He was just a kid. A kid who had dreams A kid who was loved by his father and a kid who was loathed by his brothers. Perhaps you know of him? The clip we just saw was from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s referred to as “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”. If you are of the right age you might remember Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colours”. And if you went to Sunday School or Vacation Bible School you probably know his story.
Joseph’s father Jacob had settled with his family in Canaan which is now part of what we think of as Palestine. A part of that immense family was seventeen year old Joseph. Now to be real frank with you Joseph wasn’t the most popular member of that family, at least not among his siblings. And there is good reason for that listen to how the Bible describes the relationship between Joseph and his father Jacob, aka Israel Genesis 37:3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. Now sometimes we do that with our kids, now I know that we claim that we don’t play favourites but reality says that there are times that one or another of the kids is more lovable then the others. But listen to Genesis 37:4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
You see that was the fatal mistake that Jacob made, it wasn’t that Jacob loved Joseph more then all the other sons. Unfortunately my friends that is a failing of the human condition, We may try to love all of our children equally but everyone knew that my parents didn’t. I know that my parents loved my sister more then me. It’s funny though because she knows that her parents loved me more then her. Oh well.
The fatal mistake here was made when Jacob let everyone else including his other children know that Joseph was the favourite. The coat of many colours may have been a neat idea for a story line but it was really dumb for fostering sibling unity. Now Joseph didn’t help the matter when he told his brothers about the dream where they were all subservient to him. Talk about how to win friends and influence people. I bet it was Joseph who wrote the sequel to that book, you know the one called “How to win back the friends I’ve already influenced” And so on that day as Joseph’s brothers saw him coming across the field toward them he was not the most popular person in their world. As a matter of fact he probably didn’t make the list of the top 100.
Now with that in mind how do you think they welcomed him. What tone of voice did they use. Excitement? Awe? Respect? Not. Dollars to donuts their words were dripping with sarcasm. But I like their words. It says something about young Joseph, with a different tone of voice I can’t think of a greater compliment. Genesis 37:19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said.
If I could sum up the single most important difference between successful people and non-successful people it would have to be the ability to dream. The ability to see things the way they should be or could be. Often Robert Kennedy is quoted as saying “You see things: and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why Not?'” Actually it was his brother Ted Kennedy who remarked in the eulogy he delivered at Bobby’s funeral “Some saw things the way they were and asked ‘why?” Bobby saw things the way they could be and asked ‘why not?'”
But it was actually first said by George Bernard Shaw who said almost fifty years earlier “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
The sentiment is the same no matter who said it.
I have spent the past twenty-eight years pastoring local churches and I’ve become more and more convinced that the secret to the success of churches is to have a dream, to dream of where we can go, how high we can fly and what we can do. Over the past years I’ve been asked by different people to account for the growth of the churches that I pastored. In each instance I’ve searched my ministry for some indication of what I might have done to accomplish what had been accomplished. Was it my preaching? Hah, I could wish. Was it my visiting? Hah you could wish. But what was it? I think I nailed it down, if I was to be asked today to account for the numerical growth of Truro Wesleyan Church and North Point Wesleyan Methodist Church I would respond “A Dream”
If I could tell you the most important thing that you need to have to make it today it would be a dream. More important then education, as important as education is. More important then good health, as important as good health is. More important then popularity, as important as popularity is. People with a great education will become failures without a dream. People who are in splendid health will fail without a dream. The most popular people in the world will become failures without a dream.
I would suspect as different as they might be that most everyone here today has a dream, or dreams, dreams about where you want to go, what you want to see, and the things you want to accomplish. Don’t sell them cheap. Don’t mortgage your dreams and don’t tie them down. Dreams are a part of what keeps you young, the actor John Barrymore, who was I believe Drew’s grandfather said, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
1) Because Dreams Are Necessary.
If necessity is the mother of invention then dreams must be the father. You will never see it in your hands until you first see it in your head. It’s true with people and it’s true with churches.
We won’t accomplish anymore at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church than what we can dream of. In other words if we can’t see it then we can’t have it. God knew that and so that is why he said in the book of Joel 2:28 “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. That particular prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2:17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.
What that tells us is that the church of God cannot exist without God sent dreams. Because dreams are indicative of the presence of the spirit. No Spirit, no dreams. No dreams, no spirit. When you see a church whose only commitment is to keep the doors open. A church where there is no vision for reaching the lost, no vision for changing the world, then you have found a church that exists without the spirit. It’s a church in name, a church in organisation maybe even has a church building but it isn’t a church. It’s a religious social club, nothing more, nothing less. When churches become content to simply hold their own then they become losers.
Every church needs to ask itself the question, “What does God want us to do?” I would suspect that the answer will be a dream, a dream that touches men and women, boys and girls. A dream that touches those who know Jesus personally and a dream that touches those who have never ever met Jesus at all.
Reality is that every church is but one generation away from extinction. Without a dream, without a vision for tomorrow this church will be dead in forty years, why? Because most of us will be dead within forty years, now that’s a cheerful thought isn’t’ it? And so unless we continue to plan and dream and hope for the future we might as well close the doors today and save ourselves forty years of grief and frustration.
It’s only as we visualize this church as continuing to win people to Jesus Christ will it actually happen. Nothing, nothing at all has ever been accomplished that was not first dreamed of. The realities of today are the dreams of yesterday. And the realities of tomorrow will be the dreams of today.
Can you dream of us filling both services to capacity? Can you dream of Cornerstone Wesleyan Church as a church of 300 people or 500 people or a 1000 people? You say
“Denn this church will never have 500 people in the morning service why that’s impossible” Is it? Three years and a half years ago on an average Sunday Morning there were 42 of us, now on an average Sunday morning there is 230 of us. That means that we have increased over 5 times in the past forty two months, boy if we did that over the next forty two months we would have 1150 here, that would pretty well pack her out, don’t you think? Can you believe in the impossible? Can you believe the word of God, because it says in
“What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.”
Under my leadership Cornerstone Wesleyan Church will never worship at the shrine of church growth. But I trust that if we do what we are supposed to do then the church will grow. Close your eyes for a minute, can you picture Cornerstone with 400 people worshipping together, how about 600, 800 can you picture 1000 people singing the “Beautiful One”? Because if you can’t see it now you’ll probably never be able to see it.
What about our personal dreams? Have you read your old high school year book recently? How you doing on your dreams? Maybe they have changed over the past twenty years, there’s nothing wrong with that, unless they have died completely, and that is a tragedy. There was a song out once that proclaimed
“dreams never die, just the dreamer” but in reality dreams do die, and it’s not long after the dream is dead that the dreamer begins to die, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. When we lose our dreams we lose period.
The word as we know it has been shaped by dreams. All of the great achievements were once considered to be impossible. And a man with a dream is a lot more powerful than a man with the facts. After all, facts said that electric lights were impossible, but Edison’s dreams made them a reality. Facts said polio was inevitable, but Jonas Salk’s dreams developed a vaccine. Facts said that man would never fly but the Wright brother’s dreams gave them wings at Kitty Hawk. Facts said that a man couldn’t run a mile in less then 4 minutes but Roger Bannister’s dream proved that it could be done.
Whatever your personal dreams are don’t let them go and don’t let something as trivial as facts stand in your way.
2) Dreams Look To Tomorrow. Time and again I discover two things which hinder us in our personal growth. 1) We waste our time dwelling on the failures of yesterday. 2) We waste our time dwelling on the successes of yesterday. Listen up, yesterday is gone, finished, done. In his letter to the church in Philippi Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
You cannot relive the successes of yesterday anymore then you can change the mistakes of the past. It was Lee Iacocca who said “Yesterday ended last night.” All you have is today and tomorrow. It’s not that yesterday is bad or evil, sometimes we get that impression, if it is in the past then it isn’t any good and sometimes we swing to the other extreme. It is only good if it was in the past. Not so on either count, if it is in the past it is unchangeable and to dwell on it is to waste precious time. It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “I like the dreams of the future better then the history of the past.” Focus your dreams on tomorrow and don’t live in yesterday. Don’t look back, look ahead to what you can see accomplished. What can God do for you? As much as you can dream, that’s how much.
Where do you want your church to be in five or ten years? Don’t know? Don’t care? You’d better know because that’s where we are heading. John Maxwell has pastored the largest Wesleyan Church in the world for fifteen years or so before starting InJoy ministries and he tells a story about how he was conducting a church growth conference. Two pastors approached him and the first one said “I believe that I can have a church of 200” and Maxwell said “OK”. The other man said “I believe that I can have a church of 500” and Maxwell agreed with him too. Well the first man wasn’t a happy camper and he asked Maxwell “How come you think he can build a bigger church then I can and you don’t know anything about abilities and talents?”
Maxwell’s reply was this, “It doesn’t matter which of you has the greatest ability, that which determines the success of your churches growth more then any other ingredient is what you think you can do. If you think you can, then you can.”
He was talking about our ability to dream, to visualise the future and that only happens when we are ready to step out of the past. The question that you need to ask yourself over and over again is this “What are my dreams?” And when you get a grasp on your dreams then start sharing them with other people. Why? Because it makes you accountable for your dreams.
You should be excited about this. You can’t do anything about yesterday, try as you might it is beyond your control, and the time spent in yesterday is wasted. But tomorrow is yours, it belongs to the dreamers.
3) Dreams Alone Won’t Do It. I love the positive thinkers, and I love the possibility thinkers. I don’t think that there are any of us who wouldn’t personally benefit from reading books by people like Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuler, Dennis Waitly and John Maxwell. My only problem is that sometimes they leave you with the impression that all you have to do is dream. My favourite story is about a man who saw an empty lot he knew he had to have it. It was the only break in a forest of brick and mortar and he knew it would be his own personal oasis. And so he scraped and saved and he saved and scraped until the day came that he bought it. Then he stood back and saw just exactly what he had bought; a small rubble strewn piece of property deep in the heart of the city. What little green that had managed to survive amongst the garbage was the very worst kinds of weeds, sturdy and stubborn.
The lot became his dream, his hobby and his all consuming passion. Every spare moment he had he spent there, carting away rubble and garbage. Levelling the hard ground and tearing up weeds. Finally it happened. He had achieved the first part of his dream. The lot stood barren and flat devoid of any living thing, it was a beginning.
As ferocious and ruthless as the man had been in getting the lot to this stage he now became a gentle nurturer. He broke the ground by hand, tilled in fertilizer and then carefully chose the flowers, trees and bushes that would make his dream a reality.
With the care of a mother for her children he dug each hole and placed the plant in, then gently packed the soil back with his hands. Then he watered them and talked to them. He kept the weeds and birds away until one day it was his, a piece of Eden standing in stark contrast to the dark and dreary man made cliffs that rose around it. The flowers exploded in a prism of colour, providing a respite from the concrete desert surrounding them.
One day as he stood admiring his garden a stranger happened by and commented, “That sure is a beautiful garden the Lord has given you” “Yes it sure is” replied the man, “but you should have seen it when the Lord had it by himself.” Any dreams we have for Cornerstone no matter how good, no matter how noble, no matter how spiritual will not happen without commitment on our behalf.
If your dreams are going to come true then it will your responsibility to make them come true. You see a dream which does not result in action is nothing much and an action which doesn’t come from a dream is nothing at all. That old saying of the salesman may be trite but its true when they say, “If it’s going to be it’s up to me.” Nobody else is responsible for making your dreams into realities. Your dreams are the beginning of your success, but a dream alone won’t guarantee success. Without dedication to your dream, without work, without sacrifice, without commitment, that dream will never be anymore then a dream. The man who wants to do something finds a way; the man who pretends that he wants to do something finds an excuse.
In 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention was founded in Augusta Georgia. That the founders of that denomination were described as, “Men who see the invisible, hear the inaudible, believe the incredible, and think the unthinkable.” It is my dream that those words will apply to the people of Cornerstone Wesleyan Church.
Listen to the dying words of D.L. Moody to his sons, “If God be your partner make your plans big”