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Chasing Your Dreams

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You hear it everywhere, “Do what you love” And folks are always being encouraged to do what they love for a living. And so the various remarks go, all an encouragement to leave doing what you are doing and chase a dream. Dreams can be troublesome though, consider what one modern philosopher said.

You got some big dreams baby, but in order to dream you gotta still be asleep…” – Bob Dylan

No, this is not a call to abandon your dreams. This is more of a call to dream, but be awake and live in the realities of this life. If everyone lived out their dreams, there would be no one to clean out the bathrooms at the local train station or convenience store. If everyone lived out their dreams we would have to increase the number of professional sports teams exponentially and reduce the demand of the quality of the players. Many of the folks I see chasing dreams talk about them all of the time, but they do not live in the reality of this life while they dream and rarely are doing what is necessary to reach those dreams. Other folks, like the 5’ 6” man who dreams of being an NBA star, yeah, he really needs to rethink his dreams. Too often dreamers live in a world of wishing, and escape into that world, whenever the real world gets uncomfortable.

I think we should all have dreams. In fact, I like this quote:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

But if you are going to chase your dreams, there are some simple guidelines to reach them.

  • Clearly define your dream and know what it is you want to reach for.
  • Have a good purpose in mind; a selfish desire accomplished will leave you just as empty as you were before you started.
  • Have measureable steps to accomplish your dreams.
  • Fight against procrastination.
  • Don’t rationalize away your responsibilities, take hold of your place in life and get it done. Dreams don’t eliminate your bills or the daily tasks we all carry.
  • Commit to the hard work it will take to reach the dream and go do it.
  • Don’t take the path of least resistance, do what is necessary to obtain your goals.
  • Be self-aware and a self-starter; know your strengths and weaknesses and don’t wait for others to tell you when to move.

Proverbs 6:9-11 “How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest"— 11 your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.”

One last issue, don’t be a fool. In the Bible, the fool is the one who says there is no God. If you do all that has been listed so far and do it without God in mind, you will come up empty. There will be no meaning in any of it when you are done. Seek God’s face about your place in this world, what He would have you do. Pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you and reveal His will for your life. 

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God is a Warrior

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The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.– Exodus 15:3

So many would reduce God to nothing more than some kindly old man like a grandfather who is only there to spoil you and give you everything you want, when you want it. Others are offended at the idea of God as a warrior because they want a nice god who does not judge and shed blood. But this type of reductionist mentality about God avoids all of the character traits of God which give Him balance. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8), but He is also a righteous judge (Psalm 7:11). It is in the completeness of all of God’s attributes we discover the beauty and balance of His nature and the worth of who He is.

Too often it is because of what Os Guinness calls “American Hallmark card theology” that we reduce God to a creation of our own. We distort God by an overemphasis of some aspect of who He is and create something other than the True and Living God as a result. We discuss all of the comforting and loving aspects of God which endear women’s hearts but neglect the rest of who God is. But it is important to remember; any distortion of who God is, whether comfortable for us or not, is still a distortion.

Anyone who has heard me teach for a length of time has heard me talk of one of my favorite descriptions of Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia;

He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

God cannot be contained, and He cannot be controlled, He is as we might call Him, “wild.” For He is a Strong One, He is a powerful and awesome God who reigns sovereign over all of creation. You can imagine Him otherwise, but it will be a distortion, an idol of your own making. And while you may be offended by the wild warrior who is mighty, nonetheless, he is mighty to save!

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

Our Lord wields His power on our behalf, so we can truly claim it is our strength, He is our strength (Psalm 28:7). On Him alone do we rely, not on our own might but His. One of my favorite ancient scholars once wrote;

The strength of the general in other hosts lies in his troops … but in the army of saints, the strength of every saint, yea, of the whole host of saints, lies in the Lord of hosts” – William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, p. 18

Yes, God is described as a warrior, but His strength is at work on your behalf. So, don’t be offended, be strengthened against your daily battles because He fights with you.

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Lingering just a little longer

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Mark 9:2-7 “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

What an incredible event, Peter, as always unsure of what to do, does what he always does and talks. I mean, it is not every day you see Jesus all shining like that, and then to have Moses and Elijah show up… that’s crazy stuff. These three disciples were given a tremendous opportunity to be witnesses of this – Jesus glorified! I am not sure how they knew it was Moses and Elijah, maybe they were wearing nametags or something. I don’t know.

But the kicker is having the Father speak from heaven to the disciples. And His words, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” At the baptism of Jesus the Father spoke and said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." First, words of public affirmation for His Son, and now a public directive concerning His Son, listen to him. And it is a pretty big deal when God starts telling us about something we should be doing. So, can I be so bold as to ask, “Are you?” Are you listening to His Son?

Oprah was never glorified like this and never had God say to listen to her. Rush Limbaugh was never glorified like this and never had God say to listen to him. Not Stephen Colbert, not John Stewart, not any celebrity… religious or otherwise either. I mean, we don’t think of any of those folks in that way right? Yet, they are celebrated, listened to, and admired far more often than Jesus. In your own life, this is a really important issue. If you really thought about it, how much time do you spend listening to and giving status to any number of people before Jesus because of what you are watching or listening to? If you compared the hours in front of the TV set instead of in front of your Bible or on your knees praying, how do they compare?

This is not to beat you up for your TV time, this is to encourage you to listen to Jesus more! His words are recorded for us so we will, all of us no matter what generation or century we are in, we will be able to listen to Him. One old saint from a bygone era once said concerning his quiet times with God, “I sometimes linger for hours until I finally hear from the Lord, and I refuse to rise until I do.” I realize we cannot all take all the time in our days. The kids are demanding, the job is demanding, and all of our schedules are demanding their portion of the day from us. But, the glorified Son of God who gave His life for us longs for you to linger a little longer.

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And the Gates of Hell Shall not Overcome

Matthew 16:18 “"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

This is what Jesus said, and we should be confident even in the face of the worst persecution the Church has seen in years. On a daily basis, ISIS is moving through Iraq and parts of Syria and killing and committing horrific acts of violence against Christians. But try as they will, they cannot bring to an end what Jesus has created.

At least five times… the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.” – G. K. Chesterton, 20th century

Mr. Chesterton had seen modernism rise up and claim to be able to take Christianity down, but it failed. He had seen the sciences rise up and with Darwinism, claim the end of Christianity, but once again Christianity continues on. In fact, science at this point is only providing a growing body of evidence for the truth and reality of the Christian faith rather than taking it down. And this has been the record of history, Christianity continues on because not even the “gates of hell can overcome.” Each dog rises up, but eventually dies.

There is a great need for the Christian community in America to not remain silent about the atrocities being committed by ISIS and other Muslim radical groups. There is a need to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being butchered in the streets, imprisoned, tortured, and more. We must raise our voices in America and in the international community and cry out for justice; and for sovereign nations to take action against these barbaric groups and their leaders. There is a need for the Church in America to cry out, and to weep before the Lord over the deaths of those who are losing their lives for Jesus’ namesake. We cannot be silent! Senators and Congressmen must hear from us that action must be taken.

Try as the world may to kill us, and thereby kill off Christianity, it cannot overcome Christ and Christianity will not stop even if I stop. Now is the time for all Christ-followers to rise up to the seriousness of the moment and once again face off against the next dog. Christianity shall not pass away from the earth until the Lord comes for His people and this world ends first. We have Jesus’ word on it.

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God knew when He made you

Psalm 139:13-16 “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, {and} skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained {for me,} when as yet there was not one of them.”

Have you considered what the psalmist has considered? Have you ever thought about how amazing it is that God formed you, wonderfully created you? There is nothing hidden from God about our lives, nothing, including when we were being formed in the womb. What an amazing thought! God in His foreknowledge, even knows the number of our days, before we were even born. Not plainly or mistakenly created, instead, “fearfully and wonderfully made” is how we have been created.

Yet despite this, we question God, criticize Him for how we have been made. People do this all of the time. Even the most beautiful supermodel has some part of themselves that they do not like; a nose that is misshapen, a complexion they dislike, hair color… any number of things. And driven by our discontentment over our appearance, we spend an enormous number of hours and money trying to make ourselves out to be something else – anything else. The blonde who wishes she was a brunette, the brunette who wishes she was a blonde; whatever we are, we are looking for something else. Or those times when you have fumbled through a day making so many mistakes you just wanted to go home and go back to bed and try again tomorrow. In anger you yelled at yourself, called yourself ugly names, and derided yourself into further self-loathing. You in those moments, were calling into question God’s creation as well.

Not to give you a bloated head or anything, but actually, God thinks you are pretty cool.

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

We know that first part as a Christian – that “salvation is by grace through faith and not of works so no one can boast.” But that second part is too often missed. We are “God’s workmanship” Paul says. The word used by Paul for workmanship is where we get our word for poem in English. You are not a quick email attempting to get information across, you are a beautifully crafted work of art in written form! You are not a mistake, you are not less than, you are His.

Too short, too tall, yes all of those original qualities are all a part of the plan. Sure, maybe you need to lose some weight, lose it. Perhaps you have some personal habits that need to change, change them. But apart from all of that, you are who God made you to be, a beautiful piece of art intended for His purposes!

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