Do We Have a Dream?

(From a sermon preached 25 January 2015)

I had a dream last night?                     Did you?

Chances are you did – but did you remember it?

Generally I enjoy dreaming – although some can be mystifying.

Indeed most of my dreaming I imagine is just random jumbled thoughts; outright weird sometimes.

In my dreams I can do anything!

leap tall buildings

fly over deep gullies

get away from the bad guys

be shot but never die.

What about your dreams? Apparently we all dream but we don’t all recall our dreams.

What do you recall?

According to the dictionary a dream is:

A series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep:

But it can also be

A cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal:

Last Monday was Martin Luther King Jr day; this man born on the 15th January 1929 – also had a dream.

His most famous speech delivered on August 28, 1963, was heard by more than 200,000 people who had gathered in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I have a dream stirred a nation – and lead to radical change, freedom and recognition for black Americans.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream – he had a cherished aspiration, an ambition, an ideal.

When we think about it it is the dreamers who inspire change and a better future. Those who imagine a different future; those who have the courage to pursue that future.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream

Do you have a dream?

Do we have a dream?

Dreams are commonplace in the Bible also – and I’m intrigued that in Scripture the words for dream seem to be used in both the ways we commonly use:

Dream often is “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations that occur while a person is sleeping” and becomes “a cherished aspiration, an ambition, an ideal”.

Who are the dreamers in the Bible?

I’m thinking of Joseph

Do you recall his dream? We read about it in Genesis 37:1-11

It would take a long time but the day came when Joseph ruled over his brothers and they bowed to him.

Solomon had a dream one night too. In his dream he had an amazing conversation with God.  1 Kings 3:5-15

Let’s move into the New Testament.

Joseph the father of Jesus was known to dream. Matthew 1:18-24.

Again in Matthew 2 Joseph was told by God to flee to Egypt in a dream and to return from Egypt in a dream.

Peter the practical man of action apostle of Jesus also became a dreamer. In Acts 10 God showed him a picture that convinced Peter that the gospel had to be shared with all people.

And likewise Paul ministering in Asia Minor one night had a dream that changed his direction and took him to Europe.

Acts 16

9-10 That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together..

Other versions say Paul had a vision – but these words in this context are really the same thing.

God uses dreams and visions to direct his servants; dreams and visions, to change their hearts, change their attitude; their direction.

The Church has been shaped by the dreamers.

Indeed the prophet Joel said: Joel 2:28

Then afterwards
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Where else have you heard that?

From the lips of Peter; Acts 2:17-18

“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.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.

Joel was saying this will happen one day. Peter is saying this is happening NOW.

God has poured out his Spirit on all people; all races; rich and poor; educated and illiterate; male and female.

Essentially God is saying that I will speak to my people by prophecy and through dreams and visions.

I will speak to all of my people.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream for his nation.

My dream is smaller and it’s still developing.

I have a dream for this Church?

Do you have a dream?

I believe it is essential that together we develop a dream; a sense of what is possible in God for us; a dream that will encourage us and challenge us, and take us beyond where we are now; beyond where we can even imagine if it were not for God.

Did you notice in Scripture so many of the dreams and visions were unexpected; so many relied upon God’s work, but they also relied upon the person, the people responding in obedience.

Peter went to the house of Cornelius; preached the Word and even while he was speaking, Acts 10: 44 ‘the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.’

Peter did what he was asked to do – God the Spirit did the rest.

Paul had this vision of a man calling him to Macedonia – a whole new frontier of ministry – Europe! Paul went in faith; arriving in Philippi the leading city of the region nothing of significance took place until the Sabbath. On that day Paul found a place near the river where people prayed and he began to speak.  Acts 16:14ff

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’

Paul obeyed – going to unknown places in response to the vision he had received he preached the good news and the Lord did the rest.

We too are being called, stretched, challenged, invited to enter God’s vision for us and this community.

There are some cautions – not everything I say is necessarily right; not everything you say, any of us say is necessarily right. Sometimes we simply get it wrong.

So we have to test the dream; check the vision.

1 Thessalonians 5:16ff

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

We must be a praying people

We must be an expecting people – expecting that God will speak to us.

We must test the vision; check the dream – is it of God?

Is it for us?                      Is it for now?

Does it align with Scripture?

If it doesn’t – reject it immediately.  

Take counsel from others: mature elders; pastors; others in the church.

There is a wonderful verse in Acts 15:28

The church was wrestling with some important decisions about how to minister amongst the gentiles.

Then when they begin announcing their decision they say… “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” 

They had been in prayer and intense discussion – they took seriously their responsibility to discern God’s call together and then finally they are able to say: we agree!

We should also ask of a vision

Is it convicting.                         Does it linger.

Dreams from God tend to linger – and challenge us, disturbing our sleep until we begin to act upon it.

Ultimately – does it come to pass.

So friends I dream, Parish Council dreams, Ps Joao, Ps Clay, the elders dream of a different tomorrow.

I have a dream for Arrowtown – I see a day when St John’s buildings and grounds will ring to the sounds of children and teenagers.

A day when the elderly and young worship and encourage each other and reach out in service to that community.

For Queenstown I see a church that reaches out to the margins; strangers, foreigners, and people far from God being invited in to hear the good news while God opens their hearts.

I see opportunity to welcome even more – so that Global Community truly becomes a more Global Community.  And I dream of a rebuilt space that will allow greater use by the community and from which we can serve.

In Frankton I see a growing hub for all our ministries. Changing patterns of worship, growing numbers of families.

And the unpopular one but I see a need to rebuild – we are outgrowing this site, and we will have to do something about that.

In Arrowtown, in Queenstown, in Frankton, amongst the Global Community I dream of a people who hunger and thirst for God; teaching and encouraging one another. A people going out to their neighbours, to this community, a people who increasingly take the gospel to the nations.

And we do that in two ways.

The nations are coming here – they will come in greater numbers and we will open our hearts to them, and we will teach them and love them. Joao, Clay and I dream one day of a discipleship school here that will train up many for the kingdom.

And we will also go. Sending missionaries, and missionary teams when and where God leads.

I pray that in 10 years we will struggle to recognise ourselves as we seriously step out in faith.

Our mission is: To live in Christ, and to grow as a Community of Faith, Hope, Love and Joy.

And our vision is that we must also be seeking to grow in numbers. Growing not for our sake but for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Growing one life at a time – Because every life, every individual matters to God.

Some call me a dreamer; but that’s ok – I wish we are all dreamers in God.

Seeing God’s vision

Dreaming God’s dreams

Then together proclaiming God’s Word and making those God given dreams reality.

Ephesians 3 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Our Mission, Vision and General Goals

Our Mission: To live in Christ, and to grow as a Community of Faith, Hope, Love and Joy.

Our Vision: Growing God’s kingdom one life at a time.

Current (ratified August 2014) Goals: 

  • To develop new opportunities for people to know Christ and to worship.
  • To invite people of all ages to faith.
  • To strengthen the existing congregations that they may grow and offer space/protection to the newly formed groups till they are established and strong, and they in turn can nourish and encourage the older congregations.
  • To ensure that discipleship becomes a way of life (for all members) and not simply a programme.
  • To ensure the Church is involved in the community, where we are actively seeking ways to be a blessing to all peoples.
  • To strengthen and broaden our leadership to better reach our diverse and growing community.
  • To be a Church of positive influence in the community for this and coming generations.

New Zealand National Anthem

In New Zealand we have two national anthems of equal status: God of Nations and God Save the Queen. God of Nations was written as a poem/prayer by Thomas Bracken of Dunedin in the 1870’s and was set to the music of John Joesph Woods of Lawrence in 1876. On Christmas Day that year it was first performed in Dunedin but did not become an official national anthem until 1977.  A Māori version was written in 1878 and today the first verses of both the English and Māori are commonly sung at events where as a nation we are stressing our national identity – ie before a sporting test. But I also like to sing it as a prayer.

Please consider it carefully and pray it. For those of us in the Wakatipu, especially as we seek God’s guidance in establishing the Wakatipu Global Community, this is a particularly appropriate prayer. These old words speak to our situation today. We seek to worship together, men and women from the nations, our responsibility before God is to call all people of every race to come and know God, to worship God and to grow in faith.

God of nations! at Thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our Free Land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star,
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand

Men of ev’ry creed and race
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our Free Land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our State,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.

Peace, not war, shall be our boast,
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our Free Land.
Lord of battles in thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.

Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our Free Land.
From dishonour and from shame
Guard our country’s spotless name
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.

May our mountains ever be
Freedom’s ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto Thee,
God defend our Free Land.
Guide her in the nations’ van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy Glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.

Transformational Disciplines: Fasting that pleases God

SERMON 3 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 04 November 2012.  READ Matthew 6:1-18

You don’t hear much about fasting these days, in fact in the worship surveys conducted at the start of the year some here noted that they knew little about fasting and that they have never heard teaching on it.

Well that is about to change!

I guess as we look around our culture we can understand why fasting may be out of favour.

It doesn’t fit!

Seemingly in NZ and much of the world we’ve become conditioned to comfort, excess and instant gratification and that direction is only increasing.

If we want fast food – we want it now, and if they can’t serve us in only a few minutes we complain. Following trends set overseas we increasingly upsize our orders, and at a eat all you can buffet we end up eating more than we need, even more than we should – just because it’s there.

This attitude of having what we want when we want it extends to most aspects of life: texting, FB, entertainment. There is little we have to wait for. And we believe it’s our right to satisfy our desires whenever we want. So excess marks our landscape: and in the busyness of satisfying ourselves where is God?

God of course is where God has always been. Continue reading

Pastor’s Pen – 28 September

Dear Church,This Sunday we gather at St Margaret’s at 10.30am (PLEASE NOTE THIS IS CORRECT – information about St Andrew’s is incorrect) for our end of month combined service and shared lunch. This week we also take a little time to conduct the business of the Annual Meeting. I know that some of you will groan at the thought of a meeting but I trust you can come to this particular meeting with an attitude of thanksgiving and anticipation. This will be a time to hear some stories and to celebrate all that God is doing in our midst, and maybe, if we dare, to begin dreaming of what might be as we faithfully follow God in tomorrow.

I’ll be reflecting on Hebrews 11 and would encourage you to do likewise between now and Sunday. This chapter reminds us of some wonderful men and women of faith who achieved remarkable things. But the real point surely is that these men and women were actually pretty ordinary, they were weak and at times disobedient to God, yet they had faith and their faith was in God who they believed was trustworthy and who could do the impossible. Why else would they have stepped out of their places of comfort, taken the risks, exposed themselves to ridicule except that they believed that God was worth following no matter what. As we look back on our lives, either personal or corporate, where have we stepped out in faith? What has that cost us? What have been the results?
What I wonder is the new thing that God is calling you to, what is God calling us to? 
Do we have the faith to step out?
Services this Sunday: 30th September

30th

Manna Café – Queenstown Team 9am
Combined service and Annual meeting at:St Margarets – Frankton Ian Guy 10.30am

Combined service followed by SHARED LUNCH

ALPHA:     continues this Saturday. We are having some remarkable conversations. Plenty is going on in people’s lives.
Meals continue to be needed – please let Amanda or myself know if you can help. Also to those who have offered to help with meals: we do have enough for this week but we will need ongoing help. Also help is required to serve and clean up: please let me know if this is you! Can we also all be in prayer please for those participating in Alpha that God may use this time to reveal himself to them in fresh, deep and compelling ways.
COMING UP:
Special Guests:    The Fleck Family: Kenneth & Kim, Jenna & Shani, will be with us on Sunday 7th October, when they will speak at St John’s at 9am followed by St Andrew’s at 10:45am. Usually living in Chiang Mai, Thailand Kim and Kenneth head up the HIV prevention work of SIM in Asia with a focus on community transformation. Next Sunday Kenneth and Kim will introduce you to their work, share a little of their experience in Thailand and bring us a message from God’s word. You are also invited to contribute to a special offering in support of the Fleck family.
To understand more of their work view the video ‘Radical Grace from Kenneth Fleckor visit the Hope for Aids site.

General Assembly: I will be away from the 2nd to 11th October to attend the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, plus have a few days leave. Murray Shallard will also be in attendance as will Pastor João Petreceli who will be an international guest of the Assembly representing the Presbyterian Church of Chile.
Fair Update: Saturday 27th October is our FAIR DAY!

Thank you to those who have donated ingredients for the marmalade making and to those who have made donations of money to help make goods for the Produce Stall- much appreciated.

Right now is the right time to be potting up seedlings from your garden and planting cuttings from bushes that are starting to grow again after their winter hibernation.

A new stall at the Fair this year combined with cheese rolls is a Cup Cake Stall. So we’ll be looking for support from the cup cake makers in our community.

We are on the lookout for someone to run the mini golf game – all the gear is supplied, so if this sounds like you please let a committee member know.

Like last year there will be a second ice cream and drinks stall in the show ring and we need 2 or 3 people to sell these goods. Let a committee member know if you are willing to help here. We need help from EVERYONE on Fair Day so please consider these requests.

Arohanui
Ian