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

The #2 Reason We Don’t See Miracles

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Answer: WE MAKE EXCUSES

Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

The writer of Proverbs wrote, “The lazy man is full of excuses. “I can’t go to work!” he says. “If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!”

Try that one with your boss.

Soren Kierkegaard talks seriously how excuses damage our world when he says, “For like a poisonous breath over the fields, like a mass of locusts over Egypt, so the swarm of excuses is a general plaque, a ruinous infection among men, that eats off the sprouts of the Eternal.”

Excuses, we have all have them and make them.

There are 3 that stop miracles.

Excuse #1: What difference can I make?

The statistics seem overwhelming.
The problems seem insurmountable.
The odds seem to be against us.

There are more people in slavery today than in the 18th century:

Trafficking is the third largest illegal trade behind illegal weapon trade and drugs.

Every fourteen seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS.

500,000 children are in foster care in the United States; 118,000 are eligible for adoption.

Over 70% of sex trafficking in U.S. comes from kids who have aged out of the foster system.

Seemingly overwhelming statistics paralyze us and influence us to ask the question, “What difference can I make”, which ultimately then turns into an excuse to do nothing.

When Jesus told us to follow him for the sake of the hurting, the poor and those who are facing horrific injustice, he didn’t say to do it if it looks like you can make a difference.

He just said, “Follow Me.”

And when he did, people made excuses about why they couldn’t.

And his response to them was, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”

Miracles happen when we seize the day and act in obedience to a need, against all odds, simply because it is the right thing to do.

We can and are making a much bigger difference than we think.

Dr. Scott Todd writes, “We can end extreme poverty in our lifetime and see God get the credit and we can do it engaging and practical ways of putting our faith into action to impact our world.”

In the last 30 years, extreme poverty has been cut in half from 52% to 26%. (Miracle)

Between 1990 and 2010, maternal mortality worldwide dropped by almost 50%. (Miracle)

AIDS related deaths are down 24%. (Miracle)

But more miracles can happen if everyone of faith will change the question from “What difference can I make?”  to “How many miracles will happen if I choose to be obedient with what I’ve been given?”

The potential miracles are mind-blowing!

If 1 out of every 3 churches in America would find one family to adopt one kid there would be no orphans in America:

If the 138 million American Christians who attend church at least twice per month were to tithe, their income is 2.5 trillion, it would result in 250 billion dollars per year in philanthropy.

World renown economist Jeffrey Sachs says that we could eradicate stupid, preventable poverty with just 78 billion dollars a year.

Imagines the miracles, which seem insurmountable, if we are just simply obedient!

“No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”

Excuse #2: It’s too hard

Helen Keller became deaf & blind at the age of 19 months, but grew up and became the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Sydney J. Harris says, “When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’”

Most things worth doing in this life are hard.
Most things that change the world are hard.

Miracles are God intervening when we are willing to do the hard work.

Dr. Troy Dickson and his wife Kim, she has a degree in global health, moved with their two daughters from their comfortable home and lifestyle in California, to the intense and difficult streets of New Delhi, India to help start, against all odds, a home for girls who can be rescued from the horrors of sex trafficking.

With so much government bureaucracy, red tape and a culture of ignoring this horrific injustice, Troy and Kim decided that no matter how hard and seemingly impossible this might be, they said yes to the challenge and within a year, Courage Homes opened and the miracles have begun.

This email came from the directors when the home had just opened: “Just wanted to rejoice and share with you, and beg for your prayers! Courage Homes in India just got EIGHT girls from a brothel raid on GB Road (big red light district in Delhi) yesterday! That puts us at 12 girls, which is our bed capacity right now. We have a high profile case right now, which has resulted in a lot of arrests of people in the trafficking rings and awakened the whole nation to the issues of trafficking – laws are even being changed because of it. God is definitely in the middle of what we are doing! Our licensing procedures are being sped up because the government is really recognizing the value of a home devoted to the healing of these girls, and only because the home has been so safe and nurturing have the girls been willing to testify against the perpetrators and tell their stories. It’s amazing!”

I heard a former FBI agent and now an employee of International Justice Mission who is on the front lines of rescuing girls from sex trafficking in some of the most dangerous places in the world say, “Find out the hard things God is asking you to do and do them. It will be the greatest thing you will ever do.”

Watch this 2 minute video before we get to the last excuse that stops us from seeing miracles.

Excuse #3: I’m too old or I’m too young to make a difference

The video you just watched ends this argument.

Throughout the history of the world, God has used the young and the old alike to bring about change and progress.

Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote the diary of Anne Frank.

God spoke through a little boy named Samuel in order to correct the evil religious leaders who were ignoring justice.

Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became president of South Africa.

Abraham and Sarah had been collecting social security for years when she gave birth to Isaac.

Albert Einstein was only 26 when he wrote the theory of relativity

Josiah became the king of Israel when he was only 8 years old, eventually purging Israel of idols and leading a spiritual revival.

Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote “The Cat in the Hat”

JRR Tolkien was 62 when the “The Lord of the Rings” books came out.

My friend, Eldon Bough, at the age of 86, serves 75 meals weekly with “Meals on Wheels” to the elderly and sponsors 22 children through Compassion International, helping to create a huge dent in eradicating child poverty.

Martin Luther King Jr. was only 34 when he gave the speech “I have a dream”

Jesus of Nazareth was only 33 when he saved the world.

It is never too soon and it is never too late to be a part of a miracle. It just takes eliminating the excuses.

What are some of the excuses in your life that are keeping you from being a part of a miracle?

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something: Yet, just because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can.” Helen Keller

What Does God Think About Prayer?

One of the most counter-intuitive moments in scripture is when the children of Israel are trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea.

The people are panicked, angry at Moses for getting them in this mess, yelling at him, asking why he had them escape just to die, telling him they would rather be slaves in Egypt than slaughtered in the desert.

It wasn’t a great “leadership moment” for Moses.

On top of them being angry, Moses gives some advice and guidance that seems right initially, but he gets it totally wrong.

He tells them, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.”

Sounds like good advice and great faith, doesn’t it?

We hear this advice all the time.

“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will rescue us from this sad world.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of the poor.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will bless us and give us the desires of our heart.”
“Don’t be afraid. Stand still and the Lord will take care of our needs.”

This was God’s response to Moses’ advice to, “Not be afraid. Stand still and watch the Lord rescue.”

He said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Quit praying and tell the people to get moving!”

Now I grew up in church and I never heard one sermon where the pastor told us to quit praying.

In fact it seemed like all we did was pray.
We prayed for Jesus to come back.
We prayed that evil people would get their due.
We prayed that we would  not get stained by an immoral world.
We prayed for who would become president.
We prayed that God would bless us financially.
We prayed that other denominations would become holy like we were.
We even prayed for people less fortunate than us.
We prayed, went home for a week, and then came back and prayed again.
We prayed often, with eloquence.
Our church would have won a prayer contest.
We even had a chapel called the “House of Prayer.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for prayer.

Prayer is where I gain my intimacy with God.
Prayer is where I get the power to live.
Prayer is where I gain wisdom.
Prayer is where I find peace.
Prayer is where I experience rest.
Prayer is the foundation to my life in faith.

So why did God tell Moses to quit praying and get moving?

Well, here is my theory. And I think it is a pretty good one.

Many times prayer is an excuse to not do something that we know God has already told us to do.

There are many things we don’t have to pray about.

Serving the poor.
Caring for orphans.
Taking care of widows.
Being a father to the fatherless.
Feeding the hungry.
Sheltering the homeless.
Clothing the naked.
Forgiving our enemy.
Rescuing young women and children who have been sex trafficked.
Fighting injustice.

These are things we don’t have to pray and ask whether it is God’s will or not.

In fact, it is possible to actually pray more while moving farther and farther away from God.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah once and said, “When you lift your hands in prayer, I will not look at you. No matter how much you pray, I will not listen…See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.”

This may be blasphemy, but I would like to challenge the American church to pray less and do more.

Get out of your prayer meetings and go help someone.

Leave your worship services and feed someone.

Stop talking about the poor and invite the homeless into your services.

Stop building bigger buildings and spend more money on local and global missions.

Stop looking the other way and sponsor children in poverty stricken countries. (www.compassion.com)

Cancel your women’s teas and your men’s breakfasts and rebuild a widow’s home or mentor a child who has no father.

Stop praying for blessings and help those who God has asked us very clearly to help, because that is where the blessings are!

I believe that God is saying today, “Stop asking me for more things, stop asking me about my will, I have made it very plain what I want you to be doing.” (Read Isaiah 58, Matthew 25, James 1:27, Psalms 82)

I think He would go on to say, “And while you are doing those things, pray! Pray hard, pray often, and I will give you the strength and the wisdom and courage to shine your light and “storm the gates” of poverty and hopelessness and loneliness and the world will be drawn to Me and the world will know that I am love.”

What happened when God told Moses, to quit praying and get moving?

They experienced a miracle.

May the church do the same!

Share with me what you think about this topic after reading some great quotes about prayer and action:

Action without prayer is arrogance, prayer without action is hypocrisy. – Jose Zayas

Action is the normal completion of the act of will which begins as prayer. That action is not always external, but it is always some kind of effective energy. – Dean Inge

Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. – Woodrow Wilson

About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation. – Will Rogers

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Søren Kierkegaard

Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish. -Author Unknown

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave

Practical prayer is harder on the soles of your shoes than on the knees of your trousers. – Austin O’Malley

Before we can pray, “Lord, Thy Kingdom come,” we must be willing to pray, “My Kingdom go.” – Alan Redpath

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. – Indian Proverb

Prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service on behalf of the poor. – Mother Teresa

The Opposite of Fear is Love

My son goes to school in Southern California and works for a grocery store chain.

He was working late one night when a man came running into the store, past my son, turned around, about twenty feet from him, and started shooting in his direction.

The man was actually shooting at a policeman who had run into the store, but the policeman was right behind my son, so the bullets were flying towards both of them.

My son lunged to the left to avoid the bullets, but the policeman lunged left also.

There was a Doritos display between the shooter and my son so as he was diving out of the way, shards of nacho cheese Doritos were flying everywhere. The sliding glass doors at the front of the store where shattering from the bullets also.

My son said everything moved in slow motion, but the noise was deafening.

Long story short, my son(who we call superman now) was actually faster than the speeding bullets and as he avoided the bullets, the cop began to shoot back and eventually shot the man.

My son was shaken up a little, and had to spend some time getting nacho cheese chips out of his hair, but overall was fine, but he had to sit in the police station all night giving reports about what he saw.

While he was at the station, he met an interesting couple.

This couple was from the state of Washington and the man was a professor of accounting at Washington State. They were in Southern California because the university my son goes to was interested in hiring him.

The man had always wanted to teach at a Christian college, but his wife was nervous about moving to California because it seemed like a dangerous, wild kind of place.

The University said, “Why don’t you come down and just check out the place.” So they did.
They landed at the airport and while driving to check into their hotel, they decided to stop by a local grocery store to pick up some snacks.

When they drove in front of the store, bullets started hitting the side of their rental car. Yes, the same bullets my son was avoiding inside.

This couple had been in California for 2 hours and their worst fears were coming true. They had become a part of a Hollywood movie.

The couple was uninjured, but they had to go to the police station, and this is where they met my son. When they told him the story, my son was thinking, “Well, this is the last time they will ever come to California.”

After giving reports to what they saw, everyone left the police station going their separate ways.

About three months later, my son was working a late shift at the grocery store and he turned around and there was this lady from the state of Washington.

Bonded by flying bullets my son ran and gave her a big hug and asked her what she was doing there and she said that they had decided to take the job and move to California.

She told my son, “We were not going to let some random act of violence keep us from doing what God was wanting us to do. We were not going to let fear have the last word!”

I love that couple!

Fear takes away the gift of today, and robs us of God’s dreams for us for tomorrow.
Fear stops us from doing great things.
Fear stops us from seeing miracles.

The Apostle Paul faced all kinds of life threatening situations yet said, “The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but he has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.”

The fact is you can’t remove all the risks out of life.

Life is composed of a series of risks, being born, leaving the house, driving, making friends, getting married, having kids(that is a real scary one), careers, health, eating sushi, being a Sacramento Kings fan, going to the broken places of this world.

Why has God put us in this kind of world?
Because He wants His love to triumph over our fears.
He wants us to experience His miracles.
He wants His miracles to bring Him glory.

The children of Israel were getting ready to pass through the Red Sea and experience a miracle, but they responded in fear when Pharoah and his army had them trapped.

Fear makes us sarcastic, “Moses, did you bring us out in the desert to die?”
Fear keeps us in unhealthy situations, “Moses, let us go back and keep serving the Egyptians.”
Fear makes us very short-sighted, “Moses, it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the desert.”

At Disneyland there is a ride called Space Mountain.

When you are standing in line there are warning signs that tell you why you shouldn’t ride this ride. “If you are pregnant or you get dizzy or you get bloody noses or if you have a bad heart or back, if you have bad breath, bad fashion, hemorrhoids, back hair, a bad comb-over, a mullet, or a fanny pack you should not ride this ride.”

The list disqualifies most Americans.

While you’re waiting, there are about five or six turnouts, where you can chicken out and get out of line. But there is a point, when they strap you into that little bobsled, where there’s only one way out. You’re going to have to take the ride.

That is what I call the moment of truth.

That is where the children of Israel were at the Red Sea.

And they had an opportunity to believe, to have faith, but instead, they respond in fear.
They have just spent four hundred years in slavery.
They have been beaten, mistreated, abused, killed, starved, and overworked for four hundred years and now they’re saying, “Let’s go back.”

God will constantly put us in scary situations where it will be tempting to play it safe rather than go forward into uncertain territory so that He can do a miracle.

How do we overcome our fears?

Psalm 56:3 says, “When I am afraid, I will put my confidence in God… Yes, I will trust the promises of God.”

We often think that the opposite of fear is courage. But the opposite of fear is love.

When we experience and receive and begin to live in God’s love, we become less fearful people. The apostle John said it like this, “There is no fear in love. Instead, perfect love drives fear away. Fear has to do with being punished. The one who fears does not have perfect love.” 1 John 4:18

How do we overcome our fears?

We must trust the promises of God (Psalm 56:3) and we must allow His love to drive out all of our fears.

My son returned to work the next day. His manager was shocked. “Why are you here? I thought you would be afraid to come back. I thought you would need some time off”.

Well, let me speak for my son. I believe that he trusts that his life is in God’s hands and that love, not fear will have the last word.