Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Problem with Dreams

Here's the thing about dreams (if you didn't read last week's blog, you might, before jumping in here)...

We all have them.

In fact, God ordains many of them.

As previously mentioned, our belief should always be in the Dream-maker, not the dream, itself...

But sometimes, we mix those things up.

Sometimes, the "dream" becomes a ruling thing.

Sometimes, the "dream" takes over God's place in our hearts.

It become a must-have.

We fight for it.

We live for it.

In fact, in the end, it controls us.

That's when dreams become nightmares.

Especially when we find ourselves standing in the mortuary of our dreams.

Truth is, dreams are often illusive.

They don't always turn out like we expect.

I've stood by the graveside and buried many of my own dreams.

I've also held and cried with many others who've also watched their dreams die.

They weren't bad dreams to begin with; but, for some reason, life just happened, and the dream went south.

As I've grown older, and watched the demise of life-dreams, I've seen potential hazards.

We look around at others who seem to be living their dream, and we find ourselves rocked with jealousy.  (See Psalm 73)

We didn't get what we'd hoped for, and anger becomes the driving emotion, with bitterness riding in the backseat.

We start doubting the Dream-maker, become disillusioned by Him, disappointed in Him, and, often depression sets in... The hard truth is we've taken our Dream-maker to the court of our own opinion and found Him lacking. Then, everything unravels, clear to the foundations of our souls.

We begin living with deep regret over something that often can't change...mostly because life seems out of our control.

At the root of it all is this:

Yesterday's dream became 
(sometimes without even realizing it) 
tomorrow's demand.

When that happens, we set ourselves up for disaster. We back ourselves into a corner of a self-made prison. We've landed in a pit of our own digging.  All because we've let the dream capture our hearts. As one author has said:

"When my dream competes with God for the rulership of my heart, they functionally replace God as my sole source of security and hope..."

As I say, I've been there. Here are just a few things I've learned from Asaph in the Psalm mentioned and linked above:

1.  God is still Sovereign and in charge. I need to enlarge the vision of my heart to dream again, and line my dreams up with His dreams for my place in this world. God is always a God of fresh-starts and new-beginnings.

2.  Enter into His presence for a proper perspective...of my God and His dream.

3.  Confess how my "feet have slipped" and I've given my dream more power over my heart than I've allowed my God.

4.  Recognize the rippling effect of the unraveling of my soul on those who come behind. Asaph says, "If I hadn't caught myself, I would have betrayed Your children..."

5.  Stop looking around at others, just look upward at the Dream-maker.

6.  Celebrate eternity...God's plans never fail...there is always a forever-ending that is better than we could have imagined.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I've been pondering dreaming.

As in imagination.

Of course, Walt Disney is famous for this little melody that oft pops into my head, "A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep..." The catch is that you have to "keep on believing" for it to come true. It seemed to work out well for Cinderella...

Quite a lot of people have made twitter-worthy comments about dreaming. A few have caught my eye. I don't necessarily agree with them all, but they have factored into my musings.

As for me, I have a tendency to believe that 
our dreams are a gift, which the Lord puts in our hearts, so His plans for us don't die.

That was certainly true for Joseph (you can start reading in Genesis 37 through the rest of the book if unfamiliar, which I doubt).

He never wavered from God's dream for him.

Even when his brothers mocked him and turned on him.

Even when thrown into a pit.

Even when sold into slavery.

Even when unrightfully convicted of a crime.

Even when he was forgotten in prison.

Joseph clung to God's dream for his life.

And, in the midst of all the hardship...

When Joseph found himself lost somewhere in the middle of his story...

When Joseph looked at the time difference (his current age, what was left of it, and the unfilled dream)...

Joseph persevered; he clung; and, he trusted in the Lord.

Joseph never stopped believing his dream was God's dream.

In the end it worked out well for Joseph, too.

There in the middle, God had purpose:

It takes time to mold a man's heart into the kind of person the Lord needs for fulfilling a God-size dream. 

Sometimes, I've felt lost in the middle of my story...

Sometimes, I've wondered about timing...

...and about dreaming.

Is it a waste?

Never in God's economy!!!

There's always intent.

There's always purpose.

My job: to keep believing. 

Not in the dream.

In the dream-maker!

That's the take away from Joseph's story...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
Lean not  on your own understanding...
In all your ways acknowledge HIM!
And He WILL MAKE your paths straight!

(A teasing hint: There will be a little more on this topic next week.)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

God's Invitation to Me & You

It had been a while since I was handed an invitation...

but it came again on a dreary morning this week.

The first time, I took up the offer with no expectations, and was gloriously surprised at the romance extended, as the Lord met me on a hard-packed-dirt-road, handed me a daisy, and a reminder of His great love for me.

The invitation comes for you, too, hand-delivered.

Not by a mailman, the UPS-deliverer (though my UPS-man thanks me every time he comes to my door for keeping him and Amazon in business), or the Fed-ex guy. Nope!

It comes from the Lord, our God, Himself!

The offer is found in a Bible verse found in Psalm 46.

This psalm is short; and the offer is often passed by, because there are a few more familiar passages to us (like these):

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble...therefore, we will not fear (vs 1, 2a)

Be still and know that I am God (v. 10)

The Lord of angel armies is always with us  - by our side (v. 7, 11)

However, the invitation God offers is right there in the heart of the Psalm:

"Come and see the works of the Lord (v. 8 a)..."

That's where I stopped reading -

- and I just KNEW yesterday morning, I was invited to take a walk with the Lord God Most High, My Sovereign King, the God of Angel Armies.

There are two important words in that invitation -
"Come" - and if you follow the breadcrumbs through Scripture, it will take you right to the Song of Solomon: "Come away with me, my beloved." Every invitation is offered in LOVE!


So, I went, with hiking shoes on, climbing high, up into the national forest, paying attention...

I found, spring really has come to Colorado.

The trees are budding, some blooming (no wonder I have allergies!).

The forest floor is covered with pinks, yellows, and purples.

A gentle breeze was blowing, just enough to give a tender touch on my cheeks, and keep the hair out of my face.

The birds twittered and sang in harmony.

There were geese squawking in protest of my interruption on soon-to-disappear-ponds created from snowfall and recent rains.

I even scared off a few doe.

The earth smelled fresh...and the scent of rain-to-come hung in the gathering clouds above. 

It was glorious;

but, not earth shattering romance.

Quiet Glory.

And, with it came a trio of sweet, gentle reminders:

1.  Everything is seasonal (even hard winters and troubled times)...spring eventually arrives, and often in quiet glory. We need to be fully present to recognize it.

2.  Only a fool says in his heart, "There is no God..."  Of course, there is a God, evidenced in His creation all around us. This God is fully Sovereign, and in control of EVERY. SINGLE! DETAIL. of our lives.  This is our FATHER'S WORLD!!!

3.  God desires to reveal to us how greatly loved we are; and He loves us with His creation...

God romances us in creation's beauty.

How often do we fail to receive and seize that love, simply because we just don't take the time to "Come and See"?

He's handing us an invitation, and it's as frequent and as often as we choose to take hold of it - "Come away with me, my beloved..." 

Come and see!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I Need an Emily Post Refresher Course

Recently I returned from speaking at a women's conference.

The gals had chosen "Livin' Loved" as their theme, with Ephesians 3:17-18 as their key passage.

 I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.

What a great study for me!
...and still is.

In fact, I will probably be doing a fall retreat around the same theme, but with the addition of a couple of extra speaking sessions.

Thus, my focus-of-study this week has been Paul's most poetic passage in 1 Corinthians 13 - and I've been diving into each and every word.

If we "live loved," then
out of all God's love that's been poured into us, there is an overflow... 

Right? "Sure," she says a bit sarcastically...

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures.
Love never ends.
It's right there: Love is not rude and is not easily angered.

Then came yesterday.

At the card aisle in Walmart.

This is a big month of celebrations: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Mother's Day... Hallmark makes a killing off of me. Every May I chide myself for not buying stock in Hallmark.

But, I always head straight for the $.47 section (I'll show them!)

There was a woman already there.

She was bent down picking out cards.

I didn't want to be "RUDE," because I'd been taking my study to HEART.

So, there was plenty of room, and I didn't want her to think she had to move on my account, so I stood there for a few minutes, before simply stepping to her left, and picking up a couple of cards to examine. My thinking led me down this conscious path to not say, "Excuse me," as I didn't want her to feel rushed. So, I grabbed the cards and stepped back, never touching the gal.

My thinking was wrong....obviously.

When she stood up and saw me, I got the GLARE.

It was an ANGRY GLARE.


I tried ignoring it; after all, love is not easily angered...

She said in a huff, "EXCUUUUUUUUUSE me!"

To which I replied, "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought there was plenty of room and didn't want to bother you;" and, I stepped a little further back.

Her reply was another glare...the kind that lets you know you've been skewered and are prepped for the barbecue.

I didn't move (my bad...).

She did. Her forearm came across my mid-section, and, instead of stepping behind me, she forcefully shoved me back further, and stepped in front of me, throwing her cards to the floor...and began walking off.

I was shocked, nothing came to mind...except, "Whoa, there's no need to push..." and, the words rushed from my mouth before I could catch them.

She turned back to me, and with finger pointing in my face, let me have it. I'm thinking you could have heard her anywhere within a three block radius of Walmart. Here's the short version:

I was rude.

She'd never seen someone so rude.

The least I could have done before I bent down and reached over the top of her was to say, "Excuse me."

I had been prolifically damned to hell...

So, I apologized and attempted to justify myself, "I'm so sorry; I really was trying to give you plenty of room and not bother you."

But, I had bothered her!

The fact is, she felt I had been rude.

In her mind, I had not taken her situation into account...and by not letting her know I was there, had apparently caught her off guard.

I learned a lesson of living loved, right there in the card aisle.

No matter what the situation (!), go to extra measures to think about the other person...

Ask: how will they view the situation, and make every effort to go to an extreme to live out love...

...with patience, kindness, a slowness to anger...

...and the opposite of rudeness:


Obviously, I could use a refresher course from Emily Post.

PS.  As I got in the car and turned the key over, the first words I heard were from Jeremy Camp's song, Christ in Me -

"I need the world to see that it's Christ in me..."

Accident?  I think not.