Resurrect Your Dreams!

Dreams, we all have them. From childhood on we dream of seeing faraway places, doing incredible things with our lives and making a difference in this world. Each individual’s dreams are different. Some dream of being dentists while others dream of being pop stars. When we are young, dreams come so easy, because we haven’t become jaded by the cruelness of the world. We shared them with our friends. We drew pictures of ourselves achieving our dreams.

I remember mowing the yard at my house while listening to the race on the radio. I pretended to be there racing with Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Davey Allison and others. I would lie on the floor, tossing a ball in the air, imagining that I was about to score a touchdown in the biggest game of my life. My personal favorite, dancing around the dining room while no one was watching, lip-syncing to my stepfather’s 8-tracks and records. I was a star! I performed for the trees outside my window and imagined that the wind blowing through the leaves was thunderous applause.

I would have been mortified if anyone had caught me but there were times growing up that the dream world far surpassed the real one. I would find myself there often and I wish, sometimes, I could go back there again with the same ease I did in my youth. What a ridiculous thought, right?

Earlier this week I heard someone say that when they were younger they had dreams of a different life, something better. From the defeated tone of the speaker, you could tell that they had set aside their dreams and decided there was no point in pursuing them any longer. At what point do dreams become impractical? When do we set aside the dream and settle for the status quo?

Why do dreams have to die? We mournfully regret the things we never reached when maybe they are still on the horizon. Maybe we weren’t ready for them yet. I’ve noticed that, as I have gotten older, my dreams have matured (maybe faster than I have). Though I would love to race in NASCAR or catch that Super Bowl winning pass, those dreams have been replaced by far loftier goals and ambitions. I still dare to dream!

It’s my dreams that give me hope for a future where I have had a far reaching affect on the world around me. I dream big! I spend moments thinking about what it will be like when I reach my dreams! The difference now is the direction of those dreams. They include family, friends and most of all, my faith! I keep pushing forward, running the race, always expecting the goal to be around the next corner. When it’s not, I trust God to lead me to the finish. My dreams are bigger than I am!

Don’t let fear stop you from dreaming. Dare to dream! Regardless of your age, you have a value greater than you know. So take a moment and dream again! Allow yourself to get swept up in the wonder of that place where you are making an impact beyond anything you ever imagined. I saw a quote recently that said something like, “If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough.” Our dreams should be challenging, but don’t let fear of failure stop you from trusting God and chasing your dreams.

So go, paint a picture, write a book, run a race. Most importantly, believe that you can achieve those things you dream about. With God, all things are possible and age isn’t that big of a deal in His economy. Ready, set, go… Chase your dreams!

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Matchups are the Key!

I have been watching a lot of football this week. Hold on, before you say I have a problem, understand that I was there in support of students who were playing in the games or in the band. And of course there is research that needs to be done for the church Fantasy Football League! It’s a sacrifice that, fortunately, I enjoy! Through all the games I’ve seen this week, one common factor rings true: Matchups are the key.

From Middle School to the Pros, matchups are the key to a successful outcome. The team that matches up the best wins most of the time. Of course, the heart of the players has a lot to do with the outcome and can increase the chance of victory, but most of the time the team that looks strongest on paper is going to win. Upsets can happen, but typically, upsets are the result of preparation and an ability to match your team’s strengths against the weakness of your opponent, exploiting that weakness to defeat the favorite.

One of my favorite Bible accounts is the story of David and Goliath. David was definitely looked at as the underdog. It was assumed he would lose and lose badly. But his strengths outweighed the giant’s weaknesses. The giant was arrogant and assumed the victory before the fight ever began. He didn’t consider a sling and some stones to be a threat for someone of his stature and skill. David believed that he could win and he believed that God was on his side. He recognized the giants arrogance and knew that he wouldn’t see him as a threat.

So David called an audible. There is a new commercial featuring Jon Gruden that shows him sitting at a table watching football with friends and each time they ask him why he changed the plans they had settled on, he says, “I called and audible.” When asked why he always called audibles, he simply taps his Super Bowl ring on the table and everyone nods.

Audibles are all about the matchup. The quarterback steps to the line, sees that there is a weakness or that they are about to have a loss and he changes the play to a more favorable matchup. Something that will work according to the situation the team is facing at the moment. Peyton Manning is well known for his ability to read the defense and check down to a more favorable matchup. It’s funny to watch sometimes because he’s so animated (with the sound off sometimes he looks like a chicken strutting behind the line, just saying…) but he’s animated because he sees a potential gain if the team matches up well against what the defense has presented.

It’s the same across the world of sports. I used to coach 5th and 6th grade boys basketball. As the coach, it was my job to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the players I was given. Then, knowing each player, it was my responsibility to match them up against our opponent in a way that presented the best opportunity for our team to win, but also, for them to be successful. You see, a little bit a confidence goes a long way in the matchup.

David had confidence in his abilities before he ever approached the giant. He had killed a lion and a bear. He also had a belief in God that was strong. It was that intangible that the giant didn’t see coming. Even the smallest player on the field can take down the biggest guy if he’s determined. He just has to get low and chop those feet. Giants will fall. You just have to know how to hit them!

We all have moments where we feel outmatched. We feel like the odds are against us and we might as well throw up our hands and give up. It could just be a question of position. Maybe you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be trying to do something you shouldn’t do. The fact is, most centers play center for a reason. They aren’t very fast and they can’t throw the ball well, but they can block. The best offensive lineman aren’t upset that they don’t get to take the ball into the end zone because they realize that without the key blocks they throw, there wouldn’t be any scoring! They’ve accepted their position because it matches their skills and without those lineman the quarterback and running backs don’t have much hope.

It’s the same in our daily lives. Matchups are the key. Find your spot and then play it with everything you have. Don’t hold anything back! Get low and drive those feet! When things matchup right, it’s undeniable! And if you’re the coach (leader, boss, etc.), make sure you’re giving those you lead the best possible opportunity for success. Encourage them, stretch them and find the matchup that puts your team in the best position for a win!

TRUE HEROISM

When I was a kid (some of you might say I still act like it), my mom wouldn’t let me watch one of my favorite cartoons, Underdog, for fear that I would climb up on the roof and try to fly. When I think back on it, it was really kind of ridiculous because she never said no to Wil E. Coyote for fear that I’d start making extravagant purchases from ACME products or said Bugs Bunny is out when he repeatedly put his fingers in the barrel of a loaded gun only to have it explode in the face of Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam. No, apparently they weren’t nearly as dangerous as a mild mannered beagle who had a penchant for finding dangerous villains like Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister meddling with the good folks of Capital City.

When he wasn’t busy fighting crime or saving his girlfriend Polly Purebread from eminent danger, he took on the persona of humble and loveable Shoeshine Boy. A rather lowly existence for such a hero! But when you think about it, it’s often the humble God uses to make an enormous impact.

Each of us at some point has wanted to be the hero, to swoop in and save the day for someone. We long for superhuman abilities like flight, laser vision or unbreakable bones. We have television shows dedicated to the pursuit of finding real people with super abilities. The top television shows and movies typically include some guy or girl running around in a pair of tights wearing their underwear on the outside as he or she saves the world from impending doom!

We are obsessed with heroism but we rarely see it in ourselves. True heroism is found in the everyday acts of ordinary individuals as we do our part to make this world a better place. It isn’t always flashy though sometimes you find yourself in the spotlight. Most often, it is done without recognition or reward. Heroics happen often without the knowledge of others because it’s the right thing to do. There’s no front page story. It’s neighbor helping neighbor. We don’t need a cape and sequined shoes to save the world for those around us (they really aren’t all that comfortable anyway).

Suits might make you look cool (though I think most people would just think you’ve lost your mind), but they aren’t necessary to make a difference in the life of a child. You don’t need superpowers to impact a neighbor in need. And as cool as it would be to own the Batmobile, it wouldn’t be all that effective in a real disaster. All that’s needed are eyes that are open to the opportunities to love those around us without condemnation or judgment.

True heroism is selfless. It’s giving without ulterior motivation. It’s sacrificing for those who need something as simple as a hand to get back on their feet after they’ve fallen. It’s been said, “No greater gift is there than this: that a man be willing to lay down his life for his friends.” It’s more than being willing to die for those we love. It’s being willing to set aside our own desires to touch the life of those around us who are in need.

In the movie Robin Hood, Kevin Costner made a statement that has stuck with me since the first time I saw it. He said, “I’ve seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle. And I’ve seen the lowliest, unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body to defend a dying horse. Nobility is not a birthright, it’s defined by ones actions.” Being a hero isn’t dependent on some super power or mutation caused by the bite of a radioactive spider, it’s a choice. A choice we can make each and every day when we choose to see past ourselves and look to the needs of others.

In honor of those who sacrificed their lives to help those who couldn’t help themselves on September 11, 2001.