Never too late to dream…

Mark Rutland shares this from his book, Dream

“I met a retired missionary, now confined to a wheelchair, who has organized a spare room in her little house as a veritable war room, a prayer factory filled with energy and purpose.  On seven tables along the walls are the photos of missionaries.  She rolls her wheelchair from table to table, station to station as it were, praying for dozens of missionaries every day.  Every week she prays for the names and faces on all seven tables.  In the end of the room is her computer, on which she keeps up a phenomenal worldwide e-mail correspondence with missionaries on every continent.  “I had to come home”, she told me.  “I could come home angry or embrace reality and find new joy in a new dream.  I love this.  I love this room.  I love what I do here.  For ten years I dreamed of being a missionary to South America.  For forty years, I did it.  I touched one country, actually only a small part of one country.  When I came home, I needed a dream, a bigger one.  I got it.  I touch the whole world every day.” 

Some go stale and bitter holding on to the wrong dream or even the right dream for too long.  Keep on dreaming.  The most dangerous moment in anyone’s life is the day a dream comes true and there is no new one to replace it.  (and I’ll add – or when a man wakes to realize he has no dream no longer possesses any capacity to dream)   It was when King David’s dreams came true that his passion needed and found a new and destructive object in Bathsheba.  His dream fulfilled, David was easy prey to temptation.”

In the wake of victory, find a new dream.  Find relational dreams, dreams of ministry, mission or mercy, but dream bigger, dream deeper.  Dream and dream again.”

DreamBIG.  LiveUP.

Dreaming (2)

The world needs you to live your most heroic life.  Just look around you.  This planet is reeling and running towards disaster.  We need you to step UP.

McManus said, “We have unimaginable freedom, opportunity, wealth, resources and are probably the most leveraged culture in human history for success and yet we have runaway depression, an epidemic of suicide and an overly medicated culture.  Is it possible that we have consumed and consumed and consumed and taken all that we can for ourselves rather than to create and create and create for the good of others?”

This is a huge statement.  It is what we’ve been talking about as we LiveUP we strive to LiveOUTWARD rather than consume inward.  It is a radical thought.  When you’ve been hurt or let down or disappointed, it is so easy to turn this inward on you and “consume”.  As we think of how this makes me feel or how this hurts me or how angry it makes me, things start to spiral out of control.  The more we make it about “me”, the deeper into the muck we sink.  Thus, perhaps is a key reason, we have become a depressed society.

But turn it the other way, what if when your children hurt you and disappoint you or when the burden of this thing you must do to help a friend weighs on you — what if — what if instead of turning it inward, you LivedOUTWARD?  What if instead of focusing on self, you instead focused on the child and what she needs.  Yes, she disappointed you or made you mad but she needs you.  She needs you to love her.  Yes, the burden of meeting the need of a friend which takes away your night or your weekend can strain you but what if instead, you simply focused on what it is your friend truly needs rather than how this “puts you out”.

We have consumed, consumed and consumed and taken all we can and it leaves us empty with an even deeper void than before we started.  These things make it hard to dream.

We’re talking about dreaming and the call to your most heroic self.  We hear a lot the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can do it” and that’s simply not true.  There are things I cannot do no matter how much I dream about them.  But the converse is an undeniable truth – “If you don’t dream it, you’re not going to do it.”  We need to dream.  You need to dream.  There is something out there just waiting for you to dream it up.  Imagine.  Create.  Be able to see a world that does not exist and imagine a future yet to be created and see yourself as the person you have yet to become.

Your imagination is supposed to unleash you so can begin to pursue that life.  To dream a dream that so compels you that it demands to become your life.

What is that for you?

Or, do you find all of this seemingly impossible?  Do you sit and think, “Man, I’ve got so much junk in my life and I am just so barely hanging on that all this dreaming stuff is sort of like, ‘yeah, whatever'”

Then let me remind you of Jeremiah and his words of each of us being “A dream in the mind of God before you took your first breath.”  You, my friend, are a work of art…a Masterpiece.  You have gifts, talents, skills and abilities breathed into you by the Mighty Lord as He dreamed you up into existence.

Who are you going to believe?  The enemy who whispers in your ear, “It’s too late, you’ve got too much baggage” or, the Master of the Universe who dreamed you up as a work of art and gave His son as a ransom on your behalf?

You need to dream.  You need to sit back and let God speak into your soul.  He can dream far bigger than you ever imagined.  You need to be still, attach to the Vine and let Him feed your soul and then see what dreams He has for you.

wide awake dream (1)

Dreaming (1)

This morning we started into Wide Awake – but we diverged a bit.  McManus just published a new book (The Artisan Soul) and he is now doing a sermon series on the book.  On his website, you can click on podcasts and click on the March 2 episode to see what we watched this morning.

I saw this last week and was stirred that we should see it before we “truly” launch into this notion of Dreaming because just like our last divergence into John Eldredge’s talk on the vine and tapping into the Life of God daily, it needed to be done before we could venture into Dreaming.  If we aren’t attached to the Vine and drawing upon the Life of God and if we don’t understand what we discussed this morning, we’re not going to be able to dream.  Today we dealt with some of the obstacles to dreaming with God

Most of us wonder if God forgot us when He was passing around talent, gifts, capacity, creativity and intelligence. It just seems life comes so much easier for others.  And we begin to believe that God used all these extraordinary people in the Bible to accomplish His plans.  But the fact is, those people were in reality very ordinary and God used them to do extraordinary things.

Think no further than Moses – he should never have amounted to anything.  He survived a genocide designed to kill him and put in a river by his parents.  He was adopted by the daughter of the man who sought to kill him.  Later he killed a man and ran and hid for 40 years.  He ran not only from who he was but also from who he was to become.  And yet, God found him and did extraordinary things through him.  God indeed uses ordinary people.

And then, there is the pain we’ve been through, the experiences, the wounds that cut deep, the failures that we’ve known create this space for doubt and fear to come in.  We all have our heartaches, hurts and mistakes and we’ve let them build fear and doubt in us.  We’ve let them tell us, “you’re just ordinary, no way God can use you for anything”.

As a small child, we were special.  We dreamed, imagined, pretended and we created.  Our brains were learning machines.  And then, at about 12, we started to conform, fit in and standardize.  You know teenagers – the last thing they want is to standout so they do everything they can to blend in and fit what their peers expects.

The same is true for us spiritually – at some point we shut off the dreamer, the imagination and we conform to religion and rules and we go stale.  We live an ordinary and hollow life.  We deny our creativity and imagination and religion very much wants to conform us.  It wants to take young men and shape them into these dutiful, good, compliant beings. Rules become more important than creativity and imagination.  And we live an ordinary, hollow life sitting on the banks of the river not daring to get back into the white water.

But God has an amazing way – when you begin to entrust Him with your life and begin to realize that there is something in you that only He can awaken – to rewrite your story from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Yes each of you – you are extraordinary.  Who are you going to believe?  The enemy who has capitalized upon the pain in your life or the Creator of the Universe who dreamed you up with unique gifts, skills and talents.  The Master Artist created you as a Masterpiece.

You are a playground for God to whisper into your soul the person you can become and the future you can create.

You ARE God’s creative instrument for the creating the future only He can imagine.

It is time for you to stop settling for “less” and to KNOW you are “more”.

It’s up to you to decide whether you will live your most extraordinary life.

Come next week and we’ll dive into Dreaming.  Until then, DreamBIG and LiveUP!

The Vine (part 3)

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.  He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes.  And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

Live in me.  Make your home in me just as I do in you.  In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

I am the Vine, you are the branches.  When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can’t produce a thing.  Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.  But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.  This is how my Father shows who he is – when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

I’ve told you these things for a purpose – that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.”  (in other words, Jesus is saying “I have this life, this Zoe that I want to infuse into you – this is the ‘abundant life’ I speak of in John 10:10”)      John 15 The Message

So again, the question for you this morning is this – What are you going to do (daily) to draw up the Life of God?

John Eldredge offers up this summary …

“So, what will you do, what is your plan, to draw your life more deeply from God?  It’s not just going to happen; you will have to make room for it.  May I suggest…

A)  Create relational space.  I confess – I used to think couples who had a standing date night each week were a little weird.  It just seemed unromantic to me, like scheduling sex.  I see now I was wrong.  If you don’t make relational space, relationship doesn’t just happen.  The same holds true for God.  You have to create relational space in your week for God.  You can’t Tivo Jesus.  Make room in your day.

B)  Disentangle (goes with A) – Friends of mine were describing their family schedule, how it is dominated by youth sports; they eat dinner in the car.  It is utter madness.  You cannot run at the pace of the World and hope to have God.  You just can’t.  The World has gone mad; peoples lives have no margin for their soul, let alone for God.  You will have to make tough decisions.  What goes in 2014?  (ask Him!)

C)  Detox (goes with B) – the poison of the World is not merely a matter of pace; it includes the media we allow into our lives.  Over the past year a number of friends have recommended books or movies to us, and when we went to check them out, we were shocked at what Christians allow into their lives.  Vampires and zombies do not prepare your heart to receive the Life of Jesus; watching someone else have sex does not fill you with the Life of God.  The desert fathers left civilization because they felt it was assaulting their souls…and they had no TV, cell phones or internet!  My God – you live in a toxic culture.  Shut every valve you can.

D)  Pray for union; pray for oneness – This is what we are after – not a feeling, not a cool encounter.  We cannot hope to live without the Life of God flowing in and through us.  There is no other way.  So Jesus prayed for us; he asked his Father that we would be one with him just as they are one with each other (John 17:20-23).  This is the secret of his life, it must become the secret of ours.”

Men, we desperately need more of God.  We have to be intentional about this.  We have to push away the chaos and make time.  We need to crave the sound of silence.  Our souls desperately need restoration.

We debated some of this today – how much time can we devote to politics, watching news channels, are we being called to be “John the Baptists” – out there wild, anti-social, loners, isolated – or is there balance to this?  Can we do some of both?

I’m not going to ramble on this but we do tend to rationalize our way out of this.  We say “I’ve got to have my cell phone on me at all times in case work needs me”.  Or we say, “It’s OK to engage in all this political debate as long as I don’t get sucked in”.  Or we think, “This movie with the sex scenes isn’t…”

And already, we’re losing the point of this entire series – THE point is this, “What are you doing to draw upon the Life of God…daily?”  ALL of this rationalizing, justifying, etc. is taking away from the key question.  The question isn’t that we can’t engage in any of the stuff of this world.  The question is “where are you” in all this?  Are you a vibrant, lush branch producing much fruit and growing deep roots to draw upon the Life of God?  Or, are you feeling like a tired, worn-out, frazzled dead branch laying in the pasture waiting to be thrown upon the fire?

I think for most of us it is the latter.  The utter madness of the world is beating the crap out of us and we’re buying the lie that we “have” to stay connected into it.  The world is on a one-way path to destruction and yet we feel this pull of having to stay connected to it.  We’re willing to graft ourselves into that vine (which is poison ivy) and we’re reluctant to detach from it to graft ourselves into the True Vine.  It’s sort of like saying you’ll let your teenage daughter have sex and smoke pot because if she doesn’t she won’t be accepted into the world and after all, that’s what all the kids these days are doing.  THAT is utter madness.  Our need to stay connected to this world on the path to destruction is madness.  The cost of which is that for many of us men, we find ourselves slammed into oblivion nearly every day and we slink home to just seek some relief.  That’s the evidence of a life out-of-balance.

We need to revolutionize our thinking on this.  What comes first – what MUST come first – is that we are intentional to make time with God our first priority…daily.  If we are not drawing upon the Living Waters, if we are not attached to the Zoe – the Life of God, it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves wasting away as a dead branch in a field far removed from Life.

Let us all seek to draw upon the True Vine.  LiveUP!

Carver = a HUGE success

Last night was an amazing success.  So many men pitched in and worked so very hard and we blessed the Carver family – which is our family.  From Brad’s small group that moved 1/2 the chairs on Wednesday night to Billy Gross working behind the scenes to help me coordinate to Janell Nielson helping coordinate decorations with Jeff Hampton to the 8-9 men there on Friday night to set up to the 40-50 men that were there yesterday from as early as 1pm until as late as 10pm, we all moved mountains!  Thanks to Coy Nichols for running the grills and to Ryan Walker, Frank Brown and Jimmy Bone for helping cook the steaks.  The most special thanks HAS to go to Jerome Harrell who works like a team of horses yet works with the quiet heart of a servant.  None of this would happen without Jerome.  Lastly, Garrett Dumler and Sid Sayler coordinated the clean-up and restoration of the sanctuary.  To all of you that helped, a HUGE THANK YOU !!!

this picture captures so much of our mission to LiveUP and  LiveOUTWARD


here are some more…