Jesus Suffered So That We Might Live – Pt 2

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 10

At the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences.

                                          

Chapter 5: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU WON’T BE FORSAKEN

Question #1: What does “forsaken” mean to you?  Share a time in your life when you felt forsaken.  How did someone encourage you?

The word “forsaken” to me has got to be one of the loneliest and saddest words in our English vocabulary.  It would be one thing to go off by yourself and feel alone.  It would be similar if say perhaps you had an accident, like a boat crash, and you were marooned and isolated on a remote island.  Yet these two kinds of experiences would not be as bad as “forsaken”, because you could either choose to join people again, or at least have the hope that you could be rescued and be with people again.

But to be forsaken means that there were plenty of other people around, but they all left for one reason or another, and then you were completely left by yourself.  You were abandoned, and you had no hope of rejoining the group.  I recall very vividly the few times that a baseball game or football game was started in our park or school ground, and I was not chosen to be on a team.  Everyone lined up, and they took turns picking team mates.  I was the last one, and even then, neither captain of the two teams wanted me.  They left to play the game, and I was forsaken.

    

Thankfully I have matured past those silly old ball game days.  But at that age I do remember feeling left out of life itself and didn’t seem to be accepted anywhere.  I praise my God that He found me, and I found Him, and invited Christ into my life.  Ever since that, I have always known that I am accepted by God and would never be alone again.

As a Christian adult and aspiring missionary though, there was still a moment when I felt rejected and forsaken.  Jill and I had made a tentative start with one mission group, and had submitted our application.  But just as I thought they were going to accept us, they told us that “we were not ready yet”, and that there were some life issues and finances to get straightened out first.  I felt so rejected.  But again, I praise God that a caring friend a few years later said, “I thought you were going to be a missionary?”  So we moved forward again, and that time we were accepted and we have been doing Bible translation work ever since.

Question #4: How crucial is the cross to your personal story?  In what ways has the fact that Jesus died on the cross changed your life?  How would your life be different today if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross?

This is an easy question for me in some ways.  Simply put, without Christ and His offer of spiritual life through His death, I would be so truly lost and messed up, not just in this life, but for eternity.  I now know as I look back over the years, that if I had not accepted Christ, then I would have become such a self-centered and self-serving person.  But knowing that Jesus, God’s Son, gave up his life for me so that I could live, that helps me to give up my life to serve others in order that they too might live eternally with God in the glorious Kingdom that He will usher in one day.  All I can say is “Thank you, Jesus!”

                                          

[Editor’s Note:  In the “Ideas” part in this section for Chapter Five at the back of his book, Lucado challenges his readers to consider what we used to be like and how we felt before we knew Christ and accepted Him into our lives, and then what our lives became after we invited Christ into our lives.  He suggests making a list of the two sides, a “Before” and an “After” shot.  He provides some good examples for us.  I challenge my readers to look this chart over and then make a list.  You can use some of Lucado’s examples if they fit, but try to think of other features so you can reflect well on your true identity as it stands now by being “in Christ“.]

OLD

NEW

I was alone because of sinful choices.

I am complete in Christ.

I was accused and ashamed.

I am free from condemnation.

I was fearfully running from God’s purpose  for my life.

I am established and anointed.

I was lazy and unmotivated.

I am God’s co-worker.

I was harming my body with my actions.

I am God’s workmanship.

I was living without care or responsibility.

I am a royal priest in God’s eyes.

I was unethical.

I am honest and hard-working.

I was a bad parent.

I am a good, intentional parent.

I was feeling forsaken.

I am forgiven.

I was prone to wander.

I am a faithful spouse.

I was addicted.

I am dependent only on God.

* If this article has been helpful to you and a blessing, please invite your friends to come visit this devotional blog site.

                                           

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

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Satan Is The True Enemy – Pt. 2

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 4

As mentioned two weeks ago, at the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences. 

                                          

Chapter 2: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU KNOW SATAN’S NEXT MOVE

Question #1: This chapter talks about the distractions of “possessions and problems.”  Share with the group the distractions you seem to encounter most — distractions that keep you from engaging the story of God in Scripture.

Most people know that the ministry work I do is Bible translation.  Our family lived out in a remote village in Papua New Guinea for five years.  During that time, I learned the language and culture of the people, and helped to get the Gospel of Mark translated into their language.  Thankfully, I had a basic word list, a grammar paper of the language and some notes on Mark from the man who had started the language project years before we got there.

In light of all the resources I had, it still surprises some people at how long it still took us to finally finish and translate Mark.  The reason is that there is so much more involved than just doing translation when you live out in these remote villages.  The translator before me also built the house we lived in out of hewn and planed timbers from trees in the jungle.  That was nice, but the upkeep seemed to be never ending.  In those five years, I also learned to become a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a small engine mechanic, and much more.

I found then that this nice home out in the jungle often became a distraction from what I had come to PNG to do, to give God’s Word to the people who had never had the Bible in their language before.  But I know I spent a lot of time making sure that our own family was safe and secure and comfortable, while all around me the national people were living in small huts made out of jungle material that usually fell down in about five years.  I would not call this a direct scheme of the Devil, but I do have to be honest that my “mansion” was a barrier between me and the people.

Question #2: What kind of personal attacks does the Enemy plot?  How does he attempt to divide people?  Have you seen the Devil at work?  Do you tend to underestimate or overestimate the Devil’s activity?

Let me continue now to give some other background to our life in the village that shows how Satan has been (and still is in places) very active in dividing the people and attacking them with lies that destroy people’s lives.  One legend that is popular in PNG is the creation story.  In this story there are two brothers who either through their positive creative energies, or through their negative battles for supremacy, created the spark of life and the world came into existence.

The story continues with the elder brother leaving the younger brother on this island called PNG.  The older brother was going to go out into the world and discover all the riches and treasures and wisdom that the world contained, while the younger brother was left behind with nothing.   But the legend says that one day the older brother would come back and be reunited with the younger brother and share all the goods (called cargo) and the secrets to obtaining them.

Interestingly, some of the PNG legends end by saying that the older brother, when he came back, was a white-skinned man.  So…imagine what some of the people in the villages around us thought when the translator before me was going to come back after being away for almost ten years and join me in a “return celebration”.  Word went out, and immediately the legend rumours were ignited and it was thought that this other translator and I were finally going to tell the secret to get the “cargo” or material possessions of this world.

    

What’s sad is to realize that many of these people who live in this remote area have seen many “rich white people” come with huge amounts of clothing, food, amazing gadgets and objects with them.  And we never seem to “work” for what we have.  (Sitting at a desk over a laptop all day is work??)  And they never see us use money out in the bush.  We would just ask over our two-way radio for more goods and supplies, and presto, there they were on the next plane.  No wonder they thought we knew the right “magic”.

The end result from our big “celebration day” is that we had a wonderful reunion with our friend who came out to our village.  But none of the villagers received this magic cargo from the skies.  And this produced such heated arguments that it almost started an inter-tribal war.  Thankfully, I had been told what was going on, and I was able to hold an all-evening teaching/preaching time of explaining that these pursuits for material wealth do not come from God.  These evil desires come from Satan.

That is what we need to remember most.  The material objects themselves are not evil, but in Satan’s hands they become so if our focus is twisted to be only pursuing after them, instead of pursuing after a better relationship with our God.  How easy it is to let the things of this world distract us from seeking after our God.  Our true enemy in all of this is Satan.

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

Make Your Life A Testimony – Pt 2

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Impacting Others for Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.            (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

It has been said that there is nothing more powerful that a personal testimony concerning something extraordinary that has happened to a very ordinary person.  This is the last article I will write on the book written by Mark Atteberry, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.

On page 176, Atteberry writes:

The great value of a true story is that it places a finger under the hard-road traveler’s chin and gently pushes up.  Unlike fiction, it forces the person to ask, “Could God do something like that for me?”

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We tend to put so many others up on pedestals, like sports heroes, movie stars, gifted speakers, etc.  So many of us feel like we have very little to offer to other people.  But the Scripture I quoted at the top of this article says otherwise.

I think it would be fair to say that every person who has ever lived has encountered difficulties and painful experiences.  That is simply part of being human.  What is also true for those who believe in God is that many of us can tell stories about how God came through for us and brought us through those difficult moments.

And it is these stories, these testimonies, that Atteberry says we all need to share with those who are around us.  Rephrasing the Scripture above, God is a God of great compassion who helps us in our times of greatest need, and that often, He allows these difficult times to come in order that we can then in turn help others who are now going through what we just came through.

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In his book, Atteberry anticipates that some people will shy away from the idea that God could ever use them and their situation to be of help to anyone else.  He expands on three possible objections that someone might give for  not sharing their life stories and experiences with others:

  • I’m not a great communicator.
  • I have no platform from which to share.
  • My story isn’t dramatic enough.

Some of these statements may actually have some truth in them.  Moses was someone who stuttered.  The widow who gave her last pennies at the Temple as Jesus watched probably never thought she would be important.  I was never a drug user who “saw the light” and came to believe in Jesus.  (Why do we always use the example of drug users.)

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But all of these objections (and more) have missed the point.  It is not the quantity of what we do in life that is most important, but the quality of whatever we do, no matter how small that might look to us.  I like Atteberry’s comment on page 177:

The big thing to remember is that your testimony is simply your story.  It doesn’t have to be a sermon.  It doesn’t have to be theological.  It doesn’t have to answer all the difficult questions people might feel inclined to ask.  All it has to do is show how the Lord helped you as you walked with Him along your hard road.

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It has been just a little more than a year ago when I started writing articles on this blog site.  I had the choice at the beginning to use my site as a venue by which I could whine and complain about all the pain I suffer with my muscle disease, and how hard life is for me.  I could view my world as having shrunk down to sitting in my sofa recliner day after day within the confines of my living room and apartment.

But God challenged me to view my struggles as an opportunity to reach out to other hurting people.  Very quickly I saw that by means of my internet connection, I could potentially reach thousands of people with my stories of what God has done in my life in the past, and is still doing through me today as I take one day at a time by faith.

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In fact, as you look at the visitor counter, you can see that there really have been thousands of people who find it worthwhile to visit and read the articles that I write.  But as soon as I say that, I have to figuratively knock myself on the side of the head and remind myself that I am not writing for the thousands, I am writing for the one person who really needed to hear the word of encouragement that I offer in a given article.

Atteberry goes on to say:

The best way to measure the value of a testimony is not by the size of its audience, but by the impact it has on the people who hear it. If your story helps even one person stay faithful to the Lord — or perhaps return to the Lord — then it has had an eternal impact.

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And this is where we conclude our study of this book.  I really hope though that these “Hard-Road Journey” articles have been more than just a book study.  I pray that we have been able to walk along side of each other and be encouraged in our faith and walk with the Lord because we’ve gone on this journey together.

I am amazed and thrilled that God has used me in this last year to impact others.  All I’ve done though is to be open and honest and share “my story”.  Even if you never go public like I have, I’m going to promise you that if you are open and honest with others around you, then God will use “your story” to also be a blessing to someone else who really needed to hear what you have to say.  May God bless you as you do this for Him.

Follow Where God Leads – Pt. 1

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Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show Intro

Yes, that’s right.  I’m going to start this article which is a continuation of our “Hard Road Journey” series with the famous Warner Bros. 1961 song that would start the Bugs Bunny & Tweety Hour show every Saturday.  (I loved that show.)  Read the words for fun the first time (and hum the tune if you know it, or look it up on You Tube).  Then read them again and see what words of wisdom are contained in the lyrics:

Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart

Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, we’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it

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So here we are, ten months later, and still talking about walking through difficult wilderness experiences.  We have been following the story of the nation of Israel as they walked through the desert for 40 years and learned from their experiences as highlighted and taught by Mark Atteberry in his book, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of the Israelite children growing up and wandering around in the desert for 40 years?  Now I’m sure that they would have camped out in some spots for long stretches of time, and had found some oases to enjoy along the way.  (Read the article on “Oases“.)  But it must have been nearly unbearable to hear the stories of how they failed as a nation to enter the Promised Land once, and were still yearning for the next opportunity to come.

And then suddenly, 77 chapters later (from Exodus 13 to Numbers 33) and 40 years after they had left Egypt, they finally camped beside the River Jordan and were able to see across to the other side where God was leading them, the Promised Land of Canaan.  A land that was said to be “flowing in milk and honey”.  But one that also still contained great walled cities and those nasty giants (over 7 ft tall) called the Anakites.

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And this became the great moment of decision once again for the Israelite people.  Did they dare to believe that this was the moment they had all been waiting for.  Just like the lyrics up above, the people had been rehearsing for 40 years to be ready to answer to God when He called on them to act in faith, to follow Him, and to take the precious gift of that abundant land that He had always promised He would give them.

And this is the point to which we have come in Atteberry’s book.  Mark has been encouraging us in his previous eleven chapters on how to walk through the dark valleys of our life experiences, and hang on to the hope that one day, God would bring us out of the wilderness experience.  And when that happens, we are encouraged to not falter in our faith and fail to take hold of what God has placed in front of us.  Hear what Atteberry says on this important point:

When God brings you to the edge of your wilderness and offers you a way out, take it.  Don’t allow fear to paralyze you, which is what the Israelites did the first time around and what a lot of people do today.                                           (page 148)

I believe what can so easily happen to us is that we look back on the previous disappointments and disasters of our lives which resulted in such emotional and psychological pain that we are too afraid to even try to improve our lives.  And Atteberry recognizes this as he does not suggest that we just run forward and throw caution to the wind to grasp at what could be a better life.

Rather, he does suggest that we exercise some wisdom and discretion, even as we push forward to leave our desert experience and follow God into whatever new and wonderful experience He may have in store for us.  In fact, when something looks almost too good to be true, that just might be the case.  But then again, maybe not.

So Atteberry advises us to ask three important questions which will help us to know if this new and wonderful opportunity in life is in fact what we ought to do.  And they are:

Question 1: Having studied, what is my Bible telling me?
Question 2: Having prayed, what is the Spirit telling me?
Question 3: Having listened, what are my friends telling me?

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These are excellent questions to ask when trying to determine God’s will for you in any given moment when you need to make a decision.  We first need to determine if this “better life” that we are pursuing after is in any way going to compromise or hinder our relationship with God.  Then we need to allow time for God’s Spirit to speak to our spirit about this, and confirmation of a good decision should always be accompanied by the inner peace that only God can give.

Finally, since we do not live in a vacuum, or on an island as they would say, we should always try to consult others who may be affected by this decision.  And seeking out wise advice from godly people will often help us to gain a perspective that we may not have had otherwise.

But then it ultimately comes down to us.  At the end of the day, we will need to make a decision.  And if we have followed through on Atteberry’s three questions and found the answer is yes, then we need to boldly go forward into whatever lies ahead.  Now Atteberry has two more key thoughts to consider as we go forward, and they will be the body of my next article.  I’ll see you then.

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Walking By Faith

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A True Story

Recently, I got a cute and amazing story about a dog in an email in my Inbox.  I don’t always read them, but this one caught my attention, and I’m glad it did.  Not only are the story and the pictures I share with you incredible, but I believe that the story has a lot that can speak truth and hope into our lives by analogy.

The original story that was sent to me will be in italics below.  My thoughts and reflections on life will be in regular print. Ready? Let’s go.

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This dog was born on Christmas Eve in the year 2002. He was born with 2 legs.  He of course could not walk when he was born. Even his mother did not want him.

His first owner also did not think that he could survive and he was thinking of ‘putting him to sleep’.  But then, his present owner, Jude Stringfellow, met him and wanted to take care of him.

She became determined to teach and train this little dog to walk by himself.  She named him ‘Faith’.

[How appropriate that name is.  And you know what?  All of us are actually like this puppy in that we too have been born with a handicap.  We were born with the propensity to sin, and that handicapped us from having a whole spiritual walk with God.  But when we put our trust in Jesus, we also learned to walk by faith.]

In the beginning, she put Faith on a surfboard to let him feel the movement. Later, she used peanut butter on a spoon as a lure and reward for him for standing up and jumping around.

Even the other dog at home encouraged him to walk.  Amazingly, only after 6 months, like a miracle, Faith learned to balance on his hind legs and to jump to move forward.

After further training in the snow, he could now walk like a human being.  Faith loves to walk around now.  No matter where he goes, he attracts people to him.

He is fast becoming famous on the international scene and has appeared on various newspapers and TV shows.  There is now a book entitled ‘With a Little Faith’ being published about him.

His  present owner Jude Stringfellew has  given up her teaching post and plans to take him around the world to preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect soul’.

In life there are always undesirable things, so in order to feel better you just need to look at life from another direction.  I hope this message will bring fresh new ways of thinking to everyone and that everyone will appreciate and be thankful for each beautiful day.

Faith is the continual demonstration of the strength and wonder of life.  A small request: All you are asked to do is keep this story circulating.

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So what do you think?  An amazing story isn’t it.  As I said in the middle of the story, all of us have been born with the handicap of sin in our lives.  But once we have Jesus in our hearts, that barrier between us and God is removed and we are made spiritually whole.

But I offer one more challenging thought, and this one is specifically for Christians now.  How many of us have been freed from the guilt of sin, yet are weighed down by the burdens and the worries of life.  Jesus tells us not to worry about the things we need in life because our Heavenly Father takes care of us.

And Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we are to, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  This is not just wishful thinking that we can have a joyful and optimistic spirit in life, this is God’s will for our lives.  I believe we can be as free and as happy as this amazing dog named Faith.  What do you think?

Help Me Keep Focused Lord

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There is a pithy, wise saying that I just came across in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 10:18.  It reads:

“Through laziness, the rafters sag;
because of idle hands, the house leaks.”

I think the metaphors in this verse may not seen relevant to today’s world.  Try to imagine if you will, part of your own house having a spot that literally sags when you walk on that spot.  Or imagine that the seal is loose at the base of your toilet so that every time you flush, water starts leaking across the floor.

What would your response be?  Wouldn’t you call in an expert such as a carpenter to fix the flooring and a plumber to fix your toilet.  And I would guess that most of us make that call to bring in the expert as soon as possible.  We may procrastinate on some things, but on emergency issues, we respond very quickly and get the problem fixed right away.

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The same cannot be said to be true of the majority of the people living in Papua New Guinea.  When the thatched roof material starts to leak inside the hut, it may take days or weeks to fix the roof.  And in the meantime, they just move their belongings around and sometimes place a pot under the leak so as to not waste this precious rain water.

Now almost all rural houses in PNG are built off the ground on stilts, large tree trunks at least 20 inches wide and about 8 feet long.  After these posts are evenly placed in holes, the foundation level of the house can be built.  Then the wall frame-work is done, the roof frame is put on, walls made out of interwoven bamboo strips are joined to the frame, and then the thatched roof is added on top to protect against the sun by day, and the rains by night.

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It is amazing what the Papuans can build simply out of material that they can get from the jungle all around them.  But one of the principles by which the people operate is this: if it hasn’t broken yet, then don’t worry about it.  Doing regular maintenance on the house and taking proactive steps to avoid the house falling down just doesn’t compute in their culture.

So what happens is what we expect to happen: the floors start to sag, and the roof starts to leak.  The men don’t do anything about the house problem until it is sagging and leaning over to at least a 45 degree angle.  And their solution is to start gathering new material from the jungle and build the second house right next to the first house.

Stripping the metaphorical language in this one verse, we could perhaps translate it very meaningfully by saying, “If we put off until the future the things that we need to take care of today, then we jeopardize the very foundation of anything we are trying to accomplish.  And if we just sit around and ignore any issues when they are small, then when the issues start to become big, they can cause all kinds of damage.”

Now at this point in my life, I think I can say that I do not have a problem with being lazy or being idle. In fact, I am more busy now in my various ministry roles than I have ever been since all the way back to 2007, when Jill and I carried the weight of the Branch in East Africa.

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So let me tell you what some of the aspects of ministry that I am involved with right now:

  1. Doing exegetical background reading on the Gospel of John, in preparation for doing the consultant check of it in two languages. And then preparing to check either Romans or Ephesians in another language and finally Daniel for another language all in PNG.
  2. Reviewing revisions on the book of Acts, for a project in Southeast Asia, as well as starting to consultant check Matthew for the same group through internet file sharing.
  3. Helping to train new missionaries for our mission: Pioneer Bible Translators.
  4. Keeping in good contact with all of our regular donors, and with our Prayer Warrior people on a weekly basis.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, I need to stay in good, healthy contact with my family, in order to support and encourage my children, and love my wife from a distance who is back in Calgary.
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So definitely I have way too much on my plate to do.  I won’t have time to be idle to get these things done.  But staying so busy can lead to other difficulties.  Unless I am able to exercise tremendously good time management skills, then I will very possibly drop some of the balls I am carrying.

To bring this all back to where we started in Ecclesiastes, it will not be a desire on my part that some of my “house” may fall down. And yet still, not due to laziness, but rather to taking on too many responsibilities in life and ministry that will end up with the same result in that our untended house may “sag” or “leak”.

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And this all leads us now to an important point that I want to make for all of us, whether we are under-achieving in our lives, or we are over-achieving kind of people.  The most important ingredient to a well-balanced and successful life is to put God first into our lives.

I find that when there are times that I am idle (not too often), I turn my attention to God and ask Him what I should be working on today.  And when I am over-working myself, I ask God how to organize and prioritize my life so that every moment matters and is maximized.  And by the grace of God, everything always seemed to get done.

Pursue Your Dreams For God

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Keep Your Dreams Alive – Part 2

“Right now, you must understand that the distance between you and the fulfillment of your dream can grow a little smaller every day if you keep taking steps in the right direction.  You may not be able to take big steps.  Indeed, the hard road you’re traveling may make even the smallest steps very difficult.  But if even a little progress can be made, make it.”  (pg. 154 from “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel” by Mark Atteberry)

In Part 1 of this two-part article, I shared some details about the struggles and disappointments each of us within my family has had in these past three years to experience the fulfillment of our personal dreams and hopes in life.  At the conclusion of this article I have some good news.  But I would guess that some of you who are reading this are still walking along on a dark and difficult road and are not seeing your dreams fulfilled.  I believe that Atteberry has some good advice for all of us.  He offers three suggestions as to how we can keep our dreams alive.

1  Keep Talking About Your Dream

I believe that God is our Creator.  He created each one of us to be uniquely different.  Just look around and you will know that this is true.  The Psalmist says that God knew us and was uniquely forming us from the time of our conception in our mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139:13)  And part of this unique individuality He created involves our personality, our interests, our desires, our hopes and our dreams.  These are all a part of what makes us who we are.

Accepting that as a given, we should also accept that we would naturally want to speak out about these interests and dreams that we have to other people.  In fact, I believe that when a person truly discovers what dreams they have for life, they will feel so passionate about these dreams that they won’t be able to contain them and keep them secret. but will constantly be telling others about what they hope to accomplish in life.

And that is as it should be.  Sometimes we may not clearly know how to fulfill these dreams, but just by talking to others will help us to clarify the dreams and what steps we need to take to accomplish them.  And don’t worry about negative or pessimistic people who for whatever reason are constantly shooting our ideas and dreams down.  There will always be people like this around.  Even if you are not seeing the realization of your dreams now, as Atteberry says, just talking about your dreams will help keep them alive.

2.  Keep Praying About Your Dreams

Not only should we be talking to others about our dreams, but we need to constantly be talking with God about our hopes and aspirations in life.  Notice how I said we need to talk “with God”, not “to God”.  Too often we make our plans and goals in life and then we ask God to bless all that we do.  But in Proverbs 16:9 it says, “man plans his steps, but the Lord directs his path.”  When we pray, it is important to talk over our hopes and plans with God, but it is even more important to be listening to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit.

When life is difficult though, and things don’t seem to be turning out like we had always dreamt and hoped they would, Atteberry advises us to pray to God in two very specific ways.  First, as we go through a difficult period, he advises us to pray and ask God for strength to endure the hardships we are experiencing.  And secondly, he tells us to ask God to still bless our dreams and make them a reality.  What is amazing is the fact that God does want to bless us and give us these good things.  And more often than not, as Scripture says, we have not because we ask not.  (James 4:2)

3.  Keep Moving Toward Your Dream.

Now after all this good advice, there remains just one more thing to do: find out what you can do, even little things, and go out and keep pursuing your dreams.  You may feel like it is hopeless, or that it will take forever to get to where you want.  But remember the famous saying of, “How do you conquer the mountain?” Answer: “One step at a time.

In a previous article I share how my one son waited and pursued after his desire to be in the Army.  It seemed like every time he talked with the recruitment office they told him to fill out another application, or some new form.  He could have given up.  But he dutifully filled out each form.  And he called back once or twice every week for a few months.  And guess where he is now?  After a two-year waiting period, right now he is in Quebec just about to finish the first month of his Army Boot Camp training.

For me too it has been a long, slow process to get to where I am now today.  Three years ago, I thought my missionary career was over when the full force of my muscle disease hit me.  But in time, by some trial and error of different medications, and by continually adjusting my environment around me to make me comfortable, it has become possible for me to continue doing my Bible translation work.

And so what about you?  What obstacles are standing in your way.  Jesus said metaphorically that even with tiny mustard seed faith we can conquer mountains that stand in our way.  You have to believe first that your dreams and aspirations have come from God.  Then believe that He can empower you to get to your goal.  And then finally, we all just need to take a step forward and start walking towards our dreams.

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