Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Forgotten Dreams by Mike DeCamp

Forgotten Dreams

By Mike DeCamp

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

we were like those who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.


As a young, idealistic man, I had some spiritual dreams catch ahold of my heart.  Recently, as I attended the “Celebration of Life” of a friend who passed away, I was reminded of those dreams.  It was brought back to my mind as we sang a song that is popular within the International Churches of Christ called “Men Who Dream” by Sherwin Mackintosh and Steven Johnson.  The song is based on the Psalm that I have shared above.  (If you want to hear the song, you can bring up versions of it on YouTube.)  The idea is that just as the captives that returned from the Exile into Zion were “like those who dreamed” because of the joy they felt as God blessed them, so we too can feel that same dreamlike joy as God blesses us as we fulfill His mission in our lives.

My life has changed a great deal over the years.  I’ve passed through seasons.  Some bright and spring-like.  Others, carrying the chill of winter.  Some lazy like a summer afternoon, and others as colorful as Brown County in October.  But, as I think back on some of those dreams, some of them have waned.  Can you relate?  Even so, I think some of them were very worthy to hold, and I want to take a moment to share some of those dreams with you as they find revival in my soul.

Fulfilling the Great Commission – Matthew 28 tells us to “go into all the world” in order to “make disciples of all nations.”  We can think of this as an abstract command—as something that someone, somewhere ought to go and try to do.  Or, we can take it as a personal mandate, and make it our dream.  For some of us, that might mean Honduras or Ghana.  Maybe India or Nepal.  But, for many of us, it really means Acton or Avon, Zionsville or Greensburg.  Or, maybe just that person in the next cubical or in that house next door.  Make a friend, make a disciple.

Loving God is the Most Important Thing – My dad was the first to tell me what Jesus told the “expert” in the law in Matthew 22.  Loving God is the most important thing.  If we don’t make that our first priority, it won’t matter how many great programs we have, or whether we redo the foyer.  Forget youth ministries, children’s ministries, and worship teams.  If we don’t love God first, what are we even doing here?  If not for this one key thing, I think a pontoon boat and a cooler would be a much better use of a Sunday morning.  Maybe that’s why so many folks are actually doing that instead.  Hmmmm.

A Church of JOYful Christians – I have written about this before, but as a child riding the church bus, I was taught that JOY is an acronym.  J = Jesus first, O = Others second, and Y = Yourself last.  It may be sort of counter-intuitive, but this prioritization of life actually works.  Our society disagrees, and it has bled over into all of our lives.  We’ve begun to think that our own opinions, needs, and desires take precedence over any other factors that may call upon our attention, but I’m going to say it—they don’t.  Not if we truly hold to the teachings of Christ.  “Seek first the kingdom of God…”-Matthew 7.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”-Philippians 2.

A Church without Regard for Race – All of us who have been clothed with Christ are “children of God.”-Galatians 3.  We are one body.  If that is true, why do we not worship and work for God together?  Why are there still congregations that are primarily white or primarily black?  Do we not speak the same language?  Has not the blood of Christ cleansed us all?  Folks, we are way too pale at Southeastern.  The church should set an example to the world of how the love of God can bridge all gaps and break all barriers—even the barriers of race.  I have no doubt—we would stand opposed to intentional racism in our midst should it happen to arise.  But, let’s also take action to deal with the residual effects of the past by being intentional in our embrace of brothers and sisters of all racial and ethnic backgrounds—now.  Let’s build bridges.  Let’s encourage diversity in our spiritual family.  Let us build a congregation that can shine like a lighthouse of hope to our society.

Overflowing Worship – “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,…”-Ephesian 5:19.  This verse is commonly used in our family of churches as an argument about the use of musical instruments.  To do that is to miss the point and gut the meaning of the passage.  It is not about instruments.  It is about your heart—allowing your heart to overflow into your singing of joyful songs of thanksgiving to God.  We don’t talk about it much, but did you realize that this verse is a command?  It isn’t just a nice suggestion.  Paul instructed the Ephesians to sing.  And, he instructed them to sing from the heart.  As a Christian, singing really isn’t optional, and even more so, singing from the overflow of the heart isn’t either.  Of course, this assumes that we have a thankful heart, and that the joy of the Lord rests within us.  If that is not the case, then please take the time to call one of the ministers or one of the elders, and let them help you find that sweet spot in your heart so that your spirit can overflow in joyous song.  Our worship times should be a joyous celebration of our walk with God.

So, those are some of my dreams.  I don’t think they are unreasonable.  Do you?  I think if you help, and with a bit of unified effort, we can make a dent in some of them.  And, we can make a difference for God in our world, changing lives and growing hearts along the way.  But, maybe you have your own set of forgotten dreams that need to be re-fired and revived.  What are they?  Please share.

Perhaps, if we pool those dreams and stir those fires, then one day we can share in the joy expressed by the psalmist:

Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

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