Difference between a vision and a dream

I just awoke from a dream.  I must have been standing in a dark corridor because I couldn’t see anything but blackness as night.  Then I heard the voice of a woman who was crying out to God.  However, she only knew to call Him ‘Alla.’  Her voice had an element of fearful distress … I knew in my spirit that she was seeking a confrontation with a living God.  Before I awoke, I had the impression that I was somehow witness to this as though this were a private place.  I was also aware that I wasn’t the only witness, that there were others that had access to this private place.

When I awoke, I had the distinct feeling that the private place was somewhere in the body of Christ.  I can liken it to the brain in that, we perceive many things from our senses, and our brain then decipher them, however I would say that it felt more like the heart because it was more than just mere perception I was experiencing.  I’d like to believe that this was the place of Christ’s heart.  It was as if He was revealing to me that there is a place where we can only get to when we truly seek Him with all our heart and once we get there, it’s a place where true ministry takes place.

However, my message isn’t so much a heart message.  I prayed for the unseen woman and by faith, I know that Christ will reveal Himself to her.  After all, it is only by personal revelation that you can gain a proper understanding of who God is.  I trust that Jesus will give this woman a correct understanding of who He is in a way that she will understand that she needed a course correction.

My message is more so about the dream itself.  I felt impressed to look up the story in Acts 16:9-15 where Paul had a vision in the night of a man beckoning him to come to Macedonia.  The next day he went that way and lo and behold, the man turned out to be a woman named Lydia.  Not only Lydia, but her household, were baptized.  What a work of ministry!

I know we are in the days of apostolic revival and just like in those days, we are seeing things like this happen today.  The cool part is that we have the benefit of learning from those that have gone before us and we have tools like the internet, books, sermons online, and other media that make it so very easy for us to get the proper training and knowledge to be truly effective in building God’s kingdom.

Let me share with you something I just learned that may perhaps help you.  In looking up this scripture, I found that there was a distinct difference in vision vs. dream.  A vision comes from a root word meaning to discern clearly, to attend to, to behold.  According to Webster, ‘vision’ in scripture is a revelation from God whereas a dream is a series of thoughts not under the command of reason and hence, wild and irregular.

Whether the vision comes in the night as Paul’s did, or during the day, the beauty is, the men in the bible knew without a shadow of a doubt where the message came from, even if the details of direction weren’t completely spelled out.

Back to my vision in the night … I wonder, why would God show me a secret place and give me indication that others are witness’ there as well?  I’m certain the answer will become clearer as God leads and guides my steps, but for now, I walk away with a strong feeling that God is revealing just how connected in the spirit we really are.  I felt He was showing me the importance of the body being in one mind and one accord.

I believe this is the place He is taking us too, a place of unity and understanding.  A place where our attention isn’t so much on the other workers in the secret place, but the voices of those that He is wanting to bring into His kingdom.  While He will do the work of revealing Himself, He will need us, His body, to attend to, teach, support, encourage, and love those spiritual babies that He is scooping up in His arms.  How blessed are we to be a privy to a time when it’s all ‘coming together!’

Wow!  How exciting it is to be a part of Christ’s kingdom!  Apostolic revival, here we come!

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As the body becomes united as One …

I think that Preacher’s have a pretty cool position.  I’m not talking about the fact that they get to stand on the platform and do all the talking while everyone else does the listening.  Neither am I talking about the fact that they hold the power in the room.  I had an experience that showed me something entirely different!  I invite you to take a peek from my perspective ….

It was the end of May.  I was on my son’s last field trip that I would ever have the chance to be a part of.  We were at a local state park doing lots of hiking, exploring, swimming, boating, and all kinds of cool outdoor things.  The temperature was perfect!  The bugs weren’t too bad and the sky held a deep blue with a hint of storm clouds that were running to catch up with us.

The winds blew and without us even noticing,  the clouds snuck up on us and now dark grays loomed over us, doing their best to let us know … the storm was coming.  The teachers sent the kids to the bus and tried to delay in hopes that the storm would move on without us.  The delay went from 5 to 10 to 15 minutes and soon, those 60+ fifth graders were beginning to take on a life of their own … one that was rather cranky and annoyed to be sitting on a hot stinky bus.

I decided to check on my boy.  He was of course, in the back.  I took a couple of snap shots of him then headed back to the front.  I turn around and look at these kids and a few heads look my way.  That’s when one little guy looked me right in the eye, started motioning, and singing ‘YMCA.’  I was intrigued by his beckoning to interact, so I did the best thing I knew how … I did the YMCA with him.  Next thing I know, the WHOLE bus (except my son who is now shrinking in embarrassment) joins in!

I was a bit overwhelmed, nervous, and completely engaged at the same time!  While there were 60+ individual children on this bus, I was watching as they all had united as one … literally one mind and in one accord!  After YMCA, it was my turn to take the lead.  I began with ‘The wheels of the bus.’  Once again, we became one voice.  Truthfully, I was shaking in my boots, but this was truly a blast!  After this song, they once again took the lead and began to sing out and pound on the seats, ‘We will, we will, Rock you!’    I got that one on video!  These children were truly delightful!

Wow!  What a blessing this was from God!  I imagined that this MUST be what it is like for a preacher when he truly allows God to lead the service.  Sure, he comes prepared with a sermon.  However, as the hearts and minds of the believers begin to become united and the spirit sweeps in, the preacher then begins to interact with the Body of Christ with Jesus taking the lead!

I can only imagine how the preacher gets a glimpse of Jesus’ hands reaching in and caressing a heart here, or uplifting a spirit there.  I have witnessed my own Pastor as he is heading one direction and suddenly, he begins down a different path as though Jesus had just tapped him on the shoulder and whispered in his ear.  What an incredible blessing it must be to witness this!

I am so enamored by God!  He truly amazes me!  We think so much of what we do is because of our own efforts.  Hah!  Boy have we got a lot to learn!  I think it is really cool that we have a God that is so interactive and truly teaches us how to live and enjoy the many blessings He provides!  We haven’t even scratched the surface to all that He has prepared for us!  WOW!

 

 

Maturing in Christ

My little boy told me the other day … ‘I grew last night, Mom.’  I said, ‘You did?  How do you know?’  His reply, ‘My knees hurt.’  Of course, being the youngest, he’s heard his brother and sister speak of growing pains, so he assumes that the pain he feels is just that .. he grew.  I’ve been feeling that way of late too, only it’s not been my stature, it’s been my spiritual growth.

Unlike my son, I didn’t necessarily recognize that some of the small pains I’ve been experiencing was me growing, but now, just a few short days afterwards, I can honestly say, I feel taller.  I feel as though I’ve grown.

One of the lessons that Jesus has been working on me of late is my responsibility to others.  I’m pretty certain that this is something, like children, that we don’t fully understand until we’ve grown and matured a bit.

I can only speak from my frame of reference; the things I’ve experienced and that have been revealed to me.  However, it seems that Christ has first really taken time to work on me.  As much as I was ready to jump in and help others, truth-be-told, He’s constantly spent most of the time healing my wounds, revealing my insecurities and flaws, and helping me to see where I need growth.  Somehow, despite my driven focus to live and do according to what I think is right, He has slowly and methodically changed my way of thinking.  The best part, He has done it at His pace and in His timing and somehow, it has always come in Love.  Wow!  What an amazing God I serve!

As I mentioned though, as of late, God has been opening my eyes to a new lesson of being responsible towards one another.  It’s easy to look around and see how society and the World, and Christians too, tend to have a ‘I’ll live my life the way I want without regard to others’ attitude.  This attitude doesn’t focus on anyone other than ourselves, but really, it doesn’t change our responsibility towards others.

‘The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ Deut 29:29 KJV

I’m so thankful today that God has taken the approach with me that He has.  He has allowed me the room to make some mistakes.  The more I get to know Him, the more I realize that He really does have expectations for us and how we are to live our lives.  I’m certain I haven’t got it all figured out yet, but today, I am most thankful for all the ‘growing pains’ I’ve experienced.  I can honestly look back now and see how each and every trial He has brought me through helped me to gain a better understanding of His love, mercy, and grace.

He really does have a handle on all the things we think we need to know or need to understand but simply don’t yet.  What a blessed assurance I have in Christ!

‘For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.’  1 Phil 1:6 NAS

Like my son, I can honestly say with a big confident grin, ‘Yep.  I grew.’

Praise God!

The other side of Christ’s Love …

It seems that we all know about how we are supposed to turn the other cheek, give up our coat, and forgive seventy times seven.  However, there is another side to Christ’s love that we don’t hear as much about … I’m referring to the tough side of love.

Believe it or not, I’m not talking about my children .. although as a parent, these things certainly apply.  I’m actually talking about people who Christ has put in our path that need not just another hand out or just another body to enable their dysfunction, but rather, they need a hand to help hold them accountable.

I had a situation recently that I had to be one of those hands.  At first, my attempts to assist were eagerly accepted and there seemed to be a direct change for the better.  However, the change was short-lived.  As I began to hold this person accountable, the scenario began to reveal a self-defeating ‘victim’ status that seemed to plague this person.  This was the hard part for me.  Certainly I wanted to help this person .. I wanted to see this person succeed .. however as time continued, it seemed that rather than climbing out of the hole, it was just getting deeper.  It got to the point where I had to make a choice.  I could either continue to enable defeat or do my duty and say .. enough.  How do you help someone who is simply not willing to help themselves?

Forgive me for saying so, but I don’t like this part of being a Christian.  Truthfully, I’m a sap for someone who has a ‘bad’ story.  I literally feel their pain and can understand why they are the way they are.  But this situation really made me understand the importance of doing my part to stop enabling the ‘I’m a victim’ cycle.

So the other side of love is this .. sometimes we have to be ‘tough’ with people.  Not mean .. tough.  The difference is all in the heart.  I really did feel for and understand how this person had gotten in the pit.  However, I also realized that victory would never be achieved until this person looks in the mirror and stops blaming today’s problems on yesterday.  Can I tell you?  I hate being the one to say that.  I know it’s supposed to be a blessing, but it doesn’t feel like much of one.  At least not yet because I don’t see any change.

Maybe that’s the reason it’s so hard for me.  Despite all MY efforts, I didn’t see anything change.  At least not yet.  I’m just another random hand reaching out to someone who’s not quite ready to climb out of the pit.

Sigh …

Not that I’m going to stop being compassionate, because if anything, this situation just increases my desire to help others.  I just feel like I had a visit from a vagabond and really really thought … there would be change.

I guess the tough side of love is realizing that not all the people Christ puts in your path are at a point where they are ready to change.

Ugh … what a different world it would be if they were.

 

Yeh, it’s valid ..

Do you ever wonder what your purpose in the church really is?  Truthfully, this is something that I’m always thinking about.  I’ve always got Jesus on the brain and over the years, I would say that my witness as a Christian has certainly evolved.

It started like the big bang theory.  I was explosively witnessing just out of sheer excitement for the things that God had done in my life.  I didn’t worry about doing things right or wrong .. I was seriously … excited!  Like a child exploring a new world.  I wasn’t even trying to witness.  It just happened.  I didn’t worry about where the other person was coming from or what their beliefs were.  I just lived, breathed, and acted on the new-found hope that I had found.

When reality hit that life was still just that … real … it changed my witness. I went through an evolutionary process of ‘deliberately witnessing’ to ‘learning to let God lead.’  And still, my process continues to evolve.  But along with my evolution is not just my witness, but a constant debate in my mind wrestles where my purpose lies.

I’m just being honest here, but I’ve one of those personalities that ALWAYS hears ‘you can DO more’ when I sit in on a sermon.  Sometimes I hear ‘you aren’t doing enough’ … depending on where my psyche is for the day.  Delivered with love, I know the pastors preach the right message.  It’s my filter that I wrestle with .. i.e. me.

Do I put more time at church?  Do I spend more time in bible study?  Is my intention that putting time into my family and being a witness to my family really a valid intention or am I making excuses because I’m not doing enough?

I think we’re supposed to wrestle with these things.  Not to a level that debilitates, but certainly to keep driving us forward.  At least I hope so.

Today I had a revelation that building a church is just as important at the family level as it is at witnessing to complete strangers.  I know that God has laid on my heart to prioritize my family in my witness.  Truthfully, that witness doesn’t always look like bible studies or preaching baptism and the in filling of the Holy Spirit.  But now that I consider this, it ALWAYS involves preaching repentance .. interesting.

I can’t help but see the correlation of a preacher and his wife building a congregation with that of my own family unit.  Here, my husband and I are often the ‘pastors’ if you will.  We spent some time putting out fires, building up, edifying, teaching, preaching, but mostly, loving .. even when it’s not easy to love.  Teaching forgiveness, hopefully offering wisdom, guidance and always pointing towards righteousness.

And just like in church, we .. the leaders .. make mistakes and our ‘congregation’ gets to watch us fall, get back up, evaluate our integrity or seeming hypocrisy, and in the end, it’s usually us who seem to learn the most.  We find ourselves learning the very things that we thought it was our job to teach.

In a world where there is so much work to do, it’s easy to feel as though we aren’t doing enough.  Today however, after the Connecticut shootings, I was reminded that my work in my family really is important.  We are in such a hurry to be witness to those that are hurting or those that need help that maybe we miss the strangers that are crying out for help in our own homes.

Yes, I can do more.  There’s always more to do.  Yes, I can do a better job.  There’s always things to improve on.  But in the end, I heard the voice clearly .. witnessing to my family is valid and just as important as witnessing to those outside of my home.

Sometimes it may take horrendous crimes to wake us up to this fact, but remember … despite all Noah’s preaching .. it was only his family that made it aboard the Ark.

Yeh, family as a priority .. I’m certain .. it’s valid.

The risk of investing everything

The other day, I made a comment to a young lady telling her that her boyfriend was worth the investment.  I didn’t put a lot of thought to the comment, it just came out because I believed it.  After I said it though, it really made me think about relationships between a man and a woman.

The young man I was referring to is someone very near and dear to me and someone whom I have always seen great potential in.  From the very start, I have seen the man who God wants him to be.

Of course, this is a young couple who are both growing and maturing, figuring out who they are in relation to themselves, each other, and I would venture to say, even God.  As I watch and pray for them, I can’t help but see the importance of investing in the person we are with .. not just the relationship.

I’m amazed as I watch this young man grow and see him maturing.  I have watched him grow from almost indifferent towards his girlfriend to being just that .. invested.  No longer is it just a relationship for the sake of relationship.  It’s something more.  It’s a realization that the other person has taken hold of a place in your heart that no one else can or ever will fill.

What a hopeful thing to see!  When we are invested, we are willing to go through a thing or two.  When we are invested, we have something to fight for.  When we are invested, we allow God to show us the person we love through His eyes instead of our own.  When we are invested, we are willing to bear our hearts, even when it hurts.

I believe this is one of the key factors to really good marriages.  Marriages shouldn’t be just a matter of convenience or filling financial and physical needs because it’s some sort of contract.  Marriage should be an investment in a person that God chose for me.

Unfortunately, I’ve been through divorce and didn’t realize these things in my previous marriage.  I fell into the trap of believing that marriage was about our individual happiness.  Mostly, I didn’t have God focused eyes to help me see the things I could not see.

While I’m not proud to say I’m divorced, I am thankful the situation ultimately led God to open my spiritual eyes.  I’m also thankful that God had someone in mind for me because, being the gracious God He is, He would give me a second shot at marriage.  God would teach me the importance of not just being committed to a marriage, but being invested in the man He has chosen for me.  What a difference investing in the man versus the marriage makes.

Why?  Because now that I invest in my husband versus my marriage, I’ve been given a glimpse of the bond that God truly intends between a man and woman .. and I realize just how valuable that bond truly is!  It is something to desire and strive for.  It’s beautiful and it’s worth every bit of effort and ugly thing you have to go through to get it.

When you are truly invested, you have everything to lose .. yes.  But on the other hand, when God is the one leading the investment, you have something that is priceless to gain … a type of love that only God can create.

I love my husband.

 

 

Awake not love until it so desires …

As a woman, I can say that I’ve had a good look at how the world expects us women to act.  This, of course, was before I knew Christ.

In the world, society teaches us that we are to dress a certain way … typically as eye candy to ‘please a man.’  We are to act a certain way … typically a bit on the ‘seductive’ side with flirtatious demeanor.  And in today’s world, as women, we are to even be the ‘huntress’ … typically we are expected to be the ones to lure men.

This is what society teaches our girls from a very young age.  This thought process, in my opinion, is one of the major factors that leads to teen pregnancy, broken hearts, broken relationships, and ultimately a society full of divorce.  Our girls are being taught that love is all physical, from how you look to getting a man to touch you.  And our boys are being taught that they have their pick of the litter, devaluing the real beauty of what a woman has to offer.  Every where you look there are love-sick souls seeking a love that just doesn’t really seem to be attainable.  Wounded hearts .. warped minds .. and laden with all kinds of physical and emotional diseases in the aftermath.

But the Bible teaches a different kind of love.

In the Song of Solomon, it’s a beautiful book of love and passion … romance.  It speaks even of sexuality .. embracing, kissing, and of physical intimacy through caressing using language that made me blush the first time I read it!  After all, it is the Bible.  But this is not a book about sex.  It’s a book about love and desire.  The biggest message I hear is … awake not love until it so desires.

In our society, desire drives us.  We ‘long’ to be loved and ‘crave’ it so much that we find ourselves, both men and women, doing silly and hurtful things to ourselves to find it.  Yet the Bible tells us to wait for it.

When we take time to allow it to happen and not rush it, we allow God to open the door to passion on His timing.  In our ‘NOW’ driven society, it’s hard for us to imagine waiting, but when we do, we allow God to create something that we could only know because we waited for Him.

I was reminded this morning of Christ’s love towards me.  After a short but heartfelt prayer inviting Christ in to my heart today, I felt Him draw near just a short time later.  I could feel Him embracing me.  As I continued on in my day, tears came to my eyes as something caught my attention that only He could know I had been thinking about.  I knew that He had been paying attention and listening to me.  I knew that He cared.  Honestly, I can say that I am blessed because I have those moments with God.  I have experienced an intimacy that I know others have not.  I have spent time getting to know Him and waiting for Him to reveal Himself to me.  But to me, that’s the easy part.  After all, He’s God.  He can read my thoughts and His spirit is in me.  However, I know that His desire is not just that we would have this great thing with Him, but that His church, His bride, His children .. would understand that He desires for us to experience that same level of love towards one another.

So I’m not really quite sure exactly how to do that.  Truthfully, I’m still figuring it out myself.  I sometimes want to rush into the ‘feel good’ moments with people because I too, am still in this world.  But one thing I do know is that it involves waiting.  I’m thankful that I have a close relationship with Christ because when I get impatient and want to rush, He somehow gives me a gentle look and I’m compelled to continue to wait for His timing.  When I feel I’ve done all I can do with no results and want to move on to something else, He gently puts His arm around me and somehow, waiting doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Awake not love until it so desires …

I’m fairly certain that Jesus has big things in store for those who wait.  I’m fairly certain it involves that love that seems to be so unattainable in this world.  As a matter of a fact, I’m certain of it because He’s given me glimpses of it .. and not just with Him .. but with my beloved husband, my children, and even an occasional fellow Christian or two that I’ve encountered in my walk.

When you wait for love instead of forcing it … it’s so much more than what the world has to offer …. it’s absolutely … breathless!