It has been ranked among the top speeches in American history. With this single phrase, “I have a dream” The famous speech by Activist Martin Luther King Jnr. delivered on August 28th 1963 became a defining moment in his leadership and ultimately the American history. In this dream, Luther Junior painted the American dream. This dream has since shaped the political and social landscape of America ever since.
Proverbs 28:19, KJV says that “where there is no vision people perish; NIV renders it “Where there is no revelation people cast of restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the Law.
We continue with our series Better and Stronger together as we begin to Climax this year under our 2018 theme- The Church Next Door. This month we focus on our commitment to God’s vision and Mission as Lifespring Chapel as we reflect on our personal missions.
We began by looking at the area of serving and asked How are you SHAPED for service- Sign up for serving opportunities in the coming year.
Last week we looked at the area of Giving- We asked: Are you stuck in the Law of giving or are you growing in the Grace of giving? What new targets, intentions, commitments can you set to grow- what will you do more do less, do without to grow in the Grace of Giving?
Today- We look at the area of Leadership and Vision. As we look ahead to 2018 and especially in the light of our EMERGE vision by 2022, we must have a place to refuel our vision and especially as stewards. If we are going to grow to a worshipping community of 1000 people by 2022, we must continue to develop capacity and leadership for this vision. We must be ready to conquer new territories and make space for growth. Today I want to remind us about this critical foundation in the journey of conquering new territories- Leadership and Vision.
First– Allow me to begin by redefining that Vision is not just the ability to see what is not yet as it is commonly put out there, but the ability to see what God sees. In other words- revelation. Vision is not just a human dream of a good life a head but God’s dream of the fulfillment of His plans for us. Those are 2 different things.
We all have dreams, I used to dream of a big car, a house and a wife and success but is that all…, Did God create the world, died on the cross and conquered the devil just so that I can have a good car, a good wife and a good life? While these are God’s good blessings to me….I must ask is there more? What if I could really see and comprehend fully what God is calling me to?
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can conceive what plans God has in store for us.
Ps 33:6-11- The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Every Leader must have a dream, but I add; every believer and worthy conqueror must be consumed by Vision. God’s vision, which is eternal and not temporary like ours.
One author, Watchman Nee puts it like this.
. . . While nothing can take the place of vision, the problem is still to get men to see. There is no difficulty about hearing, or even memorizing and repeating to others the plan of God; the difficulty is always to see. And all spiritual work is based on seeing. That is why Satan does not so much mind men hearing about the purpose of God and understanding it mentally. His great fear is lest they should have inward illumination concerning that purpose. He knows that if they do they will have a new access of strength and power, and that the Church, the work, the warfare – everything will be seen by them in a fresh light.[i]
Vision empowers the conqueror. When you can perceive it, you can see it and you will touch it. The question is what is your dream? Your dream for your family? Your career, your life, what is our dream as a church? But most importantly how does it compare with God’s Dream?
Turn with me now to our main text, Joshua 6:1-20, the famous story of a young and great conqueror, Joshua who led the Israelites in conquering the great city of Jericho.
Joshua was commissioned by Moses in Numbers 27:22, to take over the mantle of leadership. He was Moses assistant and successor. He was one of only 2 adults who experienced Egypt and also lived to see the Promised Land. Earlier in his life, he had accompanied Moses in his trips to the mountain where he talked with God. This speaks volumes to us about the selection of a leaders.
Leaders are not plucked from their seats of comfort, but they are picked in the battle field. They were present when it mattered most.
In chapter 1- After the death of Moses, God commissions Joshua’s leadership, by confirming to him personally about this call. Vs 1-7.
In Chapter 2-3, God confirms Joshua’s leadership call before the Israelites when he led them to cross the river Jordan.
In Chapters 4-5, Joshua takes up his first leadership responsibility, and that was to consecrate the children of Israel to God by leading the Israelites to renew their covenant with God. I believe this is the first call of responsibility to any leader after a leadership transition. To take the focus of people back to God.
In this Chapter- However, God displays Joshua as Mighty warrior for God’s purpose. The city of Jericho was among the oldest cities in his time. This great city existed way before Joshua was even born. With its 25 feet high and 20 feet thick walls, about 1.5-3 meters thick and 5-7 Meters high, Jericho was the symbol of military power and strength that was attributed to the Canaanites heathen gods which they boasted over all other nations. Behind these walls they considered themselves invincible.
Surrounding the wall was a ditch 8 meters wide by 3 meters deep, cut through solid stone with a circumference of around the town of as much as 600 meters. “The labor involved in excavating this ditch out of solid rock must have been tremendous. The town of Jericho, which was about 2.5 hectares (6 acres) in size, preceded the wall by about 500 years.
Allow me to share some key lessons on Vision from Joshua’s leadership in this great conquest.
Vision is preceded by Repentance- Verse 2 starts off by God pointing out clearly “See- I have given Jericho into your hands along with its king and its fighting men. God called Joshua to see what He was going to do before the event. But what did Joshua see, of-course He saw the thick walls, he saw the mighty army, He saw the great task it would take, but God was asking him to see beyond the normal eyes. God says to us See I have given you Syokimau- but what do we see, what walls do we see…comfortable, sophisticated people? Or do we see ourselves as inadequate for the task?
Repentance is to think again, see clearly. Repentance is to remove the fog and see what God has called us to see. Vision is given to us when we are able to see what God sees and that means seeing beyond our normal eyes.
Paul thought He knew the direction of his life, He was zealous, but on the way to Damascus God blinded him and so that He could see Jesus in the right perspective. The one whom he was persecuting was indeed not just a normal Jew, but the Lord. He thought He was seeing but when God removed his religious shades, He saw Jesus as He was. The result was one who was persecuting Christians became one who was persecuted for Christ.
Unless you have a repentance story, Vision is far from you, because you do not see need to change. Do you have that story like Paul….I thought I was in the right path, until something drastic happens that begins to redefine your path!
To repent is not to simply turn away or stop but to turn back but to God. We repent our evil ways not when we stop doing them, or avoid them but when we turn to God.
Our Vision as Lifespring Chapel is a community Transformed by Christ transforming our world with Christ. We are not just about a Sunday service, we are about creating communities- People who share the LIFE of Christ and through that LIFE bringing others to experience God’s LIFE.
The sad thing however, is to perceive this vision with our human eyes and limitations. The challenge is always to see Lifespring the way God sees it not the way we see it. The challenge is always to see How God sees our lives not the way we see our lives.
We must repent of what we see or our small dreams, to What God sees and His dreams.
It is easy to think that God sees a big mega church, with elaborate programs and state of the art buildings, with flowing traffic of people and activities in the church. We can become consumed about pursuing these things as a church and think this is transformation. Just like we are deceived to think that when God sees us he sees successful people living their dreams, so poverty, sickness and pain is seen as falling short of God’s dream for us.
We must repent and see what God sees.
I state it here again, God’s dream for every one of us, this dream worthy of all pursuit and understanding, is that God has always wanted to complete us with His LIFE. His LIFE fully lived out in our LIFE. This is God’s vision since creation, He fashioned everything and everyone for this dream, Jesus died for this dream, The Holy Spirit was sent to defend this dream.
Let me make us a little uncomfortable:
God’s dream for Lifespring is not just a big Church with numbers, but an influential body of Christ, disciples who are truly salt and light, people who are living their love for God and extending that love to others, whether they come to our church or not. When we seek to influence, only then will we be truly big. Not the other way round. The goal is not to grow a service, but develop a community. That takes every-one of us not just what we do here on Sunday? How we will grow this church is by everyone taking their discipleship and personal responsibility to Christ seriously, not merely by adding more Sundays in the year.
God’s dream for Lifespring, is not a rich church with plenty of resources, but a good steward that is abundant and finds their riches in Christ alone and appropriates what God has given them for the use of his kingdom, only then will we become truly rich. Every leader, every gift counts. When everyone is faithful with the little. This is how we have grown. Those who have led this far, giving not because they have a lot of time, but making sacrifices with what they had.
God’s dream is not just a church with a lot of spiritual activities but the body of Christ, which is shaped not by spirituality but by obedience and love to Christ. We are not about a Spirituality of the Gospel- we are about a Living Gospel. Prayer, worship, speaking in tongues, singing are good gifts that God gives the church- but Paul emphasizes that the greatest of this is Love and that Love is practical. It is living, it is active. We need to touch the heart of God, but that can only be felt by the hearts of people that we touch.
God’s dream for Lifespring is not the place where people come and fulfill their dreams, but the place where people come and Kill their dreams and take up God’s dream. Church is not the place to express my potential, but the place to express God’s potential in me. Only God takes the glory. Leadership is not just a place to show myself to them, but to show God to them.
God’s dream for Lifespring is to complete us not with our wishes or religious notions, or prayer desires but to complete us with Christ. His LIFE in our lives. The greatest miracle God can do to us is not to make us get rich, get a job or get married, but the greatest miracle God has done to us is to give us the Gift of His LIFE to complete us in our singleness, our brokenness and even in our sickness. Only when we appreciate this miracle of contentment in Christ- will we begin to grow in life.
Vision is borne out of repentance. If there is no repentance connected to the vision then we remain with simple human dreams and not a God-inspired vision. God cannot work with you in a mighty way until there is repentance of Vision.
What do we need to repent of in our leadership?
Second thing is that there must be a preparedness of Heart
This vision to conquer Jericho needed a leader with a great heart. The sight of the walls, the history of the city, the large armies of this city, could have given Joshua cold feet. But In Joshua 1, God called Joshua to be courageous and Strong. This vision was not for the faint hearted.
For Joshua to lead, he needed to empty his heart of emotions, his biases, his feelings and all that he knew about Jericho. He needed a bold and courageous heart. In the same way, when God gives us a vision, we must pray for a new heart.
If we are to be a community transformed by Christ transforming our world with Christ, then we must ask God to give us his heart for the world. That heart that loves and cares for everyone. The heart of God is free from fear or bias or the things that grip us. If God has called us to preach to Syokimau, we must have the heart for Syokimau. When I look at this community- do you see the people, do you see the broken homes hiding in their busy schedules, do you see hurting people, Do you see lost young men with no one paying attention? What is God giving you a heart for in this community- Look deeper? See beyond the walls and the shades? If God has called us to reach to the lost we must have a heart for the lost.
We will not fulfill this vision if our hearts are not ready for the community where God has placed us. We will not transform our Syokimau community, if our hearts and minds are not in Syokimau but in Runda. We will not conquer this territory, if our hearts are in another territory. Sadly this is what Christians do, we bash ourselves so hard, we become too judgmental of others. If you ask me this community is full of people who need and will appreciate a gracious community that will give them a second chance in marriage, another chance in life, another opportunity to try. Not those who will judge them and give up on them. I believe this is what God has blessed this community with- The gift of Grace. If we are too judgmental our commitment becomes weak, because our hearts are not here but are stuck at that perfect church that does not exist. Our perfection is only realized in Christ.
A worthy conqueror aligns his heart with God’s vision. How can you pray for a new heart for what God is calling us to in 2018? What judgements, fears or coldness have you had for this community? What have you placed in my heart about this community?
Third, We must be prepared in our minds; there must be preparedness of mind.
The strategy God chose for Joshua to conquer Jericho, was absolutely out of his mind. You would expect that God would raise a huge army, equip them with bombs, come up with a fighting strategy, But God’s plan was not only strange but to some even laughable.
But when God gives us a vision, because it His vision, he empties us of all our selfish inclinations to think it was because of our skills, abilities, ideas, and intellect. The Israelites and the Jericho citizens knew that this could only be the hand of God.
God’s vision is not accomplished by the elite wisdom of our PHD’s and Certificates, He can do it for us despite our rational plans, budgets and Ideas. God wants to transform the world not with eloquent, educated, resourced and rich people, but with poor, ordinary, common, untrained people like you and me. That has always been his Plan. So every one of us qualifies for the call. The resources to conquer this territory lies in the simple and ordinary but people with Faith in God. So let’s not think money will come from out there…..God has it in here. He will not give you a vision, He has not resourced you for.
It may be those who seem least probable to lead, least probable to give, least probable to be, that God would use. Until we place ourselves in that place, where we are but the least of these, God will not use us.
God is not stuck in the conventional ways of doing ministry- As we explore 2018, we must seek unconventional ways and trust God to work through them. I propose a big one is to take ministry to the people. Use homes, malls, clubs, and Market areas. I am challenging us to think outside the box. Would you step out to lead a LIFE group, A marriage class, Connect class. (The church on the beach, How can WASH, MAST think outside our 4 walls?
Last thing- It follows then that Vision is preceded by Prayer and followed by Praise.
It needed faith to accomplish this task. Joshua was leader submitted to the word of God and His prayers were only a response of that which God had told him. He would go to God and say, you said this, so do this. And that’s how we are to pray for our church, ourselves, Not as though we are doing a new thing in our own way, but we are merely responding to his call. Prayer is responding then to that which God has already said. We are not asking for something new, we are asking for the power to do what God has called us to do and that power is at work in us.
But when the battle is won, the race is over, we must be careful then to see and take stock of how God and only God has acted on our behalf to bring victory.
The story of Lifespring is a victorious story. Celebrate not just the events, programs and activities that we have been able to do but the product of these things. The stories of everyday people in this church. That’s why we are doing LIFE AWARDS next week?
Many of us are here not because we have the best services, or the best car park, but because of God’s story in your life through Lifespring Chapel. A brother that cared for you, a sister that stood with you, a change you saw in someone. We are therefore called to celebrate. Celebrate God’s vision for our Church and step up to lead and be good stewards of this vision, because it is God’s vision.