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.

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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.

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.

7 Ways to Feed the Roots…

roots

Rivers, a photo by lrargerich on Flickr.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. —Colossians 2:6-7

I tell everyone I work with who’s going through an extended tough time: Make time to feed the roots. Here are seven ways to begin doing that:

Continue reading

Going (again) to the beginning

"Recruitment (3)" by Nicholas A. Tonelli on Flickr

Just now my mind came back to these verses:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” —Colossians 2:6-7

I am troubled by something in this season, and struggling to gain a foothold over it (or in it!).

And I’ve been led by the Lord, in the last few days, to a resource that was shared with me in 1974, when I was literally weeks old in the Lord.

I am discovering—again—that I never stop needing what was given to me in the beginning.

 

Photograph: “Recruitment (3)” by Nicholas A. Tonelli on Flickr

Full ADD Mode

crystal radio by callmecat

This morning…

Going through the scripture memory part of my quiet time right now, but am in full ADD mode (reigning in ADD is one reason scripture memory is a big part of my every day quiet time).

This has led me to ponder the question of my brain’s wiring.

  • How much of this wiring comes from God’s purposeful shaping of my unique personality?
  • How much is from being part of fallen Nature?
  • How much is from my own survival wiring?

I don’t worry too much about these questions because I’m confident God has them sorted out. But I’m curious nonetheless.

Update 12/18/2013

Was looking for one of my Facebook updates and discovered this one that I’d forgotten:

Uniqueness. Oddities. Good.


Photo Credit: crystal radio, a photo by callmecat on Flickr.

Re-Writing the Bullet Copy for Your Life

Bought a smart phone yesterday…

Phone BulletsFinally.

Now the world can safely end.

It was really cool, because Carol and I walked into the store, told the guy what we were looking for, and he pointed us right at what we needed.

5MP camera? That one, sir.

Then he transitioned us to a new plan. And we were in business.

As he was setting things up, though, I became unsure about the camera. Was it really 5MP? So I grabbed the box, turned it over, and looked at the bullet copy.

  • 5MP Camera

And I felt much surer.

I woke up really early this morning, thinking about that. Kind of picturing the bullet copy of my life.

How would people in the world around me describe me, you know…in bullets?

I have a friend, a guy I’ve known for decades now. Some of his bullet copy would be easy to write:

  • Plays well with others
  • Infectious laugh
  • Influences people around him without even trying

There’ve been many times I wished I could borrow some of those benefits for my own copy. And, in a way, I have, because he set a pattern I could learn from.

High school bullets

One day in high school, I got really upset with some friends and let them know.

Loudly.

Later, one of them said, “You are an angry person. If you could bottle that anger and find a use for it, you could make a ton of money.”

So at the top of Charles’s bullet copy he would’ve put:

  • Explosive anger

Hopefully, that one’s been replaced with something better:

  • Explosive anger
  • Compassion

I remember one time, in a session with my life coach, Bob, I said something about being (or appearing to be) a screwup.

He challenged me on that. I mean, honestly, it was just a throwaway line. A burst of corny levity.

Not to Bob. “Do you really see yourself that way?” he said.

“Not really.” He didn’t say anything else. He kind of looked at me a bit before he let it go.

  • Screwup

You know what? Let’s strike that one out:

  • Screwup
  • Diligent

Which is actually the truth, and had been for some time.

Factual or aspirational?

Which leads me to the question:

Should the bullet copy of our lives be factual or aspirational?

I think it should be actual. Which means it should be as God says it is.

A good illustration of this in my own life is when God interrupted my morning newspaper reading to let me in on something he was making true in my life:

He had given me

  • A shepherd’s heart

Anybody who knew me at the time would’ve scoffed. I scoffed.

God didn’t.

He had actually done something in my life that we simply couldn’t see yet.

But he could.

There is much I aspire to. Some of it’s from God. Some of it’s not. All of it that’s from God is actual. It’s not just aspirational. It really exists. We just don’t see it yet.

We’re not only talking about me here. We’re talking about you too. And your kids. And your spouse. And the guy at work that gets on your nerves.

There is so much power in the bullet copy of our lives.

For good and bad.

I used to envision things—the shepherd’s heart thing was one of them—and I would be too embarrassed to tell anybody. At some point I realized it wasn’t the fear of failure that kept me back, but the fear of being laughed at for my arrogance in even dreaming.

I was living down to the bullet copy other people wrote for my life.

A bucket list of bullet copy

I have a bucket list of bullet copy. Do you?

Tombstone bullets.

When you cut away all the hype and puffery, here are the bottom line bullets I would like carved into my tombstone:

  • Slow and steady
  • Won the race

What about you? What bullet copy do you want for your life?

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. —Hebrews 12:1-3