I’m never one to remember my dreams. In fact most mornings when I wake up, by the time I walk to the bathroom, whatever I had dreamed is already gone. But last night I dreamed of Yeshua.
2016 has started off really rough. My job is demanding technically, legally, emotionally and spiritually; most days I even drag myself home physically exhausted because all of my other capacities have been run dry. Since January, all Hell has broken loose at the housing properties and my office team (who are very supportive of each other) have been struggling with morale issues because everyone is under attack in some way. I’ve also been struggling personally with the patrilineal burdens I’ve inherited from the men in my life who have come before me. My struggles with personal identity, value and success (or lack thereof) have been loud and ugly…and it’s all the arguments going on inside.
Needless to say I’ve been fighting off or hiding from depression for the last couple of weeks. I can play at it for a while, being strong for everyone else, but I finally asked yesterday: “Who’s being strong for me?” Once that question was out of the box, there was no putting it back. And I fell to pieces.
I prayed. I pleaded for God to show a way forward. To allow me to answer a greater call. I demanded for Him to acknowledge and answer my dreams that have been laid in their grave.
What I didn’t know was that my wife was desperately praying for me at the same time. She pleaded with Jesus to meet me, somehow.
And then last night I fell asleep.
I found myself in a great white stone palace in a large room. The stone was almost like crystal, but even that description can’t do it justice. It felt very Greek, but was timeless.
The large room I found myself in was dark, backlit with blue and green light and there was a blue mist winding around the black tile floor.
I held a sword in my hand and knew at once I was under attack. The things coming at me were everywhere and they looked like rotting corpses, like zombies. Some were missing limbs but they could talk and were saying all kinds of horrible things. They were demonic, and they looked exhausted because they weren’t able to put up much of a fight when I began to fight back with my sword. Yet all the same I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of them.
It was then I realized that someone else arrived and was helping me to fight them back. By the time the battle was almost over, my ally had easily slain most of the horde. I remained fighting one enemy, the captain. My ally did not intervene, but let me finish the fight as I cut off its appendages until it simply laid upon the floor unable to move.
“You’re done,” I said as I turned to walk away.
The demonic captain looked up at me with his gruesome face and exposed eyeballs and spoke: “Just do it already.”
So I cut off his head. I then realized I was covered in greasy guts. I turned to look at my ally, my helper.
He stepped out of the shadows and I immediately knew his face and I spoke his name in my heart: YESHUA. It was the name his mother would have called him. I knew him and I knew he knew me. Yet all I could utter from my lips was: “I’m a mess.”
Then Yeshua smiled; he was kind and spoke: “You ordered the Greece.”
I knew it was a joke, a play on words about the battle we had just come through, and yet there had to be a deeper meaning, a puzzle to solve. He helped me, but he didn’t do it for me. I had guts on me and the sword in my hand to prove that I had done battle in the heavenly realm alongside Yeshua my Messiah, against my enemies.
I woke up amazed, pondering the meaning of what he said and I’m still not sure but there are some clues in my life and the things I’ve been working on in my writing that might yet prove true.
My wife is a big time dreamer; she remembers her every dream each morning. And sometimes they are spiritually significant. This was the first time I had ever had a spiritually significant dream and I relayed it to my wife.
When I finished, she asked about the meaning of Yeshua’s words. I told her I wasn’t sure.
Then she asked: “What about Greek warriors, are they tough?”
I immediately could see scenes from the movie 300 in my mind with King Leonidas fighting with his fellow Spartan brothers against the hordes of invading Persian troops. I told her that historically the Spartans were among the toughest, hardest soldiers ever bred for war.
She then told me about how she pleaded with Jesus to meet me in my dark time of struggle. My wife is certain that who showed up was Jesus/Yeshua as his hardest, warrior self to help fight against the forces of darkness coming against me personally. Yet during the whole battle, I never doubted his love.
There are still so many pieces to put together regarding this dream. As for what he said to me: “You ordered the Greece.” I think it will take time to reveal the meaning, but perhaps some of the interlinear work I’ve been doing in the bible may be the key to unlocking my way forward.
The title of this entry is tongue-in-cheek yet serious. God has been patiently circling me about to face some of the deficiencies in my character; it’s those things I’ve built walls around to protect myself from being hurt further. Ultimately these things have been hurting me as they’ve caused me to keep myself from trusting God as my Heavenly Father.
My wife and I have been reading the book of Acts, and I’ve noticed how the early church would confess to one another their sins and struggles. Somehow there was a divine release of their burdens to God once all was brought to light, allowing healing to then take place. In the spirit of the early church, I will be making confessions over my long held strongholds.
Much but not my entire struggle against God has been in my identity: as a man, as a husband, and as a father. All three of these things tie into what it means to be a man, and yet I’ve been injured in each area separately. Almost all of the injuries have come from the various father figures directly connected in my life, each one imprinting their warped, frustrated views of manhood. As a man myself, I can readily identify the broken pieces in my father figures.
But until recently I have only just begun to identify them in myself. And it hurts.
I need to speak out in authority over my struggles, to let them be revealed in the light. Here is my confession of those painful things long held within the chambers of my heart:
Trust: Ultimately I don’t trust God as a Father because he is a father. I’ve been let down or injured by the “fathers” in my life and I pretend that I don’t want or need them, so I pretend I don’t need to Trust God.
Vulnerability: I don’t like being vulnerable with God. It’s too trusting. In the past I’ve tried to be vulnerable with people I considered “safe” but this never ends well and has caused me to build up walls I don’t know how to take down.
Reward: Everything I’ve ever been taught has been through punishment and reward. I’m supposed to expect reward for doing things right. Good pay for a job well done and blessings for obedience. I’m supposed to expect punishment for failure and consequences for doing the wrong thing. Yet when I’m not rewarded for doing well, I’m disappointed. Consequently when others aren’t punished for their wrongs, I’m hurt and confused. Mistrust then ensues.
Appreciation: I’ve always needed and expected “the nod” of approval, to receive the recognition for doing well, working hard, or being steadfast through a storm. When I don’t get that, I worry that what I’m doing is worthless, which translates into “I am worthless.”
Courage: I struggle with exercising courage to put forward the things I’ve been called to do. I do this due to a fear of failure. I can’t count how many times I’ve created something special, but when it comes to taking a risk and getting it out, I worry. In those rare moments of bravado when I set aside my concerns and I do push something out, any momentum is lackluster. I then tend to pull back, lick my wounds, and it becomes harder the next time to create something special and try to share it out.
I’m learning that where I struggle indicates there is some need I have to be met. I don’t know how to meet it on my own. So I respond in struggle with God and myself.
I’ve been struggling with all of these things for years, but it has just now come to my attention that the stories I’ve been writing in my spare time are fused with these themes of struggle.
I can’t outrun God, nor should I hide from man.
Interlinear Text Download: Titus 1
Lately I’ve been working on interlinear texts from the Bible, as well as learning Hebrew and Greek (yeesh, what was I thinking?), with Titus chapter 1 being my most recent example.
I’m prone to working more with Hebrew, and in fact I’m more comfortable there. Yet I felt the tug to work on something in the New Testament with the theme of leadership. The book of Titus pulled me right in.
So far I’ve been fortunate to pick it up quickly and work with it, making it palatable as an original text with a transliteration (pronunciation guide) above the Greek and a direct translation below.
I feel the need to understand what good, honest leadership looks like because it seems to me that we’ve been lacking it across the board in every strata of society, and especially within the church.
Chapter 1 of Titus is interesting because the first half focuses on how to appoint leaders who seek what is truly good, not giving it lip service alone. The second half discusses how to correct and rebuke those who fail to do good. Both of these things are extremely important as leaders are indeed held to a higher standard because they are to set an example with their lives.
When leaders fail to set a proper example, they fail to lead.
Please enjoy this. I’m an amateur wading into deep waters, but I’m always happy to receive any comments or suggestions for correction (for those schooled in Greek).
Interlinear Text Download: Psalm 73
Apologies for the radio silence over the last year. God has been very much so at work in our lives doing some new things and He asked me to lay down writing fiction (for now). So far, we’ve moved north to Bellingham and I’m working for the Bellingham/Whatcom County Housing Authority, providing housing for the elderly, disabled, and families with low incomes. I’m truly blessed to be serving in such a meaningful way. Our family has settled very well and we are all able to finally BREATHE.
I’ve had questions from several friends lately, wondering if I’m still writing and what it is I’m doing…
Some of you may know that I’ve been studying Hebrew for the last few years. It is a truly beautiful language and my heart grows continually as I discover new insights and wisdom while immersed in the Tanach (Old Testament). In the last year I discovered the Psalms of Asaph (Psalms 50 & 73-83 are attributed to him). I’ve been touched by Asaph’s raw prayers, full of both anguish and praise.
I think of life on this side of eternity…filled with anguish and praise. There is so much pain in this life and yet there is also so much for which I have hope. I don’t hope to be rich. I don’t hope to be powerful. I don’t hope to have a mansion, or a large following, or even to be happy.
I hope for completion…something which cannot happen in this life, but my relationship with my Creator assures me of it when He returns or chooses to bring me home.
In any case, I have been using the Psalms as a guide to learn how to pray and give praise. As in all things when it comes to God, it’s always about the relationship.
Attached is my attempt at an interlinear study starting with Psalm 73. I hope to complete all of the Psalms of Asaph and collect them in to a volume. But for now I’m happy to share this with you.
Sidebar: if any of you readers out there happen to be acquainted with Hebrew and spot a need for correction, don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the contact page.
“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.” ~Victor Hugo
This week will be a big week. Not only will my grandfather’s funeral be on this Thursday, February 20th, but it will also mark 40 days since our home was flooded and we have been displaced as a family.
Home flood? Yes that’s right. Our home was flooded on January 11th, as I woke up to walking on wet carpet at around 2:00am. Currently our home is unlivable as the floors, ceilings and walls have been torn apart. The source of the flood seemed to stem from our clothes washer, which is located on the second floor, so when it leaked everything got hit. Our insurance placed us in a hotel for a month and then recently transferred us last week into an apartment, which doesn’t bode well as it tells me that these repairs are going to take a lot of time.
Many tears have been shed as frustrations continue to mount. Caity and I recognize that so many things have been systematically taken away from us in this last year. Currently we are without internet at our apartment, and so even being able to do something so simply as check email, write a blog post, or even apply for a new job have become that much more challenging. We finally recognize the reason for it all: we are being trained to trust and rely solely on Jesus Christ and his provision and direction for our lives.
Then this last week I received the news that my grandfather, Donald Patten, was not doing well and certain to be on his way into the arms of Jesus. I hadn’t seen grandpa in quite some time. Truth be told, he had been mentally absent for quite some time due to alzheimer’s and so visiting him just seemed burdensome. Then to place on top of that some of the hard feelings I had carried over the years toward him for certain scars made it even more difficult. It wasn’t until I walked into his room, and I could see how fragile he’d become, withered to bones, that my heart melted and I was reminded how fragile we all are. I sat next to his bed and I did the unexpected…I asked for his forgiveness for my anger toward him, and then I thanked him for the many, many things that he did well during his life. Grandpa taught me how to work hard, to believe in my creativity, and he imparted a strong spiritual heritage to his children and grandchildren.
And then on the morning of February 11th, grandpa passed away into glory.
It feels like we are in the center of a spiritual struggle. Every area of our lives feels pressed in upon. Emotionally. Physically. Financially. Relationally. Exhaustion is our regular state of existence. Yet as for Caity and me, it is our response that reveals the standing of our hearts. We are weary but we are willing to follow Jesus…no matter where He goes. He is the way, and will be the only way to guiding us through the dark paths of our current valley.
Caity and I have committed to do God’s will His way, however meandering the path. To stop complaining and submit to His authority in every circumstance will be our mark. To show up and do our daily tasks with a steadfast determination, no matter now humiliating, will be done only with the strength of Christ, who empowers us both to endure and do all things. Alone and on our own, we can do nothing and will remain stuck. Jesus Christ is calling out. He is saying “I am the way…”
SED EGO DIGREDIENDUM