Deeper than Dreams

What do you really want? Really. What is it that burns deep inside your soul? Deeper than your dreams, deeper than anything else?

I’m a big believer in following the dreams God has given you. But when determining the direction of our life and the next steps we should take, sometimes I think we tend to only focus on the dreams, and not go deeper.

What if we went deeper?

What is it that drives you? What’s more important to you than anything else in the world? What values do you hold above all others? That’s what’s going to help you find where God is taking you. I have a lot of dreams. And I believe that they’ve been given to me by God. But I’m realizing that if I only focus on the dreams and only seek to fulfill them, I could get really lost. Overvaluing one dream. Undervaluing another. But when I step back and go deeper, I find direction. When I go to the most fundamental, foundational passions that God has given me, that’s when the pieces of the puzzle start coming together.

And the cool thing is that the pieces come together in ways I never imagined or dreamed! That one dream that I thought was super important and was going to look a certain way changes and become less “important” and takes on a different form. And that other dream that I wasn’t sure about at all starts taking shape.

What do you really want? What’s the deepest passion that God has given you? Find it, and follow it. Be ready for your dreams to take different shapes or change levels of importance. They might look different. But that’s the cool part. You’ll find God working in your life and orchestrating it all. It’ll be scary. But you’ll find purpose, satisfaction, and peace in life.

Go deeper than your dreams.

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Willing to be Wrong

I’m a very different person today than I was five years ago. And much of that I can attribute to one factor: the willingness to be wrong and the willingness to change. You see, I used to be extremely closed-minded. But I never would have considered myself as such. I thought I was a good Christian who was willing to obey God and follow Him wherever He might take me. But that wasn’t really the case.

I limited God. Not consciously. But I did it nonetheless. I held strong opinions and thought I was right. And I firmly believed that the Bible was on my side. And for a lot, that was true. But my view of the world was small, extremely limited. And so I limited God to the world I saw when in fact I was missing so much.

So when God started shaking things up in my life, I was really stubborn. I thought I was right because I looked at the world so narrowly. But slowly my perspective began to broaden. I began realizing that life was so much bigger than just me and what I could see. I started realizing that my life was just one piece in God’s amazing kingdom. And as my view of the world began to grow, my opinions on issues began to change.

I’m still in the process of realizing how much bigger life is than just me. And when I try to look at the world through God’s eyes, I see things so differently. When I look at issues from other people’s perspectives, I see things so differently.

I’m learning not to allow my perspective to make the rules. Because my perspective is just that. A perspective. It’s one way to see something. I can’t base my beliefs merely on what I see. Everyone has a perspective. And I have to recognize that.

Try it out. Look at life from another perspective. Try to see the world the way God sees it. It just might change your opinions on some things. It’s an uplifting feeling, though, because you start realizing life is so much bigger than you ever could imagine! Be willing to be wrong. And be willing to change.

 

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Don’t Wait to Be a Hero

I think this is my favorite TED talk out of all the ones I’ve ever watched.

As I re-watched this video, I got goosebumps at the end. This message really hits home for me. How often do I not do something because I think it won’t matter or because I don’t think it’s big enough?

Don’t wait. I love what Mark Bezos concludes with:

Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one.

It’s not the accomplishment that matters. People matter. It’s not the size of what we do. It’s that we do.

Don’t wait to be a hero. Who can you be a hero to today?

The Time We Have

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared this video with me. It’s incredible how a video that’s less than three minutes can communicate such a powerful and challenging message.

I found this video sobering, because it really put things into perspective. What am I doing with the time I have? It’s a really good question to ask ourselves. But it’s a tough question to ask. And the even harder question to ask is, “What am I spending too much time on?” It could be anything. It could be your favorite TV show(s). It could be reading books. It could be texting. It could be social media. The list goes on. That’s not to say that the item is bad in and of itself (it most likely isn’t). But is it worth the amount of time you’re spending? Could part of that time be used for something better?

Ultimately, the question is this: Is what I’m spending my time on going to matter for eternity? Is what I’m doing with my time honoring my heavenly Father?

God gives each of us a certain amount of time on this earth. Each minute of each day matters. What are you investing your time in?

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A Tangled Journey – Let’s Review

While the Disney movie Tangled is not a perfect movie by a long shot (there are definitely themes I disagree with in the movie), it has provided some neat insights into life. Today’s post concludes my five-part series examining Tangled and our own lives’ stories. In this post, I want to review some of the highlights from my past posts and leave you with some key takeaways.

  1. While “When Will My Life Begin?” is a really fun song, we should view life a little differently. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. The future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Live your life in the center of God’s will now. Live it doing what He’s called you to now.
  2. Our dreams should be bigger than just us. Flynn and Rapunzel give us great examples of this. Both of them had dreams that were all about themselves. But they realized that life was bigger than just them. And ultimately each of them were willing to sacrifice themselves for someone else. Our dreams should be the same way. God gives us dreams, and we should fulfill them will all of our heart.
  3. Everyone has a story! The reason stories like Tangled connect and resonate with us so much is because each of us has a story! But our stories are a part of a bigger, grander story – God’s story! Your story matters!
  4. We get a storybook ending! Life can be frustrating at times. But we know the end of the story! At the end, we will spend eternity with our Father That’s a “happily ever after” ending if there ever was one. Live today with confidence in tomorrow!

But here’s the really cool part – each of our stories are still in progress! Live life in the center of God’s will, and you’ll never go wrong. You’ll be writing His perfect story for your life. We can keep the end in sight, knowing what we’re living for.

Just imagine all that we get to accomplish between now and the end of the story! Think of the chapters to fill; the adventures to be had! Go, tell your story!

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Do I Get a Storybook Ending?

happily ever afterThe past couple of weeks, we’ve learning some neat lessons from Disney’s Tangled and discovering how principles from Tangled apply to our own lives’ stories. But what about the ending? I mean, Tangled has a pretty good ending (spoiler alert!). Eugene rescues Rapunzel, Rapunzel saves Eugene, they get married, and they live happily ever after. How much better can it get, right? But what about each of our stories? Do we get a storybook ending?

When I first started thinking about writing this post, my answer to that question was “no.” I had this idea to write about how our stories probably won’t end like a storybook but how we just need to trust in God no matter how the story ends. It was going to be a great post, except for one thing. My premiss was all wrong! We do get a “happily ever after” ending!

Think back for a minute to my last post. In that post, we talked about how each of our stories are just a part of God’s bigger, greater story. And we know that His story has a good ending. So if our stories are a part of that, then our stories also have a good ending. And think about when our story does end. I guess you could say our story ends when our life here on earth ends. So what’s the ending? The ending is going home! And living happily ever after! Literally! How cool is that?

I know it’s easy for me to get so caught up in what’s going on in my story right now that I forget the ending. I forget what I’m living for. I’m not living for ease and comfort. I’m not living for myself. I’m living for Christ and to further His kingdom! My story has a good ending! Regardless of the struggles we have here on earth, regardless of the attacks by Satan, we know how the story ends. The battle is already won! Christ is the victor! We spend eternity with our Father!

So don’t be jealous of those storybook endings like that of Tangled. Just keep your life in the right perspective. Remember what you have to look forward to. Live today with confidence in tomorrow!

HappilyEverAfter

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What’s Your Dream?

In my last post, we looked at how we shouldn’t live life waiting for it to begin, but instead how we should live our lives now. And since the Disney movie Tangled provided such a great foundation for our discussion, I’m going to use another concept from the movie in today’s post.

tangled

The plot line of Tangled may at first just seem like a classic romance story and really “silly.” There’s this girl who has this dream. She meets up with this guy and gets him to help her fulfill her dream. They have lots of adventures and then (spoiler alert!) end up getting married and living happily ever after. But wait just a minute, it actually goes a whole lot deeper than that.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the story. Two people, each with a dream, meet through a set of odd circumstances. They both want to fulfill their own dream. Rapunzel wants to see the floating lanterns and Flynn wants to get rich and live an easy life. Rapunzel has the upper hand (or should I say hair?) in their interaction, so Flynn agrees to help her. But the reason he agrees is not because he really wants her to be happy, but because he wants the crown back so he can get on with his dream. Rapunzel isn’t interested in giving the crown back to him except as a means of bribing him to fulfill her dream. That’s how it starts.

Now lets fast-forward to the scene when Rapunzel and Eugene (not Flynn anymore) sing “I See the Light.” Take a look at some of the words in that song:

Rapunzel sings:

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I’ve been

……….

All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

And then Eugene sings:

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were
Now she’s here shining in the starlight
Now she’s here suddenly I know
If she’s here it’s crystal clear
I’m where I’m meant to go

What did each of them realize? What they realized was that their own dream, the one they were so focused on, really didn’t matter. Why? Because they had discovered a new, better, dream. Why better? Because their dream was about someone else, not themselves. Before, Rapunzel wanted to see the floating lanterns for herself. Flynn wanted money for himself. It wasn’t about anyone else. Their dreams were self-centered. But then each of them realized that life was so much bigger than themselves, that life was about others! This is perfectly illustrated when (spoiler alert!) Rapunzel is willing to go with Mother Gothel forever as long as she can heal Eugene first. So she’s wiling to sacrifice herself for someone else. And then Eugene is willing to die to set Rapunzel free. Both of them forsook their own dream and their own comfort for someone else. Sure, in this case it happened to be a romantic story too, but that’s beside the point.

So what’s your dream? What are you living for? Is your dream about yourself, something you want? Or is it something bigger than that? Is it about others? Is it about fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? Is it about loving others? Is it about giving up what you want so that God can work through you as He chooses?

God gives us gifts, passions, and dreams for a purpose. But I think that we sometimes take those gifts, passions, and dreams and only want to use them in a certain way, the way we think is best. But I challenge you to give those gifts, passions, and dreams to God. Let Him use them as He will. It quite possibly won’t be how you expected. It might be hard for you, uncomfortable. It might mean that you must give up a dream that you had. It will definitely mean being selfless and focusing on others. But place it all in His hands. Let Him give you a dream. And then fulfill it with all of your heart! Don’t expect a story and ending like Tangled; expect the story and ending that God has planned for you, even though it might not make sense and even though you may not be able to see it yet.

What’s your dream?

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When Will My Life Begin?

Today’s post is a little different. I’m going to be using a Disney princess song to examine something that we all face and relate to. Believe it or not, Disney movies can be pretty deep and provide some interesting insights into life! Even though I’m using a Disney princess song, we’re going to go deep. This post comes straight from my heart. I pray it encourages, inspires, and challenges you.

Recently, I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought to my “life plan.” What is next year going to look like for me? How about the next five years? Ten years? I’ve also had chances to talk with some of my friends about their thoughts on what their future will look like. This all got me thinking about life and making the “transition” from young person to adult


Tangled-Look-out-the-window

While the song “When Will My Life Begin”, sung by Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled, may at first appear to be just another classic song sung by a classic Disney princess, there’s much thought-provoking material to be found in it. The song describes how Rapunzel looks at her life, how it’s always the same, never going anywhere, and she wonders when will things change, when will her life will really begin.

Honestly, I think this is a question that many of us young people ask ourselves. Especially for those of us who are soon to graduate from high school or college. We look at where we are. We look at the opportunities we have, the relationships we’ve built. We wonder what kind of transition will take place, and when it will happen. “When am I going to do something different from what I’ve been doing all of my life?” “When am I going to ‘move on’ in my life?” “When will my life begin?”

The first reprise of “When Will My Life Begin” says this:

I’ve got my mother’s love
I shouldn’t ask for more
I’ve got so many things
I should be thankful for
Yes, I have everything- except, I guess, a door

We think that in order for life to begin, there has to be a transition, an opportunity where we move from one part of life to the next. But I have an idea, one that I think will encourage and inspire my peers, including myself. What if we shouldn’t be waiting for life to begin? What if it’s already begun?

In the second reprise of the song, Rapunzel sings this:

Look at the world – so close, and I’m halfway to it!
Look at it all – so big – do I even dare?
Look at me – there at last! – I just have to do it
Should I?
No.
Here I go…

These lines suggest not yet having “arrived.” Analyzing this song in the context of the movie is a whole different topic, but what about its application to us? Looking at how it applies to our lives, I’d suggest a slightly different perspective. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. If we are living according to His will, His plan for our lives, then we’re right where He wants us to be right now. And if we’re right where God wants us, then why are we moving? What is there to “arrive at?” In fact, we have arrived! Because we are where God wants us to be.

I think we have a tendency to think that the future is when life will really start, when we’ll do great things. But the future is always a day away! We shouldn’t life our lives waiting for our life to begin. It’s already started! Instead, live your life in the center of God’s will. Live it doing what He’s called you to now. Sure, there will probably be changes later down the road, but that shouldn’t change who you are or how you view what you’re doing now. Don’t wait to start your life or to do big things. Do what God calls you to, regardless of how you perceive the size or the importance or the relevance. It matters to Him, and that’s all that should matter to us.

That’s really comforting. While we may look at where we are in life and wonder how it’s supposed to work, we can be confident in our heavenly Father, knowing we’re following His plan and that His plan is perfect. You don’t have to ask when your life will begin! Don’t wait for it to begin, because your life has already begun! You’re living a life for Christ!

Choose Your Battles…… How?

The phrase “you have to choose your battles” is common. It basically means that you can’t address every problem you encounter, so you have to choose the most important ones and let the rest go. There’s a huge amount of wisdom in this. But how do you choose your battles? How do you decide whether or not something is worth “fighting” for?

Here are a few factors to take into consideration when making a decision regarding whether or not to address an issue or to let it be:

  1. Is it a moral issue? If the answer is no, then it’s most likely not worth addressing. If it’s not an issue regarding right and wrong in God’s eyes, then there can’t be an absolute regarding the issue. Therefore, to address the issue would actually be unwise; you’d be arguing using your own personal preference instead of absolutes. That’s not to say that personal preference isn’t important, but your personal preference isn’t the only one that matters.
  2. Who/what does this issue affect? For me, if the issue is one that only hurts or affects me, then I’m less likely to address it. Not because I want to be the holy martyr, but because I want to be outward-focused, esteeming others above myself (Philippians 2:3). So I’d rather invest my time addressing issues that affect others, not ones that affect myself. I don’t consider this to be a hard and fast rule, but just an important factor to keep in mind.
  3. How will this affect my relationships with those involved? This one is tough. I don’t believe for a moment that we should never offend anyone or do something that might stress or break a relationship. But a good question to ask is, “which is more important: my relationship with this person, or this issue?” Sometimes doing what’s right means breaking or straining a relationship. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in “being right” that we forget that we may hurt people in the process of seeking what’s right when it’s really not worth it and wouldn’t honor Christ.

Ultimately, though, the decision must come from God’s wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 says that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NKJV). When choosing which battles to fight, pray hard and follow God. The three factors I shared may help, but won’t give you the right answer on their own. In reality, there really isn’t a clear-cut method to determining the answer apart from heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit. And that’s the way it should be.

What’s Your Standard?

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For everything in life, we have a standard. Whether it be a tape measure to determine the length of a board or a rubric to determine the quality of an essay, we use standards all of the time in every area of life. Some standards aren’t as obvious as a tape measure or a rubric. When we eat food, for example, we determine its quality by taste. We probably wouldn’t be able to explain how exactly we determine whether or not a certain food tastes good or not, though. Nevertheless, we still measure the quality of food against some sort of a standard.

What standard do you have for your life? How do you determine what’s a good choice to make and what’s not a good choice? How do you determine the path you’ll take in life? What do you use to measure how successful you are?

Whether we realize it or not, we’re using a standard to measure our lives against. Therefore, it’s really important that we choose our standard, that we have a standard we can point to. As Christians, the standard we should have ought to be pretty clear. God’s Word is the only standard we should abide by and measure our lives by.

Sadly, many Christians say that the Bible is their standard, but don’t actually practice it. I know it’s hard to recognize Scripture as my standard sometimes, when the Bible’s instructions are in conflict with my own opinion or desire. But it’s just a fact that honoring God isn’t easy. However, although it might not be easy, honoring God’s truth as your standard brings joy, peace, confidence, and satisfaction! What do you say your standard is? What really is your standard? The answers to these questions may not be the same. They should be though.

I pray that you will trust God and make His Word the standard for your life. Always. Regardless of how hard it gets. Regardless of what might have to change in your life. It’s absolutely worth it! Because when the Bible is your standard, you are on God’s side! “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NKJV)

What’s your standard?