and we aren’t ready, things will get bad really, really fast for a lot of people.

How many of you are believing this? Show of hands? Anyone? Bueller?

No! There’s no zombie apocalypse, no zombie epidemic, no zombie virus or bacteria. Just really messed up people doing really messed up things. It’s a terribly twisted fairy tale.

Myself, I love post-apocalyptic literature. I have 100 zombie books, I’ve seen most of the movies, even played the video games. And, while they are very cool, it’s just fantasy, just great (or not so great) story-telling.

Thing is, most of us are already zombie-like, if not in appearance, then in attitude. Awww, don’t be offended, and don’t run off to look in the mirror to see if you have flesh hanging loose from your neck. You probably don’t.

What I mean is, there’s a lot of people out there just going through the motions – like a zombie – not really living life. We get up, get dressed, go do our work, come home, eat, watch the tv, go to bed. And we live like this day after day after day. We were meant for more!

Do you remember the first thing God said to Adam? Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over everything (Gen 1:28). Is that what we are doing, the way we are living life right now? I may be just talking to myself here, but I fit more into the “sluggard” definition.

Yes, I work hard, yes I pay my tithe, yes I go to church on Sunday and sing the songs and hear the sermons. And when it’s over, I file out the door, get in the car, go to lunch, and have a Sunday afternoon nap just like everyone else.

It’s like I’m a zombie – not really alive, just going through the motions. If I bump into a wall, I turn and go the other way. Until I bump into something else.

A wonderful line from a beautiful song goes something like this, “I was made for more than this world could offer me.” In this world, we have to measure up, we have to meet out numbers, we have to perform or we aren’t good enough. It’s like that in any job, especially mine. They measure everything – about 77 different things – and if you are low in one thing, you’re busted for the whole year – no raise, no promotion. You have to be very, very good to do that. Now, if you aren’t meeting what they say is acceptable, you don’t get fired, you just don’t move ahead.

How many of you can identify with that? Well, at least it’s not like the Pharisees. It’s only 77 things, not 613 that you have to be perfect on.

What this leads to is feeling trapped, feeling useless, feeling worthless, feeling like you’re not good enough. What do I have to say about that?

Enough! It’s time for us to subdue the earth, be master of our destinies! I’m tired of corporate overlords telling me I’m not good enough! I’m sick of feeling trapped, of feeling like I’m sitting in the same old seat everyday and spinning my wheels getting nowhere! It’s time to rise up and claim my inheritance, and be who I was created to be!

I was made for more than this world can offer me, and so were you! What do we need to do? Step it up, blow them all away, step out from the ordinary, into extraordinary.

What I am not saying here is “just be proactive.” What a load of crap. You can no more change your own destiny than you can reach down and grab your feet and lift yourself off the ground. Not possible. You can’t change yourself – but you can have a life changing encounter with the one who can.

Have you ever seen a zombie movie? How does it all work? Well, there’s a zombie, someone gets bitten, and slowly, over a period of time, the person changes – they go from who they were to someone completely different. The turn into a zombie. What I’m talking about is the exact same except it’s the opposite.

I want to change from being a zombie into the person I was created and redeemed to be. It’s a process, just like anything else, but the first step is admitting I have a problem and the second is to give up. Give up trying to please the overlords, give up trying to please anybody – even myself. Give up on the American dream, give up on trying to get raises and promotions, give up on what I think this life is all about. I can’t figure it out because I’m too screwed up to think straight. I need to be transformed – by the renewing of my mind.

It’s all in your mind. A zombie virus infects people’s minds and makes them do things they would never do – like lie on a report, file false records, spread rumors, backstab a co-worker, and on and on I could go. This is what ordinary people do. We are not called to be ordinary!

God is inviting us into something so much greater than ordinary. Yes – we will still need to do laundry, mow the grass, meet deadlines, and do an excellent job. But if it’s not about us, if it’s about HIM, if the Holy Spirit is the one dwelling within us and empowering us in our day to day lives, it becomes so much less mundane, and so much more of an adventure!

Imagine becoming His, and trusting Him for everything in your life. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Ask and you shall receive. Do you pray about what your needs are, or do you worry, complain, worry more, then just give up? I’ve been complaining about student loans for 15 years – haven’t prayed about it once. I’m going to start. I’ve complained about and suffered from severe allergies for over 40 years – haven’t prayed about it one bit. I’ve been afraid of and for some things – afraid for my family and my future, afraid of cars breaking down or bad health. I’ve done it on my own and on my own I’ve messed up so many things. Time to do it different.

Time to step away and let God step in. How many of you would be willing to just simply stand before God, seeking him, asking him to meet your needs? That’s about all I have left. I can’t do this on my own anymore. I’m just a zombie, shambling through life, getting nowhere. I can’t do it anymore.

What about you? How much longer can you keep it up? Oh, I could go on, but knowing what I know now, I really can’t – God wants to bless me, he wants me to live out his dream for me, he wants to bless me – and I can’t do that without an intervention. I’m taking God up on his offer – and I’m expecting great things! I am his, and he is mine – I will trust him, I will follow him, I will allow him to be the best part of me. I will lay down my will, my expectations, my life – and let him heal me, fill me, live through me. Because I can’t do it anymore on my own.

See that face right there? That face says, “I will punch a wolf.” Nothing trumps Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson is Chuck Norris’ worst nightmare. He is the reason why Waldo is hiding. He finds your lack of faith disturbing.

With that being said, there’s a new Les Miserables coming out. I will see this movie. Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean? Anne Hathaway as Fantine? Amanda Seyfried as Cosette? Heck yeah! It’s even got Sacha Baron Cohen in it! It’s not a question. My greatest hope is to live long enough to see this movie. And then I may enter eternal rest, fulfilled and happy.

Everyone knows the song that Fantine sang, right? “I Dreamed A Dream?” It’s a haunting, sad lament sung by a dying woman who wonders where life went so wrong. “There was a time when love was blind and the world was a song, and the song was exciting, then it all went wrong. I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving…I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living. Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.”

I know that song. I’ve lived that song. Life killed my dream.

I’ve only wanted one thing, for as long as I can remember. My Grandmother use to pray over me when I was a child – “Make him your servant, Father.” And I wanted that more than anything.

I grew up in church, and everything my pastors did I watched and emulated. I studied the bible relentlessly. I checked out theology books from the church library when I was 11 years old and I even read them. I started making connections between common everyday events and spiritual things when I was even younger. I wanted my life to be a sermon. I wanted my life to be something special. I wanted to point people to God. It was my dream. Then life killed the dream I dreamed.

So many things have happened. So many people have hurt me, and I’ve done the same right back. I worked in churches for years, growing bitter, angry, being hurt and hurtful. The song was exciting – exciting to think about and dream about, but life itself was just all wrong. It was the same no matter where I went, no matter what my job was. I kept dreaming, kept hoping, kept believing that God would be forgiving, that he would bless me, and then that part of me died.

It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

My life was a hell because of my dream. I pursued a dream and not God. His calling on my life was real, and he even planted that dream in my heart, but the dream was not worthy of being pursued. I bypassed the one who called me, the one who gifted me, and made my life all about the dream.

To be who God created me to be, that part of me had to die. The part that held onto the dream, the part that was self sufficient, the part that was created and sustained by my own will.

Your dream is not worthy of being pursued, but the one who gave you the dream is!

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, everything you do flows from it.”

Your heart’s desire should be the pursuit of a relationship with God. He is already pursuing you! When everything in your heart is right, everything that flows from you will be about him and not you. God will give you a dream and you’ll surrender it to him and he will give you all that and more.

Everything in your life should be an overflow, the excess of the abundance that God blesses you with because of your relationship with him. The dream is worthless, fruitless, without his blessing, and you can’t get God’s blessing. It’s not about not having road rage or working in a church. It’s not about the good you do or the lack of evil in your life. It’s all about resting in him. When you can rest in God, as his child, the dreams you dream will begin to come true.

My dreams died because I was never at rest, I never trusted, I went about making my dreams come true on my own. I, I, I. It was all about me, then that part of me got tired, sick, terminally ill. That part of me withered and died and was cut away. A new me emerged from that death, and God knows I’m still working it out, but at least I’m pointed in the right direction now – and that direction is one of being led by the giver of dreams.

How about you? Is the dream alive or is it dying on the vine? Is your relationship with God sustaining you or are you just barely hanging on, all alone?

Let it go! The dream is nothing without the dreamgiver. Your dream will die eventually anyway. Cut it loose now, sacrifice it at the feet of the one who can bring life from death. And after that part of you is gone, God will plant his dream in your heart and invite you to pursue him. If you do your dreams will all come true!