May 2017, pt. 1 – More of the same, indeed.

The beginning of May saw a continuation of the rich and unexpected activities that erupted in April. For the sake of continuity, I saw no evidence that anything had changed in me at the end of April, despite a days-long period in which I definitely felt very different. My limited experience shows that a holy visitation can sometimes leave me “feeling” very different for a few days after the fact.

May 1, 2017
DREAM
A pack of three dogs approach me aggressively. They are intent on attacking me. Because I have power and authority gifted by the Holy Spirit, I calm the dogs with a gesture and maybe a few words. END.

DREAM
I am with a bunch of high school friends. We are up on a high cliff, overlooking the ocean. I am completely naked. I jump off the cliff, much farther out over the water than I should be able to. Launched out over the water, I am aware that my friends are behind me, still on the cliff. I descend toward the water and protect everything as well as possible for the inevitable and violent splashdown. END

Five months ago the dog dream would have been very encouraging. Today, it is immediately discouraging. “This is all I’m going to be able to do…calm packs of wild dogs? How often will that even be a thing?” I apologize to God for devaluing His gifts, even without knowing if the dream is from Him at all.

I drift off towards sleep again. I hear a question: “Does this journey make sense to you?” I think, in reply, “No, not really.” I figure it should make more sense than it does by now and that it’s probably my fault that it doesn’t. Somehow I get around to asking, “Are we ready to go?” As in, is it time to get going for real, on this journey that doesn’t make sense? After all, someone just acknowledged that this is, in fact, a journey, and not just a series of disjointed and oftentimes interesting occurrences. I hear, within a few minutes, “This path is yours to exalt.” Or exult. Exalt works better grammatically. Taken at face value and either way, it sounds like someone is telling me the ball is in my court.

I eventually got out of bed to face Monday morning life. I was still noticeably disoriented or whatever it was from the previous morning’s confirmation that “he” does, indeed, want me to have those things. That strange perspective was further compounded by the two messages from this morning. Three spoken words in two days, after who-knows-how-long it had been since the last one. Crazy. If the ball is in my court, I considered, maybe I need to be really proactive somehow. Had I not been already? Who knows. I was already on record as saying the journey didn’t make sense to me.

May 2, 2017
I pulled a “Me, Myself, and I” stunt on this day, which resulted in immediate chagrin, given the context of preceding dreams and what not. I had been planning for weeks to take the day off work specifically to do some writing and other chores. This blog was running months behind since December; and I was determined to get a chunk of content published. The day finally rolled around, after I’d made the necessary plans to be away from work. I had scheduled and prioritized writing, shopping, exercise, and cleaning, down to the minute. On a whim of half-baked sincerity, I asked God that morning, “Is there anything You’d like me to do today?” That was me being proactive. I didn’t hear anything directly in response; but there was an immediate “sense” that I should relax and spend time with God. I recognized straight away that God didn’t understand how much I needed to get done, or else He would not have suggested I spend precious time with Him. All that writing to do! I ignored the impulse to spend time with God and then set about my day. God would surely be impressed by my productivity later on. Even if He was not, I planned to be.

In late morning I was busy thinking and writing about the particular social dynamic of increasingly radicalized anger in black Americans. I believed God had been highlighting black Americans to me for years; with the understanding and growing hope that He would use me to address the situation in a profound way. I was actually writing blog content about same, when an initial report came on the radio news about a black guy with a rifle who had shot a fire department paramedic, in what was an apparent ambush. The situation was developing, they said.

I was stopped cold. I immediately felt the sting – real or imagined – of reproach from God. My thoughts returned to the strange vision I’d had on April 24, the day that all of this current round of excitement burst onto the scene. That morning one week prior, I’d felt like I was reading a personal journal entry in my sleep; the entry had something to do with sliding down a pole and something else about getting to some ammunition. Those two acts, distinct from and possible unrelated to each other, were what I was trying to decipher, when I’d heard The Voice say, “Right after we said, ‘We are starting again’ is where you will find more of the same.'” Then there was a bright flash of light, which clued me into the fact that all that stuff had been happening while I was awake, not sleeping.

What if the vision (such as it was) had been some warning about this day’s shooter getting his ammunition and the paramedic going down a pole in order to quickly respond in a way that saw him walk into an ambush? Perhaps if I’d been obedient to the perceived invitation from God that morning, things might have worked out very differently for the two men involved in the ambush. Of course, it was just as likely that the vision elements represented some idealized version of myself, ready to go at a moment’s notice, fully stocked with ammunition to deal with whatever God had put in front of me. There was no proof that God would have used me to thwart the May 2 attack. But there was no proof that He wouldn’t have. That’s the problem with ignoring God’s suggestions – it introduces uncertainty about situations for which there are eternal consequences.

It had been obvious for years that much of what I perceived to be delay or frustration with a release of blessing into my life and the lives of those around me was due to the fact that I was hung up on doing my own agenda. Or doing God’s agenda on my own terms. “I’m going to live this way, despite the fact that God is suggesting a preferred alternative.” Less so than in the past, in any given month; but still enough that I was left to wonder in early May 2017 about something as crazy as whether God would have used me to stop an ambush in East Dallas. Old news, of course, for anyone who has read much of this blog. And here I was, mere days after being encouraged by words spoken into my spirit for the first time in years, caught still doing my own thing.

This episode forced me to formally assemble and act on some thoughts that had been floating around in my consciousness for a while. Jesus reported in at least one of the Gospels that He only did what He saw His father doing. That is (I take it), He didn’t walk around with a completely blank agenda on any given day; He got something like marching orders from God the Father and then acted accordingly. Somewhere else in the Gospels there is also a description of Christ spending early morning hours in prayer, communing with His Father. Maybe it was during that early morning prayer time that Jesus got the day’s agenda from God the Father. And if that’s how Jesus did it, then might not we be able to do something similar? If any one of us were to ask God to provide His agenda for our day, there’s at least a chance that He would actually provide His vision for those hours.

Taking it a step further than merely asking for His agenda, it necessarily follows that we can expect to sacrifice our own agenda to satisfy His. I can expect that, anyway. There are slim odds that I awaken on any given day with God’s agenda burning in my heart. (As I type this, I recall seeing Bradford McClendon teach about doing this very thing, maybe three years ago now.) And if I’m giving up my plans to satisfy God’s, it’s going to be a sacrifice of my own will. There’s clearly no shortage of my will getting in the way of good things, these days. There is much material for available for sacrifice on the altar of My Own Plans. But it would presumably be a sacrifice worth making, since He would be the one coming up with the agenda. And His ideas are better than mine, if our ideas aren’t the same.

I resolved while leaning on my kitchen counter, disgusted with myself yet again, that I should start each morning by asking God in all sincerity, “How can I live as a sacrifice today?” That is, “How would You, God, have me spend my time, above and beyond that which is possibly or probably already laid out in the normal course of planning a random day in my random life?” If Christ is the role model – and He is – then I had to give this intentional and daily sacrifice thing a shot. Isn’t that essentially what Christ did, day in and day out – live as a sacrifice on behalf of others? Sure looks that way from my reading. And I’ve already speculated that He got His agenda from God during morning communion. I would strive to do the same, starting the following morning.

Incidentally, I lost track of and apparently deleted the aforementioned blog content about black Americans, during the chaos of May. I’ve recreated this day’s entry from memory, just to get the main points across.

Posted in Dreams, Visions, Who said it? | Leave a comment

April 2017, pt. 2 – Cowboys, Paying for Steak, and These Things

4/20
On or about this day, the NFL released the 2017 regular season schedule. Turns out the Cowboys and Seahawks are indeed playing in 2017: Sunday, December 24, at ATT Stadium. I am planning to go to the game. I am, at best, a casual follower of professional sports. Imagine the family weirdness when I explain that I’m compelled to attend a Cowboys game on Christmas Eve. And the Christmas Eve schedule definitely adds a bit of intrigue to the whole Moslem/security theme.

4/24
I feel like I am reading an old journal in my sleep. Something about sliding down a pole to get to something. Something else about ammunition. I hear in my spirit, “Right after we said ‘We are starting again’ is where you will find more of the same.” Then I see a bright flash of light behind my closed eyelids, and I realize I am actually awake. The only thing that is clear to me out of all that is the spoken word. The part about reading old journal content (sliding down pole, ammunition) is imaginary in the sense that I don’t have any real journal content about sliding down a pole and getting to ammunition. I wasn’t paying close attention to any of that. I wasn’t paying close attention to anything until the spoken word followed closely by the flash of light. I know then that I’ve been awake the whole time. I look at my phone and see 05:37.

The time 5:37 showed up on my radar last fall, maybe last winter. I haven’t mentioned it in the blog, and I won’t mention it again unless it’s really necessary. My kids and I have all been seeing XX:37 regularly for the past few weeks, for what it’s worth. But 5:37 alone has repeatedly stood out to me for the past several months. The fact that it was on the clock immediately after the events of this morning was interesting. The message itself was also interesting. “Right after we said, ‘We’re starting over’…”. That was a clear reference to the dream I had back in January or February, in which dream the voice told me something like, “It’s possible that you can be on a path towards a goal and then get knocked off track due to disobedience. When that happens, you have to start over. That’s what we’re doing now.” I sleepily resolved to go back and find relevant dream recordings and blog posts, to see what “more of the same” might mean.

Later that day I realized that the morning’s message was my first “awake” spoken word since maybe “Wichita Falls, Portland, Long Island,” back in 2013. Momentous.

4/25
I had lunch with my friend DC, who tried to get me in touch with “Man”, from the very first post on this blog. We hadn’t seen each other since Christmas Day 2016, when another friend gave me the “worthy and desirable” message. DC and I did a lot of catching up at lunch. For my part I shared the highs and lows of all that had transpired since mid-December. We left our visit with a good understanding of how we could effectively pray for one another.

4/26
DREAM
I am driving through a neighborhood that has empty streets. I’m aware that, at some point in the past, the streets had been filled with hundreds of cars. There had been some huge party that has ended. All the party-goers had since left.

I pull into the driveway of a house and get out of the vehicle. The lighting outside is fairly dim, appropriate for dusk or dawn. The ground is covered in soil that looks to be tilled and very rich. There are two earthworms moving rapidly across the top of the soil. They are both moving downhill, leaving trails in the dirt as they travel. I wish that I could show my kids the unusually speedy worms.

I go to the front door and attempt to use my key to open the lock. The door is distinctly colored green. I accidentally drop my key, and it falls down into the door. Fortunately there is a retractable covering over a long vertical groove in the door. I pull down the covering and find my key at the bottom of the door. I use the key to open the door and find myself in an entry way that faces yet another door to the house. I hear a voice say something like, “He thought he was SOL, because he believed that he had the only key.” I notice two other keys on the ground, in opposite corners, on the same wall as the first door. Keys are everywhere.

I get inside the house proper and find young versions of my kids and my wife’s kids from her first marriage. Everyone looks to be an age consistent with a time when we were all still living under one roof. We greet each other as if it has been a long time since last we saw each other. WAKE

It’s been weeks since I’ve been able to remember any dreams, so I’m journalling this one. The rich soil; green door; spoken word; abundance of keys; and all the kids make this seem like a significant dream.

DC texted me in the morning and told me he’d been interceding on my behalf and kept hearing (presumably) ((hopefully?)) God say: “My promise to Joe is still on. The deal is still on.” DC didn’t get a sense that ‘the promise’ was necessarily anything to do with me and my fractured family. More about how God was going to use me. DC mentioned a dream and spoken word as well. He didn’t provide any details to that end, and I didn’t ask for any. He did say that it was rare that he would have such a dream as the one that related to my situation.

My thoughts after waking from the green door dream gravitated to the endless feedback loop that had been dominant for a few weeks: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had possibly offered to covenant with me. It was possible that Jesus Himself had defined some terms of the covenant. I’d ultimately failed in meeting my part of any deal, as far as I could tell from what I’d seen in dreams and in real life. This was a crushing burden and disappointment that, by its nature, pretty much required that I keep it to myself; or else be known as really crazy. Mary, Dave at the Office, and now recently DC are the only people with whom I’d gone into any detail about the whole thing.

And then there was possibly some version of starting over, maybe with a new covenant opportunity. Had I lost out on the opportunity to do everything that was originally offered? Was it any of my business? I toyed with the idea of asking God for some clarification. I didn’t ask for clarification. After DC’s encouragement on Wednesday, some of the sting was gone.

4/28
That morning I texted DC and asked him to share the details of his dream from the night after our lunch. Here’s a paraphrase of his description:
“We were at a steak restaurant and you were seated on a fancy chair inside a big plywood box, upholstered on the inside (like a coffin?); you had just come in from a car wreck (yours?) but you were ok and laughing and ordering a steak. Then dancing ladies dressed up in steak seasoning costumes came in. One was dressed as an onion, wearing tights; another as a garlic; another as black pepper – silly, but sexy. You were about to eat this fancy steak, presented by the dancing ladies. But you pushed it away and said “I can’t pay for this.” Then I woke up and clearly heard, “God is buying the steak.”

That dream/word preceded DC’s interceding on my behalf and believing God was telling him that “the promise” was still on.

Clearly, things appeared to be escalating out of nowhere. DC’s dream was a curious dovetail off of a couple of my own dreams: the last dream I remember having back in December 2016, regarding the apparent end of potential, was the dream about me having the head-on auto collision with the two black guys. I wasn’t injured in that wreck, according to my dream experience. The final element in that dream had been me trying to get the attention of an apparent authority figure, who ignored me. Maybe it was a “Sixth Sense” kind of thing, where I was dead in the dream, and the guy was ignoring me because I wasn’t really there. Too much speculation, not enough facts.

No matter the car wreck/casket thing, the most important element of David’s experience was the spoken word: “God is buying the steak.”

4/29
A full day after DC told me these details, I am further relieved about the situation. By way of summarizing what I know and believe:

I know that much has been prophesied about me.

I believe that the prophecies were originally supposed to have come to fruition by now.

I believe that God showed me my behavior is what stopped the prophecies from coming to fruition by now.

I believe that God showed me I was going to get another chance at something, despite my blowing it the first time.

I know that I’ve been grieving my failure in such a test of my character, as administered by the Creator of the Universe.

I know that in the past week, after some weeks of apparent radio silence, there have been a number of events that seem to indicate God is again communicating with me.

I believe that God has now spoken directly into this situation via the “paying for the steak” encouragement. Since I couldn’t pay the necessary price to reach the goal He’s got in mind, He’s going to pick up the tab. In that best-case scenario, everything that God intended for me is still available, whenever the time is right.

I know that I’m sick to death of writing about myself and am looking forward to the time when I can write about cool things that happen to other people.

If everything works out such that God finally opens the floodgates through me, I will always know that I didn’t earn any of that via my stalwart character. It will be due to God’s generosity despite my shortcomings; generosity that seems determined to get me involved in some amazing things. I do not know why He is so determined. I am humbled beyond words, even on this side of Whatever It Is.

April 30, 2017
Woke up early and had pre-dawn breakfast. Finished the blog post about 2013, more or less. I accidentally posted the almost-completed entry and went back to bed. As I was dozing off, I had some unmemorable and unconscious train of thought going through my head. The whole deal crashed into the inside of my skull when I heard in my spirit, “He wants you to have these things, Joe.” Full stop. The words had been seamlessly woven into whatever innocuous thing was going on in my thoughts. Even as I sleepily assessed the situation, I already couldn’t remember what the thoughts had been about. The words stood alone. I haven’t received a “spoken” word in…years, maybe. And now in the span of one week, I have had a couple; and my friend DC had the one about God buying the steak. One might suspect that there’s a loving God somewhere who is interested in me understanding some important point.

I tried to go back to sleep but was too awakened by the surprise message. I couldn’t make myself believe that I’d thought the words on my own. It was a statement addressed to me by name and wasn’t part of my own train of thought. Best case scenario, I’d heard from someone who is closely affiliated with whoever might be in a position to both want me to have “these things” and also have the capacity to dispatch a spirit messenger to let me know of that desire. At minimum, in such a scenario, I’d heard from a dispatched angel. I continually ask God to protect me from demonic attack and deception; and I don’t have any besetting sins that open me up to demonic attack in general. So I figured it was a safe to believe in the best-case possible with this.

I wondered: if God is buying the steak because I couldn’t pay for it myself; and if He wants me to have “these things”, then are we still waiting on anything in particular? Surely not a test of my character, which is now at least four months past failure. His wallet is forever fat; so we’re not waiting on the next paycheck to hit His account. Maybe just His timing. This is nuts. I’d resigned myself weeks ago to not hearing from God at all for the rest of the year. Now we’re back to a near-daily string of encounters. Just like 2013.

Later that morning I went to church. There are some interesting things afoot at Upper Room. The evening services are now dedicated to waiting on God to see what He might decide to do with a roomful of expectant people. The morning service continues on as primarily a teaching service. I attend the morning service. I arrived at about 11am. The first speakers were our missionaries in Croatia. They told the crowd about their mission in that spiritually dark nation. Upper Room has grown by perhaps more than 100% in the past year, so a lot of people in any given service haven’t heard of things like the missionaries in Croatia. While everything was going on, I was aware that I felt different – somehow changed. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t feel like I usually feel in context of that auditorium. I thought back over the events of the past week, and especially the word from that morning. “He wants you to have these things, Joe.” Could that have been a drop-off? As in, “Here are these things that He wants you to have.” And then those things were given to me and made me physically feel different. I may or may not have asked God to confirm. I can’t remember.

That evening I remembered something that seemed relevant to the “things” riddle. I refer the reader (for the second time in this entry) this post from February 2015. The post documents a wake-up voice, similar to the one that happened on April 30. I’d awakened at 0300 and immediately heard, “Would you like to have these sharp things I keep between the pads of my feet?” “These things”, the voice mentioned in 2015. And another voice mentioned “these things” again in 2017. I’ll harness the power of this word processor and run the two messages together:

“Would you like to have these sharp things I keep between the pads of my feet?”

Two years and two months later…

“He wants you to have these things, Joe.”

That makes some sense, from the standpoint of continuity. I wondered if I’d been given “these things”; and if I had, how would I know? Would it be blasphemous to try and make the weather change, just for the sake of doing it? I didn’t want to take the chance. I definitely felt different, after the morning’s events. I ultimately figured if I’d been given some ability, there would eventually be an opportunity to use it appropriately, in context of love and not just curiosity or demonstration.

END

Posted in Dreams, Who said it? | Leave a comment

April 2017, pt. 1 – Repentance, Burning Lips, and Covenant

In early April I repented of self-loathing. I recognized that the bitter grudge I’d held against myself since December was no less a toxic sin than if I’d held the same grudge against anyone else. There’s something that always teeters (in my mind) on the edge of self-indulgence and coddling, when it comes to forgiving oneself for one thing or another. I’m hypersensitive to our broader culture’s tendency to excuse any and every thing, short of holding to strict or even casual standards of Judeo-Christian morality. But Christ calls us to forgive; and I know from painful experience the fallout that comes from bearing grudges beyond any reasonable acknowledgement of a wrong done against me or mine. So I did the same prayerful forgiveness routine toward myself that I do in regard to anyone who has become less an object of reasonable anger and more an excuse for corrosive and self-righteous venom.

Life goes on.

*

The events of March 24 stayed fresh and impossible into April. I’d expected in January and February of 2017 to spend the bulk of the year left to my own devices, eventually hearing from God late in the year or in 2018. March 24 steamrolled all those expectations and left me not only relieved and gratetful, but also expectant and hopeful. I’d pretty much decided beforehand that I’d never feel either expectant or hopeful again. God is such a good Father.

Encouraging as March 24 may have been, I couldn’t help but wonder a whole lot about how March 24 fit in with the dark weeks since mid-December. I believed without a doubt that I had somehow short-circuited or delayed or outright cancelled some great blessing from God, due to my persistent rebellion. March 24 made all that concern appear to be misguided or overblown. Just like that, “Oh, that whole, ‘You blew it!’ thing; that was just a simple misunderstanding.” Something wasn’t adding up. But I was still encouraged enormously, in the midst of confusion.

**

My lips continued burning in April, in a what I eventually realized was very persistent fashion. The sensation would come and go on no apparent schedule; but it was with me a lot. There were a couple of remarkable instances in which I did make a connection between my lips burning and then not burning, relative to my own actions. Before my three-day April fast, as one example, I’d eaten a normal diet for several weeks, with the exception that I’d abstained from sugary stuff like candy, ice cream, and cookies. My lips were really lit up and just blazing away for many days before and the during the three-day fast. I broke my fast on a Saturday. I forget what actual food I ate to do the breaking – something standard like a banana and a hard-boiled egg. Not too long afterwards, I ate a couple of pieces of dark chocolate. Within the hour, I noticed my lips had grown starkly cool. If it was instructive to see a possible connection between this new hotspot and my eating habits, it was frustrating to realize that said new hotspot was apparently ringing in a new “opportunity” to give up something that I’d really rather not.

The first round of hotspots, from 2009 to 2016, would go away when I masturbated. We know all about that, at this point. And now there was a new hotspot that would evidently go away when I ate sweets. It appeared God was telling me to give up sweets. Or cut way back on my intake. Something like that. I couldn’t tell for sure. It wasn’t the first time that I’d been down that road with Him; I’ve certainly blogged about it before. Throughout April I struggled against this perceived limitation. Why did there have to be another hotspot thing? Sweets? I know for a fact that I was eating sweets with varying degrees of regularity during the 2009-2016 timeframe, and it never had any impact on the hotspots back then. That’s what was bugging me the most in April. God was evidently changing the rules on me. That which was once not linked to a hotspot and any clear suggestion to Quit Doing That was now so linked. (Of course, as I type these words, I’m reminded that the masturbation hotspot didn’t flare up until I’d been doing that whole thing for close to thirty years.) I was back to chafing at God’s direction to stop something that gave me comfort apart from Him.

***

I spent some time in mid-April digging through forgotten drawers, either keeping or trashing whatever I found. In one drawer was a collection of school works that had survived similar purges in the past. One spiral notebook contained class notes from my Survey of the Bible course in college. It was, along with Biblical Archaeology, one of the few classes in college that I truly enjoyed; although I was already (by the time of taking that course) headlong into confirmed rebellion against God. I wouldn’t come to my spiritual senses for another fifteen fairly tragic years.

On the inside cover of the pink Writeright spiral notebook, I found the hastily scrawled name and phone number of friend of mine from high school who also attended the same university. I couldn’t remember if we had the survey class together, and I had no recollection of her writing in my book. I recognized the three-number phone exchange prefix as one being nearly ubiquitous back in that college town. What a simpler telecom existence, in all possible ways. I found out by bored internet stalking of various old acquaintances a couple of years ago that my friend had died of cancer not long before my search. She’d evidently become quite a celebrated and loved teacher in her professional years, judging from the deluge of sentiment from past and present students. Much of the online memorializing made mention of her strong Christian faith; so I look forward to visiting with her again on the other side, where universal suckage like cancer and death are yesterday’s news.

I settled into my easy chair and took one cursory pass through the pages of the notebook, front to back. Most immediately remarkable was the discovery of doodles I could remember making some thirty years back. One fairly sophisticated drawing was a top-down view of me at my drum kit. At the collegiate stage of my life it was going to be drums or nothing that got me through the rest of my years. I had no hope in anything other than a volcanic passion to play music, along with a percussive style to match. College classes were a necessary evil to occupy my time between gigs which would eventually (or else) lead to my career as a rock drummer, beholden to no one.
That scenario never quite played itself out.

I was curious in April 2017 as to how much content from that class, subject as it was to rote memorization at the time, was an easy part of my 21st Century Biblical body of knowledge. I’m always interested in testing myself on Bible content, more so than any other bunch of stuff that I might challenge. I think it has something to do with my old perceptions of the Bible versus current understanding. When I was younger, and especially before the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to truth in scriptures, the Bible was nothing more than an incomprehensibly dense mass of names, facts, fables, and rules. Immediately after my flashbulb transformation back in 2003, the Bible was suddenly a key to life as I’d never imagined it. I couldn’t get enough of reading it. Even the Old Testament. No lie. Fourteen years after that comprehensive and instantaneous remodeling of me, I still find the Bible to be filled with purposeful form and eternal hope, instead of shapeless confusion and tedious regulations.

One more time through the notes, this time focusing on the class content. I was pleased to find that, yes, I did now know pretty much everything that I used to not. The exceptions to that rule tended to be history of ancient civilizations and related cultural context. Our professor was a Biblical archaeologist, so he was a great fount of such perspective. One thing did catch my attention as I read through the Old Testament notes – our professor had heavily emphasized the concept of covenant, in terms of God’s relationship with the ancients. I could vaguely remember sitting in class and hearing him make the point over and over that God would establish covenants with the ancients. He really hammered that point. Back in the day, I had no context for or real interest in the concept of covenant. Covenant was among many words that I had learn well enough to pass a class. But I didn’t really dial into the concept of “You do this; and I’ll do that.” I didn’t dial into it thirty years ago, that is; but the way the professor had highlighted the covenant-ing nature of God thirty years ago definitely reverberated in my April 2017 reading.

This is taking way too long to set up. The point is, it took browsing back through that old notebook to clue me in to the possibility that God had been offering for several years to covenant with me. Maybe “Do not satisfy yourself” wasn’t just a disembodied suggestion, aiming to get me more squared away with the Lord ‘just because’. Maybe all the consistent prophetic encouragements about great things to come were likewise born of a greater purpose than I’d imagined to date. One realization that slowly dawned on my over the previous eight years was that, IF all this stuff was real, and IF it came to pass, it would be absolutely huge. Biblical, even. A covenant opportunity wouldn’t be out the realm of possibility, in context. And if the Creator of the Universe had been graciously and patiently offering to covenant with me, while I’d been fighting Him about whether or not I should continue to beat off…the mind boggles at the waste of opportunity.
Lotta speculation. But it’s worth considering. Anyway, here’s the blessed end of the college notebook section.

Posted in Hot Spots | Leave a comment

March 2017: Security, Cash, and The Return of Joseph

(I thinned out the content of this post on July 14, 2017.)

One afternoon in early March, I was walking home from work. I saw White Car Guy out at his usual observation post. In early March there was much speculation regarding the future of one Tony Romo, who had long quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys. I took an educated guess that WCG and I could talk Cowboys, if nothing else. I smiled and waved to WCG, and he responded in kind. I figured there was no better time than the present and no easier means of breaking the ice. “What are they going to do about Romo?” I called out. And we were off. We talked Romo, Cowboys, Dallas history, apartment history, family lives, and so on. We talked for a good twenty minutes. It was a crash course, of sorts. I left the conversation with a new friend.

3/19
During the church service today, the pastor asked all of us who needed healing prayer to stand. I stood. Our pastor requested that those around us who were not standing should lay hands on us and pray. Vince Corcoran was sitting behind me. He got up and came around the chairs. We greeted each other, and he asked me what I needed prayers for. I told him I had a laundry list but that the big issues were my shoulder and the spermatocele. Vince told me the first healing he’d ever participated in was for testicular cancer. Encouraging.

For purposes of convenience and socially acceptable laying on of hands, Vince decided to focus on my shoulder. I showed him my limited range of motion. He prayed for me for a minute or so, until our pastor instructed everyone to take a break and check for any improvements. I hadn’t felt anything during the prayer, which didn’t necessarily mean anything. I checked for any change in my range of motion and immediately noticed a slight difference. Maybe. I hesitated to embrace or celebrate any change so slight; I’m extremely aware that some perceived healings are nothing more than imaginations based on suggestibility and wishful thinking. Do not want.

We had one more round of prayer, after which I didn’t notice any improvement. I took a turn on the microphone and told the room that I thought there had been some amount of healing and that I was ready to have more. I left church aware that not all healing takes place immediately.

That night in my sleep I moved in some way sufficient to make my shoulder pop loudly. I woke up to that sound of that bone moving into a better place than it had been. I praised God and fell back asleep. Fully awake the next morning, I found I had a remarkably improved range of motion. Not so much that I’d call it healed. But it was much better. Two shoulder healings within two months. Thank you, God!

3/21
My lips started burning again. I hadn’t had the hot sauce in a few weeks. So the lip thing was definitely a hot spot.

Grief was noticeably diminishing by this time. In place of the waning grief were resignation and acceptance. I was officially broken more than I’d ever been before, without a doubt. But my feet were less made of lead, by now, and facing each new day wasn’t a burdensome reinvention of some forsaken wheel. I was hanging on to “worthy and desirable.” My shoulder was much improved, and I figured the new hotspot had to mean something. God was apparently giving tangible evidence that we were starting over – new plan, new hotspot, new whatever.

I even came to peace with something that had been driving me nuts for a while: assuming “we” are starting over, how would I know what to do and when to do it? I felt stranded and alone; ill-equipped to do anything at all, much less reboot a process of the magnitude and apparent complexity of that which has been fodder for several years’ worth of blog posts. Not only that, but there was also a nagging question of whether I was still Joseph in prison. If I had ever been a modern-day Joseph in a metaphorical prison, then there was a decent chance that I was now going to be stuck in that prison for the rest of my life. Such a thing wouldn’t be the end of the world, since I’ve probably got no more than twenty to thirty years left on this side. But still, in such a scenario I would likely live every second of the remainder of my life filled with regret.

Enter God’s mercy, by which He showed something important. I “realized” at some point today that all three of the people who had given me “Joseph” encouragements in 2010 and 2015 had some interesting commonality: prior to the respective incidents in which they each dropped the Joseph word on me, I (mostly) hadn’t known the people at all. The only exception was the guy at Upper Room who actually did his Joseph thing on the second of two consecutive Sundays in which he spoke to me, which were the first two times I’d ever seen him. And I’ve never seen him since then, for what it’s worth.

Also, in each Joseph instance, the people offering the Joseph word were making an unsolicited contribution to the fund, so to speak. I hadn’t asked for any such thing, and I wasn’t looking for it at all, in any of the three encounters. The closest any of the three had to being a response to my inquiry was Charles Slagle, in February 2010. I had approached him as a total stranger, wanting him to pray prophetically over me. I didn’t really even know what I was asking for; I just knew that I was miserable and that any encouragement would be welcome. “Joseph” got started on that day.

The summary realization of that previous paragraph is: “God will tell me what He wants me to know, when He wants me to know it.” Just like He has done so many times in the past. I don’t need to worry about the “what” and the “when”. I don’t need to worry about whether I’m still Joseph. I simply need to relax into the uncertainty of the present and know that He will provide info on an as-needed basis. Easier said than done, for sure. But it is something that allows me a smidgen of control, this intentional surrender to God’s timing of my expectations.

“You: here, now. Me: no plans, no expectations.”

Indeed.

3/24
I am taking a walk during lunchtime at work. For the first time I speak these words out loud to God: “You will tell me what You want me to know, when You want me to know it.” It’s not a command, of course, but a comfortable acknowledgement of a truth that I know from experience. It is a comforting thing, to know that the Creator will let me know when it’s time to know something new. If waiting is often a grind, He is always generous and faithful. Speaking the words one time out loud doesn’t do justice to the peace He brings. So I say it again. “You will let me know what You want me to know, when You want me to know it.” I am amazed by Him, even as I speak the words. I finish the walk and my work day.

I leave work early, because I’d come in early that morning. Walking home at an odd time of day, I’m struck by the unfamiliar position of the sun. The automobile traffic has a different flow than it does during my typical walk home. The unusual circumstances make for a “new” feel to things. Fifteen minutes into my walk, I turn off the main sidewalk, onto the property of our apartment community. There are several people in front of me, walking their dogs. There are other people out in the athletic fields, in the volleyball sand, and in the driving range enclosure. The dog-walkers in front of me stop so their dogs can do dog things with each other. I pass them.

Spring is definitely in the air, and some portion of the grinding regret of the previous four months just falls right off me. I feel like I’m on sudden vacation. I tell God, “I feel like I’m on sudden vaca…” and then I notice something unusual on the path in front of me. There is money on the path. Money is never on the path. However, there it is, right there. My brain is jarred a bit by the image of United States currency on the walking path, where it has never been before. I scan my immediate surroundings. There’s no one within fifty feet of me. I squat down and scoop up the bills from the asphalt walkway. My mind struggles to adjust to this alien reality, even as I count one hundred and eleven dollars. Two $50’s, one $10, and one $1. Clearly, 111 is a good-sized chunk of 1111; and 1111 had been a player for quite some time.

I have the presence of mind to laugh and suggest to God that $1111.00 would have been an even more prophetic amount of cash. But the most important thing is, NO WAY did I just find one hundred and eleven dollars on the walking path. Yes way, indeed I did, even though I’ve walked thousands of miles on that path over the past seven years without ever finding any money. The sense of sudden vacation is not diminished in the least by the likewise-sudden discovery of cash.

I continue walking and taking assessment of the money situation. It’s too perfect. One hundred and eleven dollars? Come on. I consider the distinct possibility that God will soon present me with a chance to give that money to someone else. I resolve to not get too attached to the money. I am planning to attend a church small group that evening, for the first time since April of 2016, when the guy gave me the “kicking through walls” prophetic encouragement. I imagine a scenario in which someone at the meeting announces a need for one hundred and eleven dollars for something or other. I plan to take the money to the group and give it to whoever has such a need. We’ll all have a cool God story to tell.

By the time I’ve come to quick terms with giving the money away, I’m rounding the bend down past the tennis courts and towards the first of two large ponds. It’s early yet on a Friday afternoon; but the park area is busy with people walking dogs, baby strollers, and young children. A couple of lingering Canada geese stand in stark contrast to the usual mallard and Muscovy ducks. These two geese are stretching out their winter visit longer than usual; their dozen or so companions have already flown back north. Diagonally across the pond and up into the visible parking lot, I see White Car Man, leaning against said car and taking in the afternoon sights. I’ve got plenty of time before I need to leave for the church group; so I head over his way.

When I’m close enough to him, I call out his name and wave. He waves back and returns the greeting. We begin what turns into another lengthy conversation. Our talk at one point turns to the topic of the man’s employment. Turns out he’s indirectly affiliated with one aspect of the whole Dallas Cowboys/Seattle Seahawks scene. When he tells me his job, I continue casually talking and listening, all the while some big chunk of my mind begins almost frantically reflecting with a giant eyeball behind a magnifying glass on the potential Cowboys-Seahawks dream reference. That same big chunk of my mind is pretty incredulous. Within weeks of having the dream and deciding there’s a chance that God is sending me to that game, I’m discovering that White Car Man, THE White Car Man, is possible player in that world. It should be tiresome by now to think or say or type, “No WAY.” But things keep happening to prompt such a response

The cumulative affect of finding the money and then hearing what it is that WCM does for his own money significantly challenges my orientations to person, place, and time. WCM and I finish our conversation and I continue on my walk home. I can’t decide if this day has become as weird as I think it has. It feels like one long God encounter, lasting the entirety of my walk across the expansive grounds of this apartment world. In the parking lot of my own complex, I spy a lone penny on the ground. Normally, I’ll stop and pick up a loose penny, if only to check and see if it’s an old solid copper one worth saving for the metal value. On this day, flush with $111 sudden dollars in my pocket, I coolly breeze past the hapless cent, leaving it to whatever fate might befall it there on the concrete. (Only days later, at the prompting of Dave From the Office, will I realize that God did indeed give me 1111 that day; only with a different decimal placement than I’d suggested upon finding the paper money.)

A couple of hours later I walk the pleasant mile or so to the church small group. I arrive after a few people have already begun setting up for the evening’s dinner. The host introduces me to several new (for me) faces and gives me a tour of his and his wife’s families, via the photos in the kitchen shelves. The small group is established for over a year, so there are some very comfortable relationships in the room. There are a few faces I’ve seen around church before and one in particular that I’ve known personally for a few years. Mostly it’s people whom I do not know and do not know me. There is some pre-dinner visiting, and then we eat dinner in groups around various tables. The group feels like an easy fit for me, and I can easily see myself making this my regular small group home.

After dinner the host/leaders call us all to the living area. We move chairs into whatever configuration will accommodate the group in that end of the room. Once everyone is seated and we’ve had an opening prayer, the leaders ask everyone to share experiences where God has showed up powerfully in their lives. I volunteer a story about how God changed me dramatically in an instant, several years ago, after I’d gotten serious about seeking and offering forgiveness, among other unprecedented acts of humility in my life. I emphasize some of the more striking differences in the person I had been one second before the change, versus the very different person I instantaneously became.

The group leaders offer some feed back, and we prepare to move to the next person. Before anyone else gets started, a young woman interjects something to me. “While you were talking, I got the sense that you’ve been waiting for something. You’re like Joseph in the Bible. You’ve been waiting for something. Don’t give up. It’s going to happen.” She speaks with comfortable authority, and I am appropriately floored by her words. I give her and the rest of the group a brief explanation of my history with Joseph, including a belief that I’d blown whatever promised blessing was supposed to come my way. She says, “I hear God laughing.” She adds something to the effect, “We aren’t powerful enough to derail the plans God has for our lives.” I believe her, and yet I also know what I’ve been living through and experiencing for a few years. Some of my experience has reasonably led me to believe that my actions absolutely have an impact one way or the other on how God deals with me. But most importantly in that moment, there’s this new Joseph encouragement, one year and a couple of weeks after the guy in Ben Gurion Airport.

There’s no way or need for me to convey to the group how nuts this evening is turning out, as a continuation of the already-unreal day in an increasingly unreal life. The focus moves off of me and onto other people who want to share what God has done in their lives. We continue on in group discussion format for another hour or so. Independent of the shocking Joseph business, the whole experience is encouraging and faith-affirming. The husband-and-wife leaders promote authenticity and humility in the room. At the end of the evening, I stop by the new Joseph prophet and thank her for speaking out. “It changed my life,” I tell her in all seriousness. One of the group members drops me off at my apartment, saving me the walk home.

_

It was not until the next that day that I realized the young Joseph woman’s full name – first and last – is a comical reminder from God that He can effortlessly bring together the most unlikely of elements in the most sudden of encounters, to let everyone within earshot know that He’s in control. Suffice it to state the obvious, He can do anything.

Posted in Gifts of the Spirit, Hot Spots, Joseph | Leave a comment

February 2017, pt. 5: More dreams; D-fense; and a new spot gets hot

February 17

Dream: I am looking down on a massive wall, built in the style of the Great Wall of China. I’m probably fifty feet above the wall looking down on a section. The lighting is dim, probably pre-dawn. I see the image for no more than one second…

…after which I am somehow jarred fully awake and alert. Very strange. I wonder if this has anything to do with the “defender” theme.

February 19

Dream: I’m talking to a guy whom I don’t know in real life. He looks to be about sixty years old. He’s got longish white hair and is wearing a decent looking suit. He’s wearing a handgun in an external shoulder holster. I know that this guy somehow is my bodyguard. A younger guy appears on the scene. He’s wearing sunglasses and is covered in personal weaponry. The older guy gets up and leaves. I feel awkward that I didn’t introduce the new guy to the old guy.

The new guy starts telling me that the older guy is having trouble getting around, is too old for the job, and that I should consider getting someone else. I realize the younger guy is schmoozing me and looking to replace the old guy as my body guard. Then the young guy asks me if I like watching the Cowboys. I tell him that, no, I don’t much like watching the Cowboys. On Sunday evenings I’m either busy with family or working on some music or writing project. END.

February 21

Somewhere around this date, I started wondering if the Cowboys/Seattle dream reference was something to do with a security event at the football game. The fact that a Muslim guy was in the second dream that morning kicked off that particular train of thought. The body guard dream which featured a random Cowboys reference also added fuel to the fire. And “defense” seemed to be the all the rage at the time. There might be room for a gifted defender, anointed by God for such a task, to shut down an attack at a major American sporting event

Wait and see.

Feb 22

Dream: I see a crowd in a room, all of them seated in chairs and facing the same direction; it’s an auditorium or something similar. I had apparently been in that same audience; but I’ve been pulled out from the crowd and separated from them. I’ve been positioned to watch over them effectively. The people in the scene don’t look like anyone in particular that I know. END.

*

By late February I began entertaining the notion that I should go meet the guy in the white shirt by the white car. I started taking a short cut to and from work that had me passing his usual hangout. I noticed his car had a Dallas Cowboys license plate frame. And I noticed that his car didn’t appear to be moved very often. After a few fruitless passes by, I found the man himself while on my way to work one morning. He was rightfully positioned by his vehicle. I called out a greeting, and he replied in kind. I continued on my way to work, and he continued standing by his car.

By late February I’d also begun earnestly pestering God with requests that, if indeed we have moved on from the awesome offensive capabilities of a bomber to whatever kind of defenses He might construct through me, could we please revisit the notion of offense again sometime? If I survived another trip through the wilderness and graduated and got to build castles in His kingdom, whatever that might look like, would I not merit another shot at being a bomber? Being a God-anointed defender would be just great. But I want to be able to do everything. Regardless of the fact that I’m a natural defender – if I think He’s taken offensive weapons off the table, then all I can think about it those offensive weapons that are off the table. “Does that mean no deliverance, healing of the sick, raising the dead, anything like that? Can I get a mulligan? Or a tenth mulligan or whatever it would be? Please God!” Except the “Please” was actually better spelled with three l’s and ten of the first e’s. I’m just too proud to spell it that way in the post. This groveling became a theme for several weeks following. As of this typing of this exact sentence in mid-April, it’s still a theme. I’m absolutely shameless about the begging, because I have nothing to lose.

I’ve given a lot of fruitless thought to what are offensive capabilities versus defensive capabilities in His kingdom; and whether I’ve truly lost out on something forever, or at least the rest of my physical life. If it makes sense that deliverance, healing the sick, and raising the dead are offensive efforts; and those capabilities are not available; then what’s left? Jesus didn’t do a lot of defensive-looking work in his ministry, so there’s not much by way of example there. He did calm the storm that was freaking out his disciples. I can’t think of anything else, off the top of my head. There’s no end to the wondering, because there’s no way for me to definitely know (on this side of my last breath) the answers to certain questions. I have to just live in the moment and see where all this goes.

**

February 25 (this entry was added a couple of hours after my initial post)

DREAM: I see written words and hear a voice speaking the words, “What do you have planned for the rest of the year?” END

Either in the dream or in my real-life brain, I immediately believed that this was a message from God. No guarantees about any of this stuff, of course. But the written/spoken combination has me convinced, these days. I figured the message indicated that , whatever we might be working towards for Phase II, it wouldn’t be this year. If the Cowboys/Seahawks game is really going to happen, for example, it would apparently be next year – either a playoff game for the 2017 season or some installment in the 2018 season. I couldn’t imagine waiting for the 2018 season.

All that speculation aside, someone had asked me a question. I hadn’t given the idea of “the rest of the year” much thought before that dream. Over the next few days, I mulled it over and told God my tentative plans for the rest of the year. Pretty mundane stuff: get my blog caught up; finish and record two songs; be the best father I can be; refrain from anything I can think of that will derail this new go-round with divine opportunity. He already knows what I’m going to do. I figure the question was more a way for Him to convey the time frame of Phase II than it was for making small talk in my sleep.

February 27

I tried a new brand of hot sauce on my tuna and crackers at lunch. About an hour later I noticed my lips were burning in a weird way. I was at work in the midst of massive responsibilities, and I only half-way noticed the sensation in my lips. I assumed that the new hot sauce had something in it that I was reacting to. A few hours later my lips were still burning. But it was a cool burn, like from mint. I went to the break area fridge and got out the jar of sauce. I checked the label and saw that the main ingredient was serrano peppers. I wondered if I was allergic to serrano peppers. Seemed unlikely, since I’m almost fifty years old and have been eating hot sauce for most of my life. Whether or not I was reacting to the peppers, all I knew for sure was my lips felt a special kind of strange.

Before bed that night, I bothered to apply some balm to my still-burning lips, some ten hours after I’d eating the hot sauce. I didn’t see how the sauce could have still been a player. That didn’t make sense. But neither did anything else. I went to sleep quickly. Six hours later I awoke to the blatant sensation of an irregular pulse of heat in my lips. It wasn’t a steady thing, like a heartbeat. It was unpredictable and REALLY hot. I lay in bed, first wondering if I’d ruined my lips with serrano pepper hot sauce, then daring to think I was receiving a new kind of hot spot.

I got out of bed and went to read some Bible for a while. I fired up my monk Chant CD and settled into my easy chair to read Paul’s letter to the Romans. I grieved that mundane process, owing to it being an echo of my routine from almost exactly two years earlier – when I was living through what was a documented and frightful time of doubt and self-loathing brought on by (OF COURSE) masturbation. That particular months-long grind had ended in June of 2015 with a blast of demonic deliverance and one of the craziest visions I ever had. Prior to that explosion of heaven on my couch in June, I’d spent many mornings waking early to read the Bible and then falling asleep again on the couch, while listening to the Chant CD. Sitting in my chair in February of 2017, I knew that I was living out a loss that wasn’t going to be resolved by expelling a demon or anything else so cut and dried. Whatever years-long process had seen, among other things, the wild deliverance and vision in June 2015, I believed that said process was over and done with. We were ‘starting over’.

I sat in my chair listening to the monks and hating myself. My lips just fired up more and more. I read through several chapters of Romans, and my lips took on a life of their own. I was reading out loud, which I generally try to do since faith comes from hearing. While I was speaking the words of Paul, my mouth and a growing area around it were lit up with a force that couldn’t have had anything to do with my lunch seventeen hours earlier. I figured God was giving me a much-needed ‘Hello’. I guess. I didn’t see any chance it was still the hot sauce.

Over the next couple of weeks, the lip thing came and went. I was routinely eating that picante at work; so I couldn’t ever say with one-hundred percent conviction that it wasn’t the hot sauce making my lips light up with a cool burn.

Posted in Dreams, Hot Spots, Who said it? | Leave a comment

February 2017, pt. 4: How ’bout them new marching orders? And some other dreams.

February 7

I woke early and prayed for a while. After falling asleep again, I had two dreams:

DREAM 1: I keep seeing something about the Seattle football game. Or “the Seattle game”, which I decide is the Seattle football game. I just know that the Seattle game is a game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys. I am trying to find a schedule of the Cowboys season schedule, to see when they might play Seattle. I cannot ever find the schedule. END

DREAM 2: I see a black man wearing what appears to be an Islamic headcover. He is seated, facing me. I see his entire body framed in the view. He is not looking directly at me; his face is looking a bit off to my right. He speaks: “Your total will go way down if you will (something).” I think he is saying that the total number of days until some goal is reached will go down to the extent that I am obedient. WAKE.

These dreams are significant for a few reasons. I had been asking God for a few days if He was planning on sending me to any unusual locations again, along the line of WFPLI. And I had also been wondering aloud or silently to Him every few seconds if sustained obedience on my part might shorten the entire process, if we were indeed starting over. Because someone on January 23 had definitely told me we were starting over. Starting over sounded like death on a stick, after I’d spent so many years in the wilderness already. But if that’s where we were, then there was nothing to it but to jump in with both feet. And so I had asked.

If this day’s dreams meant anything at all, then, maybe they were direct answers from God. “Yes, you’ll be going to unusual places. Yes, you control the duration of testing with your behavior and, ultimately your heart posture before Me.” Either the dreams were from God, or they were not, as usual. Either they meant what I’ve suggested here, or they did not. I’ll just plan to stay alive and alert, and we’ll see what happens.

Something that adds some gravitas to this day’s dreams, in addition to the apparent messages that they convey: February 7 is the anniversary my wife and I separating. God has a warm tendency to reveal Himself to me on important calendar days. I had actually gone to bed the previous night wondering if He might mark such an inauspicious anniversary, especially in light of all that had happened in the preceding couple of months. Blammo, I believe He did. What better way to officially announce “starting over”. If it was Him marking the starting over point, I’m compelled to wonder how much shorter the previous years-long trial could have been, had I been immediately obedient to His call. That’s a depressing thing to contemplate. Better to focus on the chance to do it again and better and more quickly. Obedience to God is much more immediately natural for me in 2017 than it was in 2009. There’s at least that encouraging thing. We’ll see how it translates into any success in Phase II.

The Seattle game is an interesting bit. The Cowboys and Seahawks aren’t divisional opponents. So there’s no built-in regular meeting between the teams. The soonest they would meet would be in a pre-season game in 2017, although I think they did that it 2016. The next chance would be a regular season non-divisional game. The 2017 season schedule isn’t out yet; so we don’t know if there’s going to be a regular season meeting between Dallas and Seattle. Barring that regular season game, the next possible meeting would be in the playoffs. The last possible contest in the 2017 season would be in the NFC conference title game, prior to the Super Bowl. I think the 2017 season schedule is released in March. So we’ll know something in a few weeks.

(The preceding paragraph was written in late February. Since then, the NFL has released the preseason schedule. The Cowboys and Seahawks aren’t meeting in preseason.)

(The preceding parenthetical was written in early March, or soon after the NFL’s release of the 2017 preseason schedule. Since that time the NFL has released it’s 2017 regular season schedule. I’ll save that big reveal for later. Let the anticipation wash over you.)

*

February 11

I went to the church prophetic prayer rooms for the first time since the mid-November “YOU’RE ALMOST DONE” extravaganza. I generally try to go for that ministry every three months. I had actually been dreading going again, because of what I feared I would NOT hear. I fully expected that there would be no one telling me anything about being almost done with anything. I didn’t need any prophetic ministry to tell me that which I already knew. But I still didn’t want it confirmed in such a way; especially since such ministry as that had been such a huge encouragement to me along the last seven years’ journey.

But I went ahead into a room with six waiting people, only one of whom knew me at all. After they prayed for a minute, they began one by one to speak their impressions to me. Nobody said anything about me being almost done with anything. But they said a lot about peace. Of the six people, four of the six had a message that was directly related to peace, either in me or around me. It was pretty interesting. There were actually more people in agreement about “peace” that morning than there had been in agreement about “YOU’RE ALMOST DONE”, back in November. One guy in particular, on this Saturday morning, told me he’d heard “peacemaker” before I even got in to the room; as in God wants me to be a peacemaker; or maybe I already am.

I left the ministry time grieving the confirmation of loss, or at least the confirmation of a new direction. It wasn’t until after Mary and I had discussed things later that day that I had the perspective to be hopeful about what I’d heard that morning. A peacemaker is exactly the kind of person to be maximized in the racially-polarized United States, if nothing else. And my fuzzy recollection of the Beatitudes prompted me to remember a dream/voice experience from Father’s Day 2015. That morning, I’d heard a voice say to me in my half-sleep, “You will be my son.” I remember being a bit confused by the experience. I won’t rehash it. Bottom line is, after the ministry session on Saturday, what with all the references to peace and (especially) “peacemaker”, I thought about the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” I remembered, “for they will be…” sons of God? I thought that the peacemaker was connected with declared sonship of God. I couldn’t remember for sure. I thumbed through my Bible to Matthew and found the first long block of red text. There it was, in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Interesting.

The same guy who had heard “peacemaker” also referenced Joshua, by way of piggybacking off another person’s encouragement that my footsteps take territory for God’s kingdom. Joshua, of course, was one of a faithful two Hebrews who both escaped Egypt and got to enter the Promised Land. Not even Moses made that grade. Then when Mary and I were talking, she discussed Moses in context of his failure and the fact that he was still one of the two people who were honored to appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He didn’t achieve his ultimate objective; but he was given a great honor, anyway. She then began talking about Joshua, a couple of hours after I’d first heard Joshua mentioned that day. She made some great points about Joshua, relating some of it to my journey. She began talking about Joshua at 12:37. Interesting enough, I suppose.

The most encouraging thing that whole day wasn’t anything someone said about me directly, which is a refreshing reminder from God. It was when Mary told me that she regularly says to God, “You know my heart.” As in, “No matter what I say or do, you know me better than I know myself. And you know that I love you, in spite of what it might look like on the outside.” I noticed at all that Mary said it because “You know my heart” is something that I’ve been saying to God daily since mid-December, at the least. “You know my heart, God. You know that I love you. I just suck sometimes.” Anyway, when Mary told me that she tells God the exact same random thing that I do, my weeks-long grief exploded into joyful disbelief. “NO WAY!” In that one split and improbable second, God took my lament refrain and turned it into a massive celebration of a struggle shared with the sister that He gave me several decades before either of us realized it was coming. Weight lifted, at least for the rest of that day.

Thank you, Lord.

**

February 13

DREAM 1: someone hands me a can of food and asks “Hey, do you have this?” The label shows something that looks vaguely like green beans or asparagus. I never can tell. And I have plenty of time to wonder – the hand holds out that can for several seconds while I inspect it. There is nothing on the can label that says what’s in the can, as far as I can tell. There’s quite a bit of text on the label. But the only words I can make out are, first, “Creole”, at the very top; and then “Redbar”, at the very bottom. Redbar is situated where I’d expect the type of food, like corn or peas, to be labeled. But it is written in smallish letters. And what is “redbar” at all, much less in context of canned food? WAKE.

After waking I wondered about the cryptic thing in the dream. I did an Internet search for ‘Redbar’. Turns out there’s a bar called Redbar in Wisconsin. It’s a biker bar in Milwaukee, so I figure there’s 0.0% Creole influence there. Maybe Redbar is an allusion to Baton Rouge, where’s there’s surely a Creole presence. Was it a God dream? No telling. There was only the one actual Redbar result in the ‘net search. I fell asleep again.

DREAM 2: I am reading something about someone (The Big Three? Me and my kids?) watching an Indiana Pacers game. After that there is something about a headdress ban. END.

I don’t know if these two dreams meant anything important in real life. Fact is, I don’t know that any of the dreams I’ve mentioned in the January and February blog posts mean anything important in real life. I’m throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks. If there’s anything to the “starting over” revelation, I figure there will eventually be some patterns to emerge. The patterns will make for reasonably interesting blog content. But dreams are pretty unreliable, in my experience. I know now, for one tiny example, that the woman about whom I’d dreamed on January 21 of having sinus problems has never had sinus problems in her life.

I was more truly guided and informed by visions, “spoken” instructions, hot spots, and coincidences over the past couple of years than I had been by dreams. And I don’t know that I’ll ever have visions again. That dream voice in January had said, “You will never (something) again,” while I could see some vague image while hearing the words. Given that I haven’t had anything like a text vision since the King Kong thing back in December, there’s a decent chance I’ve seen my last vision. Point is, Wichita Falls-Portland-Long Island all happened due to one whispered instruction. No dreams needed. The Donald Trump stuff was all visions and coincidences. No dreams. God seems never to do the same thing twice, so we’ll see if dreams become a bigger player in Phase II.

This is all pretty iffy stuff, and don’t recommend anyone try it without a safety net.

Posted in Dreams | 2 Comments

February 2017, Pt. 3: Things that actually happened in February 2017 (mostly)

Sometime in the last quarter year, I noticed an interesting looking guy living in the gigantic spread of apartments I call home. This guy seemed always to be hanging out by his car, smoking and chatting with passersby. It didn’t matter what time of day or whatever day of the week – if I was out and in a position to see his parking place, there was as good a chance as not that I would see him there. That constancy was notable in and of itself. His whole physical presentation was striking and added another layer of interest to it all. He was exclusively partial to blue jeans and white, short-sleeved, button-down shirts. The white shirts matched his white car. All of this added up to the obvious conclusion: “There’s an interesting story there.” Then I would drive or walk on my way, depending.

*

A couple of days after re-acquainting myself with the 2013 journal, I was driving over to Upper Room for the early-morning prayer set. In the predawn blackness I groaned inwardly and maybe outwardly at the consequences that defined my existence that morning.

You: Here. Now. Me: No plans; no expectations.

I turned right, onto the road that dead ends into the office park where our church is located. It’s a nondescript road in a warehouse district by the Trinity River. There’s one cross-street before the end of that road that allows for an optional and winding backdoor approach to the church property. Every time I’ve driven to church in the past thirteen months, I’ve passed the cross street both coming and going. On some trips I’ve even taken the cross street and its alternate route to the church. Which means I’ve seen the street sign with the name of that street well over a hundred times. Until that morning in early February and with a gun to my head, I couldn’t have told you the name of that street. Which is pretty weird; I’m usually aware of street names, especially with regard to streets I see regularly. But it wasn’t until 0550 that morning that I actually noticed the street name:

Farrington

Double take and No way. Farrington. I was only familiar with one other instance of Farrington in my life: Richard Farrington and his crew were killed when the B-24 Black Cat was shot down over Regensberg in April 1945. It was the Farrington crew featured in the book Wings of Morning, which book I’d read in December and had so many parallels to my own life. “Farrington? Right here, all this time?” And by all this time, of course I meant, “Since this street was developed and named long before I was born and possibly even before Richard Farrington died in a German field seventy-two years ago; and since I’ve been driving past it for over a year now, without noticing the street name; and since six weeks ago, when my life story developed a strange parallel to those of a man named Farrington and his crew who had died so close to the end of a struggle?”

All of this before the sun even thought of coming up.

I continued on down the road and wound my way into the parking lot. It wasn’t until the following week that I realized I’d never be able to go to that building again without passing a reminder of Richard Farrington and how he died so close to the end of his war.

**

Three days later at the end of our morning church service, the pastor called the ministry team to the front and invited the congregation to come forward for prayers. I went down front and got in line. I was actually in the queue of people who were waiting for our pastor to pray for them. After I’d waited for about ten minutes, Michael finished praying for the final couple ahead of me. I stepped forward and we greeted each other. Michael began praying for me. He told me that he believed that, due to some things that had happened to me, God was going to turn me into a spiritual handyman. “You can fix anything…you can fix anything,” he asserted with his eyes closed.  He went on to thank God that I was such a good father. Then he got really emphatic. “Thank you for making him a defender, God. You made him a defender! You made him a defender!” That was the meat of the ministry time. It’s always nice to be called out as a good father. But the handyman and defender references were most significant for purposes of this timeline.

In the umpteen-hundred thousand words that I’ve put into this blog over the past three years, I haven’t mentioned my desire to be a capable handyman in the physical world. I want to know how to skillfully and effortlessly use any tool you can show me, to build or fix anything I can imagine. But I was raised in a fairly and unfortunately typical environment where all emphasis was “go to high school, go to college, get a job”, with little attention paid to any day-to-day practical skills. I graduated both high school and college without having any such skills to my name.

I didn’t care anything about that stuff when I was younger. If anything I was intimidated behind an invisible wall of confusion about numbers and abstractions that still frustrates me in my highly number-centric and abstract work today. Beyond that personal limitation, no one who could have mentored me into such skills did so. Both of my grandfathers were respective wizards in their own right, when it came to manual craftsmanship. My dad was a hotrodder when he was young, and before a certain eventual evolution in technology, he could tear down and rebuild car engines. Somehow, almost none of that expertise made down into Generation Me.

As I aged I slowly grew into the realization that I actually had the aptitude to be no less adept and creative as my father and grandfathers with a set of tools. And along with that understanding, I discovered that I had an innate and profound desire to create, build, and repair. I wanted little so much as to be able to use all the sturdy tools that were in my grandfather’s garage. But I couldn’t have told you what fifty percent of them were for. With any passing year I was that much angrier in the realization that I had been perfectly made to be an auto mechanic or carpenter or plumber or the like; but that I had been raised in a demographic that would have slit its collective wrist before encouraging one of its own to pursue something like a blue-collar trade.

I got the preordained college degree and embarked on the years-long grind of having a job; mostly as a data technology jack-of-all-trades, with an emphasis on networking. The work is all boundlessly complex and largely done inside one’s head. Your hands are involved in the work, in as much as tapping keys on a keyboard and moving a computer mouse is “work”. It’s a strange existence where, at the end of any given day, one can be completely drained from the difficulty of designing a process or figuring out a solution – all while your body has done effectively nothing but peck away at a keyboard (if you’re reading this blog, you might have a similar job). And the work is never really done.

With construction trades and the like (and especially being a chef – my latest “I coulda” discovery) the work might have a certain level of complexity; but there are physical limitations to that complexity. And the environment doesn’t change dramatically, year over year. Plumbing is and always will be about gravity and water. Wood is wood, and wood-working tools do not fail in planned obsolescence like so much of the high tech world. A job well done is sitting right in front of you at the end of the day or project. It is possible for a plumber or chef or auto mechanic or heavy equipment operator or welder to build on experience year after year, with little fear that some huge portion of his collected knowledge and skill will become obsolete at any time. “AS OF THREE WEEKS FROM TODAY, GARLIC WILL NO LONGER TASTE LIKE GARLIC. IT WILL TASTE LIKE ASPARAGUS, SORT OF.” By comparison the wrangling of invisible bits and bytes, in an environment that evolves daily, is wildly frustrating and unsatisfying.

I got married and became a home-mortgage payer, which presented me with endless opportunities to either learn how to “do” or to pay someone else to “do” for me. I learned a lot, and I got into a nice rhythm of doing a lot. Youtube was fantastic mentor. I even became a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, where I learned a ton of great stuff over a year or so. I looked at Habitat as 1) an opportunity to bless some people in life as I had been blessed in life – beyond any base physical needs into relative comfort and security; and 2) to learn as much as I could about carpentry and home construction/repair that I didn’t already know. By the end of a few months of volunteering, I was already able to apply my newfound skills around the house. The result was that I saved myself the expense of hiring someone to do certain jobs for me; and I got the immense satisfaction of being able to look at a job well done and know that I had done it. Things were looking up, in regards to the hands-on side of me.

Then my employer required that I get a tech certification in order to justify my existence. I spent one entire year either in class or studying at home, except for the summer months when I was on the road for my job. I had to give up Habitat for that year. Within two months of my classes ending, my wife and I separated. I eventually ended up in an apartment where they pay the handyman to “do” for me. Habitat and home repair are memories in my life that now has no room for giving up entire Saturdays to build houses or work in the shop. My life circumstance dictate there’s little room for any wild and radical career moves. And I just chalk it all up as one more reason to be relieved with every passing day that this life is not the end of the road.

When Michael prophesied, then, that I would become a spiritual handyman, able to fix anything, it resonated in a foundational way. Imagine being able to fix anything, with spiritual gifts from the real Creator. Healing the sick; raising the dead; routing demons; all in the name of the Savior and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even the most skilled and successful blue-collar tradesman eventually retires and dies. His work might live on for some years after him in this life; but what’s that to him, considering he’s dead? Being a spiritual handyman would mean one’s work would live on in eternity, through lives that were transformed and faith that was made stronger. Passive verb tenses abound.

Becoming a spiritual handyman sounded, frankly, too good to be true, that Sunday in early February. Michael and I aren’t personally close; and I don’t know who knows what or thinks they know what about me at Upper Room. I wondered if Michael was working off of old (if prophetic) impressions of me, formed before the December 2016 meltdown. I immediately discounted the handyman thing as lost potential, yet another in-my-face presentation of what could have been. Anyway, even as I was discounting something that was otherwise perfectly appealing, Michael had already moved on to the emphatic declaration that God had made me a defender. Now THAT seemed realistic in early February. I was mere days – not really even too many hours – removed from both discovering Farrington by the church and rediscovering my 2013 dream journal. If the handyman prophecy felt like wishful thinking that morning, the defender label felt just as much like an actual confirmation.

The prospect of being a defender of sorts is really right in my wheel house. Had I been physically qualified, I’d have been an excellent linebacker. “See ball carrier. Engage ball carrier. Destroy ball carrier.” Had I been born at the right time, I’d have made an excellent tailgunner in a plane such as the B-24’s that Richard Farrington piloted. “See enemy plane. Engage the enemy plane. Destroy the enemy plane.” Or perhaps die trying. These are simple tasks involving laser focus, sanctioned violence, and immediate results. Elegant simplicity. Love it. When I was a kid, I enjoyed designing castles, and then imagining how they might withstand certain attacks. In junior high back when schools taught American history, our teacher gave us the assignment of building sufficient fortifications to defend Breed’s Hill, I think it was. It was a little one-off assignment that wasn’t any big deal in the grand scheme of that six-week period. But I was enthralled with the task and much vexed for weeks that I couldn’t put my design to the test in real life.

When I got older, I grew partial to one particular video game that involves the construction of civilizations which include castles and other fortifications. The game allows you do exactly what I wanted to do with my drawn castles – design and defend a position and see how well the implementation holds up to attack. I don’t get around to playing it much anymore; but if I could live forever, I’d still play that game a lot. Fortunately for me, one of my kids is actually crazy about the same game. So I get to watch, offer pointers, and occasionally take the controls for some live demonstration of how to get things done. Even if I’m the only one who thinks said demonstration is necessary.

There is a lifetime’s worth of behavior traits that support the notion that God made me a defender. Dave Grossman defines three types of people in the world – wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. I’m a sheepdog by nature, if not by career choice. Outside of law enforcement and military ranks, our society doesn’t value sheepdogs, preferring to lump them in with the wolves as aggressive and dangerous creatures. Our society is pretty stupid in a lot of ways. I assume Michael was hearing that “defender” bit from God, because Michael doesn’t know me well enough to have picked that up on his own. And if God was telling Michael I’m a defender, in the exact time frame that He told him, then I think there’s good chance that Phase II of whatever This is will involve me potentially wielding power via the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in defense of one thing or another. Emphasis on “potentially”.

Posted in Gifts of the Spirit, Otherwise Interesting | 1 Comment