Wake up and dream

These aren’t day dreams. These are life dreams.
These are kingdom dreams, God-sized dreams.

Sleeping dreams are weird – like a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. They are the result of a swirling mix of your subconscious mind, your anxieties, and whatever you had for dinner. Like I said, WEIRD. They may be scary, or fun, sad, heartwarming or erotic. More often than not, they seem completely detached from reality.

And yet how often do we let them control our reality? How often do we shy away from a challenge because of some nightmare of the danger or risks involved? How often do we pursue a path of unhealthy self-gratification or self-glorification that originated in a dream state? We consume stories in prose and poetry, songs, TV and movies – some of which create a very literal interpretation of these dreamlike experiences – I’m thinking of The Matrix series and Inception. You may know of others that like an MC Escher print fold dimensions inside each other as though each of us were a series of interlocking Mobius strips.

The 2013 holiday release of the new Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – a remake of the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo – is based on the James Grover Thurber (1894-1961) story from The New Yorker magazine. Mitty is a character who lives in his imagination, with his real life bearing no resemblance to his dreams. Eventually he awakes to this situation, and makes a conscious decision to go and do something else, to Wake up and dream.

Thurber is reported to have said, “Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” So many of our dreams have us looking in anger or fear.

God’s dreams for us begin with our waking to what is real, right here and now, in our very midst. God with us, Emmanuel. God here in the sorrow and struggle, the laughter and love. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God’s thoughts toward God’s people are of blessing, and a future with hope. (Jer 29:11) God’s dream is to restore that which has been lost, or that which we only glimpse “as through a veil dimly.”  (1Cor 13:12)

The first and last scenes of the Bible are of a beautiful garden in which human beings are in harmony with one another, they undertake meaningful creative work caring for the world as a central feature of their blessed state, and they are in communion with God who dwells and walks among them. Their home is God’s home. This is the vision, the dream which God is continually dreaming for us and working with us to unfold in and through us.

“And they called him Emmanuel, God with us.”

Most often the Bible uses the word wake with reference to calling people to pay attention to what is happening around them, to shake off the stupor of their sinful and slothful ways. Shake off the haze of the culture which invites you to deny the reality of God and the spiritual world, and even your own spirit. Shake off the sleep that lulls you into believing either that you are the only thing that matters, or that you do not matter at all.

The sojourners from the east came, wise and wealthy – and thereby powerful – yet they humbled themselves before the child Jesus. Shepherds, the least and lowest, the most despised among Jewish society, found themselves with personal engraved invitations to the party of the ages. The “reality” in both situations would have told them to stay away – one because they were too good, and the other because they were not good enough. Yet through dreams and visions they all came to realize that the invitation was for them, and for everyone – “Peace on earth, good will to all.”

What will your dreams reveal, when you begin to let yourself dream them? What is God longing to show you? What is being prepared for you to be and do in the world so that others might experience Emmanuel? Whether you’re a shepherd, a wiseman, an innkeeper, a carpenter, or a young and innocent woman, you have a role to play in the unfolding drama of God’s dream. Will you open to it?

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These reflections were written in preparation for a sermon on 12/29/2013, first Sunday after Christmas. The sermon scriptures were:
Isaiah 52:7-10  ~  Psalm 98  ~  Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)  ~  John 1:1-14

Living Your Faith At Work

“Religion and Politics” are the two things we don’t talk about in public. Why? because they matter. Because our convictions are often deeper than intellect, and thus difficult to articulate at times.

What are your experiences of faith and work overlapping? Where have they been good? Where difficult or frustrating, even painful? How would you want things to be different if you were more consistent at living your faith at work?

This conversation will include:

  • Why are you engaging this topic? Are you…
  • Challenges in this endeavor
  • TALK – One good approach to this or any sensitive topic… – Tell, Ask, Listen, Know
  • Decide what aspects of your faith/ /spirituality/ will receive your attention.
  • How can any career/job become a vocation, “a calling”?

Contact me to schedule this overview presentation in your organization or for coaching to help you to deeply integrate your faith/religion/spirituality/core values into every area of your life and work.

Collaboration for Solopreneurs

How do you generate creativity when you work alone?
Create opportunities for collaboration and brainstorming.

You have the vision, the passion, and the drive to pursue your dream, build the business and life you imagine and desire. You don’t have to work alone. Solopreneurs commonly suffer side effects of working alone: short-sightedness, isolation, burnout, worry.

The fact that you are responsible for every aspect of your business does not mean you have to do everything, or that you have to do it alone. Often colleagues in the same industry and peers in other disciplines are excited to join in a brainstorming session where you lay out a challenge you are facing and invite others to offer input and ask probing questions. This can produce the kinds of great creative synergy that R&D relies on. It is the reason that organizations like Google nurture and even force interaction among their employees and customers – Interaction breeds innovation. Isolation stifles. Their website describes their approach this way:

We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. In our weekly all-hands (“TGIF”) meetings—not to mention over email or in the cafe—Googlers ask questions directly to Larry, Sergey and other execs about any number of company issues. Our offices and cafes are designed to encourage interactions between Googlers within and across teams, and to spark conversation about work as well as play.

Even if you are a sole proprietor and have no employees – and especially if you work in a space like a home office that has no other human interaction – collaborative partnerships are an easy and powerful way to bring vitality to your work and life. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and who can help you to think bigger thoughts. Invite them to coffee and propose a challenge.This is not chitchat, so you need to establish an agenda and stop and start times. Also consider what kind of space is most conducive to your task. It may not be the local coffee shop. Then again, perhaps Starbucks, Panera or Corner Bakery. A great alternative is a space like Union in Dallas near SMU, that also has conference rooms available for exactly this purpose.

Perhaps you actually work on a group project that benefits both of you. OR, you may just take turns bringing the topic. Either way, you are likely to experience increased productivity and a greater sense of enjoyment in your work, even if you are an introvert like me.

How have you created collaborations for your work? What kinds of spaces have been most conducive? Tell us a story about what has worked for you.

How big is too small?

What if, in the midst of feeling a bit overwhelmed at the end of week #1, it turns out that I’m thinking too small, not too big?
Could it be that I’m supposed to be including other people in this venture as partners?
Do you know anyone who would be interested in working together to develop a new Coaching business that serves people at all income levels and across for profit and NFPs?
What if this is actually looping back to the Small Business Incubator discussion?
What if it is looping back to the Center for Suburban Spirituality discussion?

Perhaps in the morning, when the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie buzz wears off I will be thinking more clearly and realize “its the sugar, man” and come back down to earth.
Or maybe, in the light of day, the possibility of the hugeness of what God is calling us to will be even more clear.

Once you’ve jumped, height is mostly relative. Mostly. How high is too high?
So here is Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull Supersonic Freefall from Space.

Here’s to regaining control in the spin!

Entrepreneurship and the Church?

Thinking about the ministry of the church and the place of an entrepreneurial spirit. I cam across a publication entitled Entrepreneurship and the Church By Eric Bahme and Patrice Tsague. The piece describes Bahme’s role as pastor of Eastside Foursquare Church, which purchased and runs a hotel that both generates revenue for ministry and provides a direct ministry opportunity to the hotel guests, visitors, employees and neighbors. In addition, the church uses the hotel as its home base for worship and other activities. Tsague leads a ministry that trains Christians and churches to use best business practices for the benefit of the church and the kingdom. While it does not bring this out, the article reminds me of Jeremiah 29 where the Lord says to put down roots and build prosperous businesses in the community where you are, for as the city is blessed so will you will be blessed (29:4-14).

How can the business people in our congregations make better use of their work for the kingdom?
How can they teach the rest of us the skills they have so that all of us can be more effective and efficient?
In the days of reduced church income, is it legitimate for churches to engage in business, or are we compromising the gospel and sullying our hands to do so? Is it OK up to a point, and if so, how do we know when we are at risk of “crossing the line”?

However the business question gets resolved, it seems there are opportunities to learn from the work being done here.