Life Design 3: Dare to Dream

. 7 min read

Discipleship series
Oct 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm 56, selections
Esther 4
Matthew 25.14-30
Moment, Panama City Church giving to Bermuda
and Caleb and the Mongol Derby (won this year by Bob Long, a 70 year old man
from Idaho), what I could do in 20 years
       Then, I asked myself, so – if it isn’t preparing
for the Mongol Derby – what am I going to do with the next twenty years of my
life, assuming I continue to have good health? What audacious adventure? What
grand goal? What holy purpose?
are the kinds of questions we approach in the work of life design. We got
started with Disruption, because often the unexpected and unwanted disruption
is what opens us to entirely new paths and, sometimes, to finding God in all
the mess. Last week we looked at the Dance of Delight which often takes place
in the midst of Disruption, “thou preparest a table before me in the presence
of mine enemies.” Today, Dare to Dream. Then we have Detour, Discern,
and Decide.

Scripture, 2019: Ephesians 3:18-21
 I pray that you may
have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and
length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ
that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of
God.  20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able
to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  21
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever
and ever. Amen.
is time to dare and dream. There are truly important things to tackle in our
lives and communities – teen suicide, addiction, hunger, poverty, a welcome for
immigrants. Yet, we fixate on small-minded questions, on self-serving matters,
and on all the things we can’t do. We lack imagination, the kind of imagination
that comes from dwelling in the shadow of the Almighty God.
       One of my goals for this year has been to
lead us as a congregation on some new adventures in prayer. We held a couple
“concerts of prayer” on a Sunday afternoon. At one of those, we had a time in
which we listened to God speaking in our hearts for those God-sized dreams, for
those prayers that are being uttered not only by us but by the Spirit of God
interceding with groans too deep for words. I encouraged people to write them
down as “what if” statements. I wrote mine down and posted it in the bathroom,
so I continue to revisit it and pray over it. We had recently completed
Vacation Bible School and had seventeen kids in the kindergarten class.
Seventeen! My prayer: “What if all seventeen kids in the kindergarten class
followed Jesus together with us here at Christ Church?” So, what can I do about
that? I can keep praying. I can try to get as many of those kids on my soccer
team when they are old enough.
       One of the other “what if” bold prayers
that day made my skin tingle: “What if we find a cure for cancer isn’t worse
than the disease?” That’s a God-sized prayer if I ever heard one. I’m not sure
how that person is taking action on that front. I do know that there are charities
that support that kind of research.
can’t tell you how many people tell me that they would love to read through the
Bible but it just seems too daunting. Well, if you want to move toward that
dream, start by taking steps in that direction. You don’t have to read through
the Bible in one year (as I have been doing now for several years), but you can
pick a one week reading plan and then pick another. And, on our Life Design
response form, there is space for you to commit to the spiritual practice of
Scripture reading.
       I can’t tell you how often people say how
frustrating it is to hear gossip. You can do something about it. Most of us
participate in gossip even just a little. Commit to a gossip-free day once a
week. Don’t even listen to gossip on that day. Respond simply with “the peace
of Christ be with you.”
       Most of us believe it is important to be
generous. We know how we have been touched by the generosity of others, we know
how blessed we have been to be able to touch others with our generosity. But we
rarely give thought to how we can grow in that grace. Robin and I have tithed
all our married life, and are now blessed to give beyond a tithe, well over 10%
of our income. It would be so cool to be able to give away over a million
dollars in our lifetimes. Given our earning, that seems unlikely, but you never
know what regular progress toward a goal can accomplish.
       What if I read the Bible every day? What
if I become a gossip free zone in the world? What if I grow in my generosity,
becoming extravagant in my giving? What if I win the Mongol Derby in twenty
we don’t dare to dream because we are so conscious of our limitations. We do
this both as individuals and as organizations (even churches). Instead of
understanding ourselves as the people God, with every spiritual blessing that
is ours in Christ Jesus, with a God who does abundantly more than all we can
ask or imagine, we utter the “seven last words of the church,” “We’ve never
done it that way before.” Or, we say, “That’s a good idea, BUT …”
       On the other hand, we offer up the big
question, “What would you do if money wasn’t a problem?” The problem we have as
people is that when we have no limits at all, then we can’t answer the
question, we can’t decide what we want to do. Have you ever struggled to pick
something to watch on Netflix?
       Remember the story of Apollo XIII? Something
catastrophic has happened to the spacecraft, and they have to get air filters
for one capsule to work in the other capsule, despite the fact that one is a
circle and the other square in shape, and do so with only the supplies they
have on the spacecraft. Those are some serious limits. And it brought out the
greatest creativity of the engineers. (See Craig Groeschel’s podcast on
“GETMO.”) This is why Odyssey of the Mind is such a great program: The young
people are more creative because of the limitations within which they work.
       What if all seventeen kids in the
kindergarten class followed Jesus in the fellowship of Christ Church? If we
want to be the answer to that prayer, then we must do so within the
constraints, the limits, of who we are here at Christ Church. And those limits
can bring out our greatest creativity.
is time to dare, to dare great things. It is time to dream, to dream holy purpose.
And it all requires a willingness to risk.
is where we turn to our Scripture from Matthew. It has been read poorly far too
often in history. Some preachers use the text to talk about our talents, in
terms of our abilities and gifts, which we should use instead of neglect. That
is consistent with the text. It is just not the limit of the text, which
addresses specifically financial capital. Some preachers use the text to say
that if we give God $1000, God will double our money. The preachers may have
gotten rich, but in most cases if we give God $1000, we have $1000 less.
       The text actually makes more aggressive
assumptions. None of the money is ours. It all belongs to the master! Pull
out your wallet or purse. Don’t open it. Point to your neighbor’s and say,
“That’s not yours.” Well then, Jesus! I’m not exactly comfortable with that
       And a faithful servant doesn’t just bury
the talent to wait for the master to return. A faithful servant takes a risk
with money that is not his in order to make more for the master. Today we think
about banking as safer than real estate or the stock market, because our bank
accounts are insured. That wasn’t true in the ancient world. The master desires
risk from his servants. The master rewards risk, and it seems that greater risk
is rewarded more than lesser risk. What if the servant who had ten talents
invested it and lost it all? I believe the master would have been disappointed
in the results, but glad for the risk.
       So what am I going to do with my next
twenty years? What risk am I going to take? What about you? I dare you to
Groves, a Christian singer/songwriter, in her Floodplain project, gives
us the song “This Cup”:
       How many hours have I spent watching this
shiny tv
       Living adventure in proxy in another
person’s dream
       How many miles have I traveled looking at
far away lights
       Listening for trains in the distance in
some brilliant other life
       This cup, this cup, I wanna drink it up
       To be right here in the middle of it
       Right here, right here,
       this challenging reality is better than
fear or fantasy
own Kim Carpenter has been on quite an adventure, daring to dream. She decided
to open her very own physical therapy clinic. She has written her business
plan, gotten coaching in small business startups and specifically physical
therapy clinics, worked with a realtor, gone to the bank. All along, she was
praying, “God, if you don’t want me to do this thing, shut it down.” She
discovered that was a vague and unhelpful prayer. Because if you dare something
big and important, if you take risks, you will find disruptions or detours
along the way. That’s just the way life is. How do you know if that’s God
shutting you down?
       So, she changed her prayer: Please
provide for this in abundance. (Remember our theme Scripture for the year? “Now
to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far
more than all we can ask or imagine….”) Her loans have come through and a
supportive community of friends and family have gathered around her. Yesterday,
she wrote me, “Things are really rolling now! I’m just about to sign the lease!
I definitely had to humble out but after doing that and praying for an
abundance, abundance it was!”
       While no risk comes with the guarantee of
success, the appropriate risks do come with the Lord’s “well done, good and
faithful one.” And living our own adventure is far “better than fear or fantasy.”
Our Life Design professors, Dale Evans and Bill Burnett, write about “failure
immunity.” They don’t mean that we never fail, but that failure becomes
integrated into a process of designing our lives when we experiment, risk, and