Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dream # 2 -- The Disappearing Feedlot



Sunday, October 2, 2011

I promised you two dreams.  Here is the second one.  It came to me on the first Sunday of October, 2011 and that morning turned out to be the last meeting of our attempt at planting Living Water Fellowship in Butte.  Our son, John, had moved to Canada in June, hoping to get established in a job before his wedding, so Ruth and I were once again working alone.  We were becoming aware that we were reaching the end of our strength to continue, but I was reluctant to bring it to an end out of discouragement.  I didn’t want this effort to end on a negative note and had asked the Lord to give me positive guidance – even if that meant He wanted us to continue our (now seemingly futile) effort.  What follows below was actually a waking dream that came to me during my quiet time that Sunday morning.  Here is the description I wrote down in my journal:

In this dream I had been working with a ranch/feedlot operation, but the business had been sold.  When I came to work that morning everything had disappeared – all the livestock, fencing, buildings and managers were gone.  All that was left was a bare, dirt field of dry, puffy, powdery dust.

There was one large building left in the back of the lot.  The small house next to it came down as I watched.  The large building was being gutted and converted into some commercial activity.

Most significant was that all that was left was dry, powdery dust.  Even the manure was gone!  Feedlots are all about manure and it can’t just be hauled away.  Yet only dry, lifeless dust was left.  Even manure has life in it!  I believe this dream carries meaning that extends beyond the end of Living Water Fellowship, but for me that morning it became God’s indication that the church plant was over.  Our church plant had become a lifeless field.  Thus this dream became that positive divine guidance I was looking for.  After sharing it with Ruth we decided to let that morning be the last and so came the end of our vision.  It was bittersweet.  Bitter because we had worked so hard for no return.  Sweet because the burden was now lifted and we could seek a new direction.

***

The Lord gave me two follow-up dreams that helped convince me that this dream covers more than just the end of Living Water Fellowship.  I’ll share them in my next post.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dream #1 -- An Empty (but Full) Airplane



Fall 2010

This dream was given to me at the beginning of our meetings with Living Water Fellowship and has special significance to that endeavor.

The Dream

I was the pilot of a small, private jet and was greeting passengers as they came up the boarding stairs.  What bothered me was that everyone getting on the plane was an angel.  There were no flesh and blood, 3-D people boarding.

Interpretation

I ran this by an apostle (from a neighboring city).  He is very gifted in dream interpretation and said the plane represented Living Water Fellowship, the church we were attempting to plant.  I was piloting because I was the pastor.  As it turned out the dream was accurate.  Most the time after we started holding regular Sunday morning services I preached to an empty room.  For a year we rented some space for the church (in a local motel) and part way through that year a local pastor shared with me how he had experienced the same thing when planting a church in a different Montana town.  He said that God had challenged him – was he willing, in obedience, to preach to an empty room?  My friend met that challenge and eventually his church plant took off.  The Holy Spirit took his words and slammed them down into my heart, so I chose to grab hold of that challenge, too.  In the dream the airplane was filled with angels and from that point on I had the sense that I was preaching to a room full of angels every Sunday morning.  It wasn’t an easy time for us, but it made something come real to me.  There are things that angels long to look into, but can’t.  By watching us – God’s images in 3D format – they see God Himself revealed.  Since that time I have meditated much on that concept and it has changed the way I look at the spiritual world and our influence in God’s creation.

 (Hmmm.……I was the music for every service, so I guess I was singing to those angels, too.  Now there’s an odd thought!   :>)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prophetic Dreams





Actually, I’m going to share two dreams that punctuated both the beginning and end of the church plant, but before I do that I really need to explain a few things about prophetic dreams.  Right now I can hear someone saying, "Really, Pastor John, all this prophetic stuff is weird anyway, and now you’re adding dreams to your list of weirdnesses?"  Yeah, I know it’s strange, but it really is real.  I’ve already shared some dreams of the prophetic variety, but I really didn’t offer much instruction on how such a thing works.  Here’s a little help.

That God uses our dreams to share things with us is pretty well-established, both in scripture and in Christian life as it has been lived through the ages.  In Genesis, Joseph had two dreams that predicted the future and got him in hot water with his whole family (Gen 37:5-11).  Wicked King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which God showed him the future (Dan 2).  Dreams (and visions) were part and parcel for how the Old Testament prophets operated and that phenomenon continued into the New Testament.  Joseph of Nazareth was guided by angels appearing in dreams on four occasions.  First, he was told to go ahead and marry Mary.  In the second dream he was warned that Herod was trying to kill baby Jesus and instructed to run to Egypt – fast!  Then, after Herod was dead, he was given the okay to return home, but when they got to the Bethlehem/Jerusalem area he had another dream that warned them not to stick around that area, but to go on to Galilee (Matt 1:20; 2:13,19,22).  Moving on to the Apostle Paul, in the book of Acts we are told of how, at the end of a long, dry, fruitless trek across Asia Minor, he was shown that God wanted him to preach in Macedonia (a country north of Greece) (Acts 16:9).  The Bible is full of dreams and dreamers to whom God spoke.  Now, ever since Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on all flesh (rather than just a select few as it was before Christ came) Christians of all stripes and flavors experience God speaking to them in dreams.  And not only Christians have dreams.  I have a friend (now with the Lord) who was converted to Christ through a (very odd) dream.  (He wrote it down in a tract that I included in the appendix of my first book Understanding the Prophetic Nature.)  I already mentioned King Nebuchadnezzar, a heathen by anyone’s standard.  God used a dream to reach out to him.  Testimonies are coming out of Islamic countries of people who went to bed as convinced Muslims and woke up in the morning as converted into Christians because the Lord appeared to them in a … you got it … dream! 

I’m not going to try to cover everything about prophetic dreams here in this post, but three questions need to be answered:  How do you tell the difference between a prophetic dream and the ordinary, too-much-pizza-last-night variety?  Why do dreams contain such weird imagery?  (For a good example of weird imagery scroll down this blog to find my post where I shared a dream God gave me about Butte.  People with animal heads?  Really?)  Finally, what do I do with this dream?  For the sake of keeping this post to a reasonable length I’m going to give quick and dirty answers to those questions, so keep in mind that you should do some independent study on the subject.

Question # 1:  So, how do you tell the difference between a prophetic dream and an ordinary, too-much-pizza-last-night variety? Well, the same way you walk every other aspect of your Christian life – by the Spirit.  Paul told us that if we want to avoid doing fleshly, sinful things we should “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  We like to layer rules onto our lives to keep ourselves straight, but every time we do something like that we fall into the same mistake the Galatians made.  Understand this:  God is not pleased with rules-based living!  Instead, the entire New Testament portrays the Christian life as one that is led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, a lifestyle that stands in stark contrast to a rules-based lifestyle.  Discerning whether or not a dream is prophetic is no different.  Get quiet with God, settle back into your spirit and listen to what is being said there.  And don’t be too sticky about being absolutely certain you are hearing right!  You are under no compunction to shout your dream to everyone you come across (1 Cor 14:32).  Most of the dreams I’ve been given are unshared (except with my wife, of course).  I write them down and then wait on God to show me what He is saying.

Question # 2:  Why such weird imagery?  Well, think about it.  God is showing you things that have to do with heavenly realities.  Trouble is, we are limited in our ability to even see those things let alone understand them, so God uses imageries we can relate to.  They serve as a tool for Him to use in directing our thoughts.  It’s a lot like visual poetry.  He uses pictorial allusion and graphical metaphor, even pulling images from our own background, to help us “get” what He is saying.  Why do you think the book of Revelation is so full of so much strange and oddball imagery?  Because God, in order to communicate to us the truths He intends, put them in terms He could later, by the agency of His Holy Spirit, use to reveal great and awesome things to us.  God will, through His Spirit, use that weird imagery and the strange circumstances of your prophetic dreams to open up “great and mighty things that you know not” (Jer. 33:3). 

Question # 3:  So, what am I supposed to do with this dream?  I think it might, maybe be prophetic, but I really don’t understand it.  God showed me this, but what do I do now?  Step one is to write it down.  Even if you are still doubtful about its “propheticness”, write it down.  I have one of those blank-page journals you can buy at Walmart that I use to record my dreams.  No, I don’t understand all of them – but some have come more clear over the years since I first wrote them down.  Sometimes the meaning is crystal clear from the start only to be broadened as God shows me new things over time.  If you are puzzled about a dream and feel there is some sort of urgency surrounding it, sharing it with the leadership of your church body is a good place to start.  Go to your pastor or find an elder you relate with and describe it to them.  Yes, there is some risk in doing that, but that is how the Lord designed the body of Christ to operate.  And…practice makes perfect!  Be faithful in writing down the dreams you think may be prophetic and you will find your skills at discerning between prophetic/pizza dreams improving.  You will also find that, as you are faithful in this, God will begin giving you more of these dreams.  It’s an awesome way to interact with Him!

That brings me to my last point – whether it’s through a prophetic dream, a vision or one of the gifts of the Spirit, through Bible study or deep, intercessory prayer, God hangs around in our space.  He’s looking for ways to interact with us.  He loves to share life with us!  He loves to share His life with us!  The dream He gives you may not ever be intended for sharing with other people.  It may just be Him sharing with you, His friend, how He’s feeling and what He’s planning.  That’s really what this life we live here on this earth is all about anyway, isn’t it?

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
Amos 3:7 KJV


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Finishing the Race #1



December 18, 2016

It has been over four years since my last post and it’s time to bring things together.  My plan for these last, final posts is to first share how our attempt to plant a church in Butte came to an end – and let you see God’s grace in that process.  I’ll share a little of where our life has gone since then, but I want to end by spending some time talking about an aspect of spiritual warfare called spiritual mapping.  I have shared much about Ruth’s and my life as this blog developed, but that is not its focus or goal.  I want to remain true to its original purpose which is to serve as a primer on spiritual warfare. 

I shared how in 2009 our oldest son had come to Butte to help us with planting Living Water Fellowship.  What a blessing that was!  Ruth and I had been struggling with that burden for quite some time and to have him come to help lifted so very much of the load off our shoulders.  I especially valued the fresh/different-angled perspective he brought.  Being of the younger generation he helped us see how younger people reacted to and viewed faith and Christian ministry.  That viewpoint was deeply valuable to me because…well I’m an old guy and see the world through old eyes.  He was also fresh from Bible college and brought with him new views and innovative ideas that refreshed us.  I especially enjoyed having long, theologically-oriented conversations with him or discussing the state of the church in America or just talking about politics…the list goes on.  During that time our relationship was able to move from one of parents directing the life of their child (an aspect of parenting that doesn’t fully come to an end until your child marries) to include a level of friendship we hadn’t had before.  However, perhaps the greatest benefit to having John (JC) come to be with us was that it lifted the loneliness.  Most people don’t realize just how lonely it is for church planters.  (This must be especially true for missionaries who have not only left home and family to follow God’s lead, but have been uprooted from their culture.)  We draw so much from our church families!  To have a pastor to lean on and a church body to turn to in crisis gives us strength and keeps us safe.  More than that, you have companionship.  Ruth and I had none of that.  The circumstances surrounding our move to Butte prevented us from gathering a team beforehand.  We did not have a “sending church” to help us.  All we knew was that this was what God wanted us to do, so that was what we were doing.  We still had a few friends left in Butte, but they had moved on in the years since we left and, in the end, chose not to join us.  So, from July 2007 until JC came in June 2009 we were all alone in our quest.  Our son eased our loneliness. 

He was with us for two years and then his life took a different direction – he met a young lady.  Well, such things happen, you know.  It was a joy to us to know that our son had found someone to love, but she lived in Canada!  He asked her to marry him and in June 2011 moved north (way, way, way north!) to be closer to her and begin the process of obtaining his Canadian work visa.  We rejoiced – but we were sad as well.  Once again Ruth and I were alone in our work, a work that to date had shown no sign of success.

To give you a good perspective on all this I have to go back to the beginning and share with you a prophetic dream the Lord gave me.  That will be the subject of my next post.