Pastor Chris's sermon today was fiery but gentle. He taught and exhorted us through the words of Joel in 2:28-29. For one, SH commented that he has never heard any sermons preached from Joel before.
Pastor said that we need to dream - not to close our eyes and imagine what we want and where we hope to be down the line - but to dream God's vision, what he wants. I suppose we are so contented with the past and the present we stop dreaming.
Dreaming is a dangerous thing - it bring disappointments, confusion and disbelief, so much so that we have decided to just stop dreaming and accept the present reality. Just take the Methodists as an example. Pastor told us that we have been around for 120 years. I am assuming he meant 120 years in Malaysia. On the whole, we actually have been around for 250 years. Much have been done and many people have been reached by the "travelling ministers" but at present we are too contented with the achievements, we are apathetic. Right now, we are good at just existing.
We need to be in the society we live in. We need to be an impact but we are far behind.
In Joel 2:28-29, the prophet was speaking to the Israelites who were living in sin and disobedience. Their hearts were hardened and they were chiefly concerned about their own lives. Joel said that God will pour out his Spirit and when he does, "your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions." God's vision should be and will be ours - it is our right.
But what happened to that kind of dreaming?
When God works in our midst, there is always a sense of excitement, healing is experienced in midst of pain, joy abundant in the presence of suffering and goodness evident in the thick of depravity. That is only because God's presence in our lives. But is he?
What does dreaming involve? Only trust or faith, and only the cross. Faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1) and the cross is "if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23).
Trust and obey ... there is no other way.
Pastor's sermon reached me in two ways:
(1) I need to begin to dream again like I did before. Maybe I have grown older - I suppose the older we get, the more practical we are. We'd rather be seen as realists than idealists. I used to dream when I was young - the world was like a playground - there was so much to explore, to feel, to climb, to be challenged, to achieve, and I had the energy. Now 20 years down the line, the playground has morphed into a backyard - there is so much to do, to repair, to desensitise, to pull-down, to avoid, and my energy is sapping the more I look at it. This should not be - I should dream again, and feel the excitement that is from the Lord. And what more with the years of pain as the result of going through fire after fire, with the years of learning and seeking his word, the dreaming should take on a more profound and powerful sense. I don't know ... I suppose I am dreaming of dreaming?
(2) And on the other end, I am very glad that after 5 long years, I am now listening to sermons that convict and exhort, not just motivate and encourage. I remember the days when I look forward to Sundays for the sermons, but after awhile it became quite a snag and I think I lost the knack of listening. I remember one year during a graduation event in STM, where Bishop Rev Hwa Yung was speaking, I subconsciously forgot to listen. Midway through, I had to snap back, scolded myself and make effort to hear the sermon, which in fact was a good one. So you see, we have not heard any sermons preached from Joel before because there weren't many biblical sermon that we can fall on anyway.