Jentezen Franklin - Defending Your Field of Dreams
Have you felt like giving up lately? Have you felt like that everything's against you and nothing is for you? I wanna share some personal things today in this message and stories that I've never put on television that I believe are going to touch you and build your faith. Let's go right into this message, it's going to change your life.
This is where God took me this week. 2 Samuel 23, two verses of Scripture, “And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils,” lentils are peas or beans. “So, the people fled from the Philistines. But he, Shammah, stationed or positioned himself in the middle of the field, and defended it, and killed the Philistines. So, the Lord brought a great victory.” He stood in the middle of a lentil field, a pea patch, a bean field, a farmer's field, and he defended it. I wanna preach to you for just a few moments on “Defending Your Field of Dreams”. Defending your field of dreams.
Something in Shammah said this is a do or die moment. Something in Shammah said this field is connected to my purpose and my calling, and I must defend it right here. Everyone else ran away. Your Scripture just said all the others fled and ran, but Shammah stood in a field, and he said this is my field of dreams. He would become the third most powerful man. You know, David had a massive army, but then he had 400 mighty men, and the three most powerful men, Shammah would become number three. When he stood in that field, he didn't know that, but the fact that he stood and defended, he knew that God had called him, and he was standing in a field of dreams.
I read something the other day in a book that I was reading. It actually was a quote from a businessman who said that when his business gets in a rut and so on, he has a very successful, large business, and very famous. And he said that he follows this plan to get fresh vision for his organization and his business. He said, “A change of pace,” this is the formula. “A change of pace plus change of place equals change of perspective.” And when I read that I didn't get anything else much out of it, but that phrase was so powerful because I thought that is exactly what has happened in my life and happened every time God's done something major. It required those three things. It required, number one, a change of pace. That's why fasting is so powerful.
Fasting is breaking up the routine. Fasting is changing the pace. The second thing is change of place. Change of place will then bring change of perspective. What do you mean? In other words, geography and spirituality many times are related. Many times your view affects your vision, and there's something about a change of pace that's an interruption in life as normal. That's fasting. And then a change of place. By that I mean that you begin to get somewhere where God can inspire you, get away from the same old people and the same old crowd and just sitting in front of a television or just your same old routine. You change the pace and you change the place. You go on walks deliberately. It's a change of place to meet with God, to show me something, just get away. Just get away to a place. A change of pace. A change of place.
You know, God spoke to Abraham because he understood his view affects his vision, and he said, Abraham, go outside your tent and look up at the sky. He knew he needed a change of place. The tent had an eight-foot ceiling. The tent limited his vision, and so when he stepped outside the tent, and he looked up and he saw the stars, God said as the stars in heaven so will your seed be. I know you and your wife can't have children, but I'm giving you a vision, and the stars represent spiritual Israel, the church, you and I, and the sand. See all this sand. You couldn't see that in that place. I mean, it's just a few steps, but when you change places sometimes it feeds your vision, things that, and I'm not just making this up.
I'm telling you how it's happened to me. That's why I love to go to the beach or I love to get away sometimes and just walk on somewhere because I've learned that a change of pace and a change of place can be critical to a change of perspective. I can go right back to the same church or the same situations and problems, but because I've got off, changed the pace, got with God, changed the place, got inspired to believe Him, now my perspective gets changed, and I come back, and it's the same situation, but I don't see it the same ‘cause God has lit me up. You understand what I'm saying? Outside the tent the sky was the limit. Inside the tent, it had an eight-foot ceiling.
So, I thought about Shammah standing in that field, and it was his field of dreams, and he was defending his field of dreams, and my mind went back to Kenly, North Carolina, and I was 20 years old. I had gone to my first year of college. I had a dream of being a saxophone artist, and I was following that dream and had a scholarship to do that at Barton College in North Carolina, and the summer we had taken off, of course, before the next semester started, and I had gone home to Kenly. I was living with my parents there, and they lived in a little area called Kenly, and it was surrounded with cornfields, and I don't know why, but here it is again, change of pace. I was so used to it. I would practice every day. I would have my schedule. My schedule when I was in school, but because I got away, I got a change of pace, a change of place, had the summer off, I had developed spiritually a discipline of reading God's word and praying, and when I would read the Word and pray, man, I felt something stirring in me.
And so, I felt led to go on a three-day fast. The summer was almost over. We were about to go back. I was about to go back to school, but I was not, I felt a lack of enthusiasm like is that really what I'm supposed to do. So, I said I'm gonna fast and say, God, whatever you want me to do with my life, I wanna do it. And I went on a fast for three days. I was a 20-year-old, and I was very skinny. I was 29 in the waist.
Now, it's just muscle, but back then, I mean, I didn't have any weight to lose. I really didn't, but I was so desperate for God's plan for my life. The end of those three days after just drinking liquids, I slipped out of the house that my parents lived in, again, surrounded by cornfields, and my dad was over a bunch of churches in North Carolina, and he oversaw the tabernacle where this denomination would have its camp meeting in the summer. Basically, the building wasn't used much except for camp meeting, maybe a prayer conference during the winter. And I went late at night. The last night I knew that it was coming up on midnight and like, when you really fast food, as soon as the fast is over, you're watching the clock, and I knew midnight was coming up.
And so, I went over there to pray one last time. And I walked into that sanctuary, and I walked up on the stage, and there was an upright piano that sat in there all the time. It was cold and just kind of a metal building. And I got down on my knees, and I started praying, and suddenly, suddenly the presence of God came in such a tangible powerful way that that spot in the middle of cornfields became my field of dreams. I knew when I got up off my knees I could never just be a musician again. I'll always be a worshipper, but I could never be a musician again like that. I knew that I was called to preach. I stood up. I was broken. I walked out of there, and that little spot in Kenly, North Carolina became my field of dreams. It's where I had no idea where that road would take me, but there was no question in my mind that fasting and seeking God's face, a change of pace, a change of place had given me a change of perspective of who I was in God and what I was called to do.
My brother, Richie, said, well, just come travel with me the rest of the summer. He had revivals. He had graduated from college in North Carolina in Charlotte, and he said just come travel with me, Jent. He called me Jent, and he said let's finish it, let's see what God will do, and he let me preach my first sermon. And to make a long story short, we started evangelizing. We started having revivals that went three and four weeks and all, everything just started happening so fast, so fast, so fast, and we went on for several years, and then Richie met his wife, Rheana, and married her, and I met Cherise and married her. It was all in that field of dreams.
You know, I wanted a woman. I was 20 years old. I was ready to date somebody, something, you know, but it was all in that field of dreams. That little spot in Kenly, North Carolina where a boy was fasting and praying and saying what do you want to do with my life? What am I gonna do? Who am I supposed to marry? What am I supposed to do? It was all in that spot. All of it. Cherise. All of it. What if I had said no? What if I just kept going playing the horn? I'd have missed everything that God had for me. It was my field of dreams.
So, my brother and I, you know, decided to go our ways with his family and my family, and Cherise and I were evangelizing all over the Nation. We traveled all over the Nation, just she and I, for several years. And Pastor Welburn, the pastor of Free Chapel, asked me to start coming, and I would come once a year and preach at Free Chapel, and he booked me nine months in advance, and he got sick and died on the Sunday that he booked me to come nine months in advance.
And so, I preached that morning, and the church had his funeral that afternoon. And then, I'm going somewhere. Change of pace. Change of place. Change of perspective. Up until that point, we had been so busy preaching, preaching, preaching, I'd have revivals that would go night after night after night, that we had never really taken much of a break, and Cherise said, hey, my aunt Margaret has moved to Rogers, Arkansas, her and Gene, her husband, and Ron their oldest son and Gene's mother needs to go out there, so let's drive them, Jentezen. Let's drive them. Let's take some time off. Watch this. And she didn't say it in these ways, but look. Look at the genius of God. Change of pace. Change of place. Change of perspective.
And so, we did something we'd never done. It was a 14-hour drive. We get in the car with Granny in the back, Ron in the back, me and Cherise in the front, and we drive. And Bill Stow who is a board member here still to this day called us, and he had said it to us earlier, but he called us again, and he said, would you consider, Jentezen, allowing us on the board of directors of Free Chapel to consider you for pastor? And I was so honored, but I'd never pastored a church, and I had no desire. I was in a different denomination. Everything was going great. I had no desire to pastor. But Cherise did, and Cherise said we ought to go to that church. She said I don't have to pray about it. I don't have to pray about it. Why do you have to pray about it? Why don't we just go there? I'm telling you. Women have discernment.
Now watch this. Watch this. We get in that car, and we start driving to Rogers, Arkansas. Change of pace. If I'd have just went somewhere and preached another revival, I wouldn't given it ten minutes. Such a major thing. Such a major shift in my life. But if I wouldn't have changed the pace and the place, I don't know if I'd have gotten the perspective of God. This is why fasting and seeking God is so important.
Now, I speed now to the conclusion of this, and here's what happened. So, we get to Arkansas, and I have to give him a yes or no, you can throw my name in the hat, and I love that Bill Stow reminded me the second phone call. He reminded me. He said, well now, don't get all, ‘cause I was like, oh, no. He said don't get all up about it. He said they may reject you. They may not want you. The denomination may not allow you. The people. Not only have you gotta go through the filter of board. You've got to go through the people, and people may not want a rookie preacher for their pastor. A good humbling little thing right there. But Cherise said you need to pray about it.
And so, I began to fast and pray while we were out in Arkansas in Margaret and Gene's home, and every day I would go and there's a little church in Rogers, Arkansas. It sits up on a hill sort of, and it had a parking lot off the main road that was private. And I was looking for a prayer place, and I pulled in there, and they didn't have a staff or anything apparently because there were never any cars out there. It was just an empty parking lot. And every day I'd get out and walk around that parking lot and pray, God, show me what will I do, what will I do, what will I do? And toward the end of that week I pulled into that parking lot, and I grabbed a little bitty book for some reason and my Bible, and I grabbed that book called “The Invading Force”.
It was little bitty, thin, you could read it quick. And I flipped it open, and it had a little part in the book that was highlighted that said, “I'm giving you your marching orders,” and I kept reading, and it just, everything you can imagine that I needed for confirmation was in that little booklet, and it tore me up. I'm sitting there weeping. I'm crying. I knew that I knew that I knew God had called me to be pastor of Free Chapel. I drove back home after I walked around that parking lot and wept. I came through the door, and every time I'd come through the door, Cherise would come. She was only 19 years old. She would come running and say are we going? Are we going? Did God speak to you yet? And she'd follow me. She'd follow me. Did God speak to you yet? Did God speak to you?
And I went in the bedroom, and I fell across the bed, and I started weeping, and I said God has told us that we are to go to that church in Gainesville, Free Chapel, and I told her what God told me He would do, and that parking lot, that parking lot of that church. People drive by it every day, and it means nothing to them, but to me, that parking lot, it was a field of dreams that afternoon that would shift everything in my life to step into God's plan. Your dream from God is more than a dream. It's a calling. And Shammah found himself in a field fighting for his field of dreams. That was Shammah's field of dreams.
It's powerful to go back to places where God has done something significant in your life. Sometimes when I go to North Carolina, I'll go back to that tabernacle. Sometimes I'll even go over here on Browns Bridge Road to our first sanctuary that seats maybe 300 and something people in there, and those people were kind enough. There's a ministry that bought it from us, but they were kind enough to let me go in sometimes, and every once in a while, I'll just stop by, and I'll walk around that sanctuary. It's something about going back, going back to where God brought you from that births faith for where you are.
I wonder if Shammah ever went back to that field of dreams when he became powerful and he was sitting in the palace with David's administration, third most powerful in the army of Israel. I wonder if he ever went back to that field of dreams where it all started where he first took his stand, and he said I heard from God, and I'm gonna stand up and do what He's called me to do. I wonder if Abraham ever went back to Mount Moriah where he raised a knife and was willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice and the voice of the angel said don't do it. God provided rhema. I wondered if he ever went back there. I wonder if Jacob ever doubled back to the River Jabbok where he wrestled with an angel until the breaking of day, and God changed his destiny and changed everything about him through that experience. I wonder if David ever went to the Valley of Elah where he picked a fight with a giant. I mean, after he became king and after he sat on a powerful throne. Did he ever go back to that valley where it all started where the giant came laughing and bellowing threats, and David picked up a rock and a sling and slew that giant.
When you go back to the place where God has already done a miracle, you have twice as much faith. Sometimes the way forward is backward. Sometimes you've gotta go back to humility and go back to just repentance and go back to crying out to God, go back to fasting and praying, and saying I need a move of God. I need that Holy Ghost stuff again. Sometimes the way forward is to go back. The movie “Field of Dreams”, the 1989 classic with Kevin Costner, the actor, he played a man who bought a farm and everybody said he was crazy because one day when he was walking through the cornfield, he heard a mysterious whisper say if you will build it, he will come, and some say they will come, but it does actually say he will come. But it's a great point. If you build it, they will come.
And what's he talking about? He had a dream of building a baseball mound, and he heard a voice in that field, just heard a voice, and he built a baseball mound, a baseball field in Iowa, true story, in the middle of nowhere, and he just felt like he was supposed to do it, and I don't have time to explain the whole story. You ought to watch that movie some time. But here's the point. Here's the point. He called it his field of dreams, and it almost cost him financial ruin. It looks like he's gonna lose everything. It looks like it's over, and he's crazy and he's following if you build it, they will come, but he built it and sure enough on the day that it opens, they come from everywhere, and it becomes a huge success.
The point is this. You have to stand in the field of dreams and defend what God has shown you and God has mysteriously whispered to you about your life. You have to bet the farm sometimes. Well, I'm waiting on God to go first. The last time I read this Book in Mark 16 it said, “Signs follow.” Signs follow people who step out in faith.
Here's the definition of faith. Faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second step. Faith is going first knowing that signs and wonders will follow a person who has heard the voice of God. It's understanding I'm in a cornfield in Kenly, North Carolina, or I'm in a parking lot in Rogers, Arkansas, and yet, I have just been downloaded a vision from Heaven. I don't have any money. I don't have anything. I don't have any surety in my life, any certainty in my life. All I know is you can't walk on the water if you don't get out of the boat and do what God said do. Defend your field of dreams!