Sermon delivered February 20, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Bible quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

I Have a Dream

I want to talk to you this morning about... The sermon title is called, "I Have a Dream." This is different that a lot of sermons that I preach. You will think after I get through, this is sort of like his state of the union sermon. Well, let's see how it goes.

The next four weeks, beginning next Sabbath, I'm preaching a sermon on Adam and Eve. Adam, his beautiful creation, his blundering fall, and finally his conversion. That's going to be an exciting series. I hope you will be looking forward to all four of those.

Bad things happen when a people lose their vision. That includes your physical vision. When you lose your vision you begin to go down. The pilgrims landed on the shores of America overt three hundred fifty years ago. They landed here with great vision and courage. they had big plans. They came to settle this entire country.

Actually what happened is these forward-looking people had lost their vision. They didn't know where they were going anymore. Once, they were able to see across oceans, they now could not look five miles into the wilderness.

I think about us. Have you lost your personal vision? What is your vision? What is your mission in life? What do you propose to do? And what about this church? Have we lost our vision? What is our mission here. What is the real description of our job, our purpose? have we stopped dreaming? I think this world would be a happier place if its leaders had bigger dreams. And more dreams. And fewer nightmares. Never stop dreaming. The founders of the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church had a dream to establish a church here on McDonald Road, which they did. We have even added somewhat to their dream in the building of our Family Center. And now that we have accomplished, and we have filled this church, where do we go from here? Should we stop dreaming. What is ahead?

Joel 2:28,29 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." Dreams are still going to be coming in the last days. And a church should never stop dreaming.

What is the job description of this church? What business are we in?

Some people don't understand what business they are in. For example, the RAILROAD people didn't realize they were in the transportation business; they thought they were in the railroad business. Had they realized they were in the transportation business they would have invested in the airplane. The TELEGRAPH people thought they were in the telegraph business instead of the communications business. In 1886 they could have bought all the telephone patents for $40,000. So obviously these people didn't know what business they were in. And what is the telegraph business today?

Their visionless leaders failed to see the big picture. Today we must ask ourselves, as a church, "What business are we in?" Do we really know? Just what is our real goal as a church on this road at this time? Do you have great goals in your life? Everybody needs to ask themselves, "What is my goal?"

II Corinthians 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even unto you. The New Living Translation translates this- But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God's plan for us, and this plan includes our working there with you.

What is God's plan for you. What is God's plan for this church at this time, this place, this road for McDonald? Well, one didn't just land out here in the parking lot and we went out and picked it up and it was signed by some heavenly scribe. We never found anything like that. I have thought much about the answer to this vital question. What is God's goal for our church?

As we move into the twenty-first century, the future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious. Are we in the communication business? What business are we in? Megatrends are slowly emerging. God's church has seemed to be a society of events. We appear to move from one experience to the next. We need to know what God wants us to do. And have a goal to accomplish His purpose.

Having goals and plans are the keys to success! But did you know that only three percent of all people have goals and plans and write them down. Ten percent more have goals and plans, but keep them in their heads. The rest -- eighty seven percent -- don't have any long-term goals or long-term plans. If you were to ask them, "What is your goal in the next month?" "Well, I don't know. Keep on keeping on, I guess." They just drift through life without definite goals or plans. They do not know where they are going and others dictate to them.

If we examine these statistics a little further we find that the 3 percent do who have goals and plans that are written down accomplish from fifty to one hundred times more during their life than the ten percent who have goals and plans and merely keep them in their heads. And immeasurably more than people that don't have any goals.

God's church must dream big and have decisive goals. These statistics alone should motivate us to set definite goals, establish a plan of action for their fulfillment, and then commit both our goals and plans to writing. Our Creator committed his goals and plans to writing in the Holy Bible! They are not specifically outlined for our church on McDonald Road. But if time should last another 15 years, what will this church look like? Will we follow the trend for churches? Do you know what that trend is?

I clipped two advertisements from the newspaper this week for your reflection:

The first ad is from the leading first Baptist church in Chattanooga. Now this is a main-line church.

   Why some people don't attend church
1.  They are always asking for money!
       NO OFFERING IS TAKEN HERE
2.  The service is too long!
       OUR SERMONS ARE UNDER 12 MINUTES
3. The music is all by dead people!
       NOT AT OUR CHURCH.  WE HAVE DRUMS, GUITARS, AND SYNTHESIZERS.
          OUR MUSICIANS AR ALIVE!
4. You have to get all dressed up to come to church.
       CASUAL DRESS is not only possible, it is  probable!
5.  Church is boring.
       WE HAVE MOVIE CLIPS, Music with a beat, theater, and dance on the 
       stage.  

Boring? Not at all! Come to the First Baptist Church. Is that the way the McDonald Road church is headed? Not in my opinion. Not the direction I would have us to go.

Here's another one. It's called "Believe it or not!" Did you see this one? It's in the newspaper. This is by the Christ United Methodist Church, another main-line church.

At the Christ United Methodist Church:
1.  The service isn't boring
       It is OK to laugh, applaud and have fun in worship
2.  God doesn't care what you wear.
       Join us and wear what feels right for you.
3.  Your tithes and offerings are not our priority
       We talk very little about money.
4.  We include every age group
       Singles, couples, boomers, seniors, 
       gen-x-ers, all races, all incomes are welcome
5.  We are comfortable and informal in our worship.
       This isn't the stuffy church you might remember..
6.  God's word can be delivered in many ways.... 
       Contemporary music, videos, and drama 
7.  You don't have to have it all together to attend
       None of us are perfect either... believe it or not!  

Is that the direction this church is going to head? Not if I have anything to do with it. Is that the direction we should be headed? Is that the direction the other churches are headed? It is! Today many growing churches are installing comfortable theater seating each with coffee cup holders. Churches serve refreshments after services. Many churches are building their sanctuaries near malls and popular restaurants.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out where these growing main line churches are headed today. For years the Methodist church has been dying on the vine but now they are revitalized. Their services are three times fuller than they were five years ago. Thing are changing.

So where do we stand? I do not envision these things in the future of the McDonald Road church. We represent conservative, traditional, Bible-based, Christ-centered values. I want that to continue. We don't have drums, don't have video clips, don't have drama in our services. We do take up an offering and our sermons are a full half hour long. And we have no theater. Yet amazingly enough we are growing so fast we are bursting at the seams. Try to find a parking place out here between service. So where are we headed? What are the goals if this church?

I Corinthians 9:24-26 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run i such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games go into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. Nor do I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. We're running for a prize, aren't we.

The goal of this church is not to make everybody comfortable sitting in some pew. That is not the goal. The goal of this church is not to build a church large enough for you to get lost in. It is not to entertain you. We're not competing with the theater. So what is our goal?

Well, our goal is certainly to uplift Jesus Christ in our preaching. Our goal in this church is to help you to grow, to become more like Jesus Christ in your everyday life. Our goal is to help you so that when you go out of these doors you carry the Spirit of Jesus Christ with you wherever you go.

After a lot of prayer I came up with a wish list that I really wish of our church.

    These are things that we are not presently doing in the main. I wish that we as a church could be involved in these:
  1. I wish our church could send out a fully paid missionary from this church every three months or so into an area and go out and see what could be done and come back and give us a report. I think that would re-vitalize the person, I think it would change the nature of the church.
  2. I wish our church would plant a new church. I don't know where. Maybe around here, maybe in Honduras, I don't know. I wish we could build it, I wish we could pay for it. And I wish we could parent that church until it is strong and healthy.
  3. I wish we could sponsor someone to do youth equipping. Someone like Jeff Freeman to train our youth to go out like he is attempting to do now. Only on a full-time basis for all the youth in this area.
  4. I Wish we had someone to cook supper on Wednesday nights just prior to Prayer Meeting. I wish that on Wednesday night our prayer meeting would fill the church. Dynamic prayer-meeting series. Fellowship. Seminars. Classes. Meetings. A family night. I want Prayer Meeting to be a high point of the week.
  5. I wish we had a volunteer team to do medical outreach in the homes of our community, to care for people, do free blood pressure checks to minister to those who are suffering because that is the work of the right arm of the message. I don't see us doing that as we should.
  6. I wish we could do a major Maranatha project at least once a year. A lot of us could go on that. Just plan every year on a Maranatha project. A group from the McDonald Road church building up the work through service.
  7. I wish we had an expanded prayer ministry in this church. Prayer partners and groups. I wish that every one of our members were praying diligently, honestly and effectively to God every day.
  8. I wish we could somehow tap into the thousands of inactive and former members around this area. People that used to belong to church and they don't belong anymore. I wish we could somehow get them back, revitalize them.
  9. I wish we could have a larger parking lot to accommodate the members who are already trying to come. I see cars driving around and around looking for a single parking space.
  10. I wish we had every adult class in its own room with the name of the teacher on the door where people could go in there, so that each class could function as a small group. They could get acquainted with each other. They would know a core of people by name. They could study together. They could work together, play together, witness together, pray together. I think that would help a lot.
  11. I wish that we had enlarged rest-room facilities. Especially during these crowded times.
  12. I wish we had a larger storage area and classrooms for our children.
  13. I wish you men could drive your family under a nice portico and they could enter our church without ever walking in the rain. I have noticed that it occasionally rains in Collegedale.
  14. I wish we who work here during the week had better office space.
  15. I wish we had a larger lobby. This church is known as friendly church. Have you know that? Have you felt that? Friendship develops from contact. The atrium is where this happens. Between services, our foyer is a sardine can. We are limiting ourselves.
  16. I wish every member was giving at least one active Bible study in person or by internet.
  17. I wish each member were totally honest in business dealings, in paying bills, in life. When we are not, we throw mud at the good name of the church.
  18. I wish there was more putting away of sin and more of putting on the likeness of Christ. We need to become more like Jesus. That should be our goal.
  19. I wish that each of us could experience a desperately needed revival of real spirituality. I wish we could be the people God would have on this planet at this time and be sharp instruments in His hands. Effective instruments.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God has a purpose for you. He has a purpose for every church. He has a purpose for every marriage. And we need to find that purpose and lock into it.

In a Peanuts cartoon, there was a conversation between Lucy and Charlie Brown. Lucy said, "Life is like a deck chair. Some place it so they can see where they are going; some place it so they can see where they have been; and some place it so they can see where they are at present." Charlie Brown's reply was, "I can't even get mine unfolded." Do you ever feel like that?

God can help you unfold your life. God can help you unfold your marriage. But you have to be willing. The future is limitless to those who can dream big, who will place their life in the hands of God. I think we need to dream big things for God. You always want big dreams when you're in Godly pursuits. And that doesn't necessarily mean a bigger church. But that means bigger plans, bigger efforts, bigger devotions. "A blind man's world is bounded by the limits of his touch; an ignorant man's world by the limits of his knowledge; a great man's world by the limits of his vision." - E. Paul Hovey

Acts 26:19 Paul said: "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. If you determine what God's vision is for you, don't be disobedient to it. Don't withhold. Allow God to work out His purpose in your life.

Great churches are that way because they follow great leaders. I want you to know the leader of this church is none other than God, Himself. He is our Leader. I am not the leader. We follow God. We follow Jesus Christ. He gives us visions and empowers us to follow them.

The Christians who have turned the world upside down have been men and women with a vision in their hearts and the Bible in their hands. That's how the word will be won in the last days.

I want to challenge each of you to dream big dreams for your life, for your church, for God. Attempt something special for Him. If there's some habit that's holding you down, If you're stuck in the same old rut, God can get you out of that rut. God can transform you into a brand new person. He can do that. You don't have to stay down there in the slime and muck of life. He can lift you above that and empower you to do something great for His kingdom. May God give us a vision of what He wants us to do and the resolve to accomplish His will.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. That's beautiful, isn't it. God can help us to do that. He will help us to achieve His goal through His grace and His power.


Opening Hymn- 326: Open My Eyes That I May See
Scripture: Philippians 3:13-14
Closing Hymn- 310: I Would Draw Nearer to Jesus

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