For the next six weeks, we will follow a book called Dare to Dream by a pastor from Dayton, Ohio named Mike Slaughter.
On Wednesday nights during Lent, we will watch the short video talks that go along with the book and discuss the ideas that go along with the series. On Sunday mornings, I’ll go into the scriptures he uses and dig a little deeper into what he says. You don’t have to have the book for Sundays or Wednesdays; I think you’ll do just fine with or without.
Mike will talk about developing a God-sized purpose for your life, no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey. No matter how old or young you are. We’ll discover some of the principles of living into God’s will.
Mike will talk about discovering and developing a BHAG: A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (God- Purpose). This is how you know a God Purpose: (it will…)
Bless other people.
Bring you joy.
Inside your bulletin, there is a piece of blank paper. Let me give you a little writing assignment. Finish this sentence: Someday, I’m going to…
Let’s listen for a moment to Mike Slaughter:
We’re going to think about dreams and dreaming. A dream can be imagery that comes to you while you’re sleeping. Or, it can be a vision of something you need to do – a calling. There are sleeping dreams and visionary dreams.
In the Bible, God speaks many times through sleeping dreams. These seem to happen only with individuals; I can’t find a story of a group of people having the same dream while asleep. Then that person describes the dream to someone else and it has an impact on both of them (or all of them).
Visionary dreams seem to be mostly about changing the world in some way, even if it’s in a small place amongst a few people. But a visionary dream can be shared by a lot of people. The Apostle Paul had a visionary dream for believers: people filled with the Holy Spirit, living a lifestyle of love. In different places at different times, Christians have become a movement, or believers have influenced a movement. God specializes in visionary dreams. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of the people who started this church and those who have kept the message of Christ flowing through good times and bad.
Do you have sleeping dreams that you remember? For now, we’re going to look specifically at Jacob’s sleeping dream.
Genesis 28:10-17. Jacob left Beersheba and went towards Haran. 11He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; 14and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. 15Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ 16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ 17And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
Jacob was not looking for God. Out in the middle of nowhere, Jacob was on the run, and on a 400-mile trip. He had deceived his father Isaac into giving him the traditional inheritance birthright instead of his older brother Esau. Esau was not happy and Jacob needed to leave. Fast. So Isaac sends him on an errand. Jacob heads back to the ancestral home to find a wife. And that’s how he ends up in the middle of nowhere.
Jacob is not what you would call an ideal Bible-hero. But he is part of the story of how God sets out to save you and me.
The Bible is the story of how God redeems people, saves them from themselves. From beginning to end, humanity goes from riches to rags a thousand times.
Once upon a time, I asked an elderly, venerated seminary professor a question that went like this: (we were talking about the Hebrew people) “As far as anybody knows, was there any other culture in ancient times that preserved such a history of its “heroes” as flawed, imperfect, and damaged as these? Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…” He thought for a moment, leaned into the microphone, and said, “No. Next question.” God has no one on a pedestal except Jesus. God’s story of redemption is full of normal people like you and me.
Here are a few important things to know from the story about Jacob we just heard:
Jacob was not looking for God, Jacob had not prepared himself to find God, but out in the middle of nowhere, all alone, God stood beside him. God knew exactly where to find Jacob. God had a purpose to accomplish. God had promised Jacob’s grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac that a nation would come from them, people as numerous as the stars in the sky. Jacob didn’t seem to be clued in to God’s promises at all, but that didn’t matter to God. In spite of all of Jacob’s faults and imperfections, God stood beside him and made the same promise to him. And God knows exactly where to find us.
God will keep speaking to Jacob. God won’t leave Jacob to figure life on his own, and God won’t leave us. What was the meaning of those angels going up and down to heaven? Who are angels and what do they do? Very simply, they are God’s messengers. God’s communication is always there for us to tap into. A constant stream that doesn’t stop. Maybe we just have to be still enough to listen. Jacob needs to keep listening.
Jacob had nothing to give to God, but God gave Jacob a future… and a future for thousands of his descendants. God. I know how reluctant many people are when it comes to sharing their faith. You might be thinking, “Who am I?” But when you take a chance to share just a little encouragement to believe, you never know how far the ripple will spread.
Now we’re going to think about an example of visionary dreaming. Have you heard of the Wright brothers? What do you know? Kitty Hawk, NC, December 3, 1903. Mike Slaughter talks about the Wright brothers and their dream of flying. What’s interesting is that when they made that first flight, no reporters were there and hardly anybody knew about it.
Maybe it didn’t matter to them. The Wright brothers lived during an age of visionary dreaming. Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison were just a few of the people changing the world. Visionary dreaming encourages other visionary dreaming. It’s contagious. Usually, the dreams were built on other peoples’ dreams, taking them a step farther.
Wilbur and Orville Wright ran a Bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. Working on bikes set them to dreaming. Bicycles were a relatively new thing for the average person, and in 1903, many people had never even seen an automobile. The brothers were a step ahead. In their shop, while fixing and building bicycles, they worked hard at finding a way to travel through the air with a machine. They borrowed the technology of gas powered engines and made lots of attempts at building gliders. But here’s a story most people don’t know…
An older man named Amos Root lived in Medina, Ohio, at that time. Yes, that’s my hometown. He had been successful in business (industrial-scale bee-keeping) and he was curious about the sketchy news about flying machines down in Dayton. No reporters had actually seen the Wright brothers do this thing. So, he drove his 1903 Oldsmobile 200 miles south to see for himself.
Root was so astonished by what he saw that he decided to write about it and became the first person to publish an eyewitness account – in his bee-keeping magazine! It was from that magazine that the word spread. Amos Root, this older man who shared the vision of younger men, was convinced that this invention would change the world.
“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. (Acts 2:17)
I believe that is happening in Manheim, happening in our churches, right now. We can all be a part of living out God’s purpose, honoring God, blessing other people, bringing us joy.
God, you have this amazing ability to surprise us. Sometimes the dreams aren’t what we expect and the visions involve a lot of work. But help us step out with courage. Help our spirits be open to your Spirit of adventure. Help us know dreams and visions as doors that open to new ways of thinking and seeing and hearing.
Keep us open to learning things we didn’t know yesterday; expand our minds. Keep us curious. Keep us open to meeting new people; help us keep a space in our circle of friendships for the new person.
We believe you walk with us every step of the way, and the dreams and visions you bring are changing us into the people we should be. Amen.