Living the Dream (In the “dash”)

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that

love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

A few years ago Bishop Clarke was preaching a sermon

series entitled dreamers, world changers.  During this series I

couldn’t help but think of Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream, 

And if he were alive today would he be satisfied? I’ve thought 

about this over the past year or so and wondered would he feel 

that his dream had been fulfilled?  Would he think that his dream 

had actually come true?  I personally don’t believe that

he would.  As a matter of fact, I think he might be a little

disappointed.  So ask your neighbor are you living the dream?  

Here is a little snippet from MLK’s I have a dream speech.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.  And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.  

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!  

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.  I have a dream today!  

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” I have a dream today.  

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and his dream was bigger than speeches.  

His dream was bigger than parades.  

His dream was bigger than getting the Nobel Peace Prize. 

His dream was bigger than being recognized by the president. 

His dream was bigger than having a holiday named in his honor.  

It was his hope and belief that all people would be treated equally.  And we have come a long way, but there are still some roads to travel, some hills to climb, and some waters to cross.  This was evident in the shooting death and no charges being filed in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson in.  This was evident in the strangling death and no charges being filed in the Eric Garner case.  This was evident in the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.  This is evident in no charges being filed in the Breonna Taylor case.  This is evident in the shootings of Cassie Gooding and Andre Hill.  This is evident in the racism that still has its strangle hold on our country.  That’s why Will Smith’s words were so on point when he said racism isn’t getting worst, it’s getting filmed.  This is evident every single time some people open their mouths!  We have come a long way, but yes, we still have some roads to travel. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 and he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.  And on his tombstone you will see the date that he was born, a “dash” and the date that he was killed.  Now we have no control over how or when we are born or how and when we will die, but we do control our dash.  Martin Luther King Jr. lived his dash to the fullest.  He was only 39 years old when he was assassinated and look at all that he accomplished. He was committed to making this world a better place.  So my question to you today is what are you doing with your dash?  Are you living the dream or are you doing your own thing?  Martin Luther King Jr. and many, many, others died in order for us to live the dream, and we cannot squander that dream away by not doing anything with our dash.  Look at your neighbor and tell them please don’t waste your dash.   You see in the text today Paul is addressing the Christian church in Rome in the form of a letter.  He was letting them know that all things, not some things, but all things work together for the good of those that love God.  The good, the bad, and the ugly things work together for the good of those that love God, and to them that are the called according to his purpose.  

Every situation.

Every circumstance.

Every victory. 

Every defeat are working together.  

Every beating.

Every killing. 

Every incarceration.

Every unjust treatment is working together.  

Every vote cast.

Every law passed.

Every valley crossed.

And every mountain climbed is working together.

So knowing this how are you living the dream.  What are you doing with your dash?

Now 27 years ago, now wait a minute, did I just say 27 years ago.  I am way too young to be saying 27 years ago.  Wow!  Anyway 27 years ago I was blessed with a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, and I had my own dream.  I was going to Slippery Rock University to become a gym teacher!  I was going to play kick ball, dodge- ball, basketball, freeze tag, floor hockey, and volleyball every day.  I was going to wear sweat pants and tennis shoes to work every day! Well I never became a gym teacher. You see sometimes your dream changes.  My dream changed quite a bit.  When I decided not to be a gym teacher I decided to be a regular education teacher.  Then I was going to be a regular education and a special education teacher.  Then I was just going to be a special education teacher because that is the area I earned my degree in.  Yes I am going to be a special education teacher.  But hold up, wait a minute.  I just started dating my future wife, Shannon and I am not really sure if I want to teach special education.  I think I’ll go back to school and get my master’s degree in early childhood education, because I seen Kindergarten Cop with Arnold Schwarzenegger and now I want to be a kindergarten teacher.  So all though my dream shifted a bit here and there, I still became a teacher.  Seven years in kindergarten and I am in my 14th year of first grade.  It took me seven years to get to first grade.  But I love working with the little guys for a number of different reasons, but the most important reason is because I am always the tallest person in the room, but the beautiful thing is that I am living the dream.  I’m teaching at a great school in a fairly good school district. I’m living the dream.  I married the most beautiful woman in the world.  And now we’re  living the dream together. We have two amazing and rather handsome boys.  We’re living the dream! We have been blessed over the past 21 years with employment, a roof over our heads, a church and pastor to look after our spiritual needs.  We are living the dream.  And we are able to live the dream because of the way that Martin Luther King lived in his dash.  We are able to live the dream because Romans 8:28. All things work together for the good of them that love God… 

You keep saying that your living the dream, but what does that mean exactly?  Good question, I am so glad that you asked.  You see, I believe that God has blessed every individual in this room with a purpose.  There is something that you and only you are supposed to do in this world.  And because of the battles that Martin Luther King Jr. and many civil rights leaders and activists fought and won there is nothing stopping you from fulfilling your purpose and living the dream that God has place in your heart.  

Living the dream is taking advantage of every opportunity that is given to you.  

Living the dream is registering to vote because people died in order for you to vote and every vote does count.  

Living the dream is going for whatever is in your heart no matter what stands in your way or what people might say.  

Living the dream is graduating from high school.  

Living the dream is going to college and earning that degree.  Living the dream is going to trade school and making something out of yourself.  

Living the dream is entering the military and serving your country.  Living the dream is getting that first job.  

Living the dream is buying that first new car.  

Living the dream is owning your own home. 

Living the dream is starting your own business.  

Living the dream is serving the Lord in every area of your life.  Living the dream is you living your life in such a way that the sacrifices that were made for us in the past were not made in vain and your life brings glory to The Lord!

That sounds great Pastor Brian, but how do I live the dream.  How do I live in my dash?  I am so glad that you asked.  I will give you three ways that you can live the dream in your dash and then I will bid you good day.

The first thing that you need to do to live the dream in the dash is focus.  You have to focus on your dream.  Focus is defined as the center of interest or activity, the center focal point, the center point, the center of attention, the hub, the pivot, the nucleus, the heart, the core, the cornerstone, the emphasis, the concentration, and the priority!  You have to have a laser like focus on your dream.  All things can’t work together without focus.

You cannot afford to be distracted. 

You cannot afford to be sidetracked. 

You cannot afford to veer off course.  

You cannot afford to procrastinate.  

You cannot afford to take your time.  

You cannot afford to let your mind wonder.  

You have to stay focused on your dream.  

You see that is what happened to Peter.  When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he was the only disciple that had the guts, the audacity, and the courage to get out of the boat.  Does anyone in the room today have the courage to get out the boat?  Does anyone in the room have the audacity to abandon ship, to think outside of the box, to travel the road less traveled?  Look at your neighbor and say, abandon ship!  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  

But the minute that Peter was distracted by the storm. 

The minute Peter started to worry about his surroundings.

The minute Peter’s mind wondered.

The minute Peter took his focus off of Jesus he began to sink into the water.  You have to keep your focus on your dream.  The good news is that when Peter began to sink into the water, Jesus was right there to pull him out.  

Now how many times has Jesus pulled you out of the storm?  

How many times has Jesus pulled you out of a life or death situation?  

How many times has Jesus picked you up, turned you around, and placed your feet on higher solid ground?  

He promised that he would never leave us or forsake us.  So you can stay focused on your dream.

You focus in three areas.

You focus on you fitness.

You focus on your finances.

You focus on your family.

Not only do you need focus to live the dream in your dash you also need fortitude to live the dream in your dash. Fortitude is to have courage in pain or adversity, bravery, endurance, resilience, mettle, moral fiber, strength of mind, strength of character, strong mindedness, backbone, spirit, grit, and steadfastness.  In other words, it means that you keep on keeping on.  It means that you do not let anything or anybody stand in your way.  

There are going to be obstacles.  

There are going to be stormy days.  

There are going to be trials.

There are going to be tribulations.

There are going to be some valleys to cross and mountains to climb, but you have to have a made up mind that you are going to do whatever it takes to reach your dream.  That which does not kill you can only make you stronger.  And with God on your side nothing is impossible.  When I think of fortitude I am reminded of the story of Jacob.  Jacob fell in love with Rachel and told his uncle that he would work seven years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage.  After the seven years his uncle tricked him and presented him with his oldest daughter Leah instead.  So Jacob worked another seven years for Rachel’s hand in marriage.   If that is not fortitude I don’t know what is.  He worked fourteen years to live his dream and marry the woman of his dreams.  And we can’t even wait 14 minutes to get our food in a restaurant without getting an attitude.  We can’t even wait 1 minute and 40 seconds for a bag of microwave popcorn to pop.  We can’t wait 14 days for our package to arrive.  I know that your dream has not come to pass yet, but hold on and be patient.  God is not through with you yet.  You have to have fortitude to live the dream.

You need fortitude in three areas.

Fortitude in your fights. 

Fortitude in your failures. (Failure is the father of success)

Fortitude in your feelings.

So lets recap for a moment.  In order to live the dream in the dash you must have focus.  In order to live the dream in the dash you must have fortitude.  And last but definitely not least you need faith to live the dream in your dash.  Now faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something, belief, confidence, trust, conviction, strong belief in God or in doctrines of religion based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.  But I like the definition that is in the book of Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  Faith is knowing that you know that you know that you know that God is going to come through for you.  When I think about faith I am reminded of the woman with the issue of blood.  Her faith was so strong that Jesus felt it, and she just touched the hem of his garment.  Imagine what would have happened if she actually touched Jesus?  Is your faith strong enough to be felt by God because if you are ever going to achieve greatness in life, if you are ever going to have true success in life, if you ever want to truly live the dream you have to have faith.  

You need to have faith in three ways.

Faith that God is for you.

Faith that God can find you.

Faith that God can fix you.

If you are ever going to live the dream in your dash you have to have faith.  Faith that the same God that created you. 

The same God that saved you.

The same God that picked you up, and made something beautiful out of your life is the same God that will bless you to live the dream. But you need faith like 

Harriet Tubman      Henry Box Brown   George Washington Carver Garrett Morgan       Rosa Parks          Thurgood Marshall     Ruby Bridges                                        Jackie Robinson      Mae Jemison           President Barak Obama    Martin Luther King Jr.           You have to have faith.  

But this is what I love about God, even when our faith is weak, God is still faithful. 

I can never repay you lord for what you’ve done for me.

How you loosed my shackles and you set me free.  

How you made a way out of no way.

Turned my darkness into day. 

You’ve been my joy in the time of sorrow. 

Hope for my tomorrow.

Peace in the time of storm.

Strength when I’m weak and worn! 

You’ve been so faithful. 

Is there anybody here that is thankful for the faithfulness of God. Well stand to your feet and put your ten stringed instruments together and give God praise.  I know it may not be what you want to do, but since you’re here you mind as well praise him anyway!  

Oh magnify the lord with me.

Let us exalt his name together!   

From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the name Jesus is worthy to be praise! 

So I will praise him in the morning.

I will praise him in the noonday.

I will praise him in the evening.

I will praise him when the sun goes down.

I will praise him when I’m up.

I will praise him when I am down.

I will praise him in the good times.

I will praise him in the bad times.

I will praise him on the mountain.

I will praise him in the valley.

I will praise him when I am sad.

I will praise him when I am happy.

As a matter of fact if you’re happy and you know praise the Lord.

If you’re happy and you know it praise the Lord.

If you’re happy and you know than your life will surely show it.

If you’re happy and you know it praise the Lord!

Remember you do not have control over how or when you or born or how or when you will die, but you do control over what you do with your dash. I choose to live the dream, and I hope that you do too.  You live the dream by having focus.  You live the dream by having fortitude.  And you live the dream by having faith!  Knowing that all things work together for the good of those that love God and are called according to his purpose.


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