Dare to Dream

What are your dreams? I’m not talking about the things that go through your head in your sleep. I’m talking about the things you dream about doing. The things you long to experience or feel an inner compulsion to pursue. Likely God gave you those dreams.

What do you dream of doing for God? Is it going to the mission field? Or maybe writing a book? How about just having the courage to talk about the Lord to the cashier at the grocery store or your neighbor?

God is the Giver of dreams. He is the one who puts in our hearts the desire to take risks for His glory.

But some of us have listened to the Border Bullies.

Who are the Border Bullies, you ask?  Bruce Wilkinson wrote a book a few years back called “The Dream Giver.” It’s an allegory about seeking the Dream Giver and not being discouraged on the journey. Dreamer is on this journey and meets the Border Bullies along the way. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Wilkinson writes, I liked the concept of Border Bullies. These are the people in your life, or the voices in your own head who try to discourage you from following your dream, the naysayers who say you are wasting your time or that you don’t have what it takes. They are the wet blanket of discouragement that dilutes your enthusiasm and makes you wonder if you can do anything at all for God.

But let’s look at what Paul says about how we should handle our border bullies.

Galatians 1:10 – “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

We can choose to ignore the Border Bullies and choose to please God instead. We can stand firm on what God speaks to our hearts without fear of the bullies who have no real power. They’re always there to lie to us and keep us insecure and anxious about our choices and circumstances. Their goal is to steal, kill and destroy. That sounds just a little familiar doesn’t it? The Border Bullies are not just sources of discouragement. They are thieves and we already know that the Thief has been overpowered by the One who gives life!

We don’t need to be afraid to pursue the dreams God has given to us. He will be with us in the journey. He knows the path and he will help us get past the Border Bullies.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, why not revisit some of those dreams we’ve set aside? Maybe it’s time to take a risk and believe God is the Giver of dreams.

Christ as Our Foundation 

In my Bible, beside Matthew 7:24-27 I have written “storms reveal your foundation.”

The passage reads “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who builds his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house: and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” 

We may be very familiar with this passage but I think we can sometimes believe this is a onetime event. I see this house building as an ongoing process, as something we continue doing all of our earthly lives. We don’t just build the house and then move in. I think we keep adding room additions, each of which must be built on a strong foundation.

Some examples of this would be when we start a new career, when we marry, when we begin the parenting journey or when we move to a new town. All of those things require a decision to begin on a firm foundation of Godly principles.

We have to extend our original foundation and keep strengthening it to support the rest of the building. Once we come to Christ and begin building we need to continue to strengthen our character which is what supports the additions to the structure. Christ in us strengthens us as we repeatedly choose obedience to His commands.

In Luke 6:48 the same word picture is used but the author adds this note “he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock.” 

Building the foundation requires digging. It requires effort. But the results are worth it. As the storms come we are able to remain safe inside any part of the structure because we continue to build on a firm foundation as we grow in Christ.

 

 

One Year Ago Today…

It was a cool foggy morning. We got out of bed well before the sun rose.  Our caravan of vehicles headed for Cracker Barrel for one last breakfast with Jared and Rachel before we began our 3 day drive.wp_20151212_07_22_48_proThe good-byes were heart wrenching.  I was leaving a son behind. It was as it should be, he was independent and ready to meet the challenge on his own.  But it was still so very difficult.

We traveled all day on the 12th, arriving in Paducah, Kentucky just in time to collapse into bed to try to get enough rest to do it all over again the next day.  We were thankful for an uneventful drive. The worst issue we encountered was how the hills slowed the truck to 35 miles an hour making it difficult to keep the 4 vehicles together.  I still have moments when I am driving and remember spending those 3 days looking in the rearview mirror trying to get a glimpse of the bright yellow truck carrying all our earthly belongings. I prayed off and on for hours each day that Randy would be safe as he drove that huge truck all alone.

It was a challenge to keep together but more of a challenge to keep the 4 drivers alert with no relief drivers to provide a break. The second night we arrived very late in Georgia and again crashed immediately into bed. Alex didn’t even ask for sheets for the pullout bed, instead just huddled in his hooded sweatshirt and went to sleep on the couch.

On the final day of the trip we rose early, as we did the previous day, and even though we were so tired of driving, we had a bit more energy since we knew our destination was just a few more hours away. We finally hit the Florida line and stopped to enjoy the moment.the-move-3-wp_20151214_09_14_28_proWe arrived at Andrew’s mid afternoon but couldn’t rest. We had beds to unload before we could sleep that night.  We rejoiced, not believing we had made it without any big issues. No vehicle trouble, no weather issues, no major health issues beyond a couple of headaches, no doubt from staring at the road for so long.the-move-4-wp_20151214_13_53_28_proWe were welcomed by family and had help unloading and getting settled.  It was a long difficult week or so of our lives but we’d made it and were ready to begin our new adventure in Florida.

I look back at that trip and am so thankful that God blessed us in so many ways. But I can’t help, in this Christmas season, to contrast it with the trip Mary and Joseph had to take.  While we traveled 3 days, it is thought that their trip took about 9 days. We were enclosed in temperature controlled vehicles, while they were exposed to the weather day after day walking and riding an animal.  We had hotel reservations each night with clean soft beds awaiting us. Where did Mary sleep all those nights while they traveled?  We had meals in restaurants, cooked to order. What did Mary prepare for the two of them to eat each day?

And when we arrived at our destination?  We had a family to welcome us, a home awaiting us. All we had to do was unload the beds, set them up and put our PJs on. Mary and Joseph were greeted by strangers who offered little assistance beyond a rough stable shared with animals.  No pillows, no soft sheets, no running water.

And while we were grateful to fall into bed for some much anticipated rest, Mary got no rest. She was giving birth to her son.  While we were greeted with a lot of joyful hugging and rejoicing that we’d finally arrived, Jesus quietly came into the world while most people were asleep.  Only the shepherds knew of his coming.

Today, I’m glad to be in Florida. Glad the trip is over. I’m just now getting to the point where I can see a big yellow truck and not groan from the memories of that long trip.

I’m glad we made the trip. But I am even more glad that Mary and Joseph made the trip so that their Son could be born  and fulfill the prophecy that the Savior would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem.baby-jesus-wp_20161211_15_30_57_proTherefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times’” (Micah 5:2).

 

 

Maxey Memory #7: Christmas Events in the Sunshine State

I am still adjusting. I thought I had this figured out. After all, this is our second Christmas in Florida. Last year we went to the Christmas parade in short sleeves and we were so excited to be here. Now this year, I expected it to be more familiar, this Christmas in the tropics.

largo-tree-lightingwp_20161203_19_12_45_proBut last weekend we had another new experience. We went to the annual tree lighting event in Largo, a little town just south of Clearwater.  It was in their city park. The trees were dressed in lights and there were lighted displays everywhere. They had a small train running through the park that was decorated and took on passengers to see the sights.  Not that much different than what we’d experienced in Des Moines over the past decade. Except for one big difference. We were walking around outside with temperatures in the 70s after dark. It was still a magical experience but where were the mittens and stocking caps?  I still haven’t gotten used to this new climate.

largo-tree-lightingwp_20161203_19_38_41_proWe really had a wonderful time. It’s so much fun to be experiencing Christmas through the eyes of children. My grandchildren still have that sense of awe and anticipation about Christmas. Of course, they get caught up in the flashy parts of the season but they are also well trained in the real meaning of Christmas.  They understand the significance of that baby born in a stable.  Watching them reminds me to take a moment and allow God to give me a fresh excitement. A renewed anticipation about the celebration of His Son.

Last night I was in the living room alone, which is a rarity in this houseful of people. There were no lights on except the Christmas decorations.  There was soft Christmas music playing.  I was enjoying the experience after a busy day.  As I rested in the peaceful atmosphere I took time to recall the scriptures announcing the birth of Jesus.  It was just what I needed.

 Luke 2:10-11  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Go Directly To Jail

If you’ve ever played the game Monopoly you are familiar with the phrase, “Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.” It’s an interesting concept to examine in light of scripture.

Basically it is a statement of condemnation implying that there is no other option, nothing you can do but take your punishment. Of course, there is never any mention as to what you DID to deserve to go to jail. Isn’t that the way the devil works every day? He often just throws out condemnation and never gives any specific reason, just that feeling of guilt, or that you will never measure up no matter how hard you try.

In the game of Monopoly there are several options for being released from jail once you are there. One is to keep rolling the dice, hoping to get the correct combination (doubles) to be allowed to return to the game. To continue the scriptural comparison, that would be like hoping that you will eventually say the right words, the right prayer to get God’s attention and somehow silence the enemy long enough to be set free. But in the game you only have three chances to get it right. After that your only option is to pay the $50 and go your merry way.

The second method to get released from jail is to just pay the $50 right away and not try to negotiate your release by other means (rolling the dice). Back to the scriptural comparison…that would be like doing penance or good works to get back into God’s favor and out from under the devil’s condemnation. You just pay your fine and continue on. But that’s not how God works.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The final method of release in Monopoly is found in the good fortune to be in possession of a “get out of jail free” card. If you happen to have one of these cards, you are released on your next turn, no questions asked. I’m sure you already see where this analogy is going.

Jesus has already paid for your release. You don’t have to wait until you find the right words to spring the lock and be allowed to go free. You don’t have to do a list of good deeds to pay for your release either. You just need to ask for forgiveness and you are given your freedom.  And the really good news? Jesus has stacked the deck with “Get out of jail free” cards!

Imagine playing Monopoly with a limitless supply of “Get out of jail free” cards. Anytime the devil tries to say you are guilty and worthy of condemnation, you just need to hand him another card!

Galatians 5:1: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

Hallelujah!