Thursday, September 30, 2010

what are your dreams?

What are those things that you dream of doing?
What are those things that you imagine accomplishing one day?
Have any of your dreams come true? How?

I have been thinking a lot about those questions lately. In the past few months, I have watched a few of my friends have their dreams come true - dreams of all different kinds and looks - but dreams they have had nonetheless.

When I see someone else's dream come true it produces mixed emotions in me. It give me hope that one day my dreams can come true. And, at the same time, it makes me wonder when it will be my turn for a dream to come true and how long I have to wait for that day. It is hard to be in the "in-between" stage where you know what the dream is, but it has yet to come true. It takes patience to remain in that place and to keep taking the steps necessary towards the dream being fulfilled.

As I started to think about the dreams I have, I started to notice a pattern - the dreams that seem the most impossible when I look at them are most often the dreams that I know God has given me. I look at them and think: "there's no way I could ever do that" or "there's no way that will ever happen." Yet, God has given me that dream. It seems as though fulfilling the dreams God gives me requires faith and a willingness to step out and take a risk.

That is not the way I prefer to operate. I want to know where the next step will take me before I take it. But, with these dreams it seems as though God is saying: "take that step, trust Me." That does not come naturally to me. I do not like to take risks, but God is showing me that oftentimes the way to fulfilling my dreams requires me to take risks - to take steps into the unknown, trusting that He knows where I am going and is guiding my steps.

Dreams . . . the more I think about it, the more I realize that they are essential to living life to the full. Without dreams we just kind of go through each day without excitement or purpose. When we have dreams that we are looking to, we have a direction to go, a purpose for moving forward. Dreams are important to life and to our relationship with God.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

any other way

Once again, a blog post coming from a song I was listening to where the words struck me and started me thinking. This time the song is by Tenth Avenue North, called Any Other Way.

As I was reading over and listening to the song, I found myself thinking about it in terms of our relationships with other believers. But then when I got to the end, I realized that it was probably talking about our relationship with God. But, I feel that both ways of looking at it apply in this song.

Don't say goodbye, don't say hello
We're just standing on the surface
Don't say alright, don't say I know
I promise it's not worth it
 I want to know who you are
Even if you're falling apart
Reach in and touch your scars
And all the shame you're kept in your heart

'Cause it's not enough
It's not enough just to say that we're okay
I need your hurt, I need your pain
It's not love any other way

Let's not pretend, stop your parade
Trying to convince me
That you're alright and everything's okay
Do you even know me?
'Cause I already know who you are
And all the things that kept us apart
So reach in and touch my scars
And know the price I paid for your heart

'Cause it's not enough
It's not enough just to say that we're okay
I need your hurt, I need your pain
It's not love any other way

A broken and contrite I will not despise
Come as you are and I won't close my eyes
I won't close my eyes
I won't close my eyes
'Cause it's not enough
It's not enough just to say that you're okay
Well, you needed my hurt
You needed my pain
It's not love any other way

As I was thinking about it in terms of our relationships with fellow disciples of Christ, I was thinking about how we so often put up a front that says we are okay - even if we are falling apart and hurting behind that. We do not let anyone get close enough to really know us and to see our pain. But, I think we need that. We need to allow people in to the deepest parts of us. It is risky to let people in there, but it is what we need.

When I spent more time dwelling on the lyrics and saw how they were talking about our relationship with Jesus, I was struck by how we do much the same thing with Jesus that we do with fellow disciple of Christ. We try to hide what is really going on - we put up a front that all is good in our lives. We refuse to let Jesus into the hurt in our lives. But, letting Jesus into that pain and hurt is probably the least risky thing we can do because we can trust Him completely. Whereas another person may hurt us more if we let them in, Jesus will bring His healing to that pain if we allow Him in.

Some questions I am pondering right now about this:
How am I doing at taking down the front I usually put up with other people?
Do I have people in my life who I allow to see that I am not always okay?
Do I have people in my life who I allow to see my pain?
Am I letting Jesus in? Or am I trying to put up a front with Him too?
Am I willing to allow Jesus into the very depths of my pain - my shame - my hurt - so that I can experience His healing?

Friday, September 17, 2010

who we are - who we want to be - finding freedom

If you have not figured it out already, I have a bit of an eclectic taste in music and music in general plays an important part in my life. Music is one of the big ways that God has spoken to me in the past and He continues to do that still.

That said, this blog comes another CD I was listening to. I was listening to Bon Jovi's CD Have a Nice Day. There are two songs that got me thinking. At first they do not seem to be related, but the more I have pondered the lyrics, the more I have seen how they do tie together.
Note: I have chosen not post the recordings of these songs as the videos I was finding were a little more dicey than I was willing to post on my blog, but you can find them online if you so choose. Just know that there is a reason why I did not choose to post them.
Regardless of the content of music videos, there is something running through these lyrics that I think is worth stopping to consider.

The first song that got me started thinking about this is called Welcome to Wherever You Are. The lyrics are the following:
Maybe we're all different but we're still the same
We all got the blood of Eden running through our veins
I know sometimes it's hard for you to see
You're caught between just who you are and who you want to be
If you feel alone and lost and need a friend
Remember every new beginning is some other beginning's end

(Chorus) Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life; you made it this far
Welcome, you got to believe
That right here, right now
You're exactly where you're supposed to be
Welcome to wherever you are

When everybody's in and you're left out
And you feel you're drowning in a shadow of a doubt
Everyone's a miracle in their own way
Just listen to yourself, not what other people say
When it seems you're lost, alone and feelin' down
Remember everybody's different; just take a look around


Be who you want to be
Be who you are
Everyone's a hero
Everyone's a star
When you want to give up and your heart's about to break
Remember that you're perfect; God makes no mistakes

Now, obviously some of the "theology" in those lyrics is a not sound. But I also think there is truth to the overall message of the song. Most of us have been in the situation of feeling stuck between who we are and who we want to be, or we feel like we have been left on the outside of a group we want to be in. We go through times when we feel lost, alone, or are full of doubt. The verses of the songs describe a common human condition.

The chorus welcomes people to where they are, to what their life is. That is the first thing that I believe needs to happen for us to move forward in life. We need to acknowledge where we are and where we have come from. It is then that we can make choices to move forward and to change things. That is when we can work to "be who we want to be." That is when we will be able to keep going when we want to give up.

[Rabbit-trail here that may stir up a bit in people. I am not stating fact here . . . just musing.]
When I first read the line "Remember that you're perfect; God makes no mistakes." I found myself saying I disagree with the first part and agree with the second part. But the more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder if I can cautiously agree with the first part. No, we are not perfect on our own. No, we cannot achieve that while we live on this earth. But we are made in the image of a perfect God and while our image of Him that we portray while here on earth may be flawed because of The Fall, we do still reflect that image to some degree. Now, before someone jumps all over me, I am not saying that I am perfect or that I can attain perfection on my own. I am just wondering if since I am made in the image of God and I am made exactly the way He created me to be I am "perfect in God's eyes."
[Okay, back to my original post now . . .]

As I started to think about this second song that has lyrics that caught my attention, I started to see how finding freedom and pursuing that begins with seeing where we are - who we are - and having a picture of where we want to be - who we want to be. If we do not start there, with what the last song talked about, I do not think we can find freedom.

The second song is called Bells of Freedom. The lyrics are as follows:
I have walked all alone, on these streets I call home
Streets of hope, streets of fear
Through the sidewalk cracks time disappears
I was lost, on my knees on the eve of defeat
As I choked back the tears
There's silent scream no one could hear
So far away from everything you know is true
Something inside that makes you do what you got to do

(Chorus) Ring them bells, ring them loud
Let them ring here and now
Just reach out and ring the Bells of Freedom
When your world's crashing down
Like you've lost every round
Stand your ground
And ring the bells of freedom

Up the steps of the church
Through the fields and the dirt
In the dark I have seen
That the sun still shines for the one who believes
So far away
So full of doubt and needing proof
Just close your eyes and hear the sounds inside of you

When we feel the tension of who we are and who we want to be, we often realize that there are things that are keeping us back from becoming who we want to be. We find that there are things we need to find freedom from. We have to face our fear and our doubt about becoming who we want to be, so that we can find the freedom to become who we want to be.

Ultimately, as disciples of Christ, who we want to be should be in line with who God wants us to be - the person we are called to be in Scripture. This will take willingness to obey on our part, but I do think that it is worth it. Finding freedom from all in this world that Satan uses to hold us in captivity is not easy, but as I am learning, it is definitely worth it.

Anyways, I hope I was actually able to connect my thoughts that went with these two songs in a coherent manner. It makes sense in my head, but putting it into words was a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I was reading the prophet Daniel the other day and challenged by what I was reading. There were two situations that spoke to the same challenge for me. Both involved Daniel and his friends taking a stand for something they believed in.

The first situation takes place in Daniel 1 just as Israel has been carried off into exile and captivity in Babylon. Daniel made a very clear decision in verse 8 that really jumped off the page at me: "But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way." Daniel knew what he was committed to and what his standards were and he was willing to risk to take a stand for what he believed.

Daniel and his friends were captives in a foreign land. They probably felt as though God had abandoned them and probably no one would have blamed them if they chose to just do their best to fit in. It would have been easier for sure. "But Daniel RESOLVED . . ." Those three words are key. Resolve means "to come to a definite or earnest decision about; to determine to do something" among other things. Daniel was not going to give in. He was committed to a course of action and he was going to follow through on following what he knew was right and wrong - no matter what the cost may have been. Daniel stuck to his convictions.

The second situation can be found in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego also took a stand against the king's directions to worship a statue of him. They also made their decision clear in what they said to the king in verses 17-18: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." They knew what they were committed to and what their standards were and they were willing to risk to take a stand for what they believed.

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had, like Daniel, the resolve to not cave in to the pressure to do evil as all that was surrounding them pressured them to. They had chosen to obey and serve God and nothing was going to stop them from that - not even the threat of a terrible death. They believed that God could save them and they acted on that. But they also knew that even if God did not save them, it was in His plan not to and they were okay with that as well.

As I read these two passages of Scripture I was challenged in my own life with a number of questions:
  • What are those things that I need to resolve to do? Or not to do?
  • When I find myself in a risky situation, do I believe that God is able?
  • Am I willing to take a stand on things knowing that although God is able, He may choose not to step in and change the course of something?
They are challenging questions to answer. But I think they are also worthwhile to consider for our own lives.

Friday, September 10, 2010

running to you

It seems like many of my blogs these days have come from songs I am listening to. This is another case of that. I have been listening to the newest Newsboys CD "Born Again." A favorite song on this CD has become one called "Running to You."

The words to the course really jumped out at me as I was listening to them.

When everything is broken
There's a door wide open
You'll find me running through
More than just emotion
My broken heart has chosen
Jesus, I'm running to you
I'm running to you

What is my natural response when my world is broken? Where do I run? Who do I run too? Those are some of the questions that started running through my head since I really stopped to think about those words.

Running to Jesus is the one place where we can always be sure that we will not end up on our own. He will be there! Many times we have to make the choice that is where we will go with our broken heart because it may seem more natural and easier to turn elsewhere.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

do you ever wonder . . .

Do you ever have those moments when you begin to wonder how another person came to the conclusion that they did about something? The conclusion - your conclusion - seems so logical to you and you are sure it is the only one, except for the other person who has come to a different conclusion based on the same set of facts. Do you ever wonder if maybe you are actually the one who is "out to lunch" with your conclusion?

Do you ever wonder how someone could possibly think that what they are doing is sane? Or safe? Or smart? You would never do it and so you assume that no one else would either. And maybe you are right about it not being sane or safe or smart. But maybe you are not right, and while it looks crazy to you there is nothing wrong with the other person doing that?

Do you ever wonder why you chose to do what you do right now - whether it be your job, or school, or staying at home with your kids? Do you ever wonder about what it would be like if you had chosen something totally different? If you had taken that huge, scary risk to follow a crazy dream?

Do you ever wonder why you do things the way you do them? Do you ever wonder why some people do things the way they do them? Do you do things certain ways because that is how you taught to do them? Or because it works for you? Or because you just wanted to do it differently than everyone else?

Do you ever wonder why we spend so much time trying to be different from everyone around us? Why can we not be happy with who we are? Do you ever wonder where our focus on trying to stand out from the crowd comes from? Do you ever wonder if there is sometimes value in blending in with the crowd?

Lately I have had these questions and more running through my head. I do not have an answer to many of them, but they have been making me think. Maybe they will make you think too. I would love to hear the way you would complete the question: Do you ever . . .

Monday, September 6, 2010

i'll be there

I was listening to a CD today that I haven't listened to in a while. The lyrics of one of the songs really got me started thinking. The song is called "I'll be There" by Faber Drive. (They're not a "Christian band" but there was definitely some good stuff in this song.)

Here's the lyrics for you to read and think about. (I tried to post the song but I could find a small enough screen of it that it fit on the blog well. You can find it on youtube if you want to listen to it.)
If you're lost
And you need to find
Some escape
Or some peace of mind
Call my name
When you need a friend
And I'll be there, I'll be there

If your dreams
Are drenched in sweat
You can't sleep
There's too much in your head
Cally my name
When you need a friend
And I'll be there, I'll be there

When you can't carry on
When the roads way too long
Know that you're not alone
I can carry you home
If you hold on tonight
I'll be there

If you give
'Till you've got nothing left
Wanted more
But you end up with less
All your friends
Have turned away
But I'll be there, I'll be there

 When you can't  carry on
When the roads way too long
Know that you're not alone
I can carry you home
If you hold on tonight
I'll be there

The weight of the world is too much to take
Pulling you down like a tidal wave
I can hold you, I will hold you
Here and now
When the world seems wrong
When you've come undone
Know you're not alone
I'll be there for you

When you can't carry on
When the roads way too long
Know that you're not alone
I can carry you home
If you hold on tonight
I'll be there

When I first listened to this song I started thinking about the importance of having people in your life who you can call on when you need a friend - when things in your world do not seem right and you are not sure you can make it. Most of us have probably been there at one point or another in our lives and we have been incredibly grateful for those people in our lives who were there for us. We need those kind of friends. We need to be that kind of friend.

We were not made to go through this life alone. If you have ever tried for any length of time to just do it all on your own, this has become abundantly clear to you. Eventually trying to do it all alone becomes overwhelming and we ready to just give up. These are the times when we need to have friends that we can call on who will walk with us, encourage us, challenge us. The life of a follower of Jesus Christ was meant to be lived with others.

Let me ask you a few questions here that I was asking myself for reflection:
Do you have friends who would come when you needed them no matter what they were doing at the time?
Who are the friends you could call on when you were in need?
Are you the kind of friend that others could call on when they were in need?
Are there any changes that need to be made for you to have this kind of friend in your life? To be this kind of friend to others?

As I listened to the song a second time I started to think about all the times that other people have not been able to be there for me. I came to the conclusion that, while we need friends, the only One we can ultimately rely on to be there completely for us (the way this song describes) is Jesus Christ. He will never fail to show up. He will never leave us when we are still in need. With Jesus we will never fail to make it through any situation. I know this to be true from my own life.

The question is: Am I willing to say that I am okay with God being the only One with me always as I go through life? I know if I am honest, that is what I wish I could say, but I know I cannot say that all the time. That is an area where I am still growing and learning. It seems difficult because I cannot see Him when He is with me and sometimes I just want to see, hear, know there is another person right next to me. But, I think as we continue to grow in our relationship with God, we become more and more comfortable with the idea of Him being the only One we can rely on.