Friday, March 18, 2011

The Quest: How big is your dream?

Every year, for the last three years, my friend Amanda has headed up north to attend Catalyst West.  The team at Catalyst compiles innovative speakers from technology, business, and the church so that Christian leaders can stay on top of cultural trends.  I'm a little jealous. I've been looking at the list of Catalyst speakers for years now and wishing I could go.

Still, I'm happy for her.  As the director of Give Clean Water, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide safe drinking water to every household in Fiji, she needs to stay on top of cultural trends.

Plus, she always purchases a DVD set of the speakers, and she always loans it to us so that we can watch.  That's almost as good as being there.

A few weeks ago Amanda loaned us the 2010 set, and since we're fasting TV, and since we already went for a walk around the lake, cooked dinner together, talked about a ton of things, and spent about an hour reading, we decided to watch one speaker before going to bed.

We started at the beginning, with Andy Stanley.

In the video, Stanley claims that "we will not dream and we will not lead into a tomorrow that's any larger than what we believe is possible."  In other words, we set our vision and our goal based on what we believe we can do or what God can do.  He says we start with huge dreams, but the realities of life, our experiences, our disappointments cause our "beliefs in what could be and what should be to shrink."  As a result, we limit our dreams and our visions.  And we limit what God can do through us.

I woke up around 3:00 this morning, thinking about this claim.  What do I believe is possible for God to do?  In Newbreak.  In Santee.  In my life group.

I could expand this list, but right now I'm praying for God to move in our little church, and I want to pray specifically rather than generally.  (Please feel free to allow this discussion to touch on other things in your life.  The principles stay the same.)

What do I want to ask God for?
Do I want to limit my vision to I think is possible?  Or what I've seen happen in the past?  Or do I want to ask--and believe God--for the totally impossible?

Give Clean Water's goal is to provide safe drinking water to every household in Fiji.  That's an enormous goal since only about half the population has access to that right now.  That means that they need to provide water filters to thousands and thousands of homes.  Financially and logistically, that's pretty much impossible.  But succeeding means changing the health, education, and earning power for more than a million people.  That means changing lives.

And that means that they must rely on God to move in people's hearts to donate money and time.  They also have to trust God to give them entry into isolated villages which are run by village elders.   It's an amazing vision.  (If you want more information about the project, or you would like to donate or go on a trip to help install filters, you can click on the link above.)

Sometimes the project goes more slowly than they want, but they keep their eyes on the goal.  When you give clean water to someone, you give them a new future.

And when we introduce someone to a relationship with Jesus, we give them a new future.

But back to the dream.  If the dream is beyond what we can do naturally, then we pray that God will move supernaturally.  My dream, in this context, is that Newbreak Santee will fill up with people who long to know Jesus, that marriages will experience health, that people will meet Jesus, that it will be a source of life and hope and joy for hundreds of people.

This is the dream we started with, but sometimes it's hard.  Church planting is hard.  In the process of growing a church, people lose the initial excitement.  People get tired.  They miss their friends at other campuses.  Or they miss the really great facilities at the other campus.  And sometimes I wonder what it takes to grow a church.

The church is not mine, of course.  I know that.  It's also not Duane's.  This church belongs to God.  And he has his own purposes.  But we're talking about dreams and visions.  And I love this church.

And it doesn't matter if Newbreak is your church.  If you attend a church, or if you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, then his dreams are your dreams.  And his dreams are big, bigger than anything we can ask for or imagine.  

Which brings us back to the 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Scripture passage I looked at yesterday, the passage from Pastor Mike's sermon, "The Quest: Reconsider".  I want to quote it using the Message version this time, and keep in mind this speaks to a corporate repentance, a corporate fast, like the one we're doing right now.
If my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I'll be there ready for you: I'll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore the land to health.  
I'm thinking about how our dream is as a church, to be in a city, loving a city, impacting a city for Jesus.  I'm thinking about really ambitious that is.  I'm thinking about Santee and El Cajon and Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach and Tierrasanta.  I'm thinking about all the people in the neighborhoods surrounding our churches.

I'm wondering about our commitment to humility and prayer and honoring God in all we say and do.  Because  that's when God will begin the transformation and we'll see our dreams come to life.  

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