Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Lord of Our Dreams


By Dennis Pollock

In the Book of Daniel we read a dramatic story of three Hebrew young men who were challenged by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down to his image or die in a fiery furnace. When facing the sudden end of their young lives, they responded to the king with an amazing courage and boldness, declaring:

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Daniel 3:17-18).

I love it! They told the king, “God can deliver us, but even if He chooses not to, there is no way we are going to bow down to an idol!” Of course, we all know that God did choose to deliver them, but you have to love their courage and their willingness to lay down their lives rather than succumb to the king’s pressure to become idolaters. They had not read the book of Daniel; they were living it, and they had no idea just how this thing was going to turn out. Their own imminent death was a very real possibility; one might call it a probability, if they chose to disobey the furious king. Still, they held true to their faith, and seemed to sum up their faith-stance with the words, “but if not.”

Total Abandonment

Those words have resonated for Bible lovers since they were written. They speak of total abandonment to the will and pleasure of God, regardless of any personal consequences. A generation ago, the words “but if not” were instantly recognized by many evangelicals as the essence of strong faith which refuses to back down in the face of great pressure to succumb to evil. In fact those words were so commonly known and loved during World War II, when the British army was surrounded by the German army at Dunkirk, who demanded that they surrender or be destroyed, a British naval officer cabled a terse message to London to describe their perilous situation and their determination never to yield to the German army. The message had three words: “But if not.”

The people of England, upon learning of the three word cable, immediately knew the situation and the determination of their brave soldiers. They swung into action, putting together an armada of military ships, private yachts, and even smaller private vessels, and managed to evacuate nearly all their soldiers, who lived to fight another day. The interesting thing to me is that the simple three-word message “but if not” told all anyone needed to hear. Implied in those three words was the reality of their imminent peril and their determination not to surrender to the enemy. Deliverance for the British soldiers might or might not come, but regardless of that there would be no capitulation.

Preachers have used the story of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego many times throughout history to challenge believers to hold the same attitude when tempted or attacked by the evil one. When we are threatened with great loss, when it seems the easy way of surrender would be the safest way, when we begin to feel that a little compromise might be the wisest course in protecting positions or relationships we hold dear, we need to remember the three Hebrew men who declared with courage: “But if not…

Dreams and Goals

In this study I want to look at this concept in a light you may have never considered – the pursuit of our dreams and goals. Human beings are dreamers. Regardless of how bad our current situation, how low we have fallen, or how many failures we have chalked up, we can hardly help ourselves; we always find ourselves dreaming of great things in the future. There is nothing wrong with this; it is a survival mechanism which gets us through some of the hardest times of our lives. We dream of better things to come, we dream of attaining huge success, we dream of becoming famous, we dream of making more money than we need, we dream of a phenomenal career where people are constantly complimenting us on our gifts and talents. We dream and hope and plan and pursue. And if anyone sees someone attain a great measure of success, and asks him or her, “What lesson can you share with the rest of us?” the standard and constantly repeated answer is, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”

The truth is everybody dreams of amazing success or incredible elevation: Hindus do, Muslims do, atheists do, agnostics do, Christians do, and everyone else. It is not a distinctly Christian thing; it is a human thing. But with Christians there is another element involved. We like to believe that our dreams are not just the result of human ambition; we suppose that our dreams have been planted in our spirits by the God of the Bible. Secular folks are content to believe that dreams are just desires, and that if you follow these desires you should be able to succeed and see the fulfillment of them. But we Christians prefer to believe that our dreams come from God, and that the God who gave us these dreams will surely enable us to see their fulfillment.

We might consider Joseph the “patron saint” of dreams. He had literal dreams of greatness and of his family bowing down to him while he was still in his teens. His father rebuked him and his brothers hated him for it, but almost surely the theme of these dreams – the idea that Joseph was destined for a great place of leadership – must have helped the young man to navigate his years as a slave and further years as a prisoner. When he was finally elevated to the number two man in Egypt, the greatest nation in the world, he could look back and realize that those dreams of his youth were really and truly inspired by God.

The Little Boy with the Bread

When Reinhard Bonnke was a boy of around 11, an elderly lady in his church, known as “Grandma Bauszuss,” told the pastor that she had had a vision and asked if she could share it. The pastor gave her permission. In his book, “Living a Life of Fire,” Bonnke shared what the lady saw in her vision:

I saw a crowd of black people… They were gathered in a semicircle around a little boy with a big loaf of bread. He was breaking the bread and giving it to the people. And as he did the loaf of bread continued to increase.

After sharing the vision she pointed to young Reinhard and said, “The little boy that I saw was this one.”  Bonnke never forgot that day, and as he grew older he became more and more convinced that the Lord was calling him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa. And sure enough, God opened a door and anointed the young German man to preach to the Africans in meetings larger than the world had ever seen before. Before his death Bonnke preached to hundreds of millions of Africans and saw conversions on a scale that boggles the mind. In a single meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, over a million Nigerians professed faith in Christ. Bonnke’s meetings were almost always attended not by hundreds, not by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands of Africans and sometimes by several million over a single week’s meetings. Surely the vision and prophecy of Grandma Bauszuss came to pass and Bonnke’s youthful dreams of being an evangelist to Africa had come directly from the heart of God.

The Other Side of Dreams

There is another side to dreams, however. While there are always some people whose dreams of greatness or dreams of phenomenal success, or dreams of wealth, or dreams of outstanding careers have been realized to the letter, for every one of these there are probably dozens of men and women whose dreams were not fulfilled, at least not to the degree they were first imagined. We don’t always get it right. Not every little boy who dreams of becoming an NBA superstar makes it to the NBA; in fact most do not. Most little girls who dream of becoming pop singing sensations never make a single album, or if they do it is often a homemade album burned on a computer that they pass out to a few friends and to grandma. Most people who see themselves as famous authors never get past the first barrage of rejection letters that come from every publishing company to which they appeal.

For the non-Christians, especially those who hold no concept of a Creator, they have two options. They can embrace the idea: “I guess I wasn’t as good as I thought.” Or they may simply come to believe that all the publishing companies are in error and don’t have the good sense to recognize a great manuscript when they see it. But in any case, at some point they are forced by reality to let their dreams die.

For the Christian, it is a little more complicated. After all, most of us are convinced that our dreams are more than just hopes and ambitions – they are divinely implanted visions of God’s will for our future. God is in this; He simply has to be! And so we often will hold onto our dreams longer and more tenaciously than our non-believing friends. But when year after year passes and still there is no contract from the record companies, or no offer from the publishing companies, or no invitation to appear on television and share our talent with the world, eventually we come to a terrible, horrifying, and totally depressing conclusion: something has gone terribly wrong. Were we deceived in the first place? Or has God somehow let us down? Or is He perhaps angry with me over something and cancelled His plans for my greatness and success?

If or If Not

It is at this point that we need to go back to the three Hebrew brothers and remember their: “But if not…” Yes, God is able to make us great or give us wealth or put us before the world until millions know our names. But we need to know that even if He never does that, even if we live our lives in humble circumstances, never achieving fame, never becoming wealthy, never rising to the top of our field, never moving anybody with our voice or talent, still, Jesus is Lord, and we will continue to love Him, follow, Him, serve Him, and abide in Him. Our attitude must be something like this: “I believe Jesus has promised some great things for my future… But even if not, I will never allow disappointment to turn me from Him. I will follow Jesus as my good Shepherd if I am famous or if I am unknown, if I am fabulously wealthy or if I am dirt poor, if millions applaud me and tell me how amazing I am, or if the only compliments I ever get are from my Momma… still I will follow Jesus.

The truth is this: for the Christians there is something bigger than our dreams and ambitions – far bigger. It is the will of God, the good pleasure of the One who loved us and died on the cross for our sins. To serve the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world, is the ultimate greatness which we must seek. Even if all our dreams come crashing at our feet, all our hopes for fame burn up in ashes, all our desires for a great ministry that will touch thousands are never realized, still we will follow the One who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Sometimes we labor a little too much, we pursue our dreams with a little too much desperation, until they almost become our god.

The one dream that we can all claim is the promise of Jesus who tells us: “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” This is a promise for all, talented or not so talented, young or old, black or white. To receive Jesus as Savior, to abide in Him and focus on Him throughout our lives will ensure that fruit, beautiful fruit, luscious fruit, heavenly fruit, and much fruit will pour fourth from our lives. He will determine the nature of that fruit. It may not line up with our youthful ambitions, but it will surely line up with the perfect will of God, which, in the end, is all that matters.



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