Dreams

dreams

In the depths of the city, diverse with anger
My heart turns cold, my humanity’s in danger
I came to make a name
I came to change the game
I came to claim the fame
I came to clear my shame

In the depths of the city, billboards promising new life
My mind’s spinning fast, rejection cuts like a knife
I’m here, but don’t know where to go
I’m here, but lost my way to the show
I’m here, but haven’t found my song
I’m here, but not sure for how long

In the depths of the city, success ‘round every corner, not far ahead
I’m almost there, I can see it now, but traffic light is stuck on red
I’m making good time, but getting quickly passed
I’m pretending to be first, but in reality last
I’m wide awake, but can’t wake up
I’m dry with thirst, but have no cup

Dreams, they make you
Dreams, they break you
Dreams, they mock you
Dreams, they take you to places unknown

Dreams, they shake you
Dreams, they fake you
Dreams, they shape you
Dreams, they take you to places unshown

In the depths of the city, invisible, masses drown my being
I’m shouting out loud, waving my hands, but can’t be seen
I’m rare, I have to remind
I’m unique, one of a kind
I’m one in a billion
I’m lost in the million

In the depths of the city, our eyes look away, as bodies collide
Fake smiles, firm handshakes, while fear works hard to hide
Look at me, I’m fine and strong
Look at me, I can do no wrong
I turn away, I’ve got regrets to bury
I run away, tired of burdens I carry

In the depths of the city, I’ve found my breath, I’ve found my voice
I look past the shallow, I see behind the curtain, I rise above the noise
Weariness my invigoration
Brokenness my declaration
Woundedness my inspiration
Confession my liberation

Dreams, they make you
Dreams, they break you
Dreams, they mock you
Dreams, they take you to places unknown

Dreams, they shake you
Dreams, they fake you
Dreams, they shape you
Dreams, they take you to places unshown

Dreams
I have found the key to success is a journey of faith
I have found a journey of faith comes one day at a time
I have found one day at a time only matters if you do it with friends
I have found friends are God’s strength while pursuing dreams
I have found dreams only come true when we walk with God
I have found when we walk with God, he focuses on developing our character
I have found that developing our character is the key to success

Dreams, they make you
Dreams, they break you
Dreams, they mock you
Dreams, they take you to places unknown

Dreams, they shake you
Dreams, they fake you
Dreams, they shape you
Dreams, they take you to places unshown

“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20

Don’t quit, keep going!

Quit

“Don’t quit, keep going!” It’s easy to say

But words fall flat, at the end of the day

“Don’t quit, keep going!”, an interesting theory

While trials, troubles, tragedies keep my life dreary

“Don’t quit, keep going!”, love to finish my race

I’m tired and sad, but another day I must face

“Don’t quit, keep going!” The preacher extols

My pain and discouragement have taken its toll

“Why don’t you quit”, my friends say, “Why don’t you give up.”

You must have sinned, you must have messed up.

“Why don’t you quit”, my friends say, “Why try.”

They tell me “Life’s unfair, curse God and die!”

But then I look at people who have endured so much

They inspire me to keep going, with their compassionate touch

They cry real tears, their joy deep and real

They don’t allow the “why’s” to ruin the deal

They allow their hearts to break, not putting on an act

Jesus said, in this world they’ll be sorrow, it’s a fact

Life’s fragile, on our own we’re easily broken

But he also said that trials won’t be the last word spoken

We must remember the words that Jesus said

He has overcome the world, we’re just not there yet

We must remember the cross, he endured the shame,

Because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering.

Consider it all joy, I’m not there yet

But I’ve made up my mind, I’m not going to quit

It’s one day at a time, guarding my heart from dissolution

Finding strength from others, and making God my foundation

So remember Paul’s words, “Don’t get weary in doing right.”

Joy comes in the morning, for those who endure the night.

The promise of Jesus, “He’s preparing a beautiful place”

Where disease is gone, tears dried up and our pain erased.

The Upside of Failure

Believe it or not failure can be a launching pad to great things.

Winston Churchill was a huge failure. Even though he is known as one of the leaders that saved Europe in World War II, he was actually dismissed from leadership in World War I.

One of his famous sayings was, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Can you relate to that one?

Failure can teach us far more than success can.

Mark Twain said, “A person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned sixty or seventy times as much as the person who hasn’t.”

Failure also teaches us about grace and forgiveness. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times he rises again.”

In this life, we will not always do things perfectly.

We will fail.
We will be tempted to quit.
Our journey towards maturity will seem longer than necessary.
We will have good days and bad days.
Life is filled with both.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly a good day can become a bad one?

I went from a good day to a bad day very quickly once.

It was January 2005 and my wife and I were in Hawaii for our anniversary.

The fourth day we were there started out like it should.

We walked the beach, swam with some sea turtles, ate some pineapples, hung out at the pool, did some people watching, and observed some of the most talented surfers in the world ride 20 foot waves.

It was 78 degrees, perfect weather, and we were carefree and in love.

IT WAS A GOOD DAY.

Then, I became stupid.

We are in Hawaii. It’s just my wife and I. It’s perfect, and then I suggest that we not go out that night because the college football championship game was on and it would be fun to watch it together.

I will admit right up front, that I’m not very bright.
We are in Hawaii. It’s our anniversary. My wife hates football. And I make that suggestion.

She says, “You can watch football all the rest of the year.”

I say, “You don’t understand, this is a very important game.”

She says, “It’s always a very important game.”

I say, “C’mon, let’s do something that I want to do.”

She says, “What? Have we not been doing stuff you want to do? Like being with me!”

I say, “Yes, it has been great, but I WANT TO WATCH FOOTBALL!”
(Aren’t you impressed by my intelligence?)

Quickly everything became ugly. I lost my mind and my competition strength kicked in and it was no longer about doing the right thing, but rather it was about winning.

Winning in this situation was about watching the football game that night.
I could go on but you probably can guess the rest of the story.

A GOOD DAY became a very BAD DAY!

I was thinking about a character in history whose life was the epitome of good days and bad days.

His name was Simon Peter.

He was one of Jesus’ first disciples.

These are the events of his life:

Peter is a fisherman and Jesus comes along one day and says, “Simon, I want you to follow me. I want you to learn about my forgiveness and Grace. I want you to love a love-starved world. I’m going to make you fisher of men. You are going to change people’s lives.”

All of a sudden Simon Peter’s life goes from the mundane to a life of following the one who raised the dead, healed the sick and forgave sins.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you are become a follower of Jesus!

Instantly Peter puts his foot in his mouth. He gets into an argument with some of the disciples about who the greatest was and Jesus rebukes him.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you are rebuked by Jesus.

But then Peter walks on water. Ever walk on water? If you have, you probably do not need to keep reading this.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you walk on water.

Peter sees Jesus out on the water, he’s in the boat and he gets out and he takes a couple steps and then looks down and realizes what he is actually doing and he sinks.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you sink.

Now Peter sunk, but at least he got out of the boat. His buddies were sitting in the boat with their floaties on playing it safe. Simon Peter sort of failed, but he walked.

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you take a step of faith, even when it is not perfect faith.

Then Jesus says, “I’m going to build the church on you Peter. Peter, you are the man! You’re going to be the foundation of the church, and not even the gates of hell will be able to prevail.”

IT’S A GOOD DAY when Jesus calls you to a higher purpose.

Jesus goes on to say, “And I’m going to die on the cross. I’m going to be sacrificed.” And Peter interrupts, “Well if I’m the head of the church, that’s not going to happen to you.” And Jesus calls Peter, Satan.

IT’S A BAD DAY when Jesus calls you Satan.

Peter then says, “Jesus I’m here for you. If you’re going to be crucified then I’m there to the very end. I’ve got your back, you and me. Let’s walk down this difficult path together.”

IT’S A GOOD DAY when you tell your friend that they will not be alone during tough times.

Jesus gets arrested and Peter denies ever knowing Jesus. “I don’t know the man” he ends up yelling at some girl scouts around a camp fire. He betrays Jesus three times, and at his friends worst moment on the cross he doesn’t show up.

IT’S A BAD DAY when you fail a friend.
IT’S A BAD DAY when you fail God.

Not being there for Jesus was devastating to Peter. The guilt and shame was almost too much to bear. Peter is thinking, “This is it. I’m a failure. I blew it. I know I’ve blown it before, but this is too big to recover from. This will be my identity. I’ll go back to being a fisherman. I guess I wasn’t cut out for what Jesus wanted me to be..”

IT’S A VERY BAD DAY when you lose all hope.

A few days later Peter is fishing and Jesus has resurrected and he sees Peter and he says,“Peter I’m not done with you yet. I still have plans for you. You have made some mistakes. It would have been nice for you to have been around when I was going to the cross, but I’m not done with you yet. You’re still going to be the leader of the church, I want you to love and serve and share with people the hope of salvation. Tell them about the cross and my resurrection and about eternal life.”

IT’S A VERY GOOD DAY when we get to experience forgiveness and second chances.

Then Jesus tell Peter that he will die for his faith and even though Peter doesn’t struggle with that revelation, he does struggle not knowing what’s going to happen to his friend John.
So Peter gets nosy and asks Jesus, “What about John? Is John going to suffer too?”
Jesus’ response is, “What’s that to you? Mind your own business!”
IT’S A BAD DAY when Jesus tells you to mind your own business.

But then something miraculous happens.
It’s recorded in Acts Chapter 2.
Peter stands up before the very people who killed Jesus and he preaches grace and forgiveness.

Peter confidently proclaims, “The one you crucified, you can now have a relationship with. Your failures and sins do not have to have the last word and you can enter into eternal life. Turn back to God and trust Jesus.”

Peter who denied Jesus and was afraid to even show up at the crucifixion shows up and preaches. And the Bible says that over 3,000 people, just in that one message, became followers of Jesus.

IT’S A GREAT DAY when we overcome our fears, when we take risks and we don’t let our failures have the last word.

PETER HAD A GREAT DAY!

Just like Simon Peter, we all have GREAT DAYS and we all have BAD DAYS.

But just like Peter, God does not give up on us.

So we should not give up on ourselves.

The scriptures tell us that “God’s mercies are new every morning!”

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Those who are trying to make the biggest difference, those who are fighting extreme poverty and injustice, those who are under-resourced, under-manned and overwhelmed at the size of the task get tempted more often than others to want to quit.

Many times their courageous looking exterior is masking a very discouraged and tired interior.

Just recently I talked to some heroic, selfless people in my life, who were at the brink of possibly throwing in the towel.

I had sent a few emails to people who inspire me. They are making such a huge difference when it comes to global hunger, trafficking and our local homelessness issue. At the end of my emails, I tagged the scripture, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Their responses back were, “Wow, that verse couldn’t have come at a better time.” And then they shared with me their discouragement, weariness and doubt that they were making a difference. They said that verse reminded them again that Jesus said it would never be easy to serve the hurting and broken, especially when the rest of the world tends to look the other way.

The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

It is always easier to start something than to finish it.
The thought of changing our world is much easier than doing it!

How many of us have ever started a diet but within a week we had given up? Within a day? Within an hour? It’s just human nature:

When we want to follow Jesus and the prophets who said to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, father the fatherless, take care of widows and fight against injustice, the scriptures remind us that it will cost us something, maybe everything, but the scriptures also remind us that God will give us the power we need to do his will.

You can have the greatest intentions in the world but without a power supply greater then yourself, then you will run out of gas.

The apostle Paul reminded his prodigy Timothy that “God had not given him a spirit of fear, but of POWER, love and a sound mind.”

How do we live in God’s power?

It starts with surrender.

Something very powerful happens when we finally say the words, “I can’t do this on my own anymore!”

On Fifth Avenue in New York City, in front of the RCA building, there is a huge statue of Atlas, with all his muscles straining hold the world on his shoulders.

Atlas is facing Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which is right across the street, and in the lobby of the church there is a shrine of Jesus as a boy, with no effort, holding the world with one hand.

You and I have a choice. We can try to carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, “I give up, God, here’s my life, I give you my world.”

I also think it is important to remember that it is normal to get knocked down, fail, and to want quit.

But we must remember the words of Paul who said, “Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us. And when we are knocked down we get up again.”

Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all time leading rusher, ran over 10 miles in his record breaking career. His career yards per carry were 4.2. That means Emmitt was tackled 4370 times in his Hall of Fame career.

Imagine this: In the midst of running 10 miles, Emmitt was knocked down 4370 times by sweaty, angry 300 pound linemen.

Now imagine getting up this morning and because you know that jogging is good for your heart, cholesterol and weight management, you put on your running shoes and short shorts and you start running through your neighborhood. How far do you think you could go?

However long you decide you can run, now imagine doing that while getting knocked down every 4.2 yards by angry, sweaty 300 pound men. How long would you last? How long would I last?

That’s life isn’t it? About every 4.2 yards, in the words of John Madden, “BAM”, life hits you hard. Life seems to have 300 pound linemen hitting us from every direction. It seems each year these 300 pound linemen get faster and stronger.

Every 4.2 yards Emmitt Smith had a choice, “Am I gonna get back up again or am I gonna stay down?” He got back up 4370 times.

I’m sure he didn’t always feel like getting back up.
I’m sure there were times when he was hurt, discouraged and just plain tired.

Emmitt Smith kept breaking records, winning super bowls and motivating teammates because he kept getting back up.

A very wise prophet said thousands of years ago something that is just as relevant today. “The LORD gives strength to those who are weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.”

Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “If you have no problems at all, I warn you, you’re in grave jeopardy. You are on your way out and you don’t know it! If you don’t have any problems, I suggest that you immediately race from wherever you are, jump into your car and drive home as fast as you can, and go straight to your bedroom and slam the door. Then get on your knees and pray, ‘What’s the matter, Lord? Don’t you trust me anymore? Give me some problems!’”

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13