The Dream

old door

I had a dream last night.

Another in a decade-long series of recurring dreams.

Most of these dreams are indistinguishable from one another.

Carol and I would go see a house. I would begin opening doors and discover a room. And another door, and another room. A stairwell. And another door into another room.

After awhile, it would become obvious that no one had been in these rooms for a very long time. The furniture would be from the 50s or 60s, slightly dusty, untouched through the decades.

Every door leading into another room.

And another door.

After a few years, these dreams shifted a bit.

Instead of visiting the house, we had just moved there. I would open a door I’d somehow not seen before.

And so on.

About a year ago, the dream changed. We’d lived in the house for awhile and we already knew about the extra rooms.

In this house, many of these rooms were in complete disrepair. Leaks and cracks and open ceilings. Missing light fixtures.

Last night, the dream changed again.

We’re having a cookout.

Lots of people. Lots of conversation. Music. Laughter.

Suddenly I feel overwhelmed by the crowd and I sneak off into the deserted parts of the house.

And I see all the disrepair. Abandoned appliances from the 1950s. Broken furniture.

Some strange contraption hanging from the ceiling in what once must have been a dining room.

It feels like life used to be lived in these spaces, but no more.

I stand there, taking it all in, wondering.

Then I see them. My friends from the cookout, looking for me, looking around with the same wonder I was feeling.

remodeling-contractorThey have measuring tapes, and step ladders, and saws, and paintbrushes—and I see friends conferring, going away and coming back with some new item or tool from the home improvement store.

Mind you, they don’t ask my opinion about any of this.

They just do their work.

Finally, it’s too dark to continue and we step out onto a hidden terrace one of my friends found, and relax together under the stars, taking in the peace and beauty of a rediscovered place.

When I awoke this morning, I realized the message of the dream.

I bet you already know.

The house is me.

And half the friends in my dream—I haven’t even met yet.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

—Hebrews 10:22-25

No Matter What

This post was originally published on December 11, 2013.

FB Avatar

From this morning’s Facebook update:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39

If there was anybody who checked my timeline on a regular basis (which even I don’t do), they would notice how often I paste the same Romans 8 passage into my status. Every time it’s for a slightly different reason. But it’s always from a sense of marveling. I mean, there’s all these pairs of opposite things—a Hebrew literary device, by the way, expressing the entire gamut of possibilities, a concrete expression of infinity that can be expressed as effectively no other way.

  • Death, life.
  • Angels, demons.
  • Present, future.
  • Height, depth.

Then, in case he left anything out:

  • “Nor anything else in all creation.”

The red dot on the white background

But notice the one phrase in the middle that has no opposites.

It is the red dot on the white background:

  • “Nor any powers.”

That includes God’s powers.

And my powers.

And your powers.

One of the traditional definitions of hell is eternal separation from God. If that’s a valid definition—even if inadequate—it tells us something about the security of our future as new creations in Christ:

No matter how we fail. No matter what decisions we make. No matter how we rebel or shake our fists at God, if we have ever belonged to him. If we ever been changed by his hand. If our sins have ever been cleansed and we have been redeemed—truly, genuinely redeemed—

We will never be apart from his love.

Meaning—

We will never be apart from him.

Ever again. No matter what.

Keep listening, my friend, and you will hear

This post was originally published on September 14, 2013.

Valentine

I love this verse:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.”

—Psalm 32:8

It’s on my list right now of verses to review every morning. As I reviewed it just now, I realized how much it touches my emotional center. And I think it has for a while.

It’s like an intimate word from a parent, or even a lover.

Something only someone who knows me at my deepest, truest, most vulnerable level can know to say.

And say it in a way that escorts its message past all the filters and straight to my heart.

Here’s the truth that came to me as I thought over the verse this morning:

God has a different word for each of us that touches us in the way this verse touches me.

This particular verse may be encouraging to you. Or enlightening. Or comforting. Or whatever.

But your emotional response to it may not be what I’m experiencing right now.

However, there may be a verse—a word from your Father in heaven—that already DOES strike that chord in you. That DOES touch that deepest, most significant, truest part of you.

But there may not be yet, because that word may not have been spoken to you yet.

Or you may not have heard it yet. (Being spoken to and hearing are two distinctly different things.)

But I assure you there is a word, a message from God, that he is speaking to you and to no one else. Even if it’s the same verse, it’s not the same word.

Keep listening, my friend, and you will hear.

And you will be touched by the God of the Universe, who loves you with all his heart.

Photo Credit: Valentine by Lee Gonzalez Photography on Flickr

Beware the echo chamber

Beware the echo chamber

The devil has custom-engineered one just for you. He entices you both through your prejudices and your compassions to join in a self-reinforcing conversation with people who agree with you and flatter you into thinking that you are on the side of the angels and that those who oppose you—or who simply have a different opinion from yours—are of the devil and are somehow less intelligent, less well-informed than you are.

We all have our pet issues. All of us.

When you find yourself giving your heart to those who agree with you on your pet issues, but who do not acknowledge the reality and authority of the God who created you (and them!), you have been subverted by the devil’s echo chamber and you are in a very dangerous place.

We are all wounded. And we have a choice: We can allow God to heal our wounds (and renew our minds), or we can choose the echo chamber, which offers shallow sympathy and rationalizes and makes increasingly permanent our particular flavor of victimhood.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Beware the voice that speaks through your wounding.

Embrace the voice that speaks to your healing.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”

PSA 42:5 ESV

What I’m feeling at the moment is temporary.

I need to learn to acknowledge the feeling, own it, then question it.

I am not my feelings.

I will not allow my feelings to define me.

And certainly not own me.

Rather than seek some poorly defined “closure,” I will challenge my feelings with the truth as I already know it.

‘Do you want to go away as well?’

This post was originally published on November 27, 2013.

Loaves and Fishes mosaic_0912 by hoyasmeg

Was reading John 6 just now

John 6 is about the feeding of the 5000 and the conversation Jesus had with the crowd the next day.

The day after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the crowd followed Jesus across the lake, as it turned out, to get more bread.

Jesus pointed out to them that they weren’t following because of the SIGN the miracle was designed to be, but simply because they wanted more bread.

And as he talked to them about more important things than bread—who he was and what he offered them—they scoffed, demanding a sign.

A sign.

Which he’d just provided them.

Everything he said to them after that was incomprehensible—even offensive—to them.

And many who’d been following him took that opportunity to leave.

Many people you and I encounter today are interested only in bread.

No matter how carefully and prayerfully we explain great things, they’re fixated on bread and will leave and look somewhere else to get it.

It’s important that we trust God with these folks and not give into frustration at our inability to explain well enough to gain their trust for God.

Because that’s his job:

And he [Jesus] said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

—John 6:65-69

Photo Credit: Loaves and Fishes mosaic_0912, a photo by hoyasmeg on Flickr.