Connect the Dots

The dots: Setting goals, making plans, working at it, embracing God’s dream, being a part of a great church, upgrading our habits, falling deeply in love with Jesus, joining a small group

The dots are already there! That’s the cool thing about a connect the dots book, right? The design & artwork are already done. We only have to…?

So how can we miss what is so close?

  • We skip a few dots
  • We try to move the dots
  • Distractions or loss of focus
  • It looks different than we expected

Perhaps the saddest of all paradoxes is when we miss what we’re looking for!

Even when the picture is just dots, connect them!

John 15:5-8

Jesus says you can’t do this on your own!

Whatever success I have had in life and ministry is not due to God connecting me with dozens of people just like myself!

Unless we are willing to connect with others we will never grow or become all we could be!

When all the dots don’t appear to be there, connect anyway!

People who aren’t connected often think other people don’t care. But when you’re unconnected it’s not that people don’t care. People don’t know.

Some people feel eternally connected to a church building. But people need to connect to people!

Connect even when it feels like a strange land (new things often do!)

Jeremiah 29:5-7



Dream Church

What You Should Look For In a Church

Some people look for what they like – wrong!

Four questions to answer:
1. How does the church view scripture?
2. How do they walk that out? Does it show in their preaching, their worship, how they interact with the community and each other?
3. Does the vision, mission and DNA mesh with your spirit?
4. Does the church constantly challenge me to grow?

Here’s one good rule of thumb: If you can’t financially support the vision and mission of a church then you haven’t bought into it.

Find a church that you believe in so strongly that you willingly donate your hard-earned dollars and a portion of your free time to its mission! When you find that church you know you’re in the right one.

What I Am Dreaming, as Pastor

And Most Important, What Jesus Dreams (after all it’s His church!)

Ephesians 5:23

  • Not just an hour 15 minutes
  • Not that you visit a church
  • Not just that you join a church
  • Not even just seeing you in ministry

Embrace a mission, your calling, the purpose you’re specially gifted for and passionate about!

In Isaiah 58:1-5 God says He isn’t interested in smug people who act like they want to learn about Him but really just want to do enough to be blessed by Him.

To paraphrase V6-14, I believe this is the church God is dreaming about:
A church that speaks out against injustice and exploitation
Helps the oppressed walk into freedom
Stands up for victims and even those who’ve fallen in sin
Cancels debts and doesn’t rely on unfair practices
Shares generously with the hungry, homeless and poor
Gives to those without proper clothing
Makes themselves available to those in trouble
Doesn’t ignore their own family’s needs
Restores, rebuilds and renovates throughout their community
And is known as a people who can fix anything

A church where the “lights come on”
That glows as sunshine in spiritual darkness
In which lives are turned around at once
For whom righteousness paves their path
Whom He can use to rebuild brokenness and redeem the past
Whose way is secure because of Him
Whom He is always ready to guide
And makes them ride high and soar above all
And gives them full life and strength in their lowest places
And when they pray, He answers, “Here I am.”

THE Dream

Ever wonder why things like reading the Bible regularly has anything to do with your dreams? Glad you asked!

How Going to Church Benefits Brain and Body

So what dream are we talking about?
Not the American Dream, or the Madison Avenue dream or Hollywood’s dream, nor a problem-free life – not even your personal dream

GOD’S Dream is THE Dream
This big, amazing, awesome, audacious and bodacious dream is His, not yours. And He is dreaming it over your life.

1. Since it is HIS dream it is a better dream because His way is better. THE Way, THE Truth, THE Life leads to THE Dream.

“History proves over and over again, that when humanity decides what is good or evil on their own, we inevitably end up deciding that what is good is basically whatever is easiest, safest or most pleasing to ourselves.  This always ends badly.”
from Living the Dream devotions Church 29:11, 1/9/2020

His Way is THE Way and doesn’t get tied up in traffic or detoured by obstacles

His Truth is THE Truth and doesn’t get confused or lost in the search

His Life is THE Life which is an abundant life!

2. HIS dream is more powerful, more awesome, more beautiful than anything you and I can ever dream

HIS dream for me isn’t limited by my weaknesses, resources, connections, or my ability to dream, envision and plan!

3. Our humanity is often a huge obstacle to THE Dream

Delete the Dream-Killers that keep you from THE Dream.

There is a battle for your heart: movies, music, lust, relationships, peers, social media, popularity, pride, envy, materialism, advertising, greed, anger

Psalm 101:3

But also delete the Dream-Distractors because it isn’t just sin that hinders THE Dream.

1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23

In other words, some things that we claim as a right don’t lead us to THE Dream but may actually keep us from it!

  • Like idleness and procrastination
  • Like reading without listening and listening without changing
  • And what some call “Permissive will”

“…what we’re doing is destructive AND keeping us from what God has planned for us.”
from Living the Dream devotions Church 29:11, 1/9/2020

Immaturity asks “can I?” Maturity asks “should I?”

4. Since it is HIS dream, we can’t reach it without Him. His process, His recipe, His route.

Do things that lead to THE Dream:

  • Upgrade your habits – whatever you’re doing that’s good, do it better
  • Appreciate the moment you have – too many are waiting for a “better” or “more opportune” time
  • Work on your health – stewardship of your health
  • Be more thankful, 24/7
  • Connect to people closer to Jesus & stronger in their faith than you and a great place to do that is Small Groups that begin in 2 weeks!
  • Pray constantly
  • Feed your soul & mind – Living the Dream Devotions
  • Go deeper into devotions, sermons, songs, scripture

Falling deeply in love with Jesus is the most sure way to begin Living THE Dream!

Living the Dream

Jeremiah 29:11

God is dreaming. Are you?

Dreaming of a great life and Living the Dream are not the same thing.

Here’s the question: What is better in your life right now than it was this time last year? Name your progress.

Jesus didn’t die so you could dream.
Jesus died so you could Live the Dream!

Living the Dream is not a destination. Living the Dream is a process, a journey, an awesome adventure!

If you haven’t set goals, made plans and started working towards your dream, your dream is just a fantasy! (adapted from Jeff Robinson)

Fantasies are unproductive. Dreams produce results.
Fantasies are fleeting, inconsistent. Dreams have focus.
Fantasies stretch your imagination. Dreams stretch you.
Fantasies may inspire you. A dream can change your life.
Fantasies are unrealistic expectations. Dreams are balanced in reality.
Fantasies are free. Dreams have a cost.
Fantasies require only imagination. Dreams require hard work.

Biblical examples of dreamers:
both Josephs
King Abimelech
King Nebuchadnezzar
King Belshazzar
Pilate’s wife

Bible examples of those with fantasies:
the rich barn-builder
King Ben-Hadad
(FYI, none of them turned out well!)

Set Goals

  • Every member growing closer to Jesus and stronger in faith!
  • Each one reach one in 2020

What are your goals? New car, lose weight, pay off debt, dream vacation?
What about your spiritual health? Why not adopt the above goals?

Make Plans

  • Small Group changes
  • Discipleship that actually creates life-change
  • Team Night – Night of Prayer – 1.26.20
  • OK, so what are your plans for your spiritual health?

Work On It – A dream doesn’t just happen!

What we are working on for you:
– 21 Days of Devotions (SIGN UP HERE)
– Small Group launch on 1/26

You may not be living the dream yet but you’re closer than you realize

Accounting For 2019

What kind of business leader looks at his employees on December 30 and tells them to just move on to 2020?

Romans 14:12

Who is accountable?

  • Those God has blessed with a 6-figure salary or perhaps also those who earn $6 an hour?
  • Those capable of beautiful artistry or perhaps also those who’ve hidden their talent and not shared it?
  • Those with plenty of time or perhaps also those who keep their calendars full?
  • Followers of Jesus or perhaps also those who don’t follow Him?

Every person must give an account as steward of those things God has entrusted to them.
Even the High Priest!
Even the king!
Rich men like the barn-builder and also poor widows.


Hebrews 9:27

Luke 14:28-29

Those who keep up their checking account aren’t surprised by the balance.

“If you dare not search your hearts, I am afraid there is a reason for that fear, and that above all others you ought to be diligent in this search.”
– Charles Spurgeon

So when is the best time to reckon our account, at the end of life or today?

WHAT we must account for:

  • The use of the time He has allotted us
  • Our financial blessings and substance
  • Our talents and gifts
  • The influence He has given us
  • The balance of self and sacrifice
  • The invisible people in our lives
  • and all other things with which God has entrusted us!

Do our lives burn bright with Jesus or do we only leave Him the candle ends? As we said a few weeks ago, does our giving say leftovers or Lord?

WHY reckon our account on a regular basis?

To start afresh, begin in the clear, on the level, to not start behind.

A daily or weekly recounting of adversity He has helped us through, trouble He has rescued us from and sin He has forgiven us for! Without looking back we forget to acknowledge, appreciate and thank God. We just absolutely forget.

And here is the grave reason we must reckon our stewardship: we are not sure of another day of stewardship!

What You Got for Christmas, Part 3

LUKE 2:8-13

Sometimes we don’t see the true gift we’ve been given.



A game played with paper and pencil up until Milton Bradley created the first board game version in 1967
– Someone is trying to sink your battleship—Someone is out to get you

This is why are the shepherds “filled with fear”?
For thousands of years before Jesus—throughout all of human history—religion was about making peace with the gods.

Jesus came to make peace for us.

Romans 5:1,6-11


Invented by Hungarian architect, Ernő Rubik in 1974.  On sale in the USA in 1980.
– It’s so messed up… how can it ever get better?
– Where do we even start?

‘And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not,…'” – Luke 2:10

Jesus’ birth signals the shift in the trajectory of human history.




Introduced in 1939
– A momentary illusion of a prettier place

Anything that brings you peace in life apart from Jesus is only a temporary distraction.

When you focus on Jesus you put your problems into context.

JOHN 16:33

The peace we have been given isn’t an excuse to ignore the world, it’s an invitation to take it head on.

“The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies,” – Martin Luther


First manufactured in 1964
– An endless cycle of senseless conflict

LUKE 2:16-18

Jesus models being an agent of peace – John 18:36, Matthew 5:38-47

Jesus champions the peacemakers – Matthew 5:9

The followers of Christ have been called to peace. . . . And they must not only have peace but make it.  . . . His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment. Wanting no security… Battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Peace begins with YOU and ME.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

What You Got for Christmas, Part 2

Some of us like surprises, we don’t even want a hint about our gifts.
Some just have to know what’s in the box.
And some want the present now!

Jenga, the game of fear!

Introduced at the London Toy Fair in 1983
The fear of just one false move from crashing down. That’s the excitement of the game, it’s all about that fear.

The way a lot of people live their lives.

Jeremiah 29:11

Slinky, invented in the early 1940s

Everything worthwhile is uphill.
John Maxwell

Anything worth having requires effort.
Downhill is easy.
Even dead things flow downstream.
Anything besides downhill takes effort, even just holding your ground.
Going with the flow isn’t hope, that’s wishing for luck!

Etch-A-Sketch, introduced in 1960

Nothing on this earth is permanent… it all ends.
But every ending is a potential new beginning! Every day holds promise of a new friendship, opportunity, victory, blessing, miracle!

You’re writing the story. Be careful what you write, like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:10.
So be careful what you build. You get to start a new week at work or school tomorrow but you don’t get to start a new job or new school every week!

Jesus is all about second chances!
But at some point we have to stop relying on do-overs and start creating the masterpiece that is our life!

Matthew 4:16

What You Got for Christmas

The Hula Hoop, invented in 1958

 Self-centeredness, it all revolves around you

Matthew 2:1-2a

The level of selfishness in our lives is in indirect proportion to our personal long-term joy and fulfillment in life.

“As sure as a math formula,
as the x of selfishness increases,
the y of soul diminishes.”
– Barry York

Monopoly, invented in 1935

Materialism, he who has the most wins

Matthew 2:11

Where can I be light in someone’s darkness?

Magic 8-Ball, invented in the 1950’s

Randomness and chaos, there are no right or wrong answers, no point to life

Matthew 2:2b

I don’t believe God is interested in the little things of my life. God is interested in all things in my life!

Play-Doh, developed in the 1930s then marketed to schools and kids in 50s

Relativism, making the world whatever you want

Matthew 2:9-11

We’ve been given false ways to see the world and our relation to it.  Jesus coming gave us the gift to see the purpose in creation and our place within it! The wise men found a King to serve.

What you and I got for Christmas:
The call to focus on others
The challenge to be light in someone’s darkness
A King who is interested in all things in my life
Purpose beyond ourselves

One More Thing

Luke 18:22

It wasn’t that he couldn’t own possessions. It was obvious from his reaction that his possessions owned him.


We have a record of Abel’s giving but no record of the directive to give, what amount, etc. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t. Maybe for someone who recognizes God as the source of strength, talent, wisdom, opportunity, etc to have a good job, career and make money, it was natural for them to offer a portion of their increase to God. By the time of Abram and Melchizedek 10% appears to be understood.

Tithing is stewardship, acknowledging Who the real owner is

Tithing is partnership, acknowledging God helped me win this battle

Genesis 4:4, Genesis 14:17-20, Malachi 3:10, Luke 11:42


Giving to Needs

In Luke 10 the Good Samaritan, went to the dying man, medicated him, bandaged him, carried him, led him to safety. But there was One More Thing.

When we see a need it doesn’t matter if it’s our passion or not!

Here’s a radical thought… What if we budgeted for some personal benevolence every month?

Does our giving say “Leftovers” or “Lord”? Article by J. D. Greear

Giving to our Passions

Kentucky Christmas Blessing toys are due 12/1/19

Hope House (Honduras)
Bread of Life Orphanage and Feeding Centers (Romania)
Refuel Ministries (disaster relief food support)
A21 (ending human trafficking)
The Wellhouse (female victims of human trafficking)
Fight the New Drug
Shepura Men’s Center and Royal Pines Rehab – (recovery)

Jesus, do something in us and for us today so You can do something through us this week!