This year's
best book

I'd like to say I read a lot of books, but it isn't really true.

What is true is that I start a lot of books and I buy a lot of books. I got rid of 20 boxes last summer and 10 more boxes this summer.

I have heard various approaches to buying books, like, "I never buy one book till I finish the one I am reading." Or, "Whenever I see a book that looks interesting, I wait two weeks to make sure it is something I want to read."

My approach works pretty much like this: if it looks remotely interesting to me, I buy it. I doubt I finish 5% of the books I start. There is a sizable percentage of books that I buy that I never even finish the first chapter. Every now and then, I will go on an Amazon rampage looking for books on a particular topic, and I will buy a pile of them. As I look around me just now, I see a couple that I don't even know for sure if I have opened or not.

Every now and then, I run across a really good book and I actually finish it. Sometimes, if it is a really great book, I will read it more than once. Sometimes, if it is a super great book and it is available, I will buy the audible from www.audible.com or get the CD. (I am a slow learner; sometimes, I need the repetition.) A few books have videos as well and if they are good enough, I might get that too.

I have read Bruce Wilkinson's DREAMGIVER twice. I have listened to the audio twice. I am almost finished watching the Video. This is a reasonably good book!

How important is the dream?

One of the things that Bruce Wilkinson points out is that dreams are not an added extra to life. They are not a bonus for people who need an extra challenge. They are not the icing; they are not the cake; they are the meat and potatoes. They are not incidental to life any more than the basket is incidental to basketball. There are other parts of the game, to be sure: dribbling, ball handling, passing, team-play, off court stuff like weight training and watching films. But, there is a reason they call the basket the goal. When we score we call it a goal. It is the goal. It is the point. It is the object to the exercise.

The BIG DREAM that the DREAMGIVER has for each one of us is central to our lives. It is the point. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of taking kids here and paying bills and earning a living that we fail to make a life. The life is all about fulfilling the calling that God has for each of us.

Paul said, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philip. 3:14 (NIV) He had a calling, a dream, a goal, a passion--something that pulled him forward.

Bruce Wilkinson rightly points out that this calling has to do with meeting some big need. The BIG DREAM that the DREAMGIVER gives to Ordinary is not about buying a big house and driving a fast car and sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a big screen TV. It is about helping someone, building something, writing something, preaching some sermon, feeding someone. In short, it is about living out kingdom life.

One of the things that makes this books so compelling to me is the life that produced it. I have known of Bruce Wilkinson for years and watched his life and ministry from a distance. He was rocking along, doing a good work for God through Walk Thru The Bible Ministries when God placed his hand of blessing on him through the little book The Prayer of Jabez--based on an obscure verse in the Old Testament and a prayer that Bruce has been praying since seminary days. That book shot to the top of the New York Times best seller list. He has sold over 22 million copies of books (all titles) to date. (A context here: a book that sells 100,000 copies is considered a huge success.) To say that he was at the pinnacle of his career and had it made is a gross understatement.

What did Bruce do with all that fame and fortune? He followed his dream. He moved to Africa to see if he could help bring in the kingdom of God in Africa. What do I mean by that?

  • To feed the hungry through Never Ending Gardens
  • To clothe the poor
  • To stop the spread of AIDS
  • To find fathers for the fatherless
  • To preach the gospel.

It is a big need and a BIG DREAM to meet that need. Bruce Wilkinson is living out the message of the DREAMGIVER.

(See www.dreamforafrica.com for details--but be careful, you just might find yourself being touched by a BIG DREAM and following Bruce to Africa.)

 

How difficult is the dream?

The books I read (or start reading) all fall under one category: how to.

  • How to grow a church
  • How to live the Christian life
  • How to pray
  • How to communicate
  • How to have a great marriage
  • How to evangelize
  • How to run a business
  • How to lead

I have read a lot of these books. It is one of the reasons why I don't finish most of the books I buy. I have read enough of them, that they all start sounding alike after awhile. I had a friend who used to say to me, "Never read a book you could have written; never attend a conference you could teach."

Most of these books have a bad habit of oversimplifying. Sometimes, it is even in the title:

  • Seven simple steps to an effective prayer life
  • Three easy ways to retire early and comfortably
  • Spanish: Fast and easy

We all wish it were true. We wish it so strongly that when someone tells us we can have it and it will be easy, we believe them. The DREAMGIVER is not one of those books. Bruce Wilkinson is very straightforward about the difficulty of following the DREAMGIVER's dream for your life. If you would follow your dream you can expect some of the following obstacles:

  • You must discover your BIG DREAM. Your BIG DREAM may have to do with supporting the BIG DREAM or others. Not everyone is a leader. God created far more followers than leaders, and it is a good thing. Your BIG DREAM may involve supporting Bruce Wilkinson's BIG DREAM and going to Africa to plant a Never Ending Garden. I'd invite you to follow my BIG DREAM of helping the kingdom push back the darkness by living out group life at its most base level--the small group, and seeing that group grow and divide, grow and divide, grow and divide.
  • You must get out of your comfort zone. The BIG DREAM is always outside of your comfort zone.
  • You must overcome the Border bullies--real life people (normally friends and family members) who discourage you from following your BIG DREAM. It is helpful to find a Border Buster who can help you break out of Familiar toward the BIG DREAM.
  • Next comes wasteland. This might be a good time to point out that much of this parable has strong connections with stories in the Bible like Joseph's story, Moses' story and the story of the people of Israel leaving Egypt to follow their BIG DREAM to go to the land of promise. Did they enter a wasteland? So will you.
  • Sanctuary. Bruce Wilkinson calls this an optional part of the journey, but a necessary part for any true God-follower. After the wasteland and before fighting the giants, God calls you aside to restore your soul.
  • Giants. Israel faced giants and so will you. Some of the giants include Moneyless, Corruption, Rejection, Failure. In order to realize your BIG DREAM, you must conquer each one of these.
  • BIG DREAM. Like any good story, this one has a surprising twist at the end. The BIG DREAM is not the end; it is only the beginning.

How many dreams are there?

Following the DREAMGIVER is a way of life. It is not something we do one time, but many times. We accomplish one dream, and then, that becomes our new land of Familiar and the DREAMGIVER gives us a new BIG DREAM. Bruce has been working this process for years. Now, his BIG DREAM is for Africa.

Dreams come simultaneously in different areas of our lives. In one area we may be in the wasteland. In another area of our life, we may be just getting started, understanding our BIG DREAM or facing our border bullies.

This book came at a good time for me. My BIG DREAM has been to help the capital C Church double by helping small groups and Sunday School classes double every two years or less. I also had a BIG DREAM to keep my kids fed. For years, I struggled with the giant of Moneyless. I thought for a long time that I could conquer this giant with the sword of Video. But, that proved to not be the solution for me. About 2.5 years ago, I scrapped video production and began concentrating on doing more conferences. I have doubled the number of conferences that I do and, and I am happy to report that Moneyless has been fatally wounded, though it is not dead yet. I had worked so hard on this sub-dream, that I almost forgot the big picture of the BIG DREAM. This book helped me to refocus on the task of helping as many teachers as I can to double every two years or less.

I am going to be experimenting with some options to double and then double again the number of people I speak to. I can't double the number of meetings--I am away from my kids as many nights a year as I care to be. So, the next battle is doubling the number of people at each event. With the wisdom the DREAMGIVER provides, I will pursue the slaying of that giant. What an adventure.

Christianity is not just about sipping tea and crumpets with Jesus.  It is also about pursing the dream that he has for your life. Pursue it with passion.