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Summary: This first Sunday of the year challenge was designed to remind members of the reason why our church exists.

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Text: MT 22:36-40. 22:18-20 Title: “Where Vision Starts ”

Date: January 4, 2004 Series: VISION & VALUES – 1

Intro: A golfer’s errant shot ended up on an ant hill. So he found the ball, squared up, took a big swing – and missed. Thousands of innocent ants were killed. Then the golfer took another swing – and missed again. Another wave of innocent ants was destroyed. Panic stricken insects scurried everywhere.

Just at that moment, one ant took charge. “Follow me,” he cried with authority. Another ant yelled back, “But where are we going?” The first ant pointed to the golf ball sitting in front of them. “There!” he cried. “If we don’t get on the ball, we’re all going to die!”

Transition: I don’t know about you, but there’s something about that story that I identify with. Part of it may be that I’m not a very good golfer! Actually, the story’s punch line comes from the ant’s cry. In those short, authoritative words, we find Vision, Urgency and Clarity.

Welcome to January of 2004. This morning I would like to begin this new year with you by launching a new series about Vision and Values.

3 Reasons: There are three very specific reasons why I feel led in this direction at this time.

1) Growth – On an average Sunday, there are some 150-200 people who were not with us a year ago.

• Vision -- That leads to a need for painting the Vision as if we were doing this for the very first time.

2) Vision Leaks – Unless the vision is repeated and clarified, the faithful lose sight, lose energy.

• Urgency – Andy Stanley teaches that vision must be repeated again and again because vision leaks.

3) Impact – The Church is most effective when we are clear on what we’re doing and why.

• Clarity – The more we can identify practical next steps for each person who is part of North River, the

closer we will come to unleashing the redemptive capacity that God has given to us as a church family.

Where Vision Starts…

1. With a Dream of a better future.

a. Bill Hybels makes the point that Vision is a leader’s most Potent Weapon.

Listen to what he writes about the potency of a dream set loose in the human mind.

1) “In 1774 a leader named John Adams boldly declared his vision for a new nation, a union of thirteen states independent from the parliament and the King of England. Against great odds, his words came true. Within two years of his prophetic proclamation, the United States of America was

born.”. It took six years to win the battle, but the nation was born with a God-given dream.

2) “In 1789 William Wilberforce stood before the British Parliament and eloquently cried out for the day when men, women and children would no longer be bought and sold like farm animals. Each year for the next 18 years his bill was defeated, but he continued his tireless campaign against slavery. Finally, in 1833, four days before his death, Parliament passed a bill completely abolishing slavery.”

3) In the late 1800’s two brothers who ran a bicycle shop announced that “the age of the flying machine” had arrived. After ten years of failed experiments, Wilbur and Orville Wright got the first airplane off the ground in 1903. Over the next few decades, air flight revolutionized battle strategies, travel, and made the world a whole lot smaller.

4) “In the early 20th century a dynamic industrialist named Henry Ford stood in front of his ragtag band of employees and vowed to make automobile transportation affordable for the average American family. The nation laughed out loud.” Did anyone walk here this morning??

5) “In the 1940’s a young evangelist named Billy Graham had a radical dream. He and a few college buddies envisioned packed stadiums where people far from God could hear the… gospel As of this year, 210 million people have heard Billy Graham preach live, while over one billion have heard Dr. Graham present the gospel via television and radio.”.

6) “And who can forget 1963? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and painted a picture of a world without prejudice, hatred, or racism… Although Dr. King was cruelly assassinated, his dream lives on. Almost forty years later his passion guides our nation as racial barriers fall.” --source: Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership, p. 29-30 (Zondervan, 2002).

b. But the most powerful dream ever painted rose from 9 words uttered by Jesus….

Matthew 16:18 – “…and on this rock I will build my church…”

1) Make no mistake: It is HIS church. And North River is HIS Church, far more than it is ours.

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