Trading in your dreams for another’s

dreams 2People nearing mid-life often crash into some startling and unexpected observations. For instance, we all dreamed big dreams when we were younger. But as we move at a break-neck pace through our twenties, thirties, and forties, we eventually slam head on into the realization that some of our dreams will never be realized.

That observation throws some people into a mid-life crisis. Some don’t make it that far with their aspirations, having already given them up somewhere along the way. Some run into conflict that makes them weary and they settle for less. Still others make bold decisions to trade one dream in for another.

That’s what Joseph did. Talk about dreams! He had some big ones. At seventeen he dreamed his ten older brothers would bow down to him. It’s enough he dreamed that dream. What makes it worse is that he told his brothers about it.

The older brothers already had issues with the younger son. Their father favored Joseph. He had even given him a valuable, multi-colored coat. That’s the modern-day equivalent of a parent of four teenagers giving one an iPhone and the other three a stack of quarters each for a pay phone (assuming they could find one on their travels). The brothers banded together and tossed the dreamer in a ditch, eventually selling him into slavery at the first opportunity. The next thing Joseph knew he was waking up in Egypt.

From there his life was a rollercoaster thrill ride. One minute a slave. The next in charge of an Egyptian official’s house. The next in prison. The next in charge of the prison. Then he found himself in front of Pharaoh, called upon to interpret the leader’s dreams. With God’s help he was able to warn Pharaoh he would have seven years of abundant crops that he should be put in storehouses in anticipation of seven years of famine. Recognizing his wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph second in command of all of Egypt.

And because of God’s personal involvement in his life, he was was able to save his family. The same family that God was building dreams 3into a nation. Joseph was in position to bring his family to Egypt and give them the most fertile land to work. And it was definitely fertile. In the time they were there they were “fruitful and increased greatly” (Exodus 1:7).

Joseph could have lost his life getting caught up in the details of his life, chasing his dreams and desires. Instead, he chose a better story. God’s story.

You can do the same. If your life’s dream has stalled, look to God. If your dream now realized is not all you thought it would be, look to God. He can give you another dream. A better one, not according to the world’s standard but God’s criterion. Just like Joseph’s. Then you’ll have a story to tell.


How has New Venture Christian Church changed your life?

whatifAn exciting part of our capital campaign has been a series of small groups in which the details of the campaign are explained and everyone is given a chance to ask any questions they might have. Even more exciting is hearing people tell about how New Venture has changed their lives. Here are just a few of the stories.

  • I have never been as connected with any other church as NVCC. I want to get involved and there are so many opportunities.
  • NV has not judged us for the things we have done in the past. They just accept us for who we are.
  • I don’t have to be dragged to church. It has changed our whole life, how we feel, think and deal with life.
  • I was baptized at NV and I am progressing on my journey.
  • Coming to NV has helped me become a better husband and father. It is nothing I have done. God is doing it.Print
  • NV has definitely changed my life. I have learned more about the Bible than I have even learned in my life.
  • New Venture has put us in a family
  • New Venture has helped me regain trust in people in the church. They’re not old and crotchety and I can enjoy his freedom at NV
  • NV has changed my life. Our lives were in a wreck and NV was just what we needed.
  • I know if I need anything I can call on anyone at NV and I know I will have help. It is my home. This is my family.
  • New Venture turned me around. NV taught me you didn’t have to be perfect. I never learned that in church growing up.

What is your story?

The meaning of life





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monty meaningLets talk about the question of significance, Does my life matter.  Isaiah asked this question in Isaiah 49:4a. He said, “My work all seems so useless.  I’ve spent my strength for nothing and for no purpose at all.”   You were made for meaning, and if you don’t have a meaning and purpose in your life and you don’t know why God put you on this planet, life doesn’t make sense. 

During World War II, there were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary, that were processing human sewage in a factory.  The allies came along, bombed that factory and blew it apart.  So the prisoners had nothing to do.  The Nazi soldiers had the prisoners take all the rubble of that factory and move it to another field.  The next day, they had them take that same rubble and move it back in reverse.  The next day, they had to take that stuff and move it back and day after day they had no meaning, no purpose.  It was just work doing the same thing over and over with no meaning and no purpose.  Then something strange began to happen.  The prisoners began to go crazy.  They began to lose their will to live because there was no meaning, no purpose in their work.  They were just moving bricks back and forth, back and forth.  Many of them began to throw themselves in front of the guards trying to question markget shot.  In essence, trying to commit suicide.  Because you and I were made for meaning. 

Now you’re going to go through life living at one of three levels:  The first and lowest level is the Survival level.  The Survival level is really where most live today.  They’re just in survival mode.  They are just barely getting by.  They’re just existing.  They’re not living.  They are controlled by their circumstances.  They put in their time and live for the weekend.  They’re just in survival mode. 

A step up from that, a better way to live, rather than the Survival level is the Success level.  Honestly, this is where many are  By the world’s standards, you’ve got it made.  You’ve got a comfortable living, compared to the rest of the world; you’re extremely wealthy, compared to the rest of the world.  So you have possessions, you have freedom, you have good health and you may have prestige and you may be quite successful.  But today there are a lot of books coming out that say things like, “If I’m so successful, how come I don’t feel fulfilled?”  The reason is, it takes more than success and it takes more puzzle headthan status to satisfy. 


You need to go to the third level of living, which is the Significance level.  Not a Survival, not a Success but step up to the level of Significance.  How do you live at the Significance level?  Well, you get there through three things:

#1:  You know the meaning of life – that gives Significance.

#2:  You know how much you matter to God – that gives you Significance.

#3:  You know God’s purposes for your life and you’re living them out and that

       gives you Significance.

If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at the next couple of verses.  God says, “I am your Creator.  You were in My care, even before you were born.” (Isaiah 44:2)  God was caring for you even in His mind, as He thought you up.  The next verse says, ”You (talking about God) scheduled each day of my meaning of lifelife before I began to breathe.  Every day was recorded in your book.”  That’s how much you matter to God.  He paid so much attention to your life that every detail was recorded in His book, before you even took a breath.  That’s how much you matter to God.  Do you matter? – Yes.  He made you.  He made you to love you and the Bible says you do matter.

And God wants you to know how much you matter to Him.  God wants you to know the meaning of life.  He wants you to know His purposes. 

Do you realize the fruit fly only lives one day? Here today- gone tomorrow. What’s its meaning for life? Why is it even here? Why live just a day? Unlike the fruit fly, God has extremely long-range plans for you.  Look at the next verse, “His plans endure forever; His purposes last eternally.”   Now listen, God’s purpose for you is not just for the rest of your life on earth,  they’re for the rest of your life forever and ever, and ever and ever and ever.  Because God’s purposes are eternal.  This is the warm-up act, this is the kindergarten, this is the preschool, this is where you do the dress rehearsal. 

God says I have plans and purposes for your life, but they don’t end at death.  Because when you die, your heart is going to stop and that will be the end of your body, but that’s not the end of you.  You’re far more than a body.  You were made to last forever.  The Bible says this, Psalm 33:11 says, “His purposes last eternally.  God says, ”I was made to last forever.”   I was made to be loved by God, and I was made to last forever.  This life is not all there is.  One of the biggest ways you can waste your life is thinking all there is, is here and now.  You’re going to spend far more time on that side of death, than you do on this side.  On this side, you may get to live 60, 70, 80 or 90 years or so.  But that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.  The time you spend on earth really isn’t that very long. 

meaning of life 2It’s like if you stretched out a line around the world the first millimeter of that line would not even equal how tiny your life is compared to all the time you’re going to spend in eternity.  You were made for eternity and life is preparation for eternity.  You’re not going to find that in a self-help book, but it’s the truth.  Life is preparation for eternity. God’s purposes for you are eternal.  They are forever.  This is the key to the meaning of life.  Realizing that life is preparation for eternity. 

The Bible says this.  Notice 2 Cor 5:1, “When this tent we live in – our body here on earth – is torn down.  God will have a house in Heaven for us to live in.  A home He himself has made, which will last forever.”  You want to know how much you matter to God.  Well, I’ll tell you – you matter so much to God; He wants to keep you with Him for the rest of eternity.  For the rest of eternity – He wants to keep you with Him forever.  That gives meaning. 

Look at this verse, “Leave your impoverished confusion and live and walk up the street to a life with meaning.” (Proverbs 9:6)

(Adapted from “Why in the world am I here” by Rick Warren) 


thinking 2Why am I alive is not exactly a new question.  It was asked thousands of years ago.  In fact, Jeremiah asked it in Jeremiah 20:18, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?”   Now there have probably been times in your life when you felt that way, too.  Was I born just to have a bunch of problems?  Was I put on this planet just to have heartache, grief and stress? 

Arthur Ashley Brilliant says “my life is a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.  Jack Hanley wrote, “I hope life isn’t a joke, because I don’t get it.”  A guy named Dr. Hugh Moorhead, who is the Chairman at the Department of Philosophy at the Northeastern University, once wrote to 250 well-known philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals of the world and asked them, “What is the purpose of Life.”  And then he published all of their responses in a book.  The book is quite discouraging and depressing.  Some of these people offered their best guesses.  Some admitted they made up a purpose in life. Some admitted they didn’t have any idea as to what the purpose of life was and if Dr. Moorhead knew, would he please let them know.  Carl Yung, the famous psychiatrist said, “I don’t know the meaning, the purpose of life, but it looks as if something was meant by it.”  Isaac Asimov wrote, “As far as I can see, there is no purpose.”  Joseph Taylor, authored “I Have No Answers To The Meaning of Life And I No Longer Want to Search For Any.”


You know, those are tragic statements because the life without purpose isn’t a life worth living.  It is no coincidence that the suicide rate in our society has gone up.  It’s now the No. 2 killer of teenage students.  It is no surprise that we have so many shootings and mass killings. You see, if you take God and His purpose out of the equation, you don’t really have very many alternatives.  You can try the Mystical approach – the mystical approach says “look within and find your purpose within.”  You know if that really worked, all of us would know our purpose. I’m sure you’ve tried that.  I have and I bet everyone else has, thinking 3too.  And I didn’t find it there.  It takes more than looking within. 


Oprah  did a show a while back on discovering your purpose of life. At every single break during that hour show, she would say “Now, come back because we’re going to tell you your purpose.”  And every time they would come back and did they tell you it? No! They didn’t even come close.  They didn’t even attempt it.  In fact, as the credits were rolling at the end of that show, she kind of looks at the credits and says, “And remember, you’ve got to figure it out by yourself.” Looking within is not the answer. 

Then you can try the Philosophical approach – the survivalist says, “The purpose of life is just to stay alive.”  In other words, live as long as you can.  The Naturalist says, “The purpose of life is just to perpetuate itself.”  In other words, you’re just here for biological reasons.  Rap artist, Ice Tea, wrote, “The only reason we’re here is to reproduce. Just chill out and reproduce.  Keep the species alive.”  Doesn’t that just motivate you to want to jump out of bed in the morning?  It may motivate you to jump in to bed, I don’t know. 


The Hedonist writes, “The purpose of life is pleasure – have fun, party-hardy.” The Materialist says, “Life is all about the acquisition of things.”  You’re life is measured by the things you own.  You know the problem with that is that he who dies with the most toys, still dies.  And so, these are not really satisfying answers.


 The Mystical approach, the Philosophical approach or you can try the Self-Help approach.  You can go into any bookstore and find hundreds of books, probably, that talk about discovering your life purpose.  They all are basically the same thing.  They say the same thing; “You’ve got to invent your purpose.”  You’ve got to create your own purpose in life.  And they all give the same basic approach –“ discover your dreams, go after your goals, have some ambitions, dream big dreams, aim high, believe you can achieve, have faith, figure out what you’re good at, never give up, involve other people.” Now those are all good advice and they will, if you do those things, make you a success in life.  But being a success and knowing your purpose in life are not the same thing.  You can be a raving success in life and still never know, “What on earth am I here for?”  What did God put me on this earth for? 


thinkingYou see, the purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment.  It’s far greater than your own happiness.  Even your own peace of mind.  You were made by God and you were made for God and you were put here for His purposes.  And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense. 


Okay, why does God want us here?  Why are we alive?  Why are we on this planet?  Is there a reason?  Well, the Bible says this in Proverbs 16.4, “The Lord has made everything (circle everything) for His own purpose.”  It’s for His purpose.  Now God has never made anything without a purpose.  Every rock has a purpose, every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose and if you’re alive, you have a purpose.  If you want to know if God still has a purpose for your life, check your heart.  If it’s still beating, God still has a purpose for you here on earth. 


The truth is God has five purposes for your life. 


·        You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure (Worship)


·        You Were Formed for God’s Family (Fellowship)


·        You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)


·        You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)


·        You Were Made for a Mission. (Mission)


Those are the five reasons God put you on this planet. 


Right now, though, I just want us to see God’s motive.  Look at this next verse, Eph 1:4, ”Long before He laid down the earth’s foundation, He had us in His mind and settled on us as the focus of His love to be made whole and holy by His love.”  Notice again the phrase “the focus of His love”.  Cause if you don’t get anything else from reading this, I want you to understand this, God says He made you, to love you. You were created to be loved by God. 


God is love and God wanted to create something to love and so He created you.  He didn’t need you.  He wasn’t lonely.  But He made you in order to love you. He wanted you.  And before we can talk about anything else, you have to understand this is what on earth you’re here for – to be loved by God.

(Adapted from “What on earth am I here for? by Rick Warren)

New Venture’s Vision for the Future

visionBefore we talk about our vision for the future, let me teach you a Hebrew word. The word is Chazown. It is a word that means “a dream, a revelation, or a vision.” You can find Chazown 34 times in the Old Testament. Proverbs 29:18 is the best known verse containing Chazown. Look at how this Hebrew word is translated into English in some popular versions of the Bible.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint. (NIV)

                Where there is no vision, the people perish. (KJV)

                When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. (NLT)

                Without prophetic vision people run wild. (GW)

                Where there is no prophecy people cast off restraint. (NRSV)

                If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves. (MES)

No matter how you translate it, without Chazown, vision, revelation, divine guidance, people will be confused, scattered, unfocused and easily distracted.

So I want to set before you my vision for New Venture Christian Church not just for the next year but for the next five years. This has been burning in my soul for months now. Here it is in two words.

My vision for New Venture Christian Church for the next five years is to DOUBLE EVERYTHING.

Here are a few examples of what that would look like in its fulfillment. Five years from now:

200 to 250 in regular attendance

2 worship services with 2 worship bands

20 baptisms or more per year

10 small groups

50% of our people in ministry

5 ministries that we are involved in in the community

feeding 200 kids each week in our BPL ministry

60 kids in our children’s ministry

25 teens in our youth ministry

2 foreign mission involvements

our own building that gives us our own identity

You say, how will all this happen? We all know, vision isn’t worth the time it takes to dream it or write it or share it if there are no legs to it. So here are the legs to this vision. This is what it will take to see this vision happen. This is the way to move it from dream to reality, from words to wonderful results, from concepts to completion.

The first leg is PRAYER.

Spiritual work depends on spiritual tools. No spiritual tool is as important or powerful as prayer. God can do more in a tiny fraction of a second than I can accomplish in the next five years, in the rest of my life. He can do it bigger, better and more effectively than I can ever imagine. So the question becomes, how can we somehow influence God to be more engaged and moving in the bringing about of our vision for the future? The answer is prayer.

I would even like to step it up a notch or two when it comes to prayer, are you ready for this, and add fasting as well. Fasting, in the Bible, means not to eat or self-denial. Fasting is to choose not to partake of food or fleshly needs to give yourself more fully to prayer. A normal fast involves fasting from food but not from water. I would like to ask you to join me to pray daily and fast one day a week for our vision for the next 30 days.

Leg number two is a PLAN

Without a plan vision will go nowhere. Everyone can dream and talk wild and lofty thoughts, but how do you make it all happen? How do you turn dreams and vision into reality? With a plan.

So we are asking and commissioning every ministry team and ministry area to take the next two months to develop a plan to double their ministry in five years. What are the specific steps you will take to double the size and impact of your ministry area? We are talking about a well thought out and written out plan. So if you are the leader of any ministry area or ministry team, that is connected with New Venture, you are hereby commissioned as certified planners in the “double everything” vision for New Venture Christian Church.

Leg three is PEOPLE.

Vision can only become reality with people. Doesn’t that make sense? With boots on the ground! Of course, God can do anything he chooses to do, but that’s not how God works. God always works through people. When God wants to get something done he has always used people. And God wants to use you as a key part of carrying out his mission and vision for New Venture Christian Church.

Here are three things that are needed from all of us to make vision reality.

1. Consistent Worship. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do.” Consistent worship is so important and here are some reasons why.

It provides you with balanced spiritual nourishment. On the other hand, inconsistency in worship robs us of balanced spiritual nourishment. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) When we fail to consistently worship we are robbing ourselves of what we need most for our spiritual development.

Consistent worship says that we really do love God and want to worship him. It says I am so grateful for his love and faithfulness and I want to take every opportunity I can to let him know and to declare it to him and everybody else. How can I do otherwise? God honors and blesses that.

Consistent worship reveals that we really do love Jesus and the church he died for. The Bible says, “Jesus loves the church and gave his life for it.” How does my attendance say that I love the church? Because worshiping God is the starting point when it comes to loving and building up the church and accomplishing its mission in the world. Most people think at all starts with work. Worship must precede work. If it doesn’t we are trying to make it happen in our own strength.

Consistent worship also builds momentum. If there is one thing we will need to move to the next level and then to the next and the next it is momentum. Nothing is a momentum starter and booster like a packed house every Sunday. Have you ever noticed the energy when that happens?

So to double everything it begins with everyone who considers New Venture to be your church to place worship at the top of your weekly priorities.

2. The second of the big three when it comes to people is everyone involved in service. Serving says I want to be a part of the body of Christ the way God designed it to be not the way I wanted to be. God designed the church body like the human body. Why do you have body parts? To serve as functioning parts of the body. If you are a part of the church, the body of Christ, he expects you to act like it. That means, function as a viable and contributing part of the body. Serving says I want to be in this body what God expects me and designed me to be in it

3. That brings us to the third big three people need, generous people. Here is the bottom line, it takes money to turn vision into reality. It takes generous people. Not much in today’s world comes free.

Generosity with our money says, “I believe Jesus knows what he is talking about when he said, on more than one occasion, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’” I may not understand it all, I may not know how it will all work out but if he said it then I believe it and I will make it the standard of my life. I will make it the foundation of my existence and my relationship with him and the church.

Generosity also says, “I believe the Bible is true and I will obey it when it instructs me to bring the whole tithe into God’s storehouse.”Again, I may not understand how it will all work out, but I will obey the teaching of God when it comes to tithing.

A third statement generosity makes is,” I will trust the Lord to work it all out.” Jesus said, “He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” (Matthew 6:33)  The biggest reason why we aren’t more generous is that we don’t believe God will take care of us. We don’t trust him. We would rather handle it ourselves and trust in ourselves.

So we can only turn vision into reality when all of us who consider New Venture our home church, step up to the plate financially.

So we pray and pray and pray, with fasting, develop a plan to turn vision into reality and then we, the people, must be the boots on the ground and hearts in the action to flesh it out.

And the final leg is that we must PERSIST, even when we don’t feel like it.

Make this your marching order, Galatians 6:8-9, “Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”

Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up!


The animals hanimal school 4ad a school where the curriculum consisted of running, climbing, flying and swimming.  All the animals took all the subjects.       

The duck was good at swimming and flying, but he was terrible in running.  So he was made to drop his swimming class and stay after school and practice running.  He kept this up until he was only average in swimming, which was acceptable.  The others, including the teacher, were no longer threatened by the duck’s swimming abilities and everyone felt more comfortable – except the duck.

The eagle was considered to be a problem student.  For instance, in the climbing class he could beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own method of getting there.  He had to be severely disciplined and finally because of his non-cooperation in swimming he was expelled for insubordination.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but obviously was inadequate in other areas.  Because of so much make-up work in swimming, he had a nervous breakdown and had to drop out of school.

The turtle was a failure in almost every course offered.  His shell was considered to be the leading cause of his failure, so it was removed.  This did help his running a bit, but he became the first casualty when he was stepped on by the horse

Here’s the summation.  The faculty was disappointed, but all in all it was a good school on humility.  There were no real successes.  None seemed to measure up to thanimal school 3e others, but they did concentrate on their weak points and soanimal school2me progress was made. 

Get the point?  Everybody doesn’t fit the same mold, and in the church we don’t want to zero in on what you’re not good at but on what you are good at.  Everybody is a 10 in some area. 

If you’re in a ministry where it’s not working out, there is a way to know, you’re under stress. It’s a very stressful thing to do.  There’s not something wrong with you.  It means you’re in the wrong ministry area. So find the right one!  Get it?

(Copied from somewhere but I have no idea where)