halftime with the boss

Bruce Springsteen, (aka The Boss) is providing halftime entertainment at tomorrow’s Superbowl. Apparently, he will be singing his new song: Working on a Dream. I heard the song the first time a few months ago but it is really starting to explode with popularity. Check out the lyrics below and the youtube version.

I am not sure what Bruce is dreaming of but I can really identify with the concept of working on or developing a dream. Most of my adult life has been spent pursuing something that God put in my heart a long time ago. It takes an incredible amount of work and tenacity to make dreams become reality. Sometimes they never materialize. Sometimes you just sort of fall into them.

I get inspiration from Springsteen’s song. It motivates me to keep dreaming and keep working. I really like how the song leaves the topic unresolved. He doesn’t get to see his dream fulfilled yet. He simply says, “And how it will be mine someday…”.

Working on a Dream
Out here the nights are long, the days are lonely
I think of you and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

Now the cards I’ve drawn’s a rough hand, darlin’
I straighten my back and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though sometimes it feels so far away
I’m working on a dream
And how it will be mine someday

Rain pourin’ down, I swing my hammer
My hands are rough from working on a dream
From working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it’s here to stay
I’m working on a dream
Our love will chase the trouble away

[whistling interlude]

I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday

Sunrise come, I climb the ladder
The new day breaks and I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream
I’m working on a dream

I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday
I’m working on a dream
Though it can feel so far away
I’m working on a dream
And our love will make it real someday

ted’s struggle, my struggle

I am referring to Ted Haggard, famous fallen pastor. Ted is on HBO tonight discussing his homosexual and drug activity while he was pastor of a mega-church in Colorado. Now before you get too excited, I have problems with neither. But I do share something with Ted.

When one of us falls publicly, we all fall to a certain extent. While Letha and I were watching the news tonight, Haggard was being interviewed, and was being asked about his sexuality. I realized that most of the members of our church who were watching the story probably wondered if I could ever be guilty of such things. While I hope that they all dismissed the idea immediately, we have to know that for some, we are guilty by association. Without doubt, some people are saying, “they are all the same!”, “all pastors are fakes”.

So in a sense, Ted’s struggle becomes my struggle and your struggle. We all pay the price.

I come out of this with a few observations:
• We have met the enemy and he is the devil. He wants to destroy us, plain and simple.
• Don’t get overconfident. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12 NKJV)
• Pray for leaders. The more visible you are, the higher the price on your head.
• Trust takes a lifetime to earn and one second to lose.
• What you do is somebody else’s business. Stay thoroughly accountable.

I heard another great quote the other day:

The measure of a man is not how much it takes to make him happy, but how little.” Purposely avoiding philosophy, I like the sound of it. In principle, we are to be content with whatever we have (Philippians 4:12, I Timothy 6:8). In practice, this is not often the case. We will probably all figure out one day that stuff does not make us happy. I am making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of what I consume and to give away more. I have to admit: there is a small part of me, or a large part, that really hopes that all of this “laying up your treasures in heaven” idea works. If not, I will be in trouble some day, when I get too old to work. But maybe I will be measured as a good man.

Jessica back in Guatemala

This week marked the return of our daughter, Jessica, to Guatemala. She and her husband Josh serve at Casa Shalom orphanage in Guatemala City and had been in the States for about a month on a break. Jessica remained a week longer to be with her family while we honored the life of her grandmother.

As I dropped Jess off at Miami International Airport on Monday, I was again struck by how quickly time flies. A large billboard outside of the airport advertises a bank. Showing a picture of dollar bills, it says, “Watch your little ones grow”. I think I said out loud (I was by myself) “I heard that, brother!”.

I was also reminded of how proud we are of who she has become. The whole time she was growing up, I pushed her really hard to see her potential. Sometimes, I was too demanding and overbearing, not always very sensitive to her feelings. I fought hard to get her to overcome her tendency to take the easy route (gets it from me). I felt like there was a danger of her missing out on the awesome things that God had planned for her.

We are not sure if my pressure helped or hurt, but she has turned out pretty good. She has a call on her life to help people and she is fulfilling it. She is sensitive and compassionate (gets it from her Mom). We are thankful for her spirit. While we were together last week, I told her that I am proud of who she is, not just of what she does.

On a more humorous note, I took Jess with me to a pastor’s conference last week, while Letha was away in St. Louis. Many of the guys at the meeting were my friends but did not know Jessica. You should have seen the heads spin as I walked into the room with a young blonde by my side! I threatened to make her wear a t-shirt that said, “I’m his daughter!”.

If you have yet to do so, check out Jessica and Josh’s blog at thehansonsinguatemala.blogspot.com. Be aware that they have Internet infrequently so their posts have not been very regular recently.

More importantly, pray for them and the kids at Casa Shalom. God is doing a great thing there. We are proud to be a part of it.

here is a verse I am focusing on today:

James 1:19-20 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (NLT)

I need to listen more,
talk less,
and control my temper.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. “

every pastor’s struggle

I try very hard not to target individual people when I preach. A temptation for many pastors is to take pot shots or to grind personal axes while they are delivering their messages. It is not the place of preaching the Gospel to do combat with individual listeners.

That being said, I get majorly frustrated on a regular basis with the tendency of the many needy people in the church to miss worship services. Invariably, when God gives me a topic to address, those who appear to most need the solutions offered are not there when the message is delivered. I try not to focus on those who are not there. But many times, in the week prior to or the week after a particular issue is discussed, we receive communication from individuals who were not there, needing help in dealing with that very issue. Not surprisingly, I get a little flustered by this.

I believe that at least some of this is spiritual in nature. I do believe that there is an enemy of our souls who desires to keep us in our bondages. He will do whatever it takes to keep us away from truth and answers. I see this at work in the lives of many people.

I had a friend who once told me that people are responsible for obeying the Word that is preached in their church, even they are not present to hear it. I don’t know if that is true or not but the principle sounds solid to me.

I will continue to preach what God gives me. I will continue to try to be patient with those who are reluctant to expose themselves to the Word that is delivered. I know that God is more patient that I am. And these people are His sheep.

not too stoked about politics

We are fully aware that this is an historic time for our nation. The election of a minority President is momentous. Times are changing, that is for sure. We are all hoping and praying for healing for our nation and new opportunities for the future.

But try not to get too caught up in the hype of the power of one individual, or one administration. No one man has the power to change the course of this nation. No matter how great, no politician is our solution. If expectations are outrageously high, President Obama is bound to fail.

I am guessing that many of the bandwagon devotees will soon be speaking out in opposition to our President. People are fickle. They love it when they get their way. We all know that that won’t happen for very long.

In 1843, Edward Mote wrote, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Sounds like a rock-solid plan to me.