3 Simple Steps to Dream Again – Part 1

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Dreams and aspirations . . .  we all have them or had them. As kids, we come with a built in sense of destiny and nothing is out of reach . . . I’m gonna be president, a fireman, a ballerina an astronaut.  Notice how its all high an nobel, when was the last time you met a kid who said, “I want to be a bank robber when I grow up . . . that’s my dream.”

My dream as a kid was to be the first woman Supreme Court Justice.  My passion was to make wrongs right.

But for many of us, somehow these high and nobel dreams have drifted into a permanent dream state instead of becoming living realities in our lives.

God did not create us just to dream . . .  but to live.  He did not create us to be wallflowers, He created us to be dancers.  God did not create us to be spectators, He created us to be world changers. So, how do you get your dreams from concept to reality?

By definition, a dream is a strong desire to do something high or great. In contrast, the opposite of a dream or aspiration is aimlessness.  Without a dream, we become aimless.  Without aim or purpose.  You know the old saying, if you aim a nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But God says . . .

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

My goal here is to try to encourage and challenge you to pursue the dreams that are in your heart, and if your dreams are all but dead to stir those embers into a fire.  Because your dreams do not just impact you, they impact others.

It’s said that encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.  My hope is to give you oxygen.  Here is Key #1 of this three part series from the life of Joseph that just may help.

1.  Don’t let your past determine your future.

The story of Joseph starts to unfold in Genesis 37.  Here’s the 411.  Joseph is the son of the Bible Patriarch Jacob.  Jacob had just spent 20 years in Haran where 11 of his boys were born. He had 4 wives Leah, Rachel – who had died giving birth to Jacob’s 12th son Benjamin on the way back from Haran – Bilhah and Zilpah who were originally Leah’s and Rachel’s handmaids.  It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to see that Joseph’s blended family is dysfunctional to the max.  First off, there is Dad who tried to bring God’s plan into his life by lying, cheating, and conniving.  A trait he had passed on to most of his boys not to mention some serious moral flaws and fopaus.  To make matters worse Jacob showed blatant favor to Joseph, Rachel’s boy by giving him a coat that many scholars believe made him boss of his older brothers, something that just didn’t happen in Jewish culture. Talk about family tension!  So, it is not surprising that his brothers hated him and made no attempt to hide it.

Here’s an interesting side note:  the brothers couldn’t say a kind thing about him, and yet Joseph is one 3 or 4 characters in the entire Bible, one of them being Jesus, that not one negative thing is said about. In fact, Joseph is actually a type and shadow of Jesus.

As our story continues, Joseph has a dream.  He dreams that he and his brothers were out in a field tying up bundles of grain and suddenly his bundle stands up and all the brothers bundles gather round him and bow low before him. So what does the brilliant 17 year old Joseph do?  . . . He goes and tells his brothers.  This was like throwing gas on a fire.

Here’s what we can glean from this:

It’s not always wise to tell everything you know!  Some things are better kept between you and God. Not the millions of people on facebook.

Second,  not everyone is going to be excited about your dream.  In fact, the odds are that more people will try to discourage you from achieving your dream than will believe in your dream and help you achieve it.  Some will even try to sabotage your dream.

On with the story. Then, if things weren’t already bad enough, he has another dream this time the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed low before me. So has Joseph wised up?  No . . . this time he not only tells his brothers, but his dad as well. His dad gets on his case “What kind of dream is that?  Will your mother and I and your brothers all bow down to the ground before you?”

The word goes on to say while his brothers were filled with jealousy,  Jacob ponder what it could mean.

Soon after this, Joseph gets sent to check on his brothers who are watching the sheep. This was not out in the backyard, this was about a 70 mile trek by foot. Joseph’s brothers see him coming from a ways off and say, “Let’s kill this dreamer.  Then we’ll see what will become of his dreams.”  So they devise this plot to kill him and throw his body into a cistern and tell their Father he was eaten by a wild animal.

Luckily, his brother Reuben intervenes and says, “Hey, let’s not kill him . . . why have his blood on our hands, we’ll just throw him in the empty cistern, then he’ll die without us having to do it.”  And all the brothers thought it was a great idea.

Then they do what any rational thinking group of people would do, they cook dinner like nothing happened.  At this point in the story, there is nothing recorded about Joseph’s reaction to all this, but in Genesis Chapter 42:21 some 22 or so years later, we’re privy to a conversation the brothers have after they have come to Egypt to get grain and are accused of being spies.

“Speaking among themselves, they said, “This has all happened because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why this trouble has come upon us.” Genesis 42:21

So we see that Joseph must have been terrified and begged and pleaded for his life and they heartlessly ignored his pleas.  We also see that 22 years later they are still plagued by the guilt of what they did.  22 years later they are still held captive by sin.

The good new is, Joseph does get out of the well.   The bad news is the brothers sell him as a slave to a caravan on its way to Egypt.

Let’s stop here in our story and go back to the point we were trying to make:  Don’t let you past determine your future.

Would you agree that if anyone qualifies as a victim, and has the right to play the blame game it would have been Joseph?  Later, you’ll find out that this is not how he chose to handle it. But the truth is, No one can keep you from your God-given destiny  . . . but you. Others can’t keep you from your dreams. We are the keeper of our dreams. No one can limit you, except you . . . its a choice.

You can choose to be a victim and remain a spectator for your entire life, or you can get up and make the world your dance floor.  Your past can’t stop God’s plan, your circumstances can’t stop God’s plan, your education, age, or your color; you are the only one who has that power.

While God did not cause all those awful things his family did to Joseph, it was playing right into God’s plan.  God got him right on the trade route to Egypt exactly where he needed to be to complete his assignment.

end part 1

The Winner’s Edge

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It’s that time of year again when the diamonds we dream about are made of dirt and chalk.  Which reminds me of a subject I’m pretty passionate about, competition.  A little competition is a good thing.  A lot, not so much!

Tenacity is a great quality, but when carried to the extreme it produces driven people.  You know the kind, the ones who don’t care who they run over or hurt to achieve their goals.  This kind of determination usually has it’s root in pride or insecurity (the other side of pride).  And as we all know, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18  Pride can disguise itself in any number of subtle ways, but in the end, it always brings destruction.

Teach your children to be winners, but not at the cost of compromise. Compromise brings a shallow and short lived sense of victory.  Teach them to work hard and not to be a quitter. Find something they love more than their penchant for giving up.

My daughter had a tendency to give up when things got hard.  One of her great loves in life is horses.  She’s been horse crazy since she caught her first glimpse of one.  To help her with this character flaw, the quitting not the horses, we gave her riding lessons at a very exclusive stable who trained kids for the Olympic Equestrian events.  I’ll never forget the day that her horse stopped short of the jump and she not so gracefully launched over his head and took the jump without him.  As she lay there on the ground, an erie sense of expectation gripped everyone watching.  It was as though we were all holding our breath, instinctively knowing we were about to witness a life-impacting decision.  Would she get up and get back on the horse, or would she quit?  As she got to her feet there was that hushed expectation as we waited for her reaction.  As she placed her foot in the stirrup and started to pull herself up, there was an audible sigh of relief from the spectators as we witnessed her good choice.  That moment was a turning point in her life that broke the syndrome of giving up when the going got hard.

It’s important that we teach our kids to meet challenges head on, and to go to the principles of the Word for answers to these challenges.  Then, they will always be a winner.  Sometimes the one who comes in first is the winner, but sometimes it’s the one who comes in last.  Appearances can be deceptive.  Winning at the inward qualities is not always as easy as preparing for a foot race, but it is exactly what Paul likens it to.  He talks a lot about running the race and finishing his course, and he ponders the outcome of giving up and not finishing the race.  There is only one race that has eternal consequences, and that’s the where we want to teach our children to focus their greatest energy.

How many great football heroes, champions in their fields such as, scientists, noble prize winners, world figures, and movie idols will stand before the world as victors and before the Judgement Seat of God a failure? Think about that the next time little Johnny’s Little League teams looses a game over an error or a bad call.  Think about the insignificance of that game in light of eternity before you tell the umpire just what you think of his eyesight, or before you bad mouth the coach all the way home in front of your child.  Either one of these acts will have a far greater negative impact on your child than the loss of one game, even if it is the Championship.

Teach your childrenth-2 to be a winner, even when they lose. Their attitudes will determine their tomorrow.  Sometimes it is easier to gain Godly character in a losing situation.  We are not being realistic if we think we will never be faced with trials or difficult circumstances.  If they don’t learn how to handle the loss of a little league game in a Godly manner, how will they deal with more difficult challenges later in life?  Use every circumstance as a learning situation and a teaching moment.  That is how you can turn defeats into victories every time.  Your child will not only gain Godly character, but a more positive outlook on life and a truly humble spirit.  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

 

Timeless Wisdom

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“Forgiveness is a secret that is hidden in plain sight.  It costs you nothing, but it’s worth millions.  It’s available to all, but used by few.  And if you harness the power of forgiveness you will be sought after and regarded highly and not coincidentally, you will also be forgiven by others.”  Abraham Lincoln1215_02_74_prev

Parenting Through The Mirror – Add This To Your Parenting Arsenal

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51aBbw-RY6L._AA160_As a parent, have you ever felt like a deer in the headlights? You find yourself asking questions like “Why do our kids act like that?” You’re sure you’ve done everything right. After all, you work hard, provide them a nice home and food on the table, furnish them with all the latest technology, and make sure they are safe. But instead of adorning gratitude and devotion, you get Miss Smart-mouth and Mr. Know-It-All. How can you encourage them to be grateful or at least respectful?

Parenting at times can be confusing, frustrating, and even defeating. That correction technic that worked so well on little Sally doesn’t even faze Jimmy, it only makes him more defiant. Where can you turn for help?

For decades people have asked us, “How do you do it? You have such an awesome family.” It is this question that encouraged me to write “Parenting Through the Mirror.”

In this book, I’ll share with you how I learned through the school of hard knocks, and the original book on parenting, that the best place to start fixing your kids is right in your own mirror. That’s right, the person staring back at you is the perfect place to start. You see, our children become who we are not what we tell them to be; and a lot of who they become is caught as much as taught. The good news is, you do possess the power to change you, it’s a choice. While we can never change another person, we can choose to change ourselves. The result is an empowered you who no longer has to react to whatever life and your kids throw your way, a new you who responds in a peaceful, loving and productive manner to all life’s challenges.

You’ll also learn you don’t have to be perfect to be a great parent. I dare you to take this “Mirror Challenge” I promise it will change your life and the lives of all those in your circle of influence and beyond.

available at amazon.com

How A Child Spells Love

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A cookie valentine In today’s culture of busyness and materialism, it seems that many of us have lost sight of the simplicity involved in showing real love to our family. How do you spell . . . love? Is it nonstop A.C.T.I.V.I.T.I.E.S? Is it in all the latest S.T.U.F.F. I think we’ve all had times when long work hours and an endless flurry of activities frazzled our last nerve and caused us to lose our joy and peace. While your kids may beg for the latest and greatest gizmos and want to be involved in an endless array of activities, the truth of the matter is, that it is a rare kid who does not spell love T.I.M.E. Nothing contributes more to a child’s sense of self worth than your undivided and complete attention for an extended period. Whether it’s reading them a bedtime story, playing games as a family, or just having real conversation over dinner, your time is the most valuable commodity you have to give. What greater way to show your child they are loved and valuable than with the gift of your time? Every person has the same 24 hours each day, and once it’s spent it’s gone. Time is the great equalizer, it crosses all social, economic, and ethnic boundaries. The amazing thing is, it is our choice whether we spend or invest it. If you spend all your time to gain things that have no eternal value, you’ll end this game called life the same way you came in, empty. However, if you invest it into the lives of those God has called you to serve, your time will reap a great reward both now and in future generations. The choice is yours.

The Power of Influence

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Our children become who we are, not what we tell them they should be.  I remember one afternoon, my mom sat me down to give me “the lecture” on why I shouldn’t smoke.  My mom smoked 6 cigarettes while she gave me the “why you shouldn’t smoke lecture.”  I smoked until I got saved at age 22. The reality is, we are our kid’s first glimpse of God, so what we do is just as important as what we say.

When our kids see us, they need to see Jesus because, how they perceive us is how they will perceive God. If we’re angry all the time, they see God as angry. If they can never achieve enough, they get a B and you think they should have gotten an A – then they will see God as someone who is impossible to please. Our job is to train and model by our example qualities like faithfulness, forgiveness, respect for authority, honesty, responsibility, and gratefulness.

Training is instruction and demonstration with a specific result in mind.  The result we want is to see the character of Christ  formed in our kids.  We also want the assurance that they have a personal relationship with Him, and that they are learning how to make wise life choices.

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”

As parents and leaders, we are influencing everyone we encounter.  Someone is watching our life.  The question is not, am I influencing someone?  It’s how am I influencing them?  Sometimes appearances can be deceptive, but know they are watching and we are always influencing.   We are like books read by all those around us.

At Erik’s high school graduation, he had a guy come up to him and say, I just want to thank you, it’s because of your life that I am a Christian today.  Erik had never met the kid.  It seems he had seen Erik in Junior High when he was going through his rebellious period, and then he went to the same high school when Erik got his life right with God.  He had just watched quietly in the distance and saw the change in his life and behavior.  When he went to a camp, he was convinced that Jesus was real because of what he’d witnessed in Erik’s life and gave his heart to Christ.

That’s the power of influence and a life well lived.  People are watching you.  Your kids are watching you.  The people at your job are watching you, everyone you come into contact with is watching you. You won’t be perfect, but you should be growing and improving yourself by reading, listening to teachings, serving (doing the Word)  Spending time in God’s presence, and  keeping yourself stirred up in the Lord.