Dream bigger dreams

“If you want to dream bigger dreams, get around dreamers.”- Mark Batterson

In Chapter 17 (“The Rabbit Room”) of Chase the Lion, Pastor Mark Batterson observes that getting where God wants us to go involves a partnership.  Left to our own devices, we’ll fail to achieve our dreams.  Somewhere along the way, we find ourselves lost.

Therefore, as Mark points out, we need others to help us realize our dreams:

“Misery loves company, and so do dreams.  If the presence of company cuts misery in half, then it more than doubles the joy of a shared dream.  It’s the synergy of shared dreams- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

However, we need to avoid our natural tendency to surround ourselves with people like us.  To grow yourself, you need people who think and lead differently.

Similarly, in order to grow spiritually, you need to be around Christians who have more faith and wisdom.  As a result, their God-sized dreams stretch your faith.  Consequently, Pastor Batterson notes, view everything God does through you in context:

“Everything God does through you is a testimony to those who have parented you, mentored you, disciple you, coached you, and loved you.  You are their downline, and they are your upline.”

In conclusion, Mark somewhat surprisingly states his belief that God’s design for some people involves serving someone else’s dream- perhaps a more significant option than pursuing one’s own dream.

Ultimately, the bottom line equates to God getting the glory.

Today’s question: What, if anything, prevents you from starting to dream bigger dreams?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Thy kingdom come”

Event horizon

“In the realm of general relativity, an event horizon is the point of no return.  It’s the point at which gravitational pull becomes so great that it’s impossible to escape.”- Mark Batterson

In Chapter 28 “The Event Horizon”) of If, Mark Batterson states the most obvious example of an event horizon is a black hole.  Once you cross the horizon of a black hole’s gravitational field, there is no turning back.  Similarly, when we come to faith in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no turning back.

Yet, Pastor Batterson observes, we have the misbelief that God is keeping an eye on us because He wants to catch us doing something wrong.  Mark explains that God keeps His eye on us for all the right reasons:

“God has His all-seeing eye on you.  In fact, He never takes His eyes off you.  But it’s not because He’s some kind of cosmic killjoy who wants to catch you doing something wrong. He can’t take His eyes off you because you’re the apple of His eye.  He loves you too much to look away.”

God’s love pulls stronger and longer that anything else.  Love is the event horizon.  You can’t get back- and who would ever want to?  But it is humanly impossible to reason our way to God.  No one is smart enough.  We need God’s spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Thomas Aquinas’ magnum opus was Summa Theologica, an exhaustive and enduring theology.  However, on 6 December 1273, Thomas had a no ifs, ands, or buts about it moment.  One revelation from God surpassed all knowledge he’d acquired- and he stopped writing his magnum opus.

Hardship either hardens or softens our hearts- and that hardening or softening makes us or breaks us.  Mark encourages:

“No matter what trouble, hardship, or persecution you face, this too shall pass.  More importantly, Jesus is with you and Jesus is for you.  And no matter what has died at the hand of sin or Satan, Jesus can roll away the stone.”

Today’s question: How is God’s love the event horizon in your life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Guttermost to the uttermost”

 

 

The heart of it all

“Invite Jesus right into the heart of it all, right there, in the moment.”- John Eldredge

Before discussing prayer for guidance, understanding, and revelation, John Eldredge has a short chapter (Chapter 10- “Pray Now”) on the need to pray right there in the moment.  Despite our good intentions when we tell someone we will pray for them, often we forget to follow through on our promise of future prayer.

John states that by stopping to pray right there, in the moment, that practice helps us to follow through and helps the person being prayed for to agree with us in prayer.  Mr. Eldredge adds:

“The truth is, there is no ‘later.’  Now is the time to pray, for now is all we have.”

Of course, it is important to pray when you do have time and space to devote yourself to prayer- time to truly seek God.

John them moves on to Chapter 11 (“Let There Be Light- Prayer for Guidance, Understanding, and Revelation”) of Moving Mountains.  There he observes that the vast majority of prayers must be some version of , “Help!”  Following in second place in the category of “most often prayed” has to be the genre of, “God- what am I supposed to do?”

The author has three suggestion when we aren’t sure how to pray for guidance:

  1.  pray Scripture
  2. let go of your constant attempts to “figure things out”
  3. use the technique of praying “Let there be light.”  God’s light sheds light on clarity and truth, wisdom and revelation

Today’s question: How have you invited Jesus into the heart of it all when you pray in the moment?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “How to pray for guidance”

The ultimate door

“That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is in Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”- Colossians 2:2-3

John Ortberg concludes Chapter 5 of All the Places to Go with the eighth way God’s wisdom can lead us to, and help us through, open doors we encounter.

8.  The ultimate door.  Pastor Ortberg writes that Biblical wisdom literature recognizes that wise human decisions have limits.  In the Bible wisdom is much more than life management.

The apostle Paul uses images in Colossians 2:2-3 that describe wisdom in the Old Testament.  Paul then applies these images to Jesus.  Wisdom has come down to earth.  At Jesus’ time, the Israelites knew their problem was Rome.  According to their limited human thinking, they had three options:

1.  Door #1- overthrow the Romans in hatred (Zealots)

2.  Door #2-withdraw in contempt (Essenes)

3.  Door #3- collaborate with the Romans (Sadducees)

Jesus saw an alternative, sacrificial love and resurrection power- the ultimate door, as John describes:

“Wisdom, thank God, is far more than common sense and practical advice and navigating life safely and well.  Wisdom bets it all on God, dies on a cross, and gets resurrected on the third day.  Wisdom is alive today and can walk with me through the doors I face.”

Today’s question:  How have you grown in wisdom following your vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Crossing a threshold”

Why am I still here?

“The way of a fool is right in  his own eyes. but a wise man listens to advice.”- Proverbs 12:15

John Ortberg continues his discussion of ways (five and six) God’s wisdom can lead us to and help us through open doors we encounter.

5.  Pray the Lloyd’s Prayer.  Pastor Ortberg states that things happen when we begin to lay our problems out before the Lord.  When an elderly shoe salesman named Lloyd suffered a serious heart attack, doctors told him he should have died.  That prompted Lloyd to pray the question. “Why am I still here?”

The author notes that the truth of the kingdom of God is written on our hearts.  We were made for the open door.

6.  Ask some wise people to help you.  John writes that “everybody needs a door-selection committee.”  We all need wise counsel, because there’s a fool inside each one of us.  As the life of King Solomon testifies, the battle for wisdom is unending.

Left to our own devices, we tend to miss doors because (a) we fail to consider the full range of options God has before us or (b) we suffer from confirmation bias-seeking information that confirms our opinion rather than looking for the unvarnished truth.

We need to associate with Christians who love and care for us, are trustworthy, and exhibit good judgment.

Today’s question: How would you answer Lloyd’s prayer question- Why am I still here?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Failure tolerance”

 

The place where you are

Today John Ortberg begins his discussion of eight ways God’s wisdom can lead us to, as well as help us through, open doors we encounter- as found in Chapter 5 of All the Places to Go.

1.  Stop waiting for a spontaneous outburst of passion.  Andy Chan, who heads up the Office of Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University, says that one of the greatest stumbling blocks for young adults is the illusion that if they just could discover their passion, every day of their working life would be saturated with effortless, nonstop motivation.

No one’s life lives up to this illusion.  To believe this illusion leaves us mad at God and frustrated with ourselves.  David Hubbard, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, once said students had the misconception that his life was filled with glamorous, inspiring moments.  In reality, most of what Dr. Hubbard did “involved the consistent, plodding progress of one task following another.”  All together these tasks added up to wonderful work.

John states that it is an essential need of our soul that we believe in the significance of our contributions.  As he explains, however, we need to put passion in its proper perspective:

“Don’t wait for passion to lead you somewhere you’re not.  Start by bringing passion to the place where you are.”

Today’s question: How can you bring passion to the place where you are?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The right course of action”

Decidophobia

“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.”- James 1:5 (NRSV)

In Chapter 5 (Door #1 or Door #2) of All the Places to Go, John Ortberg tackles the question of choosing the right door.  For example, when facing prolonged adversity, we may wonder whether God wants us to grow by persevering in our difficult situation or whether God wants us to leave because He’s concerned about our happiness.

Pastor Ortberg states that what often drives us is our state of great distress.  When we’re filled with anxiety, it’s tempting to look for a guarantee of future outcomes that removes the responsibility of decision-making from our shoulders, as opposed to seeking God’s will.  As John phrases our temptation: “God has to tell me what to do for I am in great distress.”

Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann coined the word decidophobia to describe our fear of making decisions.  We don’t want to be wrong and decisions wear us out.  Because King Saul really didn’t want God’s will, his prayers went unanswered and he consulted the medium at Endor.  While superstition seeks to use the supernatural for our purposes, faith surrenders to God’s purposes.

John emphasizes that prayer is closely associated with seeking and discerning open doors because it’s our primary means of communication with God.  The author concludes:

“If I’m facing a choice and I want to find God’s will for my life, I don’t begin by asking which choice is God’s will for my life.  I need to begin by asking for wisdom.”

Today’s question: Are you seeking to use the supernatural for your purposes or are you surrendered to God’s purposes?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Seeking Lady Wisdom”

 

Counter- factual thinking

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”- Psalm 32:9

John Ortberg presents common myths seven and eight about doors, as found in Chapter 4 of All the Places to Go.

7.  God can never force me through a door I don’t like.  In the Bible, Pharaoh, Saul, Jeremiah, and Jonah all experienced the fallacy of this myth.  Conversely, Balaam wanted to travel to Moab, but God used Balaam’s donkey to prevent his passage.

Pastor Ortberg observes that the psalmist distinguishes between two forms of guidance.  The type of guidance appropriate for mature persons is based upon reason and choice.  The “bit and bridle” approach uses pressure and pain to force compliance.  People are forced to address what they’ve been refusing to acknowledge all along.  John concludes: “Don’t wait for the pain of life to force you through a door that wisdom calls you to choose now.”

8.  If I have chosen the wrong door, I have missed “God’s will for my life”, and will have to settle for second best.  Social scientists refer to this as “counter- factual thinking”.  When we don’t like the outcome of one decision we obsess over what might have happened in an alternative hypothetical scenario.  This is an example of worldly sorrow.  The opposite, godly sorrow, creates energy and is filled with hope that God even can use the wrong road to bring us to the right place.

Today’s question: What Bible verses fill you with hope to defeat counter- factual thinking? Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Standing at the door”

Refining your faith

“Be still, and know that I am God.”- Psalm 46:10 (emphasis added)

As Charles Stanley continues Chapter 2 of Waiting on God, he urges us not to read past, but stop and reflect on the following statement: “You must fully accept that He is God.”  Saying we believe in Him, or that He is God, is not enough.  We have to know.  We must be aware of God’s constant and loving presence- then live in the light of that truth.

Dr. Stanley encourages us to remember that the Lord is committed to seeing us through every trial we face.  We can rely on Him and rest in His faithfulness.  Because God is omniscient, knowing everything about us, He lovingly trains and prepares us for what lies ahead, as Dr. Stanley explains:

“Knowing so much about you, the Father lovingly trains and prepares you for what is ahead- refining your faith and teaching you lessons that will eventually lead to your success.  He directs you wisely, helping your avoid the pitfalls and embrace opportunities that are important for your future.”

God has not forgotten us.  He has allowed our season of delay for a reason.  The Lord knows about issues that we cannot see.  He will lead us on the right path in His perfect wisdom and time.

Today’s question: How has the Lord been refining your faith during your desert, land between time?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “God’s omnipresence and omniscience”

Intimate fellowship with God

Today Charles Stanley concludes his discussion of four aspects of waiting on God, found in Chapter 1 of Waiting on God.

2.  You are not just waiting around, doing nothing.  While we are waiting on God, we should continue to serve Him and carry out our daily business.  Even when circumstances don’t appear to be going our way, we must persevere in seeking and obeying God as well as maintaining intimate fellowship with Him.

3.  You are not missing worthwhile opportunities.  To our finite vision, it may appear that worthwhile opportunities are passing us by or that there are no better options on the horizon.  Now is not the time to force God’s hand.  As Dr. Stanley states: “Rather, count on His faultless wisdom to protect you from choices that would ultimately harm you.”

4.  You are not alone.  Even though we may not be aware of it, everyone we know is facing some type of delay.  When we entertain thoughts of humiliation and defeat, we must realize that the devil is the author of those thoughts.  He is out to isolate and destroy us.  Dr. Stanley reminds us that anyone in Scripture whom God used in a powerful way faced a long and difficult time of waiting.  Instead of giving in to despair, we should understand waiting as the Father’s special favor and guidance in our life.

Today’s question: which of the four components of waiting on God speak to you in a meaningful way?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Expectant endurance”