The Vision That Was Planted In My Brain

 

Song credit:  Disturbed. Video compilation credit:  Steve A.

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Ordinary Or Extraordinary, You Decide

Cindi Gale

“On the one hand, God’s demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realize from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection, and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realize that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting Him after a certain point. I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two…

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The People Inside

According to a 2019 Gallup study:

*U.S. church membership is down sharply in the past two decades. It was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.

The reason for the decline is:

  • Not because prayer isn’t allowed at school.
  • Not because “God” is left out of the pledge of allegiance.
  • Not because people aren’t patriotic.
  • Not because kids don’t respect their elders or the flag.
  • Not because our youth aren’t raised right anymore.
  • Not because of “the Muslims”.
  • Not because of immigrants.
  • Not because of wall-less borders.
  • Not because of gay marriage.
  • Not because of transgender bathrooms.
  • Not because of social programs to non-working people.
  • Not because of “right” or “left”.
  • Not because of gun laws or lack thereof.
  • Not because the world has gone to hell.
  • Not because the good old days are over.

Many, many individuals and churches are the exception, but the cause of Christianity’s rapid decline in attendance is …

The people inside.  


*Paragraph from Gallup article written by Jeffrey M. Jones, April 18, 2019

*Song credit of ‘I Won’t Sing Here Anymore’ belongs to Marvin Ross © 2019 Marvin Webster Ross (ASCAP) Narrow Dude Music

Fulfilling Dreams

As I walked at a track today, a coach worked at one end of the adjacent field, his young son played on the other. The boy sprinted, head down, football tucked at his belly. Zig-zagging left and right, he reached the end zone, did a little leap, and raised the ball overhead.

“What’s the score?” I called out.

“Fourteen to nothing!”

“Who you playing?”

“The Cardinals! Game’s over. I won,” he answered.

“And you are … ?”

“Packers!”

His invisible coach told him to take a rest (those were his exact words), so I was the fortunate recipient of some football information: He didn’t play on a team yet; flag football starts in third grade, pads in sixth; he wants to try all the positions, but when he plays his first game in sixth grade he wants to be the quarterback.

That’s five years away, for a kid who hasn’t lived much longer than that.

“Are you going to play another game now?”

“Yep. Packers against the Cardinals.”

Again. I incorrectly guessed that those were his favorite pro teams.

“No, Packers was what my dad’s team was when he was in sixth grade.”

“Ah. What’s the score going to be? Forty-nine to nothing?”

“No. A hundred to nothing.”

“I like it!”

I went back to walking and the little guy went back to clobbering the Cardinals. I watched him facing the goalpost, turning every Packer possession into a touchdown. After a brief celebration, he changed field direction and morphed into a Cardinal. He never made it more than ten to twenty yards before an invisible Packer leveled him. Sometimes the poor Cardinal lay there awhile, curled on his side in the grass.

When I finished my last lap and passed near enough to be heard, I asked, “What’s the score now?”

“Twenty-one to nothing!”

“Are you going to play all the way to a hundred?”

“Yeah!”

From my bike, I looked back before the field was out of sight and sure enough, Packerman was scoring again.

I marveled at his vision to win (by no small margin) a game he knew he couldn’t play for many years. He had a great imagination. And big dreams. And patience. There was something so right about it.

football high school stadiumThere was an epic game playing out in his mind. From scoreless to the outcome he envisioned, he made that epic game happen on the field. One play at a time.

Packerman doesn’t know yet that life may make him modify his dreams. Reality may force him to expect differently. Right now, the world is his oyster. It’s the opportunity in which to live out his big dreams. As it should be. As I hope it remains for him. And for you.

As for me, I don’t think it’s possible on my own. I do believe it’s possible with God. Our dreams are not always easily or quickly achieved — God seems to spend a lot of time coaching us to improve our skills, strength, knowledge, tenacity, character, patience, confidence, and more. But the fulfillment of the dreams he puts in our hearts and minds is possible in time. If it’s from him, it’s doable. I need to commit to keeping the vision as big as when he gave it; to being coached; to follow and not lead; to apply myself to that big vision; to not settle or allow insecurities and fears to compromise it.

Packerman reminded me it’s simpler than it sounds. It boils down to what children know: When you get the dream, don’t shrink it. Let it do big things in your imagination. Then walk it out. Participate wholeheartedly in your epic game of life.

One play at a time.

Phillipians 2:13 (NIV) – For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Full Potential

Consider God’s influence on people’s lives. Consider his influence on your life. Imagine him as a great coach, teacher, or parent. He knows what you’re capable of. He knows what is still uncovered or undeveloped within you. He knows how to coach that potential to excellence and success.

Young Baseball Player Waiting on SidelinesWhat coach, teacher, or parent wants his capable child or player to aspire to something minimal?  What kind of coach of a gifted athlete says, “Well kid, I’m dreaming big for you. I hope you can get off the bench for at least ten minutes during this season.”?

Great coaches, teachers, and parents are adept at assessing our potential and nurturing it to fullness. God, of course, is perfect at it. He knows our potential; he’s the one who put it in us. He never dreams small for us. He is satisfied when we develop all that we were meant to be. He wants us to succeed in a big way. He’s not satisfied until our capabilities have been drawn out, nurtured, and developed to maturity. He loves seeing you gratified, thriving in the fullness of who you were meant to be.

Until we reach our potential, he cajoles, pushes, disciplines, encourages, and (if we’re stubborn or immobilized by fear) he’ll even push us into situations to show us we can do it. He’s not coaching you to be a benchwarmer—he’s coaching you to excel. It is not a good day when one of his kids is languishing on the sidelines—it’s a good day when one of his kids is peaking in their potential. That is what God calls a good day.

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Hear the coach’s speech: “You are exceptional. Let me show you what you are capable of; what you haven’t experienced yet. You are a diamond in the rough. You have untapped potential within you. We are going to uncover your abilities, talents, gifts, skills, insights, and more. Let me show you how you can gain mastery, accomplish much, and express your strengths superbly. Raise your expectations to match mine. Don’t settle—think excellence. Form habits of excellence, so I can give you success.”

It’s never too late to change attitudes and habits. Think excellence, let God be your coach, and show the world what you can do. We need your distinctive influence and glorious achievements.

You Have My Respect

Cindi Gale

People are complex beings. Yet we catch mere glimpses of another’s life and draw conclusions about him.

Only by knowing the mind of God about a person, can we be accurate in understanding him. Or let a person who knows himself inform us, as long as he is self-aware and willing to confide.

We have another option to gain insight: observing behavior. Religious people call it “judging others by their fruit”. But be careful — if we’re not mindful of the environment a person is in, their “fruit” can mislead. What if he is in a God-appointed time of winter, wartime, or injustice?

tree in winter for blog pgIs it possible for him to satisfy our need or desire to judge? A person in winter is struggling to survive, not bearing tasty fruit. He is wrapped up and withdrawn to survive the frigid, dangerous climate. He will only open up and bloom when the climate is warm, welcoming…

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Wise Words About Fools

Proverbs 26

Don’t worry when someone curses you for no reason. Nothing bad will happen. Such words are like birds that fly past and never stop.

4-5 There is no good way to answer fools when they say something stupid. If you answer them, then you, too, will look like a fool. If you don’t answer them, they will think they are smart.

Never let a fool carry your message. If you do, it will be like cutting off your own feet. You are only asking for trouble.

A fool trying to say something wise is like a drunk trying to pick a thorn out of his hand.

10 Hiring a fool or a stranger who is just passing by is dangerous—you don’t know who might get hurt.

11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish things again and again.

12 People who think they are wise when they are not are worse than fools.

18-19 Anyone who would trick someone and then say, “I was only joking” is like a fool who shoots flaming arrows into the air and accidentally kills someone.

23 Good words that hide an evil heart are like silver paint over a cheap, clay pot. 24 Evil people say things to make themselves look good, but they keep their evil plans a secret. 25 What they say sounds good, but don’t trust them. They are full of evil ideas. 26 They hide their evil plans with nice words, but in the end, everyone will see the evil they do.

26 Just as snow should not fall in summer, nor rain at harvest time, so people should not honor a fool.