2 Posts from August 2010

Dreams

We dare not miss an important dimension to hanging tough. It is the thing that keeps you going. I call it a dream.

I don’t mean those things we experience at night while we’re asleep. No, by dream, I mean a God-given idea, plan, agenda, or goal that leads to God-honoring results.

Most pastors I know don’t dream enough. If someone were to ask you, “What are your dreams for this year? What are your hopes . . . your agenda? What are you trusting God for?” could you give a specific answer? I don’t have in mind just ministry objectives or goals, although there’s everything right with those. But what about the kind of dreaming that results in character building, the kind that cultivates God’s righteousness and God’s rule in your life?

Here are a few more ideas about dreams. Dreams are specific, not general. Dreams are personal, not public. God doesn’t give anyone else my dreams on some blog or Web site. He gives them to me—personally. They’re intimate images and ideas. In fact, dreams can easily appear to others as extreme and illogical. If you share your dreams with others, they may laugh at you because you can’t make logical sense out of them (think of Noah or Joseph, for example). Dreams are often accompanied by a strong desire to fulfill them. And they are always outside the realm of the expected.

Sometimes dreams are downright shocking! They cause people to suck in their breath, to stand staring at you with their mouths open. A common response when you share a dream is, “You’ve gotta be kidding! Are you serious?

Dreams are the stuff of which leaders are made. If you don’t dream, your leadership is seriously limited. To make things even more complicated, those who refuse to dream the impossible are always in the majority. Those who choose to live by sight will always outnumber those who live by faith.

So once you’ve decided to live differently, let God be your guide and hang tough. Follow your dreams with determination.

—Chuck

Waiting and Listening

During times of waiting on God, there is a “white space.” That’s when nothing seems to be happening—at least nothing visible.

You could easily tell yourself at the time, “I’m waiting in vain. Nothing’s going to change.” That’s precisely what the Adversary wants you to think: “Waiting on God is a waste.”

Don’t you believe it!

When the Enemy’s message slips into your mind, you need to kick it out. Reject it. Call it the lie that it is. As Paul wrote, “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). See how practical that is? Every thought.

During those times when doubt and discouragement creep into our waiting periods, the Lord provides us with strong counsel to remember from the pages of Isaiah:

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. . . .
For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you. (Isaiah 41:10, 13)

It’s those kinds of thoughts that can strengthen you while you are waiting, praying, and fasting.

This may be one of those “white spaces” in your own life and ministry. Maybe it’s time for you to pray and fast and to call upon a few close friends to fast and pray with you. (Sometimes the best individuals for this are those outside your church.) Maybe it’s time for you to say, “I can’t find the path to walk in this unpredictable situation. So I’m going to wait . . . I’m not going to rush . . . and in the meantime, I’m going to give it to God. I’m going to listen with a sensitive ear and watch the Lord’s leading with a sensitive eye.”

In my four-and-a-half decades of pastoral ministry, I have had many, many occasions to wait on God. I still do today. Sometimes it drives me nuts! But honestly, I would have it no other way.

It requires a sensitive eye to watch the movement of God in your life. All He may do is turn your attention in another direction. But that may be all you need. As you wait and watch, also listen to Him with a sensitive ear in the pages of Holy Scripture. Pore over a favorite passage in His Word.

Quietly give attention to His presence, and He will give you direction when it’s time.

—Chuck