Beginning to Dream
- 1 Beginning to Dream
- 1.1 Kicked Out (March 17, 2012)
- 1.2 Holding Loosely (April 22, 2012)
- 1.3 The King’s Country (April 29, 2012)
- 1.4 A Vision of the Future (May 3, 2012)
- 1.5 Pencils and Swords (May 6, 2012)
- 1.6 The Road Less Travelled By (May 10, 2012)
- 1.7 Buy a Real Book!
- 1.8 Continue Reading…
The battle lines are drawn. I have come to know love in Jesus. I have come to see evil, pain, and suffering. I understand that what I see with my eyes is not what I fight. The weapons of my war are not earthly but spiritual.
This has changed every aspect of my life except one. As I move from a college career into a business career, the decision of what to do is not one I’ve made on the basis of how much money I will make or how much prestige I will win. Instead, it is based on how much I can do for the Kingdom of God.
There has never been any question about going into business; the question has simply been one of where. However, in the past few months, a struggle has emerged in my heart that reveals my interest in the church is more than just one of membership. I believe that the business world is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the power of a transformed life in the Kingdom of God. I also struggle with a rapidly growing desire to serve the Kingdom of God through the church.
For a long time now, God has been trying to show me the condition of His church that I came out of and asking me to bring His life and hope back to it. Joel mentioned that I was perfectly groomed for a Southern Baptist conservative-like setting without realizing that was where God was calling me. Mitch gave me the story of the little girl who I helped to go from hurting herself to worshipping God. And though I didn’t want to hear it, Jesus said He loved His church…even if it was broken. I hear the simple phrase “I love My church” every time I remind God that I don’t want to go to church on Sunday.
In fact, God has talked so much about how He loves His church that I began visiting various churches around the area on Sundays to figure out why. I even went back to the church where I was a member. There, the message was so incredibly full of rational truth that I enjoyed hearing it. It expanded my view of who God is. However, the context of the message was one that began to drag me back into my love of knowledge about God rather than love of my relationship with God. So I left to visit other places…sometimes.
Just before Easter, I was in Chicago on a business trip. With my business partner, I attended a Good Friday service where an Anglican and a Pentecostal church joined together for a beautiful production. I had never imagined such a mix: a rock band with an organ, beautiful evensong choruses with contemporary celebrations, and robed ministers with blue-jean ministers. The service was led by the initiative of an Anglican priest who wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to the Pentecostal minister and church.
When the new Pentecostal church had begun a few years previously, the Anglican priest had felt threatened and began to criticize their work in the city. Soon, however, their love for others and the work they had done in the city began to reach his heart. This service was part of his public confession of pride and an open invitation to partner in the work of the Kingdom.
Ministers from both congregations led prayers for the other church. All the members of one church stood up to bless the other church. Then the roles were reversed.
I was shocked. This demonstration of the power of God’s love to overcome denominational barriers completely broke my resistance to reconnecting with my old church. Even though I was now different, that did not mean I couldn’t fellowship with and love my brothers and sisters. Instead of staying in town for the weekend, I drove to Minnesota and celebrated the opening of a new church building with my old church family. It was Easter Sunday.
I apologized to several people for my criticism and prepared my heart for a relationship in which we could serve together in our own unique ways. In this way, I was equipped to share the Christian experience with people of many different religious persuasions. Our common theme: Jesus Christ.
Besides this, I seek only a demonstration of His character in the people I meet at any church I attend. My goal is to “stir others up to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:23-25), not to clarify their understanding of my particular Christian practice.
My own religious practice has been subject to change as I encounter different aspects of God. It also changes as I mature as a Christian. After two months of prayer every night in the prayer room, I sat down to pray one night and a few minutes later knew that I needed to be somewhere else. Some nights, it was doing homework. Often, it was going to pray in other places hoping to talk with someone. Either way, God was not going to let me be comfortable with a religious tradition. He wanted to be part of all my life.
Kicked Out (March 17, 2012)
I have been kicked out of the prayer room to begin living a lifestyle of prayer, but coming back to that place when I need to be refreshed and reset. The soldier does not always rest in the middle of battle, but I have had a table prepared for me in the presence of my enemy (Psalm 23:5).
Holding Loosely (April 22, 2012)
Tonight, at the end of the prayer meeting, I found myself once again in the position of letting go of everything and completely trusting in God for my future and my present. My prayer was to live in the present, each day, one day at a time, one moment at a time, asking Jesus for what to do next, following His voice, and loving other people. I have a feeling that I will be doing something in Chicago that I don’t expect at the moment.
Until recently, the plan was to continue developing the business I started with my co-owner in Chicago. I don’t know what it is now, but I know it has something to do with my desire for the church to be free from religion. I want Jesus’ bride to be pure, spotless and waiting for His return. As I prayed, I pictured North America on a map and saw Chicago begin to shine like a bright silver star that spread across the country and even encourage my friends who were serving God in Haiti.
Then, I asked when that was to start and how I was to begin my work. I heard that I had several interesting things I was working on that I should continue to do until I heard that it was time to start something else. However, I need to hold on to my projects loosely and always be ready for the opportunity that will present itself when I don’t expect it.
I have been challenged to commit to something, but believe I have not yet embraced that challenge. Tonight, God spoke through a man that ‘I had to talk with’ who had spent much of his life avoiding commitments and was sad because he had never accomplished anything. He is now committed to one thing: his relationship with Jesus. That is what I once again committed myself to.
I believe I am called to something great, but my focus is to be on something little. My call is the Kingdom; my mission is love -simply living honorably, acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8).
At this moment, I am perfectly at peace with my future because I know Who has planned it and Who will take care of me through it. Even though I don’t know the first steps, I know what will take me the right direction. God will change the heart of His church through prayer, through time spent with Him, and through people who will give up their lives to Him. If I can live a life following Jesus’ example, I will be satisfied. Lord, give me the courage to walk that way even when no one else will join me
The King’s Country (April 29, 2012)
Sunday morning I participated in the most vivid dream I can ever remember. When my alarm rang for the church service, I woke up and realized that the dream was as real as the memories I had of yesterday. I remembered the beginning as clearly as the ending and most of the details in between. I thought that God may be trying to communicate something to me through this dream, but there were still a couple of missing details, so I went back to sleep. I didn’t have the dream over again, but the missing gaps were filled in and eventually became the story that opens the beginning of this book.
The story of The King’s Country is one that is personal to me because I was the main character [Charles]. Certainly, Zorah’s trip to the King’s Country was the purpose of my character’s existence. However, the context surrounding Charles’ participation soon became the basis for understanding a decision I would make two weeks after this dream. That decision changed the course of my life in ways that I will probably never understand. It was the basis for a shift in my perspective on life as a Christian.
Remember the last part of the story of the King’s Country?
“It is no longer the same as it was before,” she said.
The lamps along the highway bridge were lit and the pathway to the city was now obvious for anyone who wanted to follow. Now that the princess had escaped, it seemed that the legend of the King’s Country was everywhere and even the city guards who had tried to stop the trip that Charles had completed now wanted to make the journey themselves.
Charles was thrilled to have been part of this great liberation and began to walk down the dirt path toward the open area where he initially entered the country. He was thinking about what a beautiful place this was and how much he would like to stay. The ceremony had ended, but the birds were still singing and the waves were still gently rolling into the shore…
Trying to soak in the beauty of this place, Charles stood beside the opening he had come through not so long ago. He let his eyes wander down to the cave he had come from and was repulsed by the garbage on the other side. It reminded him of the dying city that he had come from and the raging lake that had threatened his home.
From this place, it was hard to imagine going back there, but he knew that someday he would go. Perhaps he could help others find their way to this country.
For now, though, he wanted to enjoy this country just a little bit longer. He looked over his shoulder at the sun, which appeared to be in the east, and walked over to the two big trees by the lake. He figured there was time to get a nap before it went down, but he didn’t know which way the sun would move. This bothered him for two reasons.
First, he didn’t know how much longer he would be able to tell people in the dying city the good news that he had found the King’s Country. If the sun was just coming up, there was plenty of time. If it was going down, he needed to leave immediately.
Second, if he was going to stay and enjoy the country for a while, he needed to know which direction the sun would move. He had left his shirt in the forest where the trees overhead protected anything below from the heat of the sun. Out in the open beside the lake, he could not figure out where to rest without getting too much sun.
Because he didn’t know which way the sun would move, Charles didn’t know how to decide what to do. If he left for the dying city right away, he would miss this opportunity to enjoy the King’s Country. Now that he was here, he wanted to stay for a while. If he stayed, though, he might miss his opportunity to bring more people to this place. Furthermore, he could not figure out which one of the two trees would provide shade for more than a few minutes.
Eventually he gave up and decided to lie between the lake and the tree furthest from the tunnel to the old city. Sinking into the thick grass, he closed his eyes and waited for the droplets of sunlight to fall through the leaves overhead and dance on his skin. To his left, he heard a baby cry in one of the big farmhouses. To his right, he heard the waves of the lake rolling into the grassy banks with their song of peace.
Though he couldn’t see it, he knew that across the lake, the water wheel was still turning slowly. The houses across the lake smiled at the sunlight behind Charles who wondered faintly if the people he had seen earlier lived in them. Austin and Zorah tiptoed through his mind and were gone. Life in the King’s Country continued as before.
Until the last part of the story, everything that happened related to my experience of faith through college. Even the change in Austin’s age between the parking garage and the mountaintop reflected the 3 years I spent going through the transition of faith. Once Charles woke up on the mountain, though, everything had changed. I didn’t understand him at all.
Because I never have dreams that are so vivid and that I remember so clearly, I immediately began to pray over whether God was trying to tell me something. I also began to share it with friends to see if they understood what it was about. It was one of those experiences that a person doesn’t just forget like that. It bothered me constantly for about two weeks until I had come to understand what the question was that the dream left me with: what time is it?
A Vision of the Future (May 3, 2012)
It was now the last finals week of my undergraduate career. I sat beside the lake on campus wishing to do my homework, but my heart was somewhere else. It was on my desire to talk about Jesus and the work He was doing.
My friend Nathan had just walked over and was an easy target for my conversation, so I asked him what he had read in the Bible lately. Somewhere in the middle of what he was talking about, I knew that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life: find out the work that God is doing.
For some reason, I began to think about the dream of Zorah and realized that where I was sitting was exactly the spot where I would have ended my dream with the question of what time it was. Directly in front of me were two trees, to my left was a trail, across the lake was an engineering building (factory), further up the lake was a business building, and in front of that there was open green space. I looked over at the clock and realized that there was only one hour left to midnight. The time was late.
Why such concern over the time? Why was it a problem that Charles did not immediately re-enter the old world he had come from? He seemed to think it was a better idea to stay and enjoy the country rather than going back into the city where he had come from. Partly because of his name, and partly because of his character, this decision represented something I would do. I didn’t really understand why he was thinking about going back through the tunnel, what opportunities were available if he did, or why he didn’t actually go.
The other big thing that bothered me about the story was the timing of Charles’ decision. If he had known that the day was almost over, he would have probably gone back through the tunnel immediately. He thought he had time, though, and determined to wait awhile before actually going – if that was what he planned to do. What was the right thing to do?
Transitioning directly to my life, what should I do? If the time was late, I couldn’t wait to do the right thing. Was going to Chicago the same thing as going back into the cement tunnel to find people to bring to the King’s Country? Was enjoying the King’s Country all I needed to do? Why didn’t I just find work in the factory across the lake?
Before I would find the beginnings of an answer to these questions, I had one other dream that pushed me over the edge. It made me so unsettled with the post-graduate plans that I had created and followed so carefully that I made a decision that would change my life.
Pencils and Swords (May 6, 2012)
Last night while sleeping, I found myself in a training academy. The room I stood in looked reminiscent of a Tai Kwan Do studio. The teacher, Kyle, fit perfectly into my imagination of an ancient Chinese tutor. A wizened old man, Kyle had a long grey beard that fell over his chin onto the flowing robes that he wore. He was responsible for teaching the students in the academy and had invited me into his office. In order to reach the office, I had walked down a narrow hallway of closed doors that sealed off various office spaces. Kyle’s office was at the end of the hallway. Before I reached his door, another hallway crossed my path. Walking left down that hallway led one to the main training room where most of the students were practicing fencing.
If I had turned left and walked toward the fencing arena, I would have passed by the open door of the office beside Kyle’s, where a large metal box stared silently at the doorway. It stood on a big table in the darkness at the back of the office. The front of the box had an opening about the size of a large pencil. Just below this opening was a single switch for turning the machine on and off.
Unlike most pencil sharpeners, this machine would sharpen the lead to two different lengths at the same time. This was a very important room because the entire life of a student revolved around the pencil collection. Students in this academy did not use metal weapons, but collections of pencils that were stuck together on their long edge. These pencils were highly unusual and represented the unique characteristics of the individuals who used them.
To enter the academy, students had to create their own set of pencils to use for sword fighting. Different lengths and different colors of pencils connected into a set that would lie flat on the table or stand up straight in its owner’s hand. The pencils were always perfectly aligned along the eraser edge, but their different lengths made for a jagged writing edge. As the individual grew more experienced, he or she would add to the collection of pencils. Usually, the latest addition to the collection was the only part of the set that was long enough to use for writing.
Although most of the students were training in the large room, I had made my way around the side of the office area furthest away from Kyle’s office. Through some process that I don’t remember, I effectively used my pencil against an enemy that had entered the building through a glass door. While doing so, I realized that most of the enemies we were training to fight carried swords made of metal and that pencils were not a reliable offensive against them. Even so, I had boldly engaged the enemy and somehow in the process of battle discovered a sword.
Thought it was incredibly narrow, only an inch or two at its widest part, the sword was strong and sharp. It’s blade rested inside of a red split-leather sheath. The sheath was sewed together on either side of the blade and was ornamented on the outside.
I began to talk about this fight and the sword I had discovered when Kyle invited me to his office. For some reason, he didn’t understand that I had found a red sword. His mind was filled with a legend that most people at the school had heard: Somewhere in the school, a blue sword was hidden. The one who could draw that sword from its sheath of water was chosen for a special purpose. The water surrounding the sword served as a substitute for leather. It was a magical sword, so no one really bothered to understand how a sword could be protected inside a watery case.
I had never heard about the sword, but Kyle thought that I had pulled it from the sheath. He became less excited when I mentioned that I had found a red sword. However, most students were so busy practicing with their pencils that they had not even considered using a sword against the well-armed enemies we would all someday face.
Because I had won the sword through battle, Kyle let me keep it. He also showed me a collection of swords that he kept on his desk. Looking at the pile of steel and leather, I noticed a blue glow radiating from somewhere in the middle. I knew it was the sword from the water that held so much legend.
When Kyle left the room, I wondered if I dared try to pull the sword from its magical encasement. Stretching out my hand to see what would happen, I suddenly remembered that I was successful with the red sword.
“Why do I need to try to earn another sword when I already have one?” I wondered.
Contented with what I already had, I turned away from the opportunity and looked around, waiting for Kyle. Moving from the sword collection to the middle of a large desk, I noticed a stack of pencils. They belonged to Kyle. I waited.
It was exactly the same type of waiting feeling I experienced in the dream about Zorah. I knew that the opportunity to act sat right in front of me, but I decided to wait. I was becoming sick of my inaction.
The Road Less Travelled By (May 10, 2012)
I am still trying to figure out what I am passionate about. What will I stay up all night praying over? What can I sacrifice my life to accomplish? Not a business, not simply enjoying life. No, the one thing that I could die for is the purification of the church, the bride of Christ. To find those who wish to know the joy of life, but are lost in the religious maze of the church institution.
My goal in Chicago is not one of starting a business; it is one of starting a movement. However, I don’t know if Chicago is the place to start. I know that Chicago is the next step after graduation, but I am not sure exactly what I am supposed to do there. Since my prayer two weeks ago on Sunday night, I have been excited to receive news of the unexpected opportunity I would encounter there. I believe I may have already encountered the opportunity, but rest undecided about what to do with it. In fact, the opportunity has been there all along, I have just not been ready for it until now.
Since I was preparing to graduate high school, I have longed for the kind of faith like Abraham had in Genesis to throw away a successful, normal lifestyle and follow God into something unknown. I always imagined this to look like me leaving a budding career with lots of potential to serve the church directly in Orange County California. Los Angeles is the center of media production, and thus idea distribution, in the world. It would be the ideal location to pray over and attack the ideas of the enemy that have enslaved the church in America.
I would work a low-paying job to cover my expenses and spend all my extra time focusing on developing a prayer and worship group. This core group would eventually branch out using the model developed for the gathering, for personal mentorship. It would then evolve into larger gatherings for prayer and worship. It may become a church, but it may also simply serve as a support network for existing local churches. This is something I could give my life to. Anything less would not necessarily be a waste, but from this vantage point would be less rewarding.
I believe this is the choice that I cannot wait to make – the one I have seen in my dreams. It is the choice to step into an unknown world in faith that I am chosen for a special purpose: to lead people to the Kingdom of God.
My reasons for not doing this include a feeling of responsibility to finish what I started with business. Pride will not allow me to once again quit what I started with the business idea so many people have heard about. I also fear what people will say as I do not have a specific plan to follow. Perhaps I do not need to entirely forsake my business, but simply replace its significance in my life. As my focus has stayed on God, this business has developed, but more slowly than I expected. This is because I do not have the motivation to actually do something with it.
Right now, I have the feeling that I could just abandon everything and move to California, change my name and see what happens. I would show up, work as a janitor for a church, live in my car and announce a prayer meeting every night expecting people to show up and see their lives changed. I am ready to go if this is what I am told to do.
Wow, this feels surprisingly similar to the night before the February conference where I met my business partner. I have had a reason I am going to a certain destination, but now that reason has been removed and I wonder what I am going for. I am wondering now why I have been directed toward Chicago and given the picture of a silver star coming out of the city.
I believe that my plans have been disrupted with this unexpected opportunity to follow the burden God has placed on my heart for the church. I do not know exactly how I am to carry it out.
I don’t need to wait to determine what it is that I want to be doing. I already know the answer. I am simply scared to pursue it. I cannot accept this fear. I must step out in faith. I want to know what God can do with a person who is willing to risk everything, sacrifice all that he holds dear, and defies all expectations for the sake of something greater.
“I want to know You God and see the fullness of Your power working in my life to bring about Your Kingdom here on earth.”
As I continued to wrestle with God over this strange desire that I couldn’t understand, I turned to John chapter 8. There I made a very interesting connection: What if the adulteress woman was a representative of the church?
Throughout the Old Testament, God refers to his people Israel in these terms because they claimed Him as Lord, but did not live as if it were true. Those who considered themselves truly spiritual brought this sinful woman before Jesus to see her judged for her sin. Waiting for his verdict, they realized one by one that their sin gave them no right to judge her. When only Jesus was left to condemn the church, he set her free and says to sin no more. This beautiful idea would become a recurring theme through the next couple days and help to realign my perspective on serving the church.
I also really appreciated John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” As I slept on these ideas, I knew what I had to do. However, when I woke up to daylight, I still had to convince myself to take action.
As I woke up this morning, I have no clearer direction about what to do. All that I want to do right now is escape to the wilderness with a Bible and pray. I wish I didn’t have to pay for a phone or a car. I don’t know how to deal with this. The only reason I have for continuing to develop the business I have worked so hard on is because other people expect it. It is not the place where I have seen God work. It has been a painful distraction that I viewed as a responsibility I had toward God.
All that I want is to go and pray. I have determined to fast until I receive direction about what to do next. I realize I may be making a bigger deal out of this than I should be. I know that my call to love others can be fulfilled wherever I am, including working for my own business. However, that is not where I want to be. I have this strange desire, first of all, to be alone with God for some time. Then, I want to begin to bring others into the special place where they can also meet with God.
My heart literally hurts. I spent some time reading the Bible last night, which reinforced my desire to see the American church return to her God.
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