That Time God Spoke To Me In A Dream

What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had? Mine happened on Friday night, and I’m still recovering from it.

I rarely have a dream I can remember. To this day, there are maybe a few dreams that I’ve had that have stuck with me – mostly these are nightmares of loved ones dying, me falling indefinitely, or being lost in a sea of clowns at the circus.

My imagination is a scary place.

So when I woke up on Saturday with a dream lingering still in my mind, I knew I should pay attention.

THE DREAM:

I still remember vividly being the father of three beautiful girls: an emotional and moody teenager, an overly energetic 10-year old, and a small delicate baby. The dream took place in what I imagine is my childhood home. The only child whose name I remember was the youngest, whose name was Charis, which means grace in Greek. I remember wrestling to encourage the oldest, settling down the middle, and holding the youngest in my arms. I woke up feeling so out-of-sorts. I felt love for children I have never met – a longing I’ve never experienced before. I felt my love for them in my sleep and that love is still echoing in my heart days later.

Every night I’ve gone to bed asking God to let me meet them again in my sleep. And every morning I’ve woken up disappointed. I have never had a “prophetic” dream before, but because of the impact of this one dream and how much I’ve dwelled on it, I started asking God if He was trying to tell me something.

THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME…

Last month my mentor told me that his goal for me this year was to “grow in grace” – to be easier on myself and my role as a husband, pastor, and child of God. I strive for perfection. I put my value in what I do. And I gauge that value on others’ opinions of me. So I always feel like I can be better, or if people really knew me they wouldn’t like me, or that I am always “performing” and never able to truly be myself. My mentor knows this and was encouraging me to look past others and see myself as God sees me.

So it hit me that these three children are representing my life. The oldest was me as a teenager, lost and depressed, locking myself in my room to write songs, searching for meaning, wondering if there was more. Then I found new life and hope in Jesus, and with that came energy and excitement. I was a new person, completely different than the depressed kid of the past. But now my life has given birth to something else – Grace. And the same way my heart has been longing for Charis every night before bed, my heart needs to long for God’s grace.

I finally came to the realization of this truth three days after the dream. It happened Tuesday morning before I did my devotions. Later I shared it with our church staff, finally sharing the details of the dream and the name “Charis,” something I didn’t even share with my wife. I just wanted to share what I felt God was speaking to me. It was good to get it out there and put my faith in what God was speaking into my life. I was also hoping I would get some confirmation that I was hearing correctly what I felt God was loudly screaming in my ear.

About an hour after all of this went down, I got a message from my dad that he was at a hip coffee shop he thought I would like. He said it reminded him of one we used to frequent together in Ohio. He knows I love coffee, so he thought I’d appreciate it. With the message he sent a picture of the coffee shop. This is what the coffee shop’s name was along with what was written under it:

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Charis:

That which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.

Undeserved kindness or favor.

THE COFFEE SHOP’S NAME WAS CHARIS!!!

WHAT?!

Okay God… I get it.

I needed to not just think God was speaking. I needed to know – especially with the weight of this dream and the depth of emotion it made me feel. And God spoke in such a powerful way!

SO WHAT’S THE POINT?

I need to let Grace grow in my life, let it develop and mature. I need to nurture it and care for it like it is my own flesh and blood. I need to feel it in my heart of hearts – God’s never-ending grace and mercy. No matter how far I’ve fallen or how short of the mark I am, Jesus still died for me and is offering me grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And while I don’t deserve this grace, I need to remember that no one deserves it. That’s why it’s grace.

What is God trying to speak to you? Are you listening? Are you waiting and asking for clarity when He speaks? Is He wanting you to understand something regarding His personhood – like He was speaking to me about His grace? Is He reminding you He is with you in your pain or uncertainty? Maybe He is encouraging to take a step of faith with a job or in reaching out to a family member or friend. But we need to be listening. And when He speaks, we must not dismiss it. So let’s open our ears, let’s listen to our hearts, and let’s expect God to continue to give us visions and dreams like we’ve never had before!

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message

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The Convict’s Confession

I was surprised.

It wasn’t because I got caught. It wasn’t because of the punishment I was going to face, or the disappointment coming from those who expected more from me. I was surprised because I didn’t realize what I did was wrong until after I was found out.

August 30, 2003 started out like any other day. My parents allowed me to have some friends over for my birthday, and we spent the night testing the myth of adolescent metabolic function. We pigged out, joked around, and did everything that you would expect budding teenagers to do. We ended the night by going out for a stroll in my neighborhood.

We knew the kid down the street’s parents weren’t home, and that he and his friend were out toilet-papering houses. One of the boys with us used to house sit for them, so he knew where the key was. It didn’t matter anyway. We lived in the type of neighborhood where people didn’t lock their doors. They had no need to, or so they thought.

The next day when the kid returned to his home, he knew that something was awry. After some minor investigative work, one of the kids in our group (the one who used to house sit for them) confessed that we went in the house. We didn’t trash anything. We didn’t steal anything. But you could imagine the insecurity that the family felt knowing that their sanctuary had been marauded.

It is crazy how God can use the most miserable and bleak situations and turn them into celebrations.

This incident was the “light bulb” I needed. It showed me my own depravity and the depravity of the world, knowing that even “good kids” were subject to actions I thought were only capable of those at the world’s underbelly. Kids of the suburbs need Jesus just as much as the men on death row. I was now proof of that. I experienced it first hand. I might have broken into a house, but through this situation, God had broken into my heart. He chiseled away the mess I was in. And I would never be the same.

When we went to court to plea our case, many of the parents had lawyers advising them to plea, “innocent.” If you know anything of the court system, even if you are guilty it is better to plea innocent, so your lawyer has the chance to work a deal with the judge. Regardless, the idea didn’t sit right with me. I knew I was responsible, and I wanted to show the judge and God that I was willing to pay the earthly consequence despite my heavenly verdict. Sometimes we still have to face consequences on earth that God has pardoned. It is just another portrait of our frailty – pointing to a future hope of reconciliation.

The judge took kindness on us. We got the minimal sentence – no jail time, no community service. I got the incident wiped from my record. People who do a background check on me don’t even know this story. We had to pay a small fine and had to pay a few visits to a probation officer… who was also a pastor.

I remember having to tell my wrestling coach about the incident. Half of the guys who got arrested were on the wrestling team, and we knew that our getting in trouble would affect the team. After we told him what we did, he paused, and then he singled-me-out and rebuked me in front of the whole group. It was my second year being wrestling captain of our middle school team. He told me that by doing what I did, I didn’t do what a leader was supposed to do. I was a follower – doing what I knew was wrong but following regardless. It was a lesson that I have never and will never let myself forget.

Have you ever done something so horrific that you surprised yourself? Have you ever been a follower in a situation where you were supposed to lead the people out of the mess? Have you ever let down the people you cared about most? Are you paying the earthly consequences of actions that have already been forgiven in heaven?

Remember that God is for you. If you seek him, you will find Him. He has His hand outstretched in your direction. He is offering you a gift of reconciliation and grace. You just need to accept it by faith. God is about reconciliation. He is in the healing business… and business is good. If you are in a situation with no visible horizon, know that God loves to make those situations beautiful – just like the sun at dawn.

He will make it beautiful, because He alone gets the glory when He does something we can’t do on our own.

Seek Him. Discover Him. Embrace Him.

“It’s About the Call.”

“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…” -Prov 2:6

It is always an encouraging moment for a pastor when they realize that something has finally “clicked” with a person to whom they are ministering to.

I remember Pastor Heather had an open forum one night at youth group (yes, I had a female youth pastor). At this time, I had committed my life to Christ, but not everything had “clicked” yet. My older sister had gotten saved six months after me, and she had quickly grown more mature than me as a “new believer.” I remember at the forum someone had asked a question about the existence of God, and I raised my hand to respond… once Pastor Heather allowed time for peers within the youth group to give their opinions on the questions asked. What I responded with was the Teleological Argument for the Existence of God – though I didn’t know what that was at the time. I remember Pastor Heather’s countenance turned from interest to bewilderment as I explained that the world around us shows design and that must point to a Designer – a very profound thing for a young teen to understand and articulate.

Recently, I heard my good friend Osheen preach at my college alma mater. Her text was that from Exodus – when Moses gets called by God to deliver the Israelites (she craftily referenced the movie, “The Prince of Egypt”). Her application of the text was focused on insecurities and the call of God. Moses believed that God would deliver His people, but Moses didn’t think that he would be the means of that deliverance. But he wasn’t – Osheen made that clear. Oftentimes we put Moses as the main character when it is God through whom deliverance came.

I think a lot of one-liner’s are platitudinous. But one that I think holds merit is that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He equips the called.

When I first got saved in 2003, I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I literally didn’t know what the “Book of John” meant. I ended up settling in 1John because I thought that the 1, 2, and 3 before John’s name were chapter marks. I remember also being confused as to why the Psalms didn’t rhyme, and why all the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were practically the same story about Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. The Bible was just a book to me.

After I got saved, I found that Proverbs was known as the “book about wisdom” in the Bible, so I thought that I would start there. Every single night I would read Proverbs 1-4, one passage from the Old Testament, and one passage from the New Testament, and I would ask God to give me wisdom so that I would understand Him more, and in understanding Him, find more reasons to love him.

Today, I have my B.A. in “Bible & Theology.” I graduated Cum Laude, and I got to serve on various ministries at my school: student government, traveling ministry teams, and even as president of my school’s philosophy club. I owe so much to Central Bible College, whose slogan was, “It’s About the Call,” at the time when I applied. They helped equip me and helped me to learn how to use wisdom and the Holy Spirit to make God’s Word be more than just a book, but come to life!

It is so humbling for me to look back and remember who I was when I got saved – a rebellious teen that listened to Metallica and knew nothing about the Bible whatsoever. But it is crazy that God will use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. God has done so much through me intellectually that there is no way I can say that I learned this all on my own… I am not that smart! It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that God’s Word was illuminated to me. And I need to always remember that.

If you feel like you aren’t qualified for the task that you feel God has called you to just remember that you are feeling the same way almost all of the prophets of the Old Testament felt. Ask God for wisdom and seek it. And remember that God is going to do things bigger than your own capacity, because He will get the glory for it! It is truly a miraculous thing for God to do the extraordinary through ordinary and mundane human beings. Don’t get discouraged. Be firm. Stay faithful.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding…” -Prov 3:13

To God be the glory forever and ever,

Amen.