July 31, 2009

Oxygen Anyone?

Please fasten your seatbelt. Make sure your seatback is in its full upright position. In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can serve as a flotation device. In the unlikely event that the airplane cabin should depressurize, an oxygen mask will fall from the cabin ceiling. Please be sure that you put your own mask on before attempting to assist other passengers with their mask.

Everyday flight attendants all over the world are repeating this message to those who are flying the “friendly skies” heading to many different destinations for many different reasons. They are careful to make sure that, in the monotonous pre-flight instruction drill, they do not forget or leave out any important life saving instructions for the on-board passengers. There are even those creative and industrious flight attendants who devise alternative, and sometimes, entertaining methods of giving these instructions in an all out effort to insure that all passengers hear the instructions and are able to perform them if such an emergency did occur. However, those passengers who regularly accumulate hefty amounts of frequent flyer miles, have a tendency to tune out the flight attendants, feeling that they have heard the same message hundreds of times and the message doesn’t apply to them anyway, since what they are being warned of is not going to happen.

I believe the same thing is happening in our churches today. Every week, Pastors in churches all over this world are repeating the “pre-flight” instructions to those who are suppose to be Christians headed to different destinations in life. Those same Pastors are very careful to make sure that they don’t forget or leave out any important “life saving” instructions for those who are eternally “heaven bound”. And yes, some of those Pastors who are creative and industrious are designing alternative and entertaining methods of presenting the Biblical pre-flight instructions in an attempt to insure that all parishioners hear, understand and apply these instructions to their life. But, just like the frequent flyers, those Christians who are accumulating hefty amounts of frequent pew-packing miles have a tendency to tune out the Pastor’s message feeling that they have heard the “same message” before and it doesn’t apply to them anyway, since it is their neighbor who needs to make changes in their life--not them!

Maybe it’s time for a wake up call to all Christians everywhere. Maybe we have diluted the power of our influence because we refuse to put on our own oxygen mask first before attempting to assist other passengers with their oxygen mask.” Maybe we should listen more closely to the Pastor’s pre-flight drill, apply it to our own life first so that we can truly be an example, and then share the same life-giving message that we have received with others who are traveling with us. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

Isn’t it time that we got serious about our destination as well as the destination of others? How about you? Are you drowning out the truth of God’s Word in your life with all of the noise of the world? Or, are you applying His truth to your life so that you can become a “lighted path” to illuminate the way for “all creation” to find Jesus and make heaven their ultimate destination? Come on. Let’s fasten our seatbelt, put our seatbacks in the upright position and prepare to do more than just hang on for the ride! Let’s together make a difference in our community for the cause of Jesus Christ. Let’s help others make their pre-flight preparations today! Share your life with others!

July 1, 2009

Some day...

That elusive and often times only dreamed about day when all things that we want to do, become, experience, and live out will all of a sudden just happen! Some day I’ll travel the world. Some day I will spend more time with my kids. Some day I will love my spouse the way God intended. Some day I will discover my purpose in life. Some day I will…

Whatever your someday is; just maybe it will be today. Right. Not necessarily. One day recently I found my mind wondering while I was stopped at the traffic light of a major intersection on the edge of town. I was just winding down on my way home from the office. As I sat there, I noticed off to my right front was a gentleman in an extended cab Dodge Ram pickup truck waiting in the northbound left turn lane for his green left turn signal. Now I know that what I have described so far is typical of any city in this nation; however, as I said earlier my mind was wondering. And as I was wondering, my thoughts carried me far away from the reality of merely a drive home from the office. I began to analyze the life of the gentleman in the Dodge pickup.

I estimated that this man was in his mid fifty’s. He had a well-groomed goatee, wore a baseball cap and had an enormous belly, which seemed to wrap itself around the truck’s steering wheel. His tattoo-covered arm was hanging a bit tightly out the rolled down window of his truck. Between his thumb and index finger he loosely clung to a half smoked cigarette, which he thumped routinely to remove the tobacco ashes from the end.

As I watched this scene I wondered to myself, “Is this his someday?” Was this the dream he had for himself when he was a child? Was this where he wanted to be at this point in his life? Is he living out his life-long dream? And then it occurred to me…is this what I dreamed of when I was a child? Is the current life I am living the one that I had high expectations of living when I reached the age that I am now?

As my thoughts began to drift through my life from childhood to where I am today, I realized that I had dreamed many dreams for my life. Some of those dreams I had actually lived out and experienced. However, many of those dreams were still, to this day, only a dream. In fact, some of those dreams were no longer a dream at all. Some had become a mere rubbish pile of brokenness, failure, disappointment and impossibilities. Some had been totally forgotten about and there were even some that I was extremely elated about their death, since they were dreams that could have caused me great grief if they had come true.

But as I experienced this journey through my mind, there was one thing that pricked my heart more than any unrealized dream of my past. I discovered that, for some unconsciously thought out decision in my life, I had almost quit dreaming at all. Oh, no! Me?! Quit dreaming? Why? The very thought of no longer dreaming began to feel quite eerie to me. This had to change. I must dream. We all must dream. It is the pursuit of a dream that keeps us all in the game. It is actually the Lord’s desire for us to dream. He created in us a passion and a capacity to dream of things that could be. And yet, it seems that I have lost either my passion for dreaming or my capacity to dream. God forbid? I must correct this deficiency in my life…today! Now! This very moment I must decide to dream…dream of what could be, dream of what should be, dream of what would be if I allow the Lord to have complete control of my thoughts, my actions, my talents, my passions, my abilities, and…oh yeah—MY DREAMS!

Are you living in your SOME DAY? Are you still dreaming of what could be? If not, allow me to encourage you to dream. In fact, you should dream BIG! Allow your passions and intellect, through God’s help, to dream of that which appears to be impossible. See just what God can do through you. Seek to live out your God ordained SOME DAY!

How do I begin to dream?

  1. Prioritize your life. Many times we find ourselves spending too much time dealing with those things that claim to be urgent rather than dealing with those things that are genuinely important. This not only keeps us excessively engrossed but it also prevents us from realizing any quality reflection time in which dreams could be born.
  2. Clearly identify your dream. What is it that you are most passionate about? What talents do you possess that could be used to bring fulfillment to your dream? What experiences have you had that have driven you closer to your dream? Set aside some time every day to allow yourself to think about who you are, what you want to do, and where you want to go in life. Then take the time to write down your thought and ideas.
  3. Give your dream to God. Once you have identified what your dream is, give it to God. If it is not the direction that He wants you to go, then allow Him to tweak your dream in any way He wants to. God made you for a purpose and He has a wonderful plan and dream of His own for you. Ask Him to bless your dream, refine your dream and then assist you in engaging the talents (which, by the way, He has given to you), abilities, and knowledge that you possess to fulfill your dream.
  4. Stand up to your giants. Anyone who has a dream is going to face a giant or two. Those obstacles, roadblocks and doomsayers who could kill a dream in a hurry. Fear, failure, finances, knowledge, training, critics, schedule…all of these and more will try to distract you from your pursuit of your dream. Keep your focus, believe in yourself and trust in the Lord. Remember, “God can do anything…far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
  5. Consider your resources. What is your personality? What are your talents and giftedness? What is your education? What is your commitment level? All of these will contribute to the fulfillment of your dream. Also, you should become a reader. Readers can accomplish much more than non-readers. Reading brings knowledge, ideas, self-mentoring, creativity and many more extremely positive and valuable aspects to your table of dreams.
  6. Set goals and move forward. Begin to take the necessary steps to make your dream become a reality. Start by setting small measurable and attainable goals. This will insure that you stay committed and encouraged about the accomplishment of the overall dream. Be sure to write down the progress you make at each level and review your goals often. You may also want to share your dream with someone who you know believes in you and will cheerlead you on to success. As your dream begins to materialize, you may need to reevaluate and possibly even revise your plans and goals. Don’t let this discourage you however, because this is a very normal and necessary part of dream fulfillment.
  7. Allow failure to become your greatest teacher. Quite often you may find that one of your plans or steps along the way just simply do not work. Back up, learn from your mistake, make adjustments and once again move forward. Realize that every thing you try will not be successful; however, always allow yourself to learn from your mistakes.
  8. Finally, celebrate your successes. Always take a moment to thank God for His help and blessing in seeing each step of your dream become a reality. We must understand that without God in our lives we would never reach our destiny. But, “with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)