Good Ol’ Snoopy

March 17, 2013

My favorite
character in the Peanuts world has to be Snoopy and as a kid I couldn’t
understand why the strip wasn’t called “Snoopy” instead of “Peanuts”, I assumed
that he was the main character and the rest of the cast were just supporting
actors. And we all have favorite Snoopy moments and characters.  Perhaps Snoopy as Joe Cool, or a lawyer or a tennis
ace, maybe it’s Snoopy as the leader of the Beagle Scouts.
The most iconic of
course is Snoopy as the World War I ace gunning for the elusive Red Baron.   And that was made even more popular with the
two songs “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” and then “Snoopy’s Christmas”, both of
which went to the top of the charts in 1966 and 1967. 
Snoopy decorates his
doghouse for Christmas and wins, he organizes a hockey game for his pal
Woodstock on his water bowl, complete with a Zamboni.   He walks on his hind legs at time and
dispenses advice to those who will listen. Robert Short who wrote the book “The Gospel According to Peanuts” back in the sixties had this to say about Snoopy: “Snoopy is a typical Christian, a flawed character who is nonetheless good: He is lazy, he is a ‘chow hound’ without parallel, he is bitingly sarcastic, he is frequently a coward, but he is ‘a hound of heaven.’”

Which might explain Snoopy’s desire to write a book on Theology. Here are some highlights from Snoopy’s life. (profile video)

And everyone takes
it in stride that perhaps this is normal behaviour for a dog, except of course
Peppermint Patty who refers to Snoopy as “That funny looking kid”.  And at least once Charlie Brown says his wish
is “To just have an ordinary dog, like other people!’’
But what fun would that be?  Snoopy shows up in the third Peanuts strip
that Charles Schulz drew and through the years we discovered a few things about
Snoopy.  We all know where he came from, Daisy
Hill Puppy Farm.  If you paid attention
to the strip than you know that we have been introduced to four brothers, a
sister, both parents and a nephew.
And a little known fact, Charlie Brown
was not Snoopy’s original owner.  That
would be a little girl named Lila whose family adopted Snoopy but discovered
their apartment was no place to raise a beagle, especially one as eccentric as
Snoopy and so they returned him to Daisy Hill where Charlie Brown obtained him
as a “used dog”.
The debate has raged for years over what
type of dog Snoopy actually is but he was called a beagle throughout the strip
and with the one exception of when he told Charlie Brown “I ain’t no
stupid beagle!”, he even identified himself as a beagle.    
But the question
still remains “So what?”  What is it we
can learn from Snoopy? 
Well here is a
shocker, Snoopy wasn’t really a famous flying ace, or a tennis pro or Joe Cool,
anywhere other than his mind.  Snoopy was
a dreamer.  He knew he was a dog, but
those other things were what he dreamed he could be. 
In the scripture
that was read earlier we discovered another dreamer.  His name was Joseph, and the Bible miniseries
on the History channel skipped him completely but you really can’t understand
the story of Moses without the story of Joseph. 
And when we first
meet Joseph he is just a kid.  A kid who
had dreams A kid who was loved by his father and a kid who was loathed by his
brothers.  Perhaps you know of him?  
Joseph’s father
Jacob, who would be Abraham’s grandson, had settled with his family in Canaan
which is now part of what we think of as Palestine. A part of Jacob’s immense
family was seventeen year old Joseph. 
Now to be real frank with you
Joseph wasn’t the most popular member of that family, at least not among his
siblings.  And there is good reason for
that listen to how the Bible describes the relationship between Joseph and his
father Jacob, Genesis 37:3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children
because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a
special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.
Now sometimes we do that with
our kids, now I know that we claim that we don’t play favourites but reality
says that there are times that one or another of the kids is more lovable then
the others.  But listen to Genesis 37:4 But his
brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of
them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
You see that was the
fatal mistake that Jacob made, it wasn’t that Jacob loved Joseph more than all
the other sons.  Unfortunately my friends
that is a failing of the human condition, We may try to love all of our
children equally but everyone knew that my parents didn’t.  I know that my parents loved my sister more than
me.  It’s funny though because she knows
that her parents loved me more than her. 
Oh well.
The fatal mistake
here was made when Jacob let everyone else including his other children know
that Joseph was the favourite.  The coat
of many colours may have been a neat idea for a musical but it was really dumb
for fostering sibling unity.  Now Joseph
didn’t help the matter when he told his brothers about the dream where they
were all subservient to him.  Talk about
how to win friends and influence people. 
I bet it was Joseph who wrote the sequel to that book, you know the one
called “How to win back the friends I’ve already influenced”  And so on that day as Joseph’s brothers saw
him coming across the field toward them he was not the most popular person in
their world.  As a matter of fact he
probably didn’t make the list of the top 100.
Now with that in mind how do
you think they welcomed him.  What tone
of voice did they use.  Excitement?  Awe? 
Respect?  Not.  Dollars to donuts their words were dripping
with sarcasm.  But I like their
words.  It says something about young
Joseph, with a different tone of voice I can’t think of a greater
compliment.  Genesis
37:19
“Here comes the dreamer!” they said.
If I could sum up
the single most important difference between successful people and
non-successful people it would have to be the ability to dream.  The ability to see things the way they should
be or could be.  A couple of weeks ago I
mentioned one of my favorite quotes and that was from George
Bernard Shaw who said “There are those that look at
things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and
ask why not?”   That quote was used by Ted Kennedy when he
eulogized his brother Bobby Kennedy in 1967, but the sentiment is the same no
matter who said it.
I have spent the
past thirty two years pastoring local churches and I’ve become more and more
convinced that the secret to the success of churches is to have a dream, to
dream of where we can go, how high we can fly and what we can do.  Over the past years I’ve been asked by
different people to account for the growth of the churches that I
pastored.  In each instance I’ve searched
my ministry for some indication of what I might have done to accomplish what
had been accomplished.  Was it my preaching?  Hah, I could wish.  Was it my visiting?  Hah you could wish.  But what was it?  I think I nailed it down, if I was to be
asked today to account for the numerical growth of Truro Wesleyan Church, North
Point Wesleyan Methodist Church and Cornerstone Wesleyan Church I would respond
“A Dream”
If I could tell you
the most important thing that you need to have to make it today it would be a
dream.  More important than education, as
important as education is.  More
important than good health, as important as good health is.  More important than popularity, as important
as popularity is. 
People with a great
education will become failures without a dream. 
People who are in splendid health will fail without a dream.  The most popular people in the world will
become failures without a dream.
I would suspect as
different as they might be that most everyone here today has a dream, or
dreams, dreams about where you want to go, what you want to see, and the things
you want to accomplish.  Don’t sell them
cheap.  Don’t mortgage your dreams and
don’t tie them down.  Dreams are a part
of what keeps you young, you become old when you give away your dreams. 
So, why are dreams
so important? 
1) Without Dreams
There Can Be No Change.
 If necessity is the
mother of invention then dreams must be the father.  You will never see it in your hands until you
first see it in your head.  It’s true
with people and it’s true with churches. 
We won’t accomplish anymore at Cornerstone
Wesleyan Church than what we can dream of. 
In other words if we can’t see it then we can’t have it.  God knew that and so that is why he said in
the book of Joel 2:28 “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my
Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men
will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.
That particular prophecy was
fulfilled in Acts 2:17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon
all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see
visions, and your old men will dream dreams.
What that tells us
is that the church of God cannot exist without God sent dreams.  Because dreams are indicative of the presence
of the spirit.  No Spirit, no
dreams.  No dreams, no spirit.  When you see a church whose only commitment
is to keep the doors open.  A church
where there is no vision for reaching the lost, no vision for changing the
world, then you have found a church that exists without the spirit.  It’s a church in name, a church in
organisation maybe even has a church building but it isn’t a church.  It’s a religious social club, nothing more,
nothing less.  When churches become
content to simply hold their own then they become losers.
Every church needs
to ask itself the question, “What does God want us to
do?”  I would suspect that the
answer will be a dream, a dream that touches men and women, boys and
girls.  A dream that touches those who
know Jesus personally and a dream that touches those who have never ever met
Jesus at all.
Reality is that
every church is but one generation away from extinction.  Without a dream, without a vision for
tomorrow this church will be dead in forty years, why?  Because most of us will be dead within forty
years, now that’s a cheerful thought isn’t’ it? 
And so unless we continue to plan and dream and hope for the future we
might as well close the doors today and save ourselves forty years of grief and
frustration.
It’s only as we visualize
this church as continuing to win people to Jesus Christ will it actually
happen.  Nothing, nothing at all has ever
been accomplished that was not first dreamed of.  The realities of today are the dreams of
yesterday.  And the realities of tomorrow
will be the dreams of today. 
It is easy to settle in and say
“We’ve got it made as a church”  But that
isn’t the dream.  The dream is reaching
people who are unchurched, de-churched and pre-churched?  That was that dream 18 years ago at the birth
of Cornerstone and it is the dream today. 
Can you dream of the day that two services won’t hold all the folks who
call Cornerstone their spiritual home? A day when three services are full of
people who have found a church home and found a relationship with God.  A dream of the day that we begin construction
on a brand new worship centre to hold those people?  And some of you are asking “Is tht
possible?” 
In the past 8 years Cornerstone
has grown by 700%  and if that happens over
the next eight years we would have over 2000 folks worshipping at Cornerstone,
that would pretty well pack her out, don’t you think?  Can you believe in the impossible?  Can you believe the word of God, because it
says in Luke 18:27 He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with
God.”
I have said before that under my leadership Cornerstone
Wesleyan Church will never worship at the shrine of church growth.  But I trust that if we do what we are
supposed to do then the church will grow. 
What about our
personal dreams?  Have you read your old
high school year book recently?  How you
doing on your dreams?  Maybe they have
changed over the past twenty years, there’s nothing wrong with that, unless
they have died completely, and that is a tragedy.  There was a song out once that proclaimed “dreams never die, just the dreamer” but in reality dreams do die, and it’s not long after the dream is
dead that the dreamer begins to die, not physically but emotionally and
spiritually.  When we lose our dreams we
lose, period. 
The world as we know
it has been shaped by dreams.  All of the
great achievements were once considered to be impossible.  And a man with a dream is a lot more powerful
than a man with the facts.  After all,
facts said that electric lights were impossible, but Edison’s dreams made them
a reality.  Facts said polio was
inevitable, but Jonas Salk’s dreams developed a vaccine.  Facts said that man would never fly but the
Wright brother’s dreams gave them wings at Kitty Hawk.  Facts said that a man couldn’t run a mile in
less than 4 minutes but Roger Bannister’s dream proved that it could be done.
By the way the 4 minute mile is now the standard of all male professional
middle distance runners.
Whatever your
personal dreams are don’t let them go and don’t let something as trivial as
facts stand in your way.  Some of you
have had dreams to build your own company or to write a book or provide a safe
house to get girls off the street of Brazil. 
For others it has been to get more education, to raise a family and to
excel at what you do.  How do you want to
change your world?
2) Dreams Allow Us to Leave
the Past 
  Time and again I discover two things which
hinder us in our personal growth.   1) We
waste our time dwelling on the failures of yesterday.  2) We waste our time dwelling on the
successes of yesterday.  Listen up,
yesterday is gone, finished, done.  In
his letter to the church in Philippi Paul wrote in Philippians
3:13
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have
not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking
forward to what lies ahead.
You cannot relive
the successes of yesterday anymore then you can change the mistakes of the
past.  Remember “Yesterday
ended last night.”  All you have
is today and tomorrow.  It’s not that
yesterday is bad or evil; sometimes we get that impression, if it is in the
past then it isn’t any good and sometimes we swing to the other extreme.  It is only good if it was in the past.  Not so on either count, if it is in the past
it is unchangeable and to dwell on it is to waste precious time.    It was Thomas
Jefferson  who said, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of
the past.”  Focus your dreams on
tomorrow and don’t live in yesterday. 
Don’t look back,
look ahead to what you can see accomplished. 
What can God do for you?  As much
as you can dream, that’s how much.
Where do you want
your church to be in five or ten years? 
Don’t know?  Don’t care?  You’d better know because that’s where we are
heading. 
The question that
you need to ask yourself over and over again is this “What
are my dreams?”  And when you get
a grasp on your dreams then start sharing them with other people.  Why? 
Because it makes you accountable for your dreams.
You should be
excited about this.  You can’t do
anything about yesterday, try as you might it is beyond your control, and the
time spent in yesterday is wasted.  But
tomorrow is yours.  Tomorrow belongs to
the dreamers. 
3) Dreams Alone Are
Never Enough
I love the
positive thinkers, and I love the possibility thinkers.  I don’t think that there are any of us who
wouldn’t personally benefit from reading books by people like Norman Vincent
Peale, Robert Schuler, Dennis Waitly and John Maxwell.  My only problem is that sometimes they leave
you with the impression that all you have to do is dream. 
My favourite story
is about a man who saw an empty lot he knew he had to have it.  It was the only break in a forest of brick
and mortar and he knew it would be his own personal oasis.  And so he scraped and saved and he saved and scraped
until the day came that he bought it. 
Then he stood back and saw just exactly what he had bought; a small
rubble strewn piece of property deep in the heart of the city.  What little green that had managed to survive
amongst the garbage was the very worst kinds of weeds, sturdy and
stubborn. 
The lot became his
dream, his hobby and his all consuming passion. 
Every spare moment he had he spent there, carting away rubble and
garbage.  Levelling the hard ground and
tearing up weeds.  Finally it
happened.  He had achieved the first part
of his dream.  The lot stood barren and
flat devoid of any living thing, it was a beginning. 
As ferocious and
ruthless as the man had been in getting the lot to this stage he now became a
gentle nurturer.  He broke the ground by
hand, tilled in fertilizer and then carefully chose the flowers, trees and
bushes that would make his dream a reality. 
With the care of a
mother for her children he dug each hole and placed the plant in, then gently
packed the soil back with his hands. 
Then he watered them and talked to them. 
He kept the weeds and birds away until one day it was his, a piece of
Eden standing in stark contrast to the dark and dreary man made cliffs that
rose around it.  The flowers exploded in
a prism of colour, providing a respite from the concrete desert surrounding
them.
One day as he stood
admiring his garden a stranger happened by and commented, “That sure is a
beautiful garden the Lord has given you” 
“Yes it sure is” replied the man, “but you should have seen it when the
Lord had it by himself.”  Any dreams we
have for Cornerstone no matter how good, no matter how noble, no matter how
spiritual will not happen without commitment on our behalf.
If your dreams are
going to come true then it will your responsibility to make them come
true.  You see a dream which does not
result in action is nothing much and an action which doesn’t come from a dream
is nothing at all.  That old saying of
the salesman may be trite but its true when they say, “If
it’s going to be it’s up to me.” 
Nobody else is
responsible for making your dreams into realities.  Your dreams are the beginning of your success,
but a dream alone won’t guarantee success. 
Without dedication to your dream, without work, without sacrifice,
without commitment, that dream will never be anymore then a dream.   The man who wants
to do something finds a way; the man who pretends that he wants to do something
finds an excuse. 
What will you have to do to make your
dream a reality?  What will we have to do
to make Cornerstone’s dreams a reality? 
Listen to the  dying words of D.L.
Moody to his sons, “If God be your partner make
your plans big”