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The Non-Vision Statement

Genesis 12:1 NIV

"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.'"

OK, pick a number, any number. Write it down on your bulletin. Now turn to your neighbor and show them what you wrote down. How many of you wrote down a number larger than a million?

If you didn't, why didn't you?

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated Google while still graduate students at Stanford University. According to Fortune Small Business Magazine, Internet users perform over 150 million searches a day on the Google Search Engine. The Google Search Engine can access over two billion pages in 74 different languages. One study recently showed that Google users used the search engine 13 million hours in one month. Compare that with Yahoo that came in second with 5.4 million hours.

Google is dominant.

How did they get so big? I don't have the expertise to answer that question, but I can tell you that it began with their initial vision. The word Google comes from a mathematical term that is the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. They picked the name before anyone performed a single search on their engine. They began with a vision.

While most people are likely to pick a number like 14 or 98, Brin & Page decided to pick a googol-1 with 100 zeroes. Jim Reese, chief operations engineer of Google says this about the company's founders: "It takes a lot of confidence and courage to go ahead and do that [be huge]. It's rare to find people who think on such a grand scale and are also able to create a great product at the same time." (Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law." (NASB)

I've often quoted the first part of that verse, and it goes so well with a sermon like this one, but usually I chop off the verse in the middle and don't quote the whole thing. But not today. Look at the second part-"happy is he who keeps the law." It reminds me that even the grandest of visions will amount to nothing without the hard work it takes to implement the vision. Or as Reese put it, "It's rare to find people who think on such a grand scale and are also able to create a great product at the same time."

Having the vision-the ability to think on a grand scale is one thing. Keeping the law-creating a great product, is another. And maybe that's why when with think of a number we're likely to think of 14 or 98 instead of a million because those are numbers that we can put our arms around-they seem attainable, controllable, maybe even comfortable. 

Can we have a great vision and still do the little things that it takes to implement it? What I'm about to say may surprise you, but I don't think we need a great vision. I know that I'm going against everything that leadership gurus are teaching in their lectures and books, but I just don't buy it. You see, I don't think we need a great vision because God already has one for us, we just need to follow the one He has, we don't need to create one ourselves.

God told Abram to go to the land that He would show him. The vision was God's, not Abram's. Abram didn't exercise visionary faith; he exercised blind faith. The vision was greater than Abram could ever dream up himself. Look at the promise that God made to him in Genesis 12:3 "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." I'd call that a significant promise, wouldn't you? It was huge. Abram followed an incredible vision, but the vision wasn't his, it was God's. It was a googol-size vision, or better yet, a God-sized vision, wouldn't you agree?

When the author of Hebrews spoke about Abram, whose name was later changed to Abraham, he didn't comment on the size of his vision-mainly because he didn't have one-he commented on the quality of his faith. Hebrews 11:8-17 says: "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. [9] By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; [10] for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. [11] By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; [12] therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 

[13] All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. [14] For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. [15] And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. [16] But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. 

[17] By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;

It is common for us to begin a conversation with strangers by asking, "so where are you from?" Like Abraham, most of us are sojourners here. California is primarily comprised of people from somewhere else. At one time, it was people from back East and the South that were moving here. Now it is people from all over the globe. People from the East are likely to be from China or Korea and people from the South are likely to be from Mexico or South America. They are sojourners, and so are we. 

That realization is a starting point for us. We need to acknowledge that most of us are in a foreign land, just like everyone else. Yes, we're in a foreign land, but the question I have is are we foreign missionaries?

Let me share something personal with you. And please try not to read anything into what I'm about to say. I believe it is my destiny to be your Pastor and will be perfectly content to attend my retirement party in Seaside in the year 2027 or so. With that said, I've been keeping a secret from my wife and the churches I've served. For years I've been asking God to allow me to go overseas and serve Him by proclaiming the gospel where He doesn't have a preacher. Certainly, I believe that our call to California is a call to missions, and I've always considered myself a missionary, but I've always loved International mission work and have been willing to go if God opens that door. I've never said a word about it to Susan, instead I've prayed, "Lord if you want us to go you'll have to talk to Susan about it, I won't." And He has. This past summer, Susan brought it up and she told me that if God wants us to go, she's ready to respond to His call. I don't know if God will ever let us serve Him in that capacity, but I do know that He requires us to be willing to go. I was filled with joy when I revisited the prayer about God speaking to Susan about going. "Lord, I said, you are awesome. Thanking you for speaking to my wife about becoming a missionary, we're ready to go Lord, you just tell us where and when and we'll go."

Right after that happened, I began to think about something that Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Fellowship told me when I interviewed him for my book, Future Church http://www.thefuturechurch.com/order.html . He said, "Love God and do what fits in your area-think like a missionary, and put the gospel wherever you happen to be." (Future Church, p. 165-6) And when I thought about that quote, I heard God say to me, "So you're ready to be a missionary overseas, good. Too bad you're not willing to do it in Seaside."

Whoa! Once again, God nailed me with my own duplicity. I didn't have to ask Him what he meant. I knew what He meant. If I was a missionary assigned to a foreign field, one of the first things I'd do is learn to speak the language. Which explains why I'm in college right now studying Spanish.

But I don't think I'm the only duplicitous person here. How many of you have talked about a need to reach our community over the past few years? 

We don't need a great vision-we already have it, we just need to work the vision.

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