Typically not what I normally write, but I feel like this needs to be shared so here it is:
I had an interesting/unusual dream the other night, followed by a second immediately after. As the dream began it was impressed upon me that I needed to remember what I see as it was important and God was telling me something. I typically do not remember my dreams so I was at first concerned that I would forget it, but I figured if it was indeed something God was telling me that He would cause me to remember and that seems to have been the case.
So in the first dream I was looking out at a field that had a number of sheep grazing. As I watched some of the sheep slowly changed into wolves, the remaining sheep didn’t seem aware of the change and just continued to graze, oddly the wolves also didn’t change behavior. As I continued to watch, a few of the wolves slowly changed back to sheep, which seemed quite strange. The dream ended with both sheep and wolves in the pasture, the sheep continued to be oblivious to the wolves, likewise the wolves didn’t seem to behave any differently than before, but continued to act like sheep.
The second dream followed immediately after, and I believe are related as I will explain further.
In the second dream I found myself in a clearing by a lake (I think) in the wilderness, there was no civilization of any kind I could see or anyone else there. Before me was the stump of a tree, freshly cut. On the stump was a mailer envelope (one of those padded yellow larger ones). I approached the stump and picked up the envelope, written on the address section was my name. Seemed acceptable to open it so I did so and dumped the contents out onto the stump. In the envelope was nothing but some fishing line and plain hooks. As I looked at them and thought about what I should try to do with them, concerned that it was going to be difficult to catch anything with only a line and hook (no bait, lures or even rod) the words Jesus spoke to the fishermen came immediately to my mind: “I will make you fishers of men.”. I then woke up.
I contemplated the dreams for the next few days and I believe they are both a warning and encouragement to myself and all God’s children who are living through this day and age. Several verses of scripture have come to mind regarding these and I’ll share a few of them that I feel are very relevant:
Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Jude 1:4 “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 “23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
Matthew 7:15-18 “15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…”
Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Galatians 1:6-8 “6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
2 Timothy 3:1-17 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In the time when the Christian Church was new, the apostles were already warning God’s people that there was and would be ‘wolves’ among them, seeking to corrupt and change the Gospel which was delivered to them. It seems to me that we have ‘progressed’ to a day and age where there are just as many ‘wolves’ in ‘Christianity’ as there are sheep and shepherds. Many of which believe they are doing the work of God, oblivious to the fact they are indeed at enmity with Him. I believe we have been instructed to ‘guard our hearts and minds’, and not only our own but we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters as well in this area. We live in a culture/society that avoids accountability of any kind, and this seems to be reflected in the Christian culture of our time as well, and I don’t believe that is how God says we should live as a Church.
We live in a time when we can pick and choose literally any ‘gospel’ or doctrine that claims to be Christian that suits our own personal views, morals, ideals, etc. If we don’t like the teachings or doctrine of one group we can just go to a different one, one that suits our own passions as it were. I hear many teachers and preachers talking about things that at first seem like great things, things that I want to stand behind and things that I am naturally drawn too because they appeal, often very inconspicuously and seemingly innocently to my personal morals and views on various situations like governments/politics, lifestyles, rights and freedoms, etc. I am constantly finding I have to examine those things carefully, trying to figure out the real message behind those words, comparing it with God’s Word, looking at what kind of fruit is produced by that doctrine and by those speaking it, etc. and to guard my heart against such things if they turn out to be different from the Gospel of the Bible and/or just unprofitable in my walk with God.
We live in a day and age where many of our spiritual ‘teachers’ and ‘elders’ and ‘leaders’ are highly skilled public speakers who are very charismatic and charming, speaking nice things that often sound profound and ‘good’ but in reality are spiritually empty and rooted in all kinds of evil; pride, selfishness, love of money, etc. Things that sound ‘loving’ and ‘kind’ but in reality spark division and dissension and draw people away from God into their own teachings/doctrines and steal the joy of Christ from those who listen, replacing it with the cares of the world; taking our focus away from God and His kingdom.
I think it is incredibly important we are not ignorant of these designs, and train our hearts and minds to search out the things of God and differentiate the things of God from the things of this world. The lines between what is of this world and what is of God have been increasingly blurred over the past years, to the point where, as a horrifying example, we live in a culture/society that not only encourages the murder of unborn children but actually condemns anyone who doesn’t support such an atrocity. This type of thing should be unthinkable, yet as disturbing as it is, this is a ‘normal’ part of our culture, something we rarely think twice about even if we ‘disagree’ with it. That in itself speaks to how far we have fallen from God, and people wonder why God would ‘allow’ things like disease or natural disasters or wars, etc. that affect ‘innocent’ and ‘basically good’ people… I cannot fathom the depths of God’s patience and mercy with us and our foolishness/wickedness, and I’m thankful and amazed that God maintains and preserves a remnant throughout the various ages and stages of civilization/life.
I was encouraged by the last part of the first dream, in that some of the wolves were changing back to sheep, eluding that there are some who will abandon the doctrine of the world they have become entangled with and take up the Gospel of Christ. I am confident we all know people who have fallen into such doctrine, and am exceedingly thankful and hopeful that by God’s grace and mercy they can yet be saved.
The second dream really struck home the simplicity of Christ’s gospel and I think is a critical reminder and warning to us as well.
As I contemplated it I realized that when men try to ‘beautify’ or make the Gospel more ‘palatable’ or ‘appealing’ to others, they are simply adding their own bait, lures, equipment, etc. in an effort to ‘attract’ more fish. The conclusion I came to is that, while in theory this sounds ‘good’, I mean, the more people that are ‘saved’ the better right so it makes perfect sense to try and appeal to the widest audience possible, the fact is however that the fish/people which are attracted to a different gospel, one they have been drawn too with shiny and glittering lures, with sweet smelling and tasting bait, a gospel taught by men with modern and fancy fishing equipment, preached from the decks of expensive and impressive fishing boats… These are not the people/fish God is interested in catching, and the state of the countless churches and ‘Christian’ organizations I think is a resounding testament to this. I think that men often begin this deviation from Christ with the best of intentions and desires, and it seems that, like the wolves who didn’t know they had become or were becoming wolves, many believe they are serving God still and doing what is right.
The Gospel of Christ is one preached by the poor and humble in spirit, with bare or poorly shod feet on harsh, often desolate beaches, in waters that more often than not seem to be devoid of life and futile to fish in. A Gospel whose workers fish with calloused hands, throwing bare lines and hooks into waters time and time again with no illusions that there is anything they have or can create or offer to get a precious fish to bite, but trusting that Christ in His mercy will provide His body and blood to draw in those He has called. It is a Gospel that does not attract many people, and one that is contrary to culture/society, and one that many will hate and take offense too. It is the Gospel of a cross and nothing more or less. Foolishness to those who are perishing, but life to those who are being saved.
If we are devoting our thoughts and time and energy and opening our hearts to any other Gospel except this Gospel of Christ, we are working in vain. Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, keep your focus on the Kingdom of God and not on the things of this world, which are passing away, love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, be wise as serpents, innocent as doves, do everything in faith, avoid foolish arguments and dissensions, love your neighbor as yourself, love the Lord your God and obey His commandments. Take up your cross, deny yourself, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.
Lately I have been feeling like I am in a state of mourning and despair regarding our culture/society and the Church which seems more divided and petty and foolish/misled than ever. While I think it’s certainly valid to mourn/lament for the very obvious and clear departure from God’s plan and our continued straying as a culture/society/Church, it’s crucial we don’t lose hope. This verse also has been impressed upon me as a result of these dreams and I hope it will encourage yourself and others too:
Galatians 6:9 “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”