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Archive for the ‘Defeat’ Category

ImageAs the years go, 2012 has been a good one personally and professionally. This year was a marked difference from 2011, which at times I would like to forget, but believe will ultimately go down as one of the more important years of my life.

On December 31, 2011 the new year was not looking so bright. Just 10 days before I had spent the night in the hospital because of chest pains related to a season of unrelenting stress. I limped through Christmas Eve—typically my favorite service of the year—and struggled to prepare for worship on January 1 (which was the first Sunday of 2012).

I went to bed on New Year’s Eve early (because that’s how I roll now that I’m past 40). And then a strange thing happened. I dreamed. And I learned an important principle: God will always conspire to remind you of the truth that He is not done with you. That the past does not determine your future.

I’ve never been a big proponent of “dream interpretation.” I had a friend in seminary who kept dream journals of every dream he ever had. He had rows and rows of journals and had trained himself to wake up to write down his dreams. He was a good friend, but I always felt like this was an odd quirk that he shouldn’t share with anyone.

Dreams are just dreams, right? They don’t mean anything. They’re just random images produced by neurological stimuli.

That’s been my take on dreams, at least. Until December 31, 2011. That night my dreams were vivid and clear. I’ve never had anything like them before and haven’t since. And I’m convinced that they were God’s desperate attempt to reach me at one of the darkest moments of my life. God conspired to reach me through a way that I could see and understand. And because of these two dreams when dawn broke on a new year, I truly believed I had begun a new year.

Dream One.

In the first dream I was back in my home church in Ackerman. The pews were out of order and the lights were off. And people kept telling me that I was supposed to preach. Which was terrifying to me because I wasn’t prepared to preach. I wasn’t even sure why I was there. Then behind me a voice came whispering to me, “Christ is alive.”

And the dream was over.

Dream Two.

I was wandering through a dark parking garage. I think there were others with me but never saw anyone. As I exited the dark parking garage, a strong voice told me, “No more fear.”

And the second dream was over.

When I woke the next morning, the dreams did not fade. They stayed with me. As I rose to preach that morning, I preached with the confidence that Christ was alive and that I no longer had to fear. In fact, I distinctly remember the joy of that morning. Probably the first joy I had felt in some time.

And here’s what I took away from that: Our God will go to great lengths to remind you of the truth of his love and grace. Maybe God won’t use dreams to speak to you (or maybe God will). Maybe it will be a great sunset, an unexpected conversation with a friend, that random quote you see at 2 a.m. on Facebook, a Bible Study, a sermon, an encounter with scripture. Who knows. But here’s the thing: I am convinced that our God will conspire to bring light to your darkness. And will use any means necessary.

That unexpected scheming of God gave me dreams that allowed me to begin again this year. My prayer is that you will have the eyes to see and the ears to hear as you enter this new year and new season of your life.

Happy New Year.

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On Tuesday, November 6, Americans will head to the polls to vote. This has been a particularly nasty election cycle. Candidates, supporters, and the media have all played to our worst fears and have pushed the level of dialogue in our country to its lowest point in a generation or more. With facebook, twitter, email and texting, we have exponentially more ways to voice our opinion in 2012—and more ways to denigrate the thoughts and opinions of others.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard statements like this one far too often in the last few months: “If you vote for ______, then you don’t love America.” Or, “A vote for ______, means you want America to fail.” Statements like these are damaging to our democracy (which is based on the ability of people to freely vote for the candidate of their choice, in case you’ve forgotten), and damaging to our witness as Christians and to the Body of Christ as a whole.

300 years ago, John Wesley wrote this in his journal:

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
John Wesley, October 6, 1774

What if we took Wesley’s words to heart over the next few days? What if you, because of the conviction in your heart and the judgment of your mind made a firm decision who to vote for and then made the commitment to not speak evil of “the other guy” or even speak evil of supporters of “the other guy.” Remember, if you want a one party system there are places you can go for that: North Korea, China, Cuba, and Russia to name just a few.

Or, if John Wesley words aren’t convicting enough, think about what Paul says in Galatians 5:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: . . .  enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions . . . and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Strong words from Paul about how we speak of and treat those we disagree with on any topic. For Christians, this is a matter of whether or not we’re willing to step up and actually live what we believe in every arena of life–even in our political discussions and disagreements.

So, join me in prayer these last few days before the election arrives that people will faithfully discern their vote, that they will vote, and that even in the midst of a contentious election we will do what we’re all called to do: love God and love people.

And if you’re looking for a third-party candidate, I strongly endorse this guy:

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We’re approaching the end of the journey. In just a few days, I’ll offer the final post from my sabbatical journal. The end of the journal won’t be the end of the blog! I’ve got some great things planned for the weeks ahead. For those of you just stumbling into this, a reminder of what I’m doing right now:

Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote followed by my reflections on the events of the day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 29 – Day 38
9:10 p.m.
Home

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
~ William James

Home. For good. My lunch date in Water Valley bailed on me today so I decided it was a sign to come home early. If my calculations are somewhat accurate, I travelled over 6,600 miles in 6 weeks. And every step of the way God was lighting the path, teaching me, holding me, and even fighting with me and for me. Never once did He leave me on my own (BTW, Never Once by Matt Redman is the theme song of the summer).

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry.Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 12 – Day 21
Dad’s House
11:30 a.m.

We tend to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember.
~ Mark Batterson

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 9 – Day 18
6:50 p.m.
Condo Balcony

I do the impossible!
~ Vitaly (Madagascar 3)

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