LIVING THE DREAM
August 24, 2008
How is everyone doing today, pretty good? I want to welcome all of our campuses here in Grapevine, Miami, Plano, Downtown and also over in Fort Worth. It is great to have you at Fellowship. I think we’re the friendliest people in the western hemisphere. We’re talking about dreams over the next several episodes and this church is really a dream center. It is really is because we need to dream the biggest dreams possible which are the dreams that God has for all of our lives. And I’m going to challenge you about something today. I want to stretch your thinking and your imagination. No matter what you’re thinking about, no matter what you’re dreaming about, God’s dreams are bigger and broader and more unbelievable than any dream that we can ever come up with on our own.
Have you been watching the Olympics? The Olympics, man, that’s where it’s at. The Olympics is all about dreams. I mean, every person interviewed, every swimmer, every track star, every decathlete or whatever, whenever, they’re talking about the Olympic, the gymnastics and the beach volleyball, it is all about living the dream. Dreams are good. The Olympics really spur dreams on. I’ll tell you a funny thing you can do to people during the Olympics. People have the Olympic spirit, you know? Whenever you’re driving around town and you see someone like power walking or maybe biking in one of those special outfits, you know? Just roll down the window and yell, USA, USA. Everybody with me, USA, USA. Yeah, it’s really funny. They look at you like, man there are some crazy people out there.
Dreams. What does it mean to dream? That’s a good question. God is a God who dreams and he wants us to log onto his dream. The problem is I have this tendency and so do you because we’re both natural born sinners. Our tendency is to make up our own dreams and to do our own thing our own way. And we chase these different things. We’ll chase greed and we’ll chase materialism and we’ll chase these various things and we want a dream house. We want to make a dream salary, the dream boat, the dream vacation. Some of you right now are going Ed, I’m kind of doing that. I’m making the dream amount of money. I’m driving my dream car. I finally moved into the dream house. And you know I have, though, this low grade sensation, you’re saying to yourself, that something is incomplete. I’m not really hitting on all of the levels that I think I need to hit on.
Well I have some words for you. You’re probably not logging onto God’s dream. God’s dream is all about the advancement of the good news which is the gospel. I will say it again: The biggest dream you can possibly wrap your brain around pales in comparison to the kind of dream that God has for your life.
So let’s start from the basics here. What does it mean to dream? I’m going to throw up a working definition of dream. If you have a pen or a pencil jot this down. Write the word “dream” vertically. That’s right in Miami, Downtown, Plano, and Fort Worth, write it down vertically. If you’re watching this by television or listening to a pod cast or online or whatever, just write this word down vertically, “dream.” Give me a D, D. Give me an R, R. Give me an E, E. Give me an A, A. Give me an M, M. What’s that spell? Dream. Okay. Dream.
A dream is about development. I’m developing something. All dreams start with God. Did you hear that? All great dreams start with our great God. God is a God who dreams so if you want to live the dream, and that’s what we want to do over the next several weeks, it starts with God. So if I’m going to live the dream, that dream starts with God. God is always developing and depositing and dropping dreams on all of us. We’re going to see in a couple of moments in Genesis chapter 15 there was a guy named Abraham and God just blew the doors off of his life. Abraham thought he was living the dream. If the guy lived today he would be worth several billion. He had all of this stuff and you would think, Abraham, that guy is living the Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Warren Buffet dream. But no, God takes him to a level he never thought possible. God develops the dream. God is developing you for the dream. So you either log onto God’s dream or you don’t. If you don’t, I hate to tell you this, but you’re going to live a nightmare. You’re not going to live the dream; you’ll live a nightmarish existence. It’s all about development.
Dreaming is also about, look at the “R”, righteousness. It’s a righteous dream. What is righteousness? That’s purity. That’s holiness. We know our God is righteous. God can’t err. God can’t sin; he’s perfect. Well we are sinful. God can’t look at us because of our sin. He sent Jesus to live a perfect life and to die a sacrificial death. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. When we receive Jesus his righteousness is imputed into our lives. So we’re righteous and we have this desire for righteousness. God’s dream for all of our lives is to live a righteous life, not a legalistic thing, but based on something that is a relationship within.
“E”, that’s the engagement piece. If I’m dreaming and I’m going to unpack this more and more as we get into this, this week and also next week. Engagement, I should be engaged in the dream. Dreaming God’s dream is not about passivity, it’s not about pressing the pause button, it’s not about just relaxing. It’s about doing something. It’s about engagement. It’s about fighting the faith fight. And we’ll talk about that because the most engaged people I know are the people who have logged onto God’s dream.
“A” is about anticipation. When you wake up, are you anticipating, what will happen next? What is God going to do? It’s not about you, it’s about God. Because again, if I do my dream my way I’m going to end up with this dissatisfaction. I’ll end up with this dissonance. I will end up with this feeling that I’m missing something. Life is short. You talk to someone in their thirties and forties, you look back and it’s like where did the time go? You crank out a couple of kids and the kids were 2 and now they’re 22. They’re talking about marriage and trying to pay for college and time flies. People say that all the time. Where’d the time go? Well I don’t know about you, but I want to get the most out of life. And to do that, it’s all about God, living God’s dream.
“M” stands for momentum. There’s this momentum, this purpose, this power that living the dream gives me. The dream, the dream.
I don’t know about you, but I meet some people who use God stickers. Have you ever met someone who uses God stickers? Have you ever? Some of our campuses are like, oh yeah. Have you ever used a God sticker? I have. What does it mean to use a God sticker? The God sticker is this: We say I’m going to dream what I want to dream, I’m going to do what I want to do and then we do it and then we place the God sticker on it. We play the God card. God told me to do this. God is blessing this.
I always know I’m talking to a crazy person when they say, “Ed, God told me to tell you…” Whoa. I talked to God this morning and he didn’t tell me that. Oh really, God told you. That’s interesting. Your dream that God has for you will always be about the advancement of gospel. It will always fall in line with scripture. We can’t, though, play the God sticker.
Illus: Let me even get deeper about this God sticker. You have a tract of land for sale and you make $50,000. That’s pretty good in this economy. You turn a tract of land, you make 50 grand. And then you go, there’s this boat that cost 50 grand and you go and that money is burning a hole in your wallet and you buy the boat. And then you have the audacity to put the God sticker on it and say God has blessed my life. Don’t be playing games with God. You’re not living God’s dream by doing that. I can tell you that right now. We’re talking basic Christianity, Christianity 101. The Bible tells me that the stuff that I have is really not my stuff, it’s God’s stuff. So if I make 50 grand, good for me. I should bring 5 grand to the dream center. Where’s the dream center?
It’s the house of worship, the church. I know if I’m living the dream then everything is God’s, I bring the 5 to church and now I have 45. Now if you want to you can buy a boat for 45. I wouldn’t recommend that. I would save some of it and maybe buy a boat for 25 but I think you see where I’m going.
So don’t play the God card. Don’t say well I’m building this and doing that and God told me when you’re not being obedient in the basics of the Christian life.
I have talked to people, too, who tell me God just wants me to be happy. I’m still looking for that verse. I don’t know where it is, God wants me to be happy, in the Bible. If you find it, please let me know. God wants me to be happy so you know what? I’m tired of this person I’m married to. They’re just not satisfying me anymore. They’re just not doing it for me anymore. I met this person at work, and this person lights my fire. This person understands me. You should see this person’s figure. I’m just going to leave this and go to this, and God just wants me to be happy. We put the God sticker on stuff. That’s like the comedian who drops the F-bomb and takes the Lord’s name in vain for two hours then at the end places the God sticker on it and says you’ve been a great audience; God bless you. That’s interesting.
Sexual immorality. Sin is sin but there’s no sin like sexual immorality. What is sexual immorality about? Well the Bible calls fornication, adultery, homosexuality sexual immorality. Sex is designed to be one man, one woman in the context of marriage. That’s living the sexual dream that God has for all of us. Our sexuality matters to God. You cannot tell me that God is blessing your dating relationship or life when you are committing sexual immorality; yet I know people who say God is just blessing me. No, he’s not.
So here is the rub. Here is the lynch pin of the deal. Are you living your dream and sticking God to it or are you living God’s dream and sticking yourself to it? That’s huge. Am I sticking God to my dream or am I saying God, you show me what you’re doing. You show me where you’re going. You’re showing me, God, what I need to do and I’m going to stick myself to it. Because at Fellowship Church, just use our church for example, that’s the way we’ve done this deal.
Illus: People ask me all the time, Ed tell me about the long range plans of Fellowship Church. Tell me about your dreams and your vision of Fellowship Church. I have been asked that question a squillion times and I love to respond by saying “I’ve never had any long term goals or plans at Fellowship Church.” We just have not ever done that. Pretty much God has shown us where he is working, where he is dream, where he is going, where this vessel is heading and we’ve just stuck to it and the rest is his story, or you might say history. Because we never thought about having a tract of land here in Grapevine years ago. We never said yeah, let’s have 1,100 acres in east Texas and build this phenomenal camp or let’s have a church in Miami. They just happened. We’re just rolling with it. We’re along with the cruise. We’re on the vessel. God’s the captain and we’re just along for the ride. The ride is not a passive ride. The ride starts with God and it ends with God. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about God. So I want to ask you right now, are you dreaming big enough? Because I think a lot of people, I’m talking to a lot of people, you’re dreaming small. I’m not talking about toys and trinkets here. I’m not talking about doing deals or building a company or whatever. That’s fine and dandy. I’m talking about sticking yourself to God’s dream because God has hardwired you and hardwired me for a dream that will blow us away.
Genesis 15, you probably thought I’d never get there. Abraham. He’s childless. He’s an old guy, multibillionaire in today’s world. God takes him out and expands his horizons. Genesis 15:5, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars.” He is saying, Abraham you’re going to be an all-star man. “Look up at the heavens and count the stars if indeed you can count them.” He said, “So shall your offspring be.”
You know Abraham was like what? Do you want to be blown away constantly? Stick yourself to God’s dream. “Abraham believed the Lord.” Verse 6, “and he credited to him his righteousness.” Verse 7, “He also said to him,” this is huge here, “I am the Lord.” Remember? “Your dreams start with God who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take position of it.”
I will say it once again; God’s dream is bigger than we can wrap our brain around. I had no idea 18 years ago when I moved up here with about 150 people to help start Fellowship Church that it would turn into the place it is today. I was clueless. Basically we just stuck onto this dream and here we are at the dream center. And so many of you are like yes, I had no idea. You know what I’m talking about. Others are like I want to live this dream. Well we’re going to find out because all dreams start with God.
Here is something else I have discovered about dreams: Whenever we start dreaming and when I say dreaming I’m talking about God’s dream. Whenever we start dreaming, the devil starts scheming. God dreams and the devil schemes. Because God said Abraham, here is this tract of land, this dream tract of land. Take position of it. It’s for your descendents and then God begins to tell him what is going to happen. God says, Abraham for 400 years my people will be in Egyptian slavery and then they will be freed up.
You know what happened about that, Moses freed the people up by his leadership of course from God and then they begin to go and claim the Promise Land.
We have all heard of the Promise Land, the land flowing with milk and honey, the land that is just totally crazy. And they were at the title company, they were ready to sign on the dotted line, do the dole, the whole nine, Moses and Aaron and everybody. Then God said wait a minute. And I’m talking about Numbers 13, take a right turn. Numbers chapter 13. God said wait a minute, pick 12 leaders from the 12 tribes. Do a secret reconnaissance mission. Go back and report to the people how you will take possession of the land. Let me stop and say something else. A dream without action is a nightmare. You will hear me say that a lot. A dream without action is a nightmare. It is great to talk about vision and dreams and ambitions and principals and precepts but let’s talk about how to do the dream. Well the spies come back and two of the spies are like, we can do it. God has given it to us. We can take possession of the land. They were ready for the action. They were ready for the faith fight. They understood the enemy’s schemes. Ten of 12 said we can’t do it.
And the enemy began to use one of his most wicked weapons. Everyone stick your tongue out for a second, 1, 2, 3. It is about a four ounce slab of mucus membrane nestled between our teeth. The tongue, what a weapon. It also can be something for good but this tongue began to mess up the people and they began to live a nightmare. Look what happened in Numbers 13:32. “And they,” who are they? 10 of the 12 spies. “They” always have something to say. People all the time, you’re around your campus, “they” have been saying and “they” feel. Around the office, “they” have been saying and “they” feel. Around the church, “they” have been saying and “they” said. Who are “they”? That will mess somebody up. You want to jack somebody up, you want to get into their brain you say who are “they”? Because “they” is usually one negative person, maybe two, that’s about it. So if you’re leader you’re going to have the “they” and here’s the deal. Swim with the swimmers and stay away from the bottom feeders. It is very simple. “They spread” the word spread here in the original Hebrew is blog. “They spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.”
So they’re at the closing table, the deal is about to be done, the dream piece of real estate and then 10 of the 12 spies began to spread this negative report, they began to grumble and mumble. And then all of the people, I’m talking about millions of Israelites, they wanted to stone Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Caleb. They wanted to kill them. Negativity. They were getting fearful. Negativity. And if you read about it, whenever you get fearful, whenever I get fearful in this faith fight as we live the dream what do we do?
Because we have a choice: We either feed fear or we feed faith. If we feed fear more than we feed faith we will never, ever achieve the dream that God has for us because we’re going to experience doubt. People come to me and say, “Ed, I’m doubting.” Good. Well, I just doubt. Great. Doubt is a part of faith. So when you get this feeling, when you have a bout with doubt are you moving toward doubt and fear or are you moving toward faith? Move toward faith. We’re all going to have doubts, and that’s okay.
Ten of the 12 spies, they began to feed their fear. Do you know what they said? The people are so big there Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Caleb. We’re like grasshoppers in their sight. Everybody do the grasshopper for me, 1, 2, 3. Come on, get freed up. I’ve gone grasshopper before, haven’t you? The cities are fortified. It looks like there’s no way out. I can’t face this. That’s what they did.
Let me show you how seriously God treats grumbling and negativity. This is not really even understood. As you read scripture God puts grumbling and negativity along the same lines and adultery, homosexuality, fornication, anger and greed. Now we’re good about talking about the other things, the spectacular things, but we don’t really talk about the four ounce slab of mucus membrane, do we? This tongue will mess you up. It will mess you up. And it was so powerful the 2 million didn’t even make it into the Promise Land. God said here’s the land. I want you to live the dream. I want you to have it developed in your life. It is righteous. It is all about engagement. It is anticipation. It is all about momentum. I have all this stuff for you but you can’t sit on your butt. You have to get up and take the land. You have to fight. But all the other people because of the tongue they went grasshopper. They just went grasshopper. And Joshua and Caleb were like, we can do it. We can do it. Throughout the Bible and especially in this text, I don’t have time to show it to you; they say we can do it. Are you doing the dream? Are you doing God’s dream? Have you logged onto his dream? Have you stuck yourself to his dream? Joshua and Caleb did.
Now because the negativity hit, take a wild guess what happened. The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness. They lived a nightmarish existence. They died off. And this next generation that we’re going to find out in a second, in Joshua chapter 1, this next generation were the ones who entered the Promise Land forty years later. God, though, had to wait for the people to die off and only two of the old generation made it into the Promise Land, the dreamers, those guys who stuck themselves to God’s dream, I’m talking about Joshua and Caleb. God wants you to be a Joshua and Caleb. He wants me to be a Joshua and Caleb. If you could see what kind of real estate that God has for your marriage, for your friendships, for your career, for your finances, for your gifts and aptitudes and abilities you would be like what? You’d be like Abraham; I can’t do that. That is how amazing it is. One life to live soon will pass, only what you’ve done for God is the only thing that will last. A God size dream is always about advancing the gospel. If it’s not about advancing the gospel, it is not God’s dream; it’s your dream.
Check out what our boys said in Numbers 14:9. Here they’re facing negativity and they go, “Don’t rebel against the Lord.” This is Joshua and Caleb. “Don’t be afraid of the people because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone but the will Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Do not be afraid of them. Of course they were. They died off. Now make another right turn to Joshua 1. Now next week we’ll get into this more and more but I just want to do a quick overview, a quick panoramic biblical tour of this series. We’re kind of skipping around but believe me, next week we’ll get more specific because I truly believe you’re prolific when you’re specific.
Now if we have any preachers in the house let me give you an outline the way a preacher would do it. Do you want to hear that? This is free of charge. How would a preacher say this, as far as this outline? God made a pact about this tract. The people didn’t want to attack so they lived in the land of jack. I don’t know why you came here but I have come to praise the Lord. That’s how a preacher would say it. So if you’re listening to this on pod cast or you happen to watch this on television or whatever, that’s for all the preachers. I have to go preacher sometimes, you know. My father’s a preacher and I’m preacher. I just love preachers. That was a pretty good, wasn’t it? God made a pact about this tract. The people wouldn’t attack so they lived in the land of lack; they didn’t do jack. Joshua 1:6 9.
Now the new generation is up to the plate. They’re taking the land. Three times God says something. Now when God says something once, pay attention, underline it, or highlight it. It is great to underline in your Bible. If you look at my Bible, not that this is always what you should do, but I mean I just try to underline and color things a lot. It is cool to do that, write little notes and things in your Bible. I do it all the time. God says something once, whoa. Two times, whoa, whoa. Three times, hey. Hey.
Three times God says something and within these three times he gives us the secret to living his dream. And the secret is going to blow you away. In fact I have read over it so much I just kind of skipped over it. It is simple yet it is so deep. It is kind of paradoxical. Now let me tell you what I’m talking about. Three times God says, three times God says, three times God says be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous then he says be strong and courageous.
Joshua 1, right before they go and take the land what does God say? “Be strong and courageous.” Yes, they have the dream but if the dream is going to be a dream of action, A-C-T-I-O-N, we have to be strong and courageous. He says Joshua, Caleb, “Be strong and courageous because,” verse 6, Joshua 1, “you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” He’s talking about Genesis 15. So I should be strong and courageous because of the promises of God. There are hundreds of promises of God that I need to claim.
Secondly he says, “Be strong and very courageous,” verse 7. He says, “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. Do not” I just read the key to all of this. I’m going to teach you a four letter word, a good four letter word, an awesome four letter word. It is the secret to living the dream. O-B-E-Y, obey. That’s it. God does not want your happiness or my happiness, he wants our obedience. Because when we’re obedient we’re going to be joyful, outrageous, contagious joy. That would be a great title for a book. Obedience. So he says “Be strong and courageous because of the promises.” Be strong and courageous because of the power of word of God. He says, “Be careful to obey,” what? Some of it? No, “all of the law my servant Moses gave you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go.” What is success? It’s living the dream. That’s what it is. Then he says in verse 8, “Don’t let this book of law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to,” here we go again, to “do everything written in it.” I mean, almost all of the dreams you can think about are written for us in black and white. Not all the specifics, but the general dreams about relationships and God’s will and finances and reconciliation and forgiveness and hope and going through difficult times and comfort and power with weakness. They’re right here. So it’s not like we, let me think about it. Let me pray about it. I wonder what God says about it. He has written it down. So the power of his word.
The third time he says, “Be strong and courageous,” verse 9, “because of the presence of God.” He says, “Don’t be terrified, don’t be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God is going to be with you and me.
Illus: This morning I got up real early and I walked 4 of our 5 dogs. We have this tiny dog that we just got, and I will tell you about him later. He is story within himself. He is story within the canine community. And here he was walking and we have these two giant Dobermans, they were on either side of him. And bringing up the rear was our gargantuan English Mastiff. So here is this little dog with his chest out man he thinks he is the bomb. He is like, man come on.
Come on man, you want some of me? I mean, look at his back up. Look who is with him. Who is going to fight him? Two Dobermans and an English Mastiff. No one would.
I thought you know what, that’s me. And that’s you. We’re a little dog because God is with us. 3 in 1, 1 in 3, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. He is with us. He is walking with us. He is protecting us. God is with us so we can live his dream.
Illus: Have you ever been on a cruise before? A cruise? I never have. I don’t know why, I just have never gone on a cruise. I was in Miami about a week ago and I saw people on these cruise ships. I was like wow, you know. I saw people loading onto these big ships. I have talked to a lot of people who have cruised before. You can do this rock climbing wall on the boat, play basketball on the boat, and see a movie on the boat. You can do all this stuff on the boat. The boat stops to port, you can shop, moped, fish, dive, whatever you want to do on the cruise. You have a captain and the captain has this destination in mind but you have the freedom to do what you want to do within the confines of the cruise. That’s a picture of God’s dream. God’s the captain and we’re under his authority. He is taking us to this ultimate destination. Sometimes the seas will be rough. Sometimes we’ll get a little queasy, a little seasick. Sometimes we’re like wait a minute, I’m not sure what to do. But we have this freedom to live God’s dream. (Making boat horn noise) Do you hear that? (Making boat horn noise) Are you on the cruise? (Making boat horn noise) Are you living the dream? (Making boat horn noise) God’s dream is huge and he wants you and me to stick to it because when we do we are going to live in the Promise Land.