Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

gateA quick search on the phrase, “gate of heaven” caught me off guard as it appears to have become a popular name for cemeteries. I think that’s a shame as it puts so much emphasis on heaven being available only after we enter the “big sleep” if you will. But heaven is also within and available to us now, if we open the gate.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” [Genesis 18:16-17]

We are the church, we are the house of God. The body is a sanctuary and temple to the Holy Spirit [I Cor 6:19]; isn’t heaven there too?

In heaven, we are promised continual access to God where there are no more tears and no more pain. This timeless place is so not limited to our three-dimensional understanding of existence. It is spirit. It is God.

For me, the gate is Christ.

sheep gateI tell you the truth: I am the gate of the sheep. All who approached the sheep before Me came as thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not listen to their voices.I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be liberated, will go in and go out, and will find pastures. The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. [John 10:8-10, The Voice]

GatesNarrow gate allow us in but gates also protect, whether in reality or symbolically.

In Old Testament times, the gates of the city were a public forum where transactions were witnessed.

A gate is a choice, whether to enter or depart.

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Art by Desexign

What is a dream? Night time dreams and daydreams are what I think of first, but other symbolic uses come up as well. I suppose the most prevalent one is the speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., who said “He had a dream . . . ” as he looked to a brighter future. He was a visionary. And I think of Don Quixote who “Dreamed the Impossible Dream.” Quotes aplenty sprinkle the web. Check them out for encouragement.

But after he [Joseph] had considered this [divorcing Mary quietly], an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife’ . . .  When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him . . . ” [Matthew 1:20a; 24a, NIV]

But I am looking at a specific kind of night dream that a humble carpenter had when his fiancee became pregnant. Being a nice guy of sorts, he decided to divorce her quietly, although I find that amusing since her pregnancy, without his protection, would have ended her stoning. I think he was rather more interested in a) not participating in the punishment, and/or b) disassociating with her and her family. Also, he was a fearful man who could not imagine dealing with the fall-out.

And yet, he had a dream.

How do we know when a dream is from God? I’d say, in general, that the dream contradicts our normal thinking about an event. A dream brings in new information that we would normally suppress. And I believe it’s straightforward.

When I was still struggling with my decision about accepting the Christ, I had a vivid dream of standing on rope bridge. Below me, what initially looked like roiling water and waves, was human bodies. At one end of the bridge was a woman who was interested in enticing me into her lifestyle, both decadent and exciting. At the other end, was a man who had introduced to the stories of Jesus and prophecy in the Old Testament, a “holy” life I could not fathom for myself at the time. I was torn between the two but knew I had to choose one way or another or I would be pulled into the maelstrom below, lost to both. This was a dream from God, still distinct in my mind after more than thirty years.

I am without doubt that Joseph’s dream stayed with him until he died. We don’t have a record of Joseph’s later life, how he died or when. He and Mary bore other children after Jesus, so we know he didn’t disappear and he was still on the scene when Jesus was twelve. But after that? We’ll never know. But we have a dream and savior because one man submitted to a dream.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. Anatole France.

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Photo by Bill Dickinson

Photo by Bill Dickinson

Joseph had the dream as a young man, his brothers and family bowing down to them. It was a true dream. But never did he imagine the journey that would bring him to the reality of that dream. Isn’t this so often the way? Betrayal and sorrow often bring the dream.

Genesis 42:8-9Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

If the brothers hadn’t sold Joseph into slavery, then he couldn’t be in Egypt when Pharaoh had his dream to interpret it. If Joseph hadn’t been there, Egypt would not have prepared for famine in the same way that they did. And not only Jacob’s family would have been lost to famine, but scores and scores of people would have died.

Some will say God turned a bad thing into a good thing. And surely, that does happen. But on the grander scale, the big big picture that God sees, it appears, in hindsight, that achieving some goals (or dreams) have an arduous path. Peter Rollins wrote a book, “The Fidelity of Betrayal” which examines and expands on this concept of loss/death/betrayal preceding joy/renewal/transformation.

Some of us are lose the dream when the going gets tough: that would be me. I see myself so clearly now in this loss of confidence and direction. I look around and there is absolutely nothing that appears valuable in my quest for the dream. I am broke or caught up in a band of busyness. How could any of this end up at the dream? And the longer it goes on, the more doubt I have in the dream at all.

Oh sorrow.

I gave so many dreams because they didn’t come to fruition soon enough. I judged the time and found it lacking. So I’d build another dream and another dream and yet another. Looking for hints that one or the other dream was coming true. I was getting there. I was reaching it.

But no, the dream (the picture in my head of what the dream would look like) kept moving further away.

I am sorry now. I ask forgiveness of God for my lack of faith and fortitude. I didn’t trust the Way. I didn’t want to be a Joseph who had to be sold into slavery, wrongly accused, thrown into jail, and languish there until the moment was right. I wanted to create those moments. I wanted to control the timing. I wanted the dream my way or no way.

And so, I got my way after all. I got none of those dreams.

That’s sad except for one truth. There is another dream before me. I am, at the least, that resilient. I am not dreamless. But now, even at this age, after so many years, I can understand the importance of keeping on toward the dream, of trusting God no matter my circumstances, of believing in a future that holds the moments God creates.

I will believe.

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cup runs overJoseph got tagged by Pharaoh for one reason only: Joseph was identified as a man of God. That was his bio in short. He had no interview and no references. Pharaoh did not ask him about his five-year plan or to discuss his strengths and weaknesses. Joseph took hold of an opportunity. He put all his eggs in one basket, God’s basket.

Genesis 41:39-40

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

I am pretty sure, if Pharaoh would not have found Joseph’s dream interpretation pleasing, he would have had Joseph executed. That’s how it worked back then. But the truth resonated and so Pharaoh took pendulum and swung it the other way. Joseph was not looking for fame and fortune even. He just wanted out of prison. He got much more than he had bargained for. But all the same, he stepped up.

Have I missed these opportunities? Have I been aware of them at all? And I’m not talking about looking for a promotion. I’ve done that plenty of times. I’ve calculated what impact my work might have and would I be noticed. That’s not the way it works for the people of God. I should know that by now.

Instead, we are asked to simply be the mouthpiece of God in a particular situation, to speak with authority, but without pride, to speak with intent but without ulterior motives.

Pharaoh could have heard the interpretation of Joseph’s dream and then sent him back to prison. But Pharaoh had the power to change Joseph’s life and he did so. That’s all. It was a God moment.

And what about me? Have I ever had the power to change someone else’s life because of my position, my authority? Maybe. Maybe. Something to ponder.

Perhaps it’s time, at my age, to stop worrying about my next promotion (in either secular or spiritual worlds) and simply give promotions to others. Give a level cup of praise or hope or love. Give more than is required. Give abundantly. Give as a pharaoh to a prisoner. Give what I do have.

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dreamingWe have lost the art of dreaming. I suppose we are still fantasizing about our futures. Despite my age, I am still hoping for new things to come along. I want to write and be read. I want to speak and be heard. I want to manifest holiness and thereby introduce the power of the Holy Spirit to others. I want to be happy and I want the best for my children. Those are all human dreams. No interpretation needed.

Genesis 40:8

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

There are dreams that come from God with a message. But mostly, dreaming and interpreting has been relegated to the New Age crowd and cast off the average person’s radar. Oh, we might engage in a little lighthearted reading of a dream book just like we occasionally read a daily horoscope. But we don’t take them seriously and we expect little from our brain’s nightly forages into that other dimension.
There is one primary test for an effective prophet–their prophecies come true. It is the same for a dream interpreter. Truly divine dreams will speak into a situation and will have more value when interpreted. I say more value because the dreamer will know the dream is unique, unlike any other nightly offering. That dream will be remembered the next day instead of fleeing as soon as the eyes and consciousness re-enter the present.
But the dreamer must take a second step to remember the dream and write it down. Write everything down as fast as possible. Add to the description as it unfolds again later in the day. Give the dream its due.
And finally, ask God for an interpretation or an interpreter.
No, dream interpreters do not put out a shingle, but God is still able to speak in a variety of ways, whether it’s dreams, dark speech (unexpected circumstances), strangers, friends, teachers, pastors, and in fact, any written or spoken word. Any of these may carry the interpretation of a Spirit gifted dream. But we must be open to the interpretation.
Before I became a follower of Christ, I had a Spirit-infused dream that frightened me. I was at a bridge whose expanse extended across a very wide river. The bridge was made of slats and did not seem very secure but I knew I had to cross it. As I started, I looked down into the waters and discovered they were not waters at all but teeming bodies, writhing and contorted and reaching out for me, some for help and others to drag me in. I wanted to run back but a man stood on the other side beckoning me to keep coming. A voice called and I turned to see another man back at the start of the bridge encouraging me back to the safety of the shore I knew. Then he laughed and I woke up.
In waking, I understood this dream and decided then to continue crossing that bridge. It was a turning point in my life.

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Why did Timothy weep? Perhaps from lack of confidence, perhaps from loneliness or overwhelming difficulties in his ministry. I wonder, outside of Paul, who knew? Who held the tears of this young leader? Who holds the hearts of our youthful leaders today?

II Timothy 1:3-4
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.

When young men (and women) charge into the world, they carry the energy and enthusiasm for ten, particularly when they are fueled by a passion for God and faith in Christ’s real presence. But, not every day is a red letter day and not every day is hopeful. And when they stumble, they fall hard, suddenly overwhelmed by the sheer size of their dreams.

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams. [Acts 2:17]

And so, it is up to us older ones to remember and to encourage. It is up to us to maintain a stream of prayer and shafts of light. Sometimes, there is room for counsel, but I think that aspect is overblown. The young see the world with different eyes.

Our world is changing so quickly. What worked thirty years ago has no reason to succeed today. We must let go and give the young plenty of space for trials as well as errors. And through it all, we too can learn.

In this way, I think of our new young leader and our fledgling church. He carries power and ideas and knowledge. He is a visionary and a dreamer. He is kind and sensitive to the poor. He is one who saw the other side of life and turned around. But, I am sure, there are tears as well. There are disappointments and there are boulders in the path. And just as there will be more joy, there will be more pain.

And so, like Paul, I give him encouragement through my prayers, trusting in God to reveal the way.

Who is a Tmothy in your own world? Perhaps a son, a nephew, a daughter, a cousin, a neighbor. We have an obligation to them, to collect their tears.

“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle–are they not in Your book?” [Psalm 56:8, Amplified]

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The story of Daniel has many mysteries, but one of the most well known is the revelations that God gave him about the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2). I have not had any mysterious dreams, but I do wonder today why things work the way they do. The juxtaposition of events is always a bit peculiar. This past weekend, my children all went on a Chrysalis weekend, a mountain top if not life-changing one for all of them. And then, they all got sick (virus heaven on the weekend I suppose) and then, I too, became ill, but with a more mysterious ailment than just a cold.

I am currently in a lot of discomfort along with some pain below my sternum and so far, in a week of tests and doctor appointments, no one knows the source or cause of my problem. It’s a mystery. In my heart I believe that God is in this, but I don’t know yet, in what way. In verse 2:18, Daniel says to his friends, plead for mercy from God concerning this mystery… he was asking for revelation, a supernatural understanding of what Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was and what it meant. Note… they needed to discover what it was before it’s meaning could be discerned.

There are actually many mysteries in our lives like this… and I think we don’t spend enough time asking God for the mercy of revelation. We are too busy using our own knowledge or the knowledge of others to reveal truth, when we should be asking God for it.

We don’t spend enough time identifying what is actually happening. We don’t look deeply enough into the nature of the events. We assume too much. We interpret before we know. We interpret the symptoms… the outward expressions of what is.

Today, I ask… I plead oh God, for an understanding of what is…

I remember my salvation story a true expression of this idea… when I came to the Lord, it was because a classmate challenged me to read the New Testament the same way we were being instructed in acting school to read scripts. For the first read-through, we were told to put the phrase, “If this were true…” and only after taking all the words at face value … to get the full intent of what they words actually say … could we begin to interpret. It was this reading of the Word that brought me to my knees before God, alone, on Christmas Eve, 1979.

There is a core truth to every event.

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