In 1902 Mary was visiting New York City during a winter snowstorm. While riding a streetcar she noticed the driver had a problem with visibility because of the sleet and snow. He either had to stop and wipe the snow off the window or keep it open.
Upon returning home Mary “environed a rubber device that would sweep back and forth over the windshield to keep it clear for driving.” From this dream, Mary filed her first patent and the windshield wiper was invented.
“Reaching Forward” is my preaching and writing theme for 2021, inspired by David Jeremiah’s book and based on Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:13-14.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
“Forward” is built and based on 10 steps each encapsulated in a single word that we want to pursue over the next 10 weeks. Today’s word is “dream.”
Successfully reaching forward in any endeavor requires a dream. Whether it’s Walt Disney’s dream of the Magic Kingdom, an obscure woman’s dream of a windshield wiper, or the cultural changing dream of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr for racial equality, “our world is shaped by determined dreamers.”
Dr. Jeremiah offers this illustration of the importance of a dream. “Without a blueprint, you can’t build a house; and without an idea of what kind of house you want a blueprint can’t be drawn. The same is true when it comes to making plans for the future. If you don’t have a clear idea about where you want to go–and why you want to go there–it’s difficult to sustain forward momentum.” This is not only true materially, but it’s true spiritually.
The Bible is filled with the inspiring stories of spiritual dreamers who by faith caught a glimpse of God’s vision for their life and moved forward. Abraham saw a great nation while he was yet childless. Joseph literally dreamed of future events that became a reality because he never wavered in his trust in God’s providential care.
Moses saw free people receiving God’s promise while they were enslaved in Egypt. Both Joshua and Caleb envisioned conquering their enemies, capturing Canaan, and claiming their inheritance when everyone else said, “we can’t do it.”
From the Old Testament prophets who dimly saw at a distance God’s vision to the New Testament apostles and preachers who captured Jesus’ vision and “went everywhere preaching the Word,” the Kingdom of God was established. A spiritual mission was born. A world-wide ministry was launched. A dedicated group of disciples emerged. A unique fellowship was created. A new dimension to worship was experienced. And lost souls were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Think about it. God’s dream was carried forth both then and now, by feeble, frail, human vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). People like Peter who denied Jesus. And people like Thomas who doubted. And people like Paul who once opposed Christ. And people like me. And you.
The dream of which we write is not a supernatural dream like the prophets of old. Nor a man-made vision apart from God’s Word, the Bible. It is a dream that is driven by spiritual goals. Heavenly desires. And eternal aspirations.
I fear too many preachers, pastors and churches are just floating along with no clear focus on the future. No goals. No vision. No dreams. Just “keeping house for the Lord,” as they meet Sunday after Sunday as usual.
However, we do know of several churches led by visionary shepherds and ministers who are challenging their members to be more, do more, and reach forward to greener pastures and more fruitful fields.
One such visionary group is the Charlestown Road Church in New Albany, Indiana, where my friend and fellow-blogger Roger Shouse preaches. Just a cursory perusal of Charlestown’s web page reveals their dreams for 2021. Their theme is “Rise & Build.” Their booklet lays out a plan of work and worship with specific goals, quarterly class themes, and a calendar of events. The message to their members is “we love you.” And we want to “help you with your attitude, choices and walk with Jesus.”
Another like-minded church, where I’m speaking this summer, is the Cornerstone Church (formerly the Kettering Church) in Centerville, Ohio, where my friend and preaching colleague, Matt Allen labors. Since 2011 their Shepherds have cast a yearly vision to help people dream of reaching their spiritual goals. Cornerstone’s theme this year is “A Place To Heal,” described in detail in a 36-page booklet outlining specific steps to achieve that dream.
In their “Moving Forward” opening statement they challenge their members with these words: “Now is not the time to think we have arrived or become complacent. It is the time for us to rally to the call to fill this building with souls looking for heaven. It is time to allow God to work here at Cornerstone. He will provide the increase if we will commit to the work.”
What is your personal vision? Your dreams? Your spiritual goals?
Ada Powell’s hymn “Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream, of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam” is wonderful to contemplate. But in the words of Vance Havner, “The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.”
“Seize your tomorrow today.” Dream.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman