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Entries in Dreams (6)

Tuesday
Mar062018

Your 3:20 Life!—a Breakthrough to Gain God's Best

When I first saw some statements by mega-author Pam Farrel about something called a "3:20 life," I invited her to share the concept with us. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she suggests a simple habit that can change our entire perspective.

"What do you think might happen," Pam asks, "if you put feet to your faith and acted on the belief that God really cares about your hopes and dreams?"

Several years ago, I (Dawn) remember gazing at a wall in the Farrels' home that was covered with framed book covers of all the books they've written. I thought at that time they were already putting feet to their faith. But as Pam explains, God often stirs us up afresh, because He has new growth and new adventures in mind!

Pam continues . . . 

How would you live if you really trusted in the power of the God you read about in the Bible—but for YOUR life, on behalf of YOUR future? 

It was an ordinary day, but the extraordinary God challenged me in an unexpected way.

As I remember it, the Facebook post was simply a friend sharing that she was on her way to pick up her kids at school, and it was 3:20 and she was praying the verse her pastor had challenged their church to pray—Ephesians 3:20.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us." (Amplified version)

That day, it was as if God pushed me off a high cliff and I dove into the deep waters of His Majesty with a rush of excitement.

  • Lord, what if I made the commitment to pray Ephesians 3:20 every day at 3:20?
  • And what if I put my whole weight into my commitment, and prayed believing for many of the hopes, dreams, prayers and secret longings of my heart that only You and I talk about?
  • What if I set my alarm on my phone and pray at 3:20—not matter where I am or who I am with?
  • What if I really took you up on your offer to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all I can ask or think?
  • How would my life change?

That was almost four years ago. At the time, Bill and I were in what felt like a deep, dark, endless, hopeless pit that was an excruciatingly difficult mix of an overwhelmingly heavy workload of responsibilities: ministry, traveling, writing and speaking accompanied with weekly commuting to care for ailing, aging parents which created a burden financially, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

I woke up daily dreading getting out of bed for fear of even more bad news. 

But this Ephesians 3:20 day, God was inviting me to become a more believing, praying adventurer with Him.

Too often we Christians allow the Word of God to become a nice book with a pretty leather cover that we might open for emotional comfort, or even for intellectual study. But rarely do we hunger for the Word to spur us forward in a “cattle-prod, get-out-of-our-comfort-zone, jump-from-the-plane-with-only-the-ripcord-of-the-character-of-God-to-save-us” kind of abandon. 

Seldom do we plunge head-first with only the bungee cord of the Word to rebound us to the safe center of God’s will.

It is an infrequent thrill to take the action steps of radical obedience when the full weight of your hopes, dreams and wild and wonderful imaginings will ONLY succeed if God shows up.

Powerfully. Supernaturally. Mightily!

So, what has changed in me and my life since I took God up on His offer to do “exceedingly, abundantly” more than this visionary, positive optimist can ask, think or dream?

First some things changed IN me.

1. Change in ALIGNMENT

Before you write this off as some “name it and claim it” prayerful magic pixie dust, dig a little deeper with me.  

The verse begins, “Now to Him who is able to do.” It is clear that I am NOT able—the power rests completely in GOD.One word that really wows my soul is the word “able” (dunamenō), because it is akin to the word we often use—DYNAMITE!

The power God will apply to your life and mine is EXPLOSIVE.

And it is CREATIVE.

God does the “do-ing”. The same Creator who designed and spoke the world and humankind into existence is the God who creates, manufactures, makes and produces His will in our lives. This spiritual “TNT”  is why Jesus can say things that make most of us very uncomfortable—but in a good way—like, Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

God wants to move our mountains. However, to see this kind of dynamite, earth-shaking power, it means me (and you) moving to see God clearer.

  • It is adjusting my sails to catch God’s wind.
  • It is aligning my heartbeat to match God’s.
  • It is putting on God’s spectacles to see my life from His heavenly perspective.
  • It is making the commitment to keep the defroster on and let the wipers of the Word keep the rain, fog, snow, and sleet off the faith windshield of my life so I have God’s vision for the path and plan ahead.

Praying Ephesians 3:20 keeps my heart in tune to God’s heart.

2. Change in APPRECIATION

This Creator God then out does Himself when He promises to do “far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think.”

Get this: When God is trying to impress something on a soul, He repeats himself. That is what He does here—three times.

(1) “Far more abundantly” means superabundantly, immeasurably more. 

(2) “Beyond” is hyper, or to go above and beyond, or over the top for the benefit and betterment of another.

(3) “All” means “each and every part, the totality, the whole.” Yep, God goes all the way, gives the whole enchilada, carries the plan to the finish line, ushers us into the end zone, over the goal line and into the winner’s circle. God doesn’t pull up short on His plans for us.

Now we may not fully comprehend His timing or His methods but we can rest assured in His ability to bring victory in His way, using His methods, in His time.

His plans will be better, greater, and more wonderful than anything I can ask or request. His ways will be so much more than I can think, consider, ponder, perceive, or dream up! (And if you ask my husband, I can dream up A LOT!)

God is just infinitively, wiser, smarter, and grander! While I can create hopes and dreams, God can turn hopes and dreams that line up to His best for us a REALITY!

Praying Ephesian 3:20 keeps me living in humble awe of the God who elevates and lifts us to His best for our lives. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6).

3. Change in ACCESSIBILITY

This creative power to make hopes, dreams and awesome imaginings come into being is done “according to His power that is at work within us."

This dunamis power is the miraculous, marvelous, might of God that works within us. If we peek forward, we see that God’s ability and strength is given for our good (v 20) and for HIS glory (v 21). “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  

This dunamis term for the power of God is repeated 120 times in the New Testament. God weaves Himself and His power into our lives is through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8 explains, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” While I have always sought to walk moment by moment in step with God’s Spirit, praying Ephesians 3:20 has kept me ultra-sensitive to the tiniest whisper, course correction or prompting to pursue an opportunity.  

If we picture this God-powered plan in human terms, God builds our elite race car (us and His plan for us); He is the rocket fuel propelling us forward; and we are in the driver’s seat with the Spirit of God inside steering and guiding us in the most exciting race set out before us (Hebrews 12:1).

Our biggest (and sometimes the hardest) job is to yield enthusiastically to God’s leadership in our heart and life.

Praying Ephesians 3:20 allows God to live His best life:

  • FOR us
  • THROUGH us
  • to BLESS us
  • and BUILD us,
  • and to bless others through us.
  • and build His eternal kingdom using us

So, this is what God changed IN me.

What did God change FOR me in the process?

  1. God gave us the courage to sell our home. (It took about 18 very long months to prepare and find God’s buyer—a church planter and his family!)
  2. God challenged us to be compassionate enough to move nearer Bill’s parents (one frail of body, the other frail of mind), and be bold enough to sell and give away 90% of our belongings to move on to a live aboard boat!

The 3:20 life was very rigorous in getting us to this space where we are moored in a lovely marina, but God and His dynamite power was WITH us each step along the way!

We watched miracle after miracle unfold as God knocked down obstacle after obstacle.

We LOVE our simple beachfront 3:20 Life—teaching #biblefromtheboat, living a healthier pace while embracing a more physical active life where we kayak to get our mail and enjoy breath-taking sunsets of over the Pacific Ocean.

My husband, Bill, and I are writing a soon to be released workbook: Your 3:20 Life: Breakthrough to God’s Blessings to help build a life to look forward to living.

Are you ready for God’s 3:20 life for you?

Pull out your phone, set the alarm to ring at 3:20 each day; and if you are like me, you will wake up each day looking forward to the “exceedingly abundantly” moments God has in store for you!  

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of over 45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and her newest Your 3:20 Life (both co-authored with her husband, Bill) To learn more about Pam and Bill Farrels ministry and how they can help you live Your 3:20 Life, go to www.Love-Wise.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday
Jan112018

My Hope Is Built On . . . 

Everyone talks about "dreams" these days, but Susan K. Stewart says we need to be careful when we dream and consider where we're placing our hopes. In this Spiritual Life UPLIFT, she tackles the topic with a personal story.

“I plan to go to UCLA and major in screenwriting,” the high school freshman announced.

She then laid out her plan, including what classes she would be taking in high school and community activities that will help her preparation for her goal.

Ah, plans. Yes, I (Dawn) have placed my hopes in so many personal plans, and even in people who might help me accomplish my goals. And I've learned, the hard way, exactly what Susan is about to teach us.

Susan continues . . .

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I responded. “It seems to me you just might make it.”

When this confident young lady left the room, her dad said, “I want her to major in something that will give her a real career.”

“What!?” was all I could stammer. “What’s wrong with her goal? With her determination, she has a good chance of success.”

The response was, “Look what happened to Aunt Shirley.”

Aunt Shirley is a divorced family member who was a successful writer before the divorce, and was now struggling to make ends meet with two part-time jobs.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.

Why do we do that?

Compare someone’s (or our own) dream with another person’s failure.

Sometimes we sabotage our own hopes. We listen to our own negative talk.

  • “It can’t happen."
  • "I’m too old."
  • "I’m too young."
  • "No one else has ever done this before.”

Other times we have our hope in the wrong thing: education, another person, fortune, ourselves.

All of these sources of hope will fail us.

An archaic definition of hope is “trust, reliance.” Most often we think of our hope as the anticipation of something. We also build our dreams on what we or others are going to do for the fruition of that expectation.

If hope is in fact trust rather than dream, maybe our hopes are dashed because we have placed our trust in the wrong place or person.

We are told by Paul that Christ Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1). Not our dream or expectation, although we surely look forward to the coming of Jesus. Christ Jesus is where we place our trust; who we rely on.

We are told by Peter to “prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

We are to TAKE ACTION BASED ON OUR HOPE (trust) on the GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When our expectations are based on hope from Jesus, we can’t sabotage them.

This requires taking those dreams to God before making all the plans on our own to-do list.

For years, I’ve had a dream of a having a specific book published. For years, my hopes have been built up only to be knocked down. This year I asked God, "Why?"

He impressed on me that I was trusting in my own plan, not the dreams He has for me.

I laid my desire aside. Even though a number of people gave me reasons not to, it was the right thing to do. I’m now trusting God’s vision for me rather than mine.

I’ve placed my hope in God’s dream.

When our hope—remember, that means trust and reliance—is in the Lord, no one can take them it away from us or talk us out of it. We will be able respond to negative self-talk with “God told me to do this and I trust him.”

What is your hope is built on?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

~ Edward Mote (1797-1874)

Susan K. Stewart—when she’s not tending chickens and donkeys—teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Her passion is to inspire others with practical, real-world solutions. Susan's books include Science in the Kitchen; Preschool: At What Cost?; the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers; and her most recent book, Harried Homeschoolers Handbook. Learn more about Susan at Practical Inspirations

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Daniel Reche at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Nov292016

Make Your Life Count: Dream God's Dreams!

Poppy Smith urges women to "go for it" when it comes to dreams, but she encourages them to seek out God's dreams for their lives first. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she offers five action steps to help us create a life that counts for the Lord.

"You have one life," Poppy says. "Make it count by following God's dreams, desires and direction for you!"

This may be a new concept to many, and it took me (Dawn) many years to understand God wants to give me the desires of my heart, but He wants to fill my heart with a desire to please Him first! (Psalm 37:4).

Poppy continues . . .

I didn’t grow up with dreams. My English parents were content with their lives and never urged my two sisters or me to aim high.

The only aim we had was to find good-looking, kind husbands who had decent incomes.  And, of course, to each have several pink-cheeked English babies.

After becoming a Christian, however, I discovered something that radically changed me.

As I grew in my knowledge of the Word I discovered that God had purposes for my life—and the lives of all who follow Him. He had plans for who I was to become, and what I was to do.

To my amazement, I found that how I lived and how I used my time and talents was NOT up to me!

Ephesians 2:10 taught me: “We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God had prepared in advance for us to do.” 

I had no idea.

Philippians 2:13 showed me: “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” 

Now I saw where my longings and dreams of serving Him came from. He was behind those tugs and urges to speak, write, encourage, listen and love.

Our culture urges women to dream big. Aim high. Push forward at any cost. Achieve all you can.

But, unless those dreams, desires, and direction are of God, they can amount to a wasted life.

What are God’s dreams, desires, and direction for you? 

Here are five actions to guide you in creating a life that counts for Him.

1. Value your life as significant to God

It is a gift, a treasure, an opportunity to impact your world for Him. Are you investing it or wasting it?

2. Choose to walk worthy of your calling.

Pursue God, ask for insight: what does He want to touch in your life?

3. Ask God what dream He has for you.

Is it an old dream, or a new one? What is holding you back from saying YES?

Refuse to be scared—don’t cower in fear and miss God’s power in your life. Choose to put your faith in God and move forward.

4. Trace God’s direction of your life.

Remember how He has worked in you, shaping your personality, experiences, capabilities and longings.

Whatever your age or season of life, allow Him to stretch and use you in new ways today, and tomorrow. 

5. Fill your heart and mind with Him.

Seek His face. Delight in His Word. Meditate on it, be nourished by it.

Let the Word and the Spirit touch and transform your heart and your dreams.

Another year is almost gone. As you think about next year, what dreams, desires, or Spirit-given nudges do you sense in your soul?  Don’t IGNORE them—EXPLORE them! Say YES to His will and His ways, pray for direction, and Go For It!

Poppy Smith is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. A former Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader with a Masters in Spiritual Formation, she is a multi-published author. Her most recent release, Go For It! Make Your Life Count for God, uses Scripture, personal stories and insightful questions, motivating readers to find God’s purpose for their lives. Poppy speaks widely, challenging audiences to make their lives count by deepening their delight in God. Learn more about her and her ministry at her website and blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Dollarphotoclub / Graphicstock.com.

Tuesday
May312016

How to Dream Bigger Dreams

When I first met Renee Fisher, I have to tell you, I was blown away by her youthful enthusiasm. I've watched her mellow through the years, but she still has that adventurous spirit. In this motivating UPGRADE post, she encourages us to dream ... but offers two tough challenges too.

 “Nobody ever told me dreaming big would turn into an even bigger mess than I planned," Renee says, "and I’m a planner!”

I (Dawn) am a gal who dreamed big dreams, watched a few of them die, and am building up courage to dream again. So I read Renee's words with interest, nodding my head in agreement with her fresh wisdom.

Renee continues . . .

I am a type A planner. I crave order and organization. I hate admitting that I don’t have it all figured out.

Dreaming is scary because it requires risk.

Thankfully, I am an adrenaline junkie and thrive on going for adventures. No matter how hard the journey gets—I’m in it for the long haul because I’ve seen God fulfill my biggest of all big dreams of getting published and marrying the man of my dreams.

Last year, said man-of-my-dreams and I moved four times.

Yes, you read that right!

First, we sold our home in San Diego, California, to move into an apartment in Austin, Texas. Second, we bought a home in Austin. Third, we sold our home in Austin to move to Houston. One week after living in that apartment, we were forced to relocate into another apartment home in the same complex.

Sound confusing? Check!

Sound exhausting? Check!

I moved to Texas to help my husband dream bigger dreams.

Unfortunately, things have gotten much worse before they’ve gotten better. Now that we are in Houston, things aren’t getting any better. That job we hoped would bigger and better? It’s not!

Some days I hold theological discussions in my head with God on the topic of dreams.

I ask,

“Why do you seem to bless my dreams and forget about my husband’s?”

“Don’t you care about him too?”

I wonder how you dream bigger dreams.

  • Do you stop when you face obstacles?
  •  Do you plan harder or shut down completely?
  • What happens when your dreams are going well, but a spouse or close friend or family member’s dreams aren’t?

These are just a few of the questions my husband and I have been asking lately. There are two challenges we have accepted that remind us why we dream bigger dreams—and hopefully you too!

1. Get Organized.

Dreaming doesn’t require a Type A, B, or even C personality. God created all of us with unique gifts and talents. There is no right or wrong way to use those talents as long as they are glorifying Him.

The key here is to ask for help to get organized.

Maybe you’re feeling confused or exhausted like me—or maybe you’re unsure of where or how to begin dreaming bigger dreams. The first thing that helps me get organized is to literally clean my house so that I have space to create and dream. Journaling helps too.

2. Ooze Confidence.

Confidence does not have to be a name it and claim it, or fake it until you make it game. First, I’m stealing a line from Paul in Philippians 3:10, ESV.

He writes, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

Did you catch the and?

If you want confidence and the power of the resurrection, you must also suffer. You must participate in the sufferings of Christ. I think the danger of dreaming bigger dreams is that believing the prosperity gospel is true.

You cannot have the confidence to pursue your dreams without first suffering.

I know these two challenges are probably not what you wanted to hear. You wanted to read a flowery, cliché, or cheesy post about dreaming bigger dreams.

I’m not your girl! Sorry! In fact, it’s not what I want to hear now either.

When I find myself fighting God about my dreams, I am reminded that I am a child of God, and as His child I will never give up on the adventure of being with Him.

The things I am learning while dreaming bigger dreams with God are priceless. Some days are easier—and more fun than others, but I wouldn’t trade the adventure for anything.

What is one thing that holds you back from dreaming bigger dreams?

Need help thinking through your dreams? Get Renee's new eBook The Five Secrets to Writing Your Dream at www.ReneeFisher.com for FREE by subscribing to the blog to get it!

Renee Fisher is a spirited speaker, coach, consultant and author, who published her first eight books in under eight years. A self-proclaimed "Dream Defender," Renee is passionate about calling dreams to life in others. A graduate of Biola University, she lives in Houston, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named "Star."

 

Thursday
Jan022014

Upgrade Your "DREAM" Goals

As I was thinking about the New Year, Kathy Carlton Willis inspired me with her “DREAM” acrostic. I want to share it with our Upgrade readers.

“Everyone has dreams God has planted in them,” Kathy said. “Whether they are big or small, they have vast importance in our lives. But to turn dreams into goals, we have to wake up the procrastinator.”

Kathy had me there! I am a part-time procrastinator. The apostle Paul spoke about goals (Philippians 3:13b-14) and the writer of Proverbs wrote about planning (Proverbs 21:5a), so I know God wants us to have goals.

Yet I had two goals that I was putting off planning for (procrastinating) until … when? It just seemed too overwhelming. But I’m glad I didn’t stop reading there.

Kathy continues …  

With just a little bit of planning, you can accomplish the goals God has for your life.

Set a realistic but challenging/inspiring goal. Make the goal big enough to challenge and excite you. Divide bigger goals into smaller steps so you aren’t overwhelmed.

Plan ahead. Once you’ve broken down your goal into pieces, keep a record of it on your computer or in a journal. Give yourself deadlines for each step. Otherwise, procrastination might get the best of you.

Brainstorm ideas. Wade through some silly ideas to mine the good nuggets.

Be passionate. Striving toward a goal without passion is like a fire which slowly runs out of fuel to burn. Get excited; this will only work if you love what you’re doing.

Revisit and evaluate your goals. Keep a record of your goals and make adjustments accordingly.

Consider new opportunities and options that come your way.

Ask God to show you what goals to set, and then get specific by asking Him to show you what you can do today to get one step, however small, closer to achieving your goals. Stay focused and believe in yourself even if others do not believe in you.

Set Your DREAM Goals:

D - Does it make a DIFFERENCE in your community? (Impact and Significance)

R - Can you REACH it? (Attainable and Realistic)

E - Does it ENERGIZE you? (Passion and Giftedness)

A - Can you ANALYZE it? (Track Results)

M - Does it fit your MISSION? (Purpose and Calling)

What are your DREAM Goals for this New Year? Which of Kathy’s tips might help you achieve them?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. Her article today is an excerpt from Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion (Oaktara Publishing, to be released later in 2014). Kathy is also a publicist with Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. She and her husband/pastor,  Russ, live in Texas.

Image in Text: Courtesy of Grant Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.