Confessions of a Dreamer, Or, Beholding the Glory of God in Southwest Florida
I don’t know about you, but I am far too often guilty of speaking about the glory of God without a sense or desire to feel the weight of the glory of God. While it is sometimes difficult to define words like “glory,” it is not something that leaves you in doubt when you experience it. Glory is conspicuously unambiguous, I guess you could say.
One of the things that have gripped my mind and heart in recent weeks thinking and praying about church planting and community groups is dreaming what Southwest Florida would look like if the glory of God covered it like the waters cover the sea. I tremble to speak so much of what I have not seen, and boy do I want to see the glory of God in the conversion of sinners, the spread of the gospel, and the establishing of Christ-centered churches across Southwest Florida! I am finding myself beholding the glory of God in a dream more than a theological concept, for in that dream at least I can see it. The only problem is that the dream is not reality.
But that does not mean it cannot be.
What would it look like if God’s invisible kingdom were made visible here in our own city? What would we do if were so pleased to visit us with extraordinary providences in a sovereign and sweeping work of His Spirit?
In the account of the early church, we get a glimpse of this. In Jerusalem, the Lord as adding to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). We also learn that later many who heard the word believed (Acts 4:4) and also “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women . . .” (Acts 5:14). Even when strapped with unmet needs, the Jerusalem church “multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
The Holy Spirit was not done in Jerusalem. We find that the church “multiplied” throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31). Specifically,
- “all the residents of Lydda . . . turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35).
- Twice in Antioch, we read that “a great number (a great many people) were added to the Lord” (Acts 11:21, 24).
- In Iconium, “a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed” (Acts 14:1).
- In Lystra, “many disciples were made” (Acts 14:21).
- In Thessalonica, “a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” were persuaded (Acts 17:4).
- In Berea, “many [of them] believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men” (Acts 17:12).
- In Corinth, “many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
So what’s the point here? Why so many superlatives? Is Luke a man full of exaggerations and embellishment? Certainly not, for he himself wrote that his goal was to give “an orderly account” with the precision of a doctor and integrity of one inspired by the Holy Spirit.
One of the things we observe from the life of Jesus was that He loved (and was impressed by!) those who believed Him to do something so big and beyond themselves that it was suited only for the Sovereign King. Juxtapose that with Nazareth, where Jesus “did not do many mighty works” because the people were all-to-familiar with contemptible unbelief. While we would certainly never want to be found with such unbelief, our enemy does not plot that we would deny Jesus so much as he would subtly have us get over Jesus.
So I ask that you join me in praying, dreaming, and seeking first the kingdom of God for the glory of Jesus here in Southwest Florida. Through Grace Baptist Church, may there be many who see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and savor Him as their Treasure!