by Barry Howard
While perusing a vacation and tourism magazine as I waited at the doctor’s office for my name to be called, I couldn’t help but notice the large number of ads for resort and retirement communities inviting prospective residents to “come and live the dream.”
What comes to mind when you think about the dream life? Winning the lottery? Living in extravagant luxury? An easier job? Marital bliss? Early retirement? Perfect health?
Whatever your perspective, most of us think of a dream life as an upgrade in our circumstances, a life with fewer challenges, and a greater degree of comfort and convenience.
Is this really God’s dream for you? What if the challenges you and I face are actually the opportunities we have to participate in making God’s dream a reality?
In describing the “latter times,” the Old Testament prophet envisioned a faith community that is motivated by God-inspired dreams and visions of multiple generations:
28 “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. Joel 2:28 NIV
Are you living out God’s dream and vision for your life? Are you assisting your church family in living out God’s dream and vision for your congregation?
The word “dream” has frequently been used as an acronym. When I “googled” DREAM as an acronym, I discovered that in education, DREAM can stand for “Discover the Reality of Education for All Minds.” In communication, DREAM means “Dynamically Reconfigurable Energy Aware Media.” In computing, DREAM can represent “Distributed Routing Effect Algorithm for Mobility.” In local government, DREAM can refer to “Downtown Restoration, Enhancement and Management.” In Orlando, DREAM stands for “Disney Resort Experiences are Magic.”
What does DREAM mean for the church? As we rise to new levels of commitment to confront the opportunities and challenges of our day, I suggest that DREAM means “Doing Risky, Encouraging, and Authentic Ministry.”
Let’s break down the DREAM:
- Doing- Be doers of the word and not hearers only. James 1:22 KJV
- Risky- So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:25-26 NIV
- Encouraging-Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
- Authentic-Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8a MSG
- Ministry- But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. II Timothy 4: 5 NIV
Though we are conditioned by our culture to think of the dream life in terms of prosperity, we are commissioned in the Bible to aspire to a DREAM life in terms of purpose and mission. In other words, the dreams and visions that are generated by the Spirit of God give your life and mine genuine significance. Comfort and convenience can lead to complacency. Dreams and visions lead to proactive, mission-driven living.
As a follower of Jesus, you really haven’t lived until you have lived the DREAM.
(Barry Howard serves as Senior Minister of the First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida.)