God is always more interested in developing the person than He is in accomplishing the dream. See, if He does the right thing and the person allows Him do to it, the dream will become a reality. But the dream or the success or the accomplishment, if things don’t happen in the person’s heart then God doesn’t get the credit.
Through David, we learn that he teaches us through adversity to love the dream giver more than the dreams. Think about David. He’s young. You know, he’s made his mark. Goliath is dead. He’s gotten a little notoriety. Saul has now turned away from the Lord out of his own self sufficiency and pride and David is anointed as king. So we think, the dream is here. You are going to be the king. You’ve passed these little tests, and you would think, good, put the robe on. Put the crown on.
God, I’m going to be your man. Is that what happens in David’s life? David is anointed as king. And he spends about then next 10 to 12 years dodging spears and hiding in caves and having a group of rabble-rousers that became his little itinerant army, when he had a bad day, turn on him and try to kill him. He ended up hiding with the enemy. He fainted and was drooling over his beard. See there was a season of time, anointed as king, there’s a dream. This is my role for your life, and now a season of adversity and pain where I want to wean you from the prestige and the pride and the issues that come with the dream so that you learn always to love the dream giver more than the success of the dream.
And that’s what in Psalm 73, David would write, “Whom have I in heaven but thee. And besides thee, I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Do you hear what he’s saying? All I really want, you’re my portion. You’re the strength of my – what could I want in heaven except you? What is there on earth? Is it a kingdom? Is it success? Is if fame? Is it money? We would go on to say, in Verse 28 of Psalm 73, “For I have made the Lord God my refuge that I may tell of all thy works. As for me, the nearness of God is my good.” Is that your testimony? The nearness of God is your good. David teaches us that it’s falling in love with the dream giver, not just the dream.
From Paul, we learn that He clarifies our calling in times of crisis and often uses our worst failures as the platform for his future fulfillment. He clarifies our calling in times of crisis. Paul has this incredible intellect. Paul is on this journey and what happens? He is a murderer. He’s zealous. He’s just on the wrong team, going the wrong direction. And bang, he has this crisis. He comes to Christ. Three days, he’s agonizing, wondering what’s happened. The Lord has spoken to him. He gives him the vision from day one of conversion. Paul, I am going to send you to the Gentiles.
You will be my messenger to the Gentiles. For three days, no food. no water. Ananias comes. Lays hands on him. Prays for him. The scales drop. He sees. He does a little bit of preaching and teaching just there. Then he goes in Arabia and gets a little education from the Lord for a good period of time. God uses our worst failures as the platform for future fulfillment. How much bigger of a failure could you be than murdering the church? See some of us think a great dream is impossible because of what’s in your past. I mean, could God not have chosen anyone in scripture. I mean, pull this one out. 13 books of the New Testament were written by a murderer turned missionary. Why do you think God chose Paul? I think he chose him for a variety of reasons, but for one is if Paul qualifies so do you. So do I. There’s nothing that is in your past that is not forgivable that God can’t transform and actually use. Often your ministries grow out of your failures as you reach back and help people who are failing and struggling and in pain where you have been.
From Jesus, we get the final way that God develops and births dreams. The dream will cost us our life and appear to others as the height of folly just before God accomplishes the impossible through us. Now think of that. See, when we get on the front end and I started talking about dream a great dream. We saw the video of Pistol Pete. You know, your heart started to beat. What could God impossibly do through me. As you go from Abraham to Joseph to Moses and to David and then to Paul, have you noticed how the price is going up?
But the greatest fulfillment of a dream was Jesus. I want you to know on the front end, the dream will cost you your life. The dream will always lead you and lead me to the cross. There is no smooth path. There is no easy way. There is not lack of suffering agenda. We try all kind of ways to save our life. We end up losing it. Jesus says on the front end. The dream that I will birth in your heart will cost you your life, and just before I fulfill it, it often looks like the height of folly.
Think of what was occurring both in the invisible world and the visible world. Jesus comes and he talks about this dream, if you will. A kingdom that’s coming: a God, salvation, freedom, fulfillment, messiah, a new heaven, a new earth. What he’s called here to do. And he authenticates it by miracles and raising people from the dead. And you became a follower. And you believe him. And you want to believe him. And there’s something about his words. And there’s something about his look. And you believe he’s the savior of the world. And you want to jump on the dream bandwagon of God visiting the planet. And then it’s Friday afternoon, and you’re looking up at the king. And the king has been beaten to a pulp.
It says right above where he’s hanging, the king of the Jews. Except you can hardly make out his face because its been so beaten. And there’s blood dripping. And he’s half naked. And he’s hanging on a cross. And let’s see, criminal number one, criminal number two. Is he just criminal number three? It looks light the height of folly. I mean, everything I’ve believed in, this is – what happened? I thought he was the one. I thought he was going to bring in the kingdom. I thought that we were going to get rid of there Romans. I thought there was going to be salvation. I thought there was going to be deliverance. I believed in him. And nothing. And if you’re the invisible world, what are the demons doing? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, right? You need to see that again? Ha, ha. You know, they’re looking at him thinking, he’s the Messiah. He was going to do this. We’ve won, right? We’ve won. He’s dying. Ha, ha, ha.
There is no resurrection until there’s death. There’s no resurrection life until there’s death. Death of your dreams and your agenda. Death of your fears and your security. Death of your trying to get significance through what you have, how you look, what you do, what you own, where your houses are, what people think. Death to thinking that what you can accomplish and who you can impress. And I don’t say this harshly, I mean, you’re human, right? Do I have all this – we’re on this big boat together. We all struggle with those things. There’s a process where we surrender and die; and say, okay, Lord. One of the early ones is, God, this is your money. It’s not my money.
God this is your brain and talent, not mine. God this is your family. I would like them all to live like right around the street and right around the corner. And the grandchildren like 150 yards away but one mile or two would be okay. And God I would like no one to ever get sick and everything to be wonderful. And every thanksgiving we could just sing Kumbaya around the table. But it’s not how it works. You gotta die. And you demonstrate that you are dead by saying, Lord, here’s my money. Here’s my future. Lord, here’s my family. Lord, I’m spiritually, I’m naked before you. I bring nothing to the table. If you will tell me what to do, if you will show me how to do it, direct me and I will do it. I want you to know that my entire life is like a blank check, and I have signed the bottom of the check.
I tell you, almighty God, because of who you are and how great and how powerful and how you’ve demonstrated your love, I want you to know that you can fill in the top of the check. You can do whatever you want with my business. You can do whatever you want with my geography. You can do whatever you want with my kids. You can do whatever you want with anything in my life. Although, I’m fearful, I choose not to be because you will not withhold any good thing with those who walk uprightly because you are a good God and you love me. I know that it’s safe to do this. Even though that you may take me places that make me much afraid. That’s death. The people God does supernatural radical impossible things through are people who die. Because until you’re dead, you can’t get resurrected.
What we know is that those people standing at the foot of the cross would see him later in a resurrected body – Thomas, come here. Go ahead. Put your fingers right here. Thomas, here. Put them in my side. I’m real. It’s true. And you will experience a resurrection. I think God really longs to make the stories we talked about of the Dawson Trotman’s and Hudson Taylor’s – I think He just wants that to be the normal Christian life. But I think as you go through those different people, you could almost say, am I at the David stage or the Paul stage or the Joseph stage? I just don’t think God has a lot of people waving their hand saying, Lord, I’d like you to do an impossible thing through an improbable person like me. You know, there are just not a lot of hands in the air. I believe the God of the universe is just looking on this day for people in this room to lift their hand and say, I’d like you to birth that kind of dream in me. I trust you that much.
Well, that sounds like a very, very big thing. So let’s talk about, very specifically, how you break that into bite sized steps to get there. Some of you are way down the road on all of this, but what I found is that gets so gargantuan. And it can feel so overwhelming. And for some of us, it is so fearful. How do I take little steps towards this dream being birthed? I’m going to suggest is the way you do it is by bite sized dreams in specific areas. Where you come up with some desires? Remember, what’s the promise? Delight yourself in the Lord He’ll give you the desires of your heart. What if you came up with some desires that would begin to allow God to birth some things in your life that would prepare you to really dream a dream that would honor Him.
I put a little list here. I mean, the list could go on. Desires for your life. Your marriage. Your children. Your career. Your ministry. What I did, I started this in 1986 with these cards. I began to say, if God will give me the desires of my heart, if I could begin to ask Him and want the things that He desires. He’s promised to give them to me. I would keep them in front of me and pray about them and pursue them. If then, the little desires of my heart became a reality then maybe, over time, God would do in me and through me, why He put me on this planet.
So I’ll just give you a couple of examples and then you can make up your own. Three by five cards will be on sale in the back. I’m teasing. But for me, like for my life, this was a desire. My goal is to walk with God in the integrity of my heart until the day I die so on the back of it, I wrote out Psalm 101 and I memorized it. “I will walk in my house with a blameless life of integrity. I will set before my eyes no vile things. The deeds of faithless men, I’ll hate.” It goes on just to say what it looks like and I just thought, God, you know me. You know how hard it is to tell the truth. How hard it is to not shade things. How hard it is not to image cast. My prayer, my desire, I want to walk in integrity before you until the day I die. In fact, I’ve prayed, Lord, if I would do something that would embarrass you or embarrass your work – you know, if I die of a heart attack, don’t take this too literally – but I said, I would be honored for you to take me out before I did that. If you would see that in some weak moment, I was going to do something really dumb, could you just like, boom, take me out. Because I’d much rather lose 10 or 15 years and end up pure before you and not embarrass your church. So that was a desire for my life.
Another desire I had is to become habitually thankful as a matter of unconscious response to all life’s relationships and circumstances in light of the goodness and sovereignty of God. Lord, my desire is some day, no matter what happens and in what relationship, my first response would be, thank you. I may not like it but thank you. Since you are good and you are sovereign, I choose to thank you.
With my wife, I came up with a couple desires. My goal is to love Teresa sacrificially and in ways that make sense to her everyday. And I just, I’ve been reading that over for a couple, three times a week for 20 some years. And you know what? When you just read it over, it’s a desire. I think that’s a desire that God wants for me. I want to love her in a sacrificial way that makes sense to her. Another one I had was, my goal was to get away alone with Teresa three times a year. Have I always done that? No. But that’s a desire. I want to make sure that relationship is special and strong and good. And so, it’s a goal. I’m working at it and a lot of years, I have. Then I went to my kids and I thought, maybe I could birth some little dreams for my kids.
So one that I wrote down in ’86, my goal is to help my children discover their spiritual gifts and the will of God specifically. In other words, what does God want them to do? I just read that over and I watched their lives and I prayed. I said, you know, I think that’s a bite-size dream. Another one I had for my kids is, I long to see my kids discover their strengths and talents and interests in their lives. And I want to help them develop their full potential. Then I had just a little line where I had each kids’ name, there in 1986 and what area I thought they needed to develop. That was on my radar. Praying and dreaming. I pulled this one out this morning ‘cause it’s such an answer. In 1986, it says, my goal – my son, Eric is here – my goal is to help Eric overcome his fear of failure.
I remember, I sent him into the kitchen in 1986, and he was a small boy, to make some popcorn. There was a couple things you needed to do. He was so afraid of messing up. He just kind of started crying, I can’t do this. I can’t pour the oil and I don’t know how. He was a little boy, he just so was afraid to fail. I remember writing this down: push with love, encourage and build him, help him see the positive. Then, I just kept spending time trying to push him into new areas. Now, he’s just one of the most confident people I’ve ever met.
I’ve just seen what a quality, Godly young man with confidence he is, and how he’s blazed a trail. I think you dream little dreams. I think as I’ve been talking, I think that some of you think, well, I don’t think I’m going to start a worldwide organization, but how about dream a great dream for your marriage? Dream a great dream for your kids. Dream a great dream for your career. Dream a great dream for the ministry God’s entrusted to you. Start out with bite-size dreams.
In ’86, my goal was to develop as a communicator and develop my gift to its maximum. 10 years later, after I got rebuked by Bill Lawrence, my goal is to preach great messages for the glory of God that would be used to transform multitudes of people’s lives. Eight years ago, I just started reading and started dreaming. I want to learn. I want you to do in me and through me – I want to preach great messages for the glory of God that would transform a multitude of people’s lives. It’s audacious but for the right reason. I think God is looking for people.
I want to be an awesome mother for the glory of God that would raise kids who would love you, God. I want to be a CEO that lives out integrity and your principles in this business who can funnel millions of dollars to the kingdom of God. I want to be a worker in my company that demonstrates to people all around me what it looks like for Christ to show up in a human body by the way I treat people and manage the people under me. See, those are great dreams.
Dream a great dream for God. I have some others for my ministry and my career. And one that I put that I was a little embarrassed by, 1996, I’d like to put some truth in message form in a way that would really serve people in a powerful way. And five books later, God did that. Here’s all I want you to hear. Unless you think it. Desire it. Pray it. and then dream it – and I believe, write it down – you will never unconsciously gravitate toward and allow God to take you through the Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus process of birthing the dream in your life.
As we conclude, the number one process is writing it down. These are my desire cards over the last 20 years. Just when I sense God wants to birth a dream, I just write them down. I don’t try to memorize them. I don’t try to make them happen. I just want them to be the beat of my heart. I want to say to God, I think these are the kind of desires that a God like you, who loves me, would like to see happen. And here there are. And I just read them over. And then I write them down. What are yours? Write it down.
Second, after reading them over, pray over your dreams. I would pray over each of the desires and each of the dreams. And then finally, look for God’s intervention. God’s intervention was at a café where someone said, God’s in this radio thing. God’s intervention was at a pastor’s conference that I was teaching for Walk Thru the Bible, and someone said, have you ever considered doing something beyond the local church? God’s intervention came later with the board of directors of Walk Thru the Bible.
And you know what? It upset my life. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy but it goes back to what’s your purpose? What’s your dream? What are you going to do with your life? Look for God’s intervention. Dream great dreams. I believe He brought you here to birth or grow or expand what He’s been doing in your heart. Because the scripture says, “Now to him who is able.” To do what? “Exceedingly, abundantly beyond what you could even ask or think. To Him be the glory in the Church.”