Monthly Archives: October 2014

Shattered Dreams

The Bible says a lot of stuff that we pastors preach great sermons on but how well does it play out when life hits you in the gut? One of those things is that we should store up treasure in heaven because where our treasure is our hearts will be also. (Matthew 6:20, 21)  A valid and important understanding of what Jesus’ purpose was in giving that instruction was so that we wouldn’t become hoarders of “stuff” but instead spend what God has given and enabled us to obtain in service and ministry to others.

But I’m learning a less obvious but equally import reason for this instruction: so that when your dreams are shattered your faith need not be.

Wendy and I have just had a dream we’d been pursuing for the last six months crushed.  It’s a dream for an exciting and fulfilling ministry/career opportunity we could do together that we actually had years ago when we began in pastoral work but had relinquished to God.  About six months ago God gave a refined version of that dream back to us.  As we pursued it God affirmed and opened the doors every step along the way, sometimes in profound and emphatic ways.  We were literally one step away from seeing this dream fulfilled but due to an unexpected change in circumstances completely outside of our control and influence the opportunity has closed indefinitely.

It was like having the wind knocked out of us.  And because of where the process took us our whole future has suddenly become uncertain. I have to admit that for a while after getting the news it didn’t take much to knock me into headlong into the ditch of “Why God? It all was fitting together so well, everything was falling into place. We were following your lead! If it wasn’t to be why’d you let us go so far?”

Somewhere in all that God asked me where my treasure was. I realised again that even though it may be difficult or painful, what happens in this life isn’t the end of the story.  My treasure is Jesus and nothing can separate me from his love for me.  Even if I don’t understand, even when cherished dreams are torn from my grasp, as significant as those things are they are not primarily what my life is about.  My life and all that happens in it have Jesus as its purpose and end.

If your greatest treasure, the things that you hold most dear and depend upon for purpose and stability in life are found in things or even people here and now, when those things are taken away you will be swept away by the floods of despair. Instead store up your treasure in heaven – in Jesus.


Stock Dog Theology

An old rancher who had used stock dogs his whole life once told me that he’s trained a lot of dogs but there are some that just seem to understand English.  I was reminded of that when a friend told me about taking their two border collies to a stock dog trainer.  Neither dog had ever worked sheep before.  Fresca had very strong herding instincts but she didn’t fare too well because she was too aggressive. Grace, on the other hand, had the sheep moving easily through the corals literally within minutes.

The difference was that Fresca depended on her instincts and paid little heed to the handler, whereas Grace was intent on the slightest sign from the handler who guided Grace’s natural instincts. You probably see where I’m going with this, but you may be surprised by where I see that in the Bible.

Romans 12:1&2 tells us that we will be able to recognize the will of God if we will stop conforming to the way culture works and instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Let me unpack that a little.

Culture in general is self-focused.  Be true to yourself, be that master of your own destiny, find what works for you. That’s not to say the pattern of culture is necessarily selfish, but it’s certainly self-directed.

When Romans says to be transformed, that is changed through and through, by renewing our minds it’s directing us to be God focused. Vine’s Bible dictionary says of the word “renewing” that it indicates our minds are to be “under the controlling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who directs our minds bent and energies Godward.”

How do we go about renewing our minds?  It starts with a greater hunger and passion for scripture.  How can you develop that? First ask God for it.  It sounds simple but it’s true.  Second begin reading it daily.  You’ll find that getting into it will whet your appetite for more.

The text is not saying that in being able to recognize the will of God because you’ve been transformed by the renewing of your mind that all your problems will be solved and your life will go smoothly.  What it is saying is that you will be able to be confident of being in God’s will in the middle of all the stresses, adversities, uncertainties and upheavals that life brings.