Don't Forget to Dream
by Tim Dowdy with Tim Luke
Copyright © 2007 - Book Excerpt
There is one decision you must make that supersedes all other decisions. It will determine whether any other decision you ever make is successful.
The only authentic way to decide who you are is first to decide who Jesus Christ is. Not everyone believes it, but the entire universe hinges upon His identity.
You have to do something with Him. You either must agree with who He says He is and submit to Him, or refute who He says He is and deny His lordship in your life. You can't just ignore Him, thinking you'll address it later. Remember, indecision is a decision. Ignoring Christ means saying, "No, thank you."
I'm reminded of a stirring passage written by C. S. Lewis, the brilliant twentieth-century Irish philosopher who finally accepted the claims of Christ after years of searching and listening to the witness of friend J. R. R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
The person who has accepted Christ's claims and surrendered to Him must, by reborn nature, honor 2 Corinthians 5:15. He died for us. That means, out of sheer devotion in gratitude, we should no longer live for ourselves. Rather, we should give our lives, our every decision, to the One who first gave His life to us.
Next, Ephesians 5:15 reminds us to be careful and wise.
If you are a believer, do you fly by the seat of your pants—or do you carefully weigh decisions? I'm not referring to wringing your hands over trifling matters. I'm referring to faithfully spending time in prayer and Bible study, seeking God's counsel and wisdom.
I've heard people complain, "I want to grow deeper in my walk, but all I ever hear preachers say is pray and read the Bible."
I've learned that God speaks most often through three ways: His Word, His Holy Spirit, and circumstances. The best way to hear from God is through His Word. The best way for Him to hear from you is through prayer.
Do you make sure to "be very careful" how you live?
Being careful means habitually spending time in God's Word and prayer. Being careful means waiting on the Lord to make the picture clear. It means diligently examining circumstances and squaring them with Scripture. Being careful means seeking the counsel of godly friends and adults (but please make sure they're godly, and if anyone ever gives you counsel that goes against Scripture, ignore it—it's not from God).
You may say, "I've turned to the Bible to help me with a decision, but I couldn't find anything that fit my situation." I've heard that one before. That's why effective Bible study is habitual Bible study. Over time, its deep truths, which apply to every situation, will sink in. It won't change your circumstances, but it will change you.
For example, you may face the dilemma of whether to accompany friends to a party at Darrell's lake house. The Bible doesn't say, "Don't go to Darrell's party."
But it does tell you to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 kjv).
It does remind you to hate evil and cling to good (Romans 12:9).
It does remind you that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within you, and that you are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Would the Holy Spirit be comfortable at that party? You need to answer that honestly, because you'll carry Him there.
The Bible offers clear principles to demonstrate the wisdom of avoiding such scenes. The Bible renews your mind (Romans 12:2) and steers your decision making. This is why regular Bible study is essential. The Holy Spirit will use God's Word to prompt you at just the right time, every time. He will help you stop and think, Because of who I am and whom I serve, I choose to make this decision.
Operating within this framework helps determine who you are going to be. Then you can entertain questions like, "What am I going to do for a living?" These questions bear less gravity. They're not unimportant. They're just not as important. They don't define you. When someone asks, "Who are you?" you should not respond by saying, "Well, I'm a student" or "I'm a technician," or "I'm a stay-at-home mom." That's what you do, but it's not your identity.
Your identity is forged by clawing down to the foundational decision of whom you serve—God or self—and what kind of person you're going to be. Ask yourself, "Am I going to live for myself or am I going to live for God? Am I going to be wholly devoted to Jesus or am I going to fit into the crowd? Am I going to be a leader or a follower?"
The answers to those kinds of questions not only shape your decision making but also pave the only path toward living the dream God has in store for you.
But beware ... there is one kind of decision that is a dream destroyer.
If you choose to live a self-serving life, then you're going to miss the dream. I don't care how "good" life may seem; you'll still fall short of the dream God has for you.
You can be the CEO of the company, the star of the show, or the all-American athlete and still be outside of God's will and, therefore, unfulfilled. Everyone has heard the stories of men and women who have climbed the ladder and made it to the heights of success only to look back down at everyone and proclaim, "It's empty. It's not what I thought it was going to be."
The reason is because they're living the American dream. People admire their lives and envy them. But they've missed the dream—God's dream—because they've missed God's design for them. Unfortunately, too many people acknowledge the emptiness of it all only when they're gasping for their last breaths.
At some point, you indeed must answer the question, "What am I going to do?" But before facing that decision, you must answer more pressing questions: "Who am I going to be? Am I going to be someone who follows my own drumbeat? Or am I going to pursue God's heartbeat? Am I going to seek to discover God's desire for me and then commit to follow the path He has carved for me?"
Don't Forget to Dream by Tim Dowdy with Tim Luke
Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764204104
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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