Dreaming Out Loud - Parts 1 and 2
I want to take you on a dreaming journey … a journey that includes vision and passion for what we believe we are called to do here in Port Macquarie.
In August 2013 I was in one of our evening services at CCH (our mother church in Sydney) and I had a vision. This is what I wrote down in my journal:
“I saw myself in a building - I knew it was some kind of worship service. I was up the front and was preaching. I walked up to the people sitting in front of me on chairs and I started painting people (young and old) with white paint. I knew this paint represented freedom, life, joy, release. I was painting them all over their heads and down their bodies.”
I didn’t understand fully what that meant at that time, although I knew it was part of the journey that God had already started us on in shifting us to be part of this Port Mac community. And it became part of the vision that we saw God unfolding in front of us about our part to play here.
* Vision is clear and gives future direction. It is compelling and brings increased ministry and impact.*
God is ultimately our vision-caster – ultimately this is about giving Him glory and hosting His presence well so that we can partner in whatever He calls us to partner with Him in.
*Vision is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom*
God gives both of these things to us … IMAGINATION AND WISDOM He creates us and breathes into us an imagination and then in His Word He tells us to ask for wisdom. James 1 v 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you.”
Dave and I have been dreaming a bit together about what 2019 looks like and what God is saying to us for Lifeway …. let’s just take a moment to think about dreaming about the future … sometimes we don’t let ourselves dream about what could be.
Why do you think that is? It’s maybe scary, or bigger than we thought, it’s too unknown, we may have a fear of being disappointed if it doesn’t happen, a lack of resources, fear of what others might think….. and the list goes on.
But do you think that Father, Son and Spirit might’ve dreamed together in the very beginning … and look what they came up with!!!
Do you think they dream about this city and imagine it to be all they they believe it can be? Do you think they want us to dream with them for those around us in this city?
This city needs Jesus– we would agree with that right? There are over 50,000 people in this City.
- There are approx. 3,000-6,000 Christians (that’s a generous figure!) who attend a church in Port Mac at the moment.
- There are also a lot of Christians who are not part of any particular church body at the moment.
- And there are thousands upon thousands who have not have a radical encounter with the Saviour, Jesus Christ. He loves those people and has called his Church to step up and show love and grace and introduce people to Him.
This city needs different expressions of God’s heart for the people who live here.
This city needs Jesus-followers who are not afraid to worship Him and serve Him in the way He calls them to.
We as individuals are NOT all called to be the same – neither are the churches – I believe that each church / each body of believers bring different expressions of God’s heart to their city, to this nation, to this world.
An example is GRACE CHURCH who recently hosted John Mellor. John has an amazing healing ministry – he is a humble man and just does what God asks him to do. Grace Church is making space for people to experience the healing power of God and I love their expression of God’s love and heart to this city.
You know I love to go on and on about UNITY – and I won’t apologise for it because I believe God’s given me some of His perspective on how important His Church is to Him. And how important Unity is to Him – it is WHO HE IS. The triune God – 3 in one. Unity.
I truly love this city and I love the churches in this city. I love expanding the relationships and seeing how God is breathing on a new thing and connecting His people together.
Before we came to Port Mac, God had given the image of the fig tree down on town green as a representation of what He wanted to create (and also the position of where we were to plant) and said that He wanted us to create something with Him. A place that:
- Is a hub of activity in a prominent place
- stands out and stands tall
- a place of fun and laughter
- a place where people will feel safe to explore and get nestled in it’s branches
- a place where everyone will know it’s presence (more about who’s presence we carry than about the presence of the gathering)
- a place that is solid and grounded in Jesus.
So, back to “dreaming out loud” ……
We have dreams in our heart to see ministry expand ….. to have a creative hub / somewhere for midweek ministry / youth hangout spaces / a place for us to release creativity, joy, fun, laughter, and freedom in all sorts of ways into this city in the name of Jesus.
This is an expression of who God has called us at Lifeway to be. This is an expression of His Heart that we believe He has asked us to carry, and we believe it is the way that God is articulating His love through us.
- We are looking to God to see where our next place of residence for our Lifeway gatherings is.
- We are starting to outgrow this awesome little hall, and no house of God should let the shoe restrict the foot growing healthily.
So we have some praying to do and some researching to do. This will be a faith step for us all as it will require more finances but we have an almighty God who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine !!
I have to say part of the dreaming means to step out and be a bit bold in what you want to ask for. A couple of months ago, I went to look at a local building that was for lease. A great space that could host mid-week events, and a Sunday gathering etc. But it was well above what we are currently seeing coming into our offerings.
However, you will notice, if you have been at Lifeway for a little while now that we don’t teach about giving / tithing all the time – we don’t have offering talks every week. That was a clear decision that we made at the very beginning because we wanted to build a culture where worshipping Jesus with our whole life (including our time, our energy, our worship, our homes, our belongings, our finances etc) is part of how we do LIFE. We want to see a community of people who recognise that giving financially to God's work locally is part of our lifestyle of Worship.
David is in the process of preparing a statement from our last financial year at Lifeway that we want to make available to anyone that wants to see it. We want to be transparent and open about the financial side of things.
We want to ask you to join us in praying for what our next step is …. If you consider yourself part of this faith community, then let me ask you to press in with us and ask Jesus where He wants to position us to gather.
I will continue this dreaming out loud next week too, but I want to finish on this passage written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesis.
I want to read this over us. Let’s believe this as a promise over Port Macquarie.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (The Passion Translation)
14 So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, 15 the perfect Father of every father and child[a] in heaven and on the earth. 16 And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.
17 Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.
18–19 Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude[b] of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!
20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.
21 Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!]
Dreaming Out Loud - Part 2
This city needs different expressionsof God’s heart because it is made up of 50,000+ people who are created uniquely. This is why I love the Church in Port Mac – because each flavour, each body, brings a different expression of God’s heart.
So let’s keep dreaming and do some imagining:
- imagine if we could put Beka on staff 1 day a week to look after our creative elements, worship, and ministry to young people.
- Imagine if we could find a venue that gives us more room for more people who are exploring who Jesus is.
- Imagine if we actually saw this city as God sees it, having God’s perspective – thousands of people who are waiting to be introduced to Jesus the Son and His love, grace and mercy and power.
- Imagine a city where people are experiencing the power of His presence as they walk down the street, or in the shopping centre, or in their workplaces. We need God’s perspective, an elevation from our own “natural” limitations, to see God’s Kingdom perspective on how this looks and what He is doing.
City transformation is what we want to see.
And A Kingdom community is who we are called to be.
Acts 5: 12- 16 (The Passion Translation)
12 The apostles performed many signs, wonders, and miracles among the people. 13 And the believers were wonderfully united as they met regularly in the temple courts in the area known as Solomon’s Porch. No one dared harm them, for everyone held them in high regard.
14 Continually more and more people believed in the Lord and were added to their number—great crowds of both men and women. 15 In fact, when people knew Peter was going to walk by, they carried the sick out to the streets and laid them down on cots and mats, knowing the incredible power emanating from him would overshadow them and heal them.16 Great numbers of people swarmed into Jerusalem from the nearby villages. They brought with them the sick and those troubled by demons—and everyone was healed!
Here was a town transformed by people who were hungry for the presence of God to heal and bring life. This was a city transformed! People experiencing the power of God – and lives were changed.
In January 2016, I went on a retreat with Jesus to Tea Gardens and I said to Him, “Can you show me what it is that you are wanting us to build with you? Can you show me the blu-prints for what the work in Port Mac looks like”.
The Lord replied: “I’m only giving you the one step, the first step, into what I’m building” … and then I saw a vision of one concrete step … like the first step into a building. And that one concrete step had the word “LOVE” written in big letters on it. And I knew that the Lord was calling us to have a foundational step of LOVE. His love. That’s what I believe He’s been building as part of our culture here at Lifeway. God IS love. Jesus modelled love, and lived out and life of love as he walked on this planet.
And now, I believe that God has revealed the next step for us - FREEDOM. He has called us to be a people who walk in freedom. Jesus’ life was filled with setting people free from pain, from torment, from bondage, from religion, from works.
I shared above in Part 1 about the vision I had back in August 2013 about me painting people with white paint. This paint represented freedom, life, joy and release. That was not just for me - that’s for us here at Lifeway, and for all the believers in Port Mac. We have a message of freedom to speak, a message of life and hope and purpose over Port Macquarie and all who live here.
The other thing that happened while I was on that retreat in Tea Gardens in January 2016 was quite impacting for me….
One afternoon, I was driving around and I saw one little church building in this small town and it was mid-week and it was all closed up. It was not open for business. It really affected me. I asked Jesus “What’s that about? Why are the doors closed?” He didn’t reply to me about that particular building, but what He did say to me was that He wanted us to have a culture of “open doors”. At the time, I didn’t really understand what that looked like, but what I see now is that it’s living a life of openness….
Open Doors, Open Homes, Open Lives, a community of people open to be all about Kingdom business whenever there is opportunity.
This is how we are called to live …. and to live like this together.