A Dream Interpretation Exercise (Part 2)

Imagem739-1In the last post, I shared a dream, and asked you to take time to seek God for the interpretation of it. If you haven’t already done that, please take time to read the dream and pray for revelation of its meaning before continuing.

I stated that this is a dream for me personally, but it also has a more universal message. Let’s concern ourselves with the general message.

The dream is a story of spiritual warfare, with the bad man portraying the devil and his forces. It is not literally about the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. The setting is a large international house of prayer to show that spiritual warfare is common to all of us. And spiritual warfare involves prayer.

Scene 1:

The struggle taking place in the basement indicates to me spiritual warfare on a foundational level. Because I am alone with the bad man, it also tells me that this portion of the dream is about individual spiritual warfare.

Handguns tell me that I was engaged in a serious struggle — life and death, even.

Although I was unable to overcome at first, the enemy did not get my treasure. As I thought on this, I was persistently reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:5-7:

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord …. For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

An Application: Our most precious treasure is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The enemy wants to steal our intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus and all that goes with knowing Him. Our relationship with Jesus is our foundation for all else in our Christian life. Sometimes we are not completely victorious in our faith, even getting beat up here and there, but we must hold onto our treasure at all costs. (Indeed, the Lord will help us to do this. He is ever mindful of keeping us. He will not allow the enemy to snatch us from Him.)

Eventually, I was able to completely overcome the enemy who was assailing me. This speaks of the ongoing spiritual warfare in which we engage. We learn to become seasoned warriors, who grow ever stronger as we abide in Christ, so that eventually, we win the war.

Scene 2:

The transition between Scenes 1 and 2 is where I run up the stairs. Going upstairs can mean promotion, or going to another level. In this dream, I felt that the Lord brought “expansion” to mind in connection with the stairs. The story is going to a higher level, or “expanding” beyond talking about individual spiritual warfare to corporate warfare. The focus has shifted.

I tell the security guards that the bad man locked in the basement has already killed five people from the house of prayer. “Five” is generally accepted as the number of grace and/or service (because of the five-fold ministry gifts of service provided to the Church to perfect (equip) the saints (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

Some applications:

  1. John 10:10 tells us that the devil’s purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy. (He wanted to kill me and steal my treasure, and he had killed five people.)
  2. The devil is out to stop the five-fold work of equipping the Church to effectively carry out our mission.
  3. He is also out to stop prayer. (The killings had taken place at the house of prayer.) One of the ways he does that is by killing our perception of God’s grace (“5″ = “grace”), so that we become so shame-filled that we feel unworthy to pray, or worry that because we are not perfect, God won’t answer us.

The security guards symbolize prophetic intercessors — the “watchmen on the walls,” in biblical terminology. This is indicated by what their job function is and where they work — the house of prayer.

Uniform color: The color of the guards’ uniforms is significant. When colors stand out in dreams, it usually means they are an important detail.

Blue, in my dreams, usually has to do with the prophetic gifts. But their uniforms are specifically baby blue, indicating that they are as yet inexperienced or immature in their role. They have been equipped with rifles and with the training they would need to use them, but they are afraid — because they have never had to handle this level of security problem before.

An application: Intercessors, like security guards, are official protectors — hence, they possess authority. Their authority is in the prophetic realm (indicated by the blue uniforms) and it is authority wielded through prayer. By listening to the Lord and receiving prophetic revelation from Him, intercessors are able to protect others by praying into what God shows them. This can involve praying for individuals, all the way up to international affairs.

Seeing the security guards’  fear, I go for help. Calling 911 indicates to me a calling out in prayer for help from the Lord for reinforcements.

I asked the Lord why, in the first part of the dream, handguns were involved, but in the second part, the security guards had rifles. Handguns indicate personal, up-close warfare. But the security guards, representing prophetic intercessors, had weapons for dealing with a situation from a sharpshooter’s perspective. As intercessors, we deal with events in others’ lives from afar (through prayer).

Summary application: God has already fully equipped us and given us His authority to carry on the warfare of the Kingdom successfully. He has given us the Holy Spirit and the sword of the Spirit (His Word) to accomplish our task. Just as the security guards had been trained in the use of their guns, we should become adept in using the Word of God and whatever the Spirit reveals to us to successfully take down the plans of the devil. We should not tremble or hesitate. The authority of heaven backs us up.

The reality is, though, that it takes time for us to become seasoned. In the first scene of the dream, I failed to completely overcome at first, but later on succeeded. The security guards in the second part of the dream felt their inexperience, and needed help from reinforcements. I think there are two messages simultaneously showing up here:

  1. We really do need to recognize that we have been fully equipped and can overcome.
  2. God is available to back us up. We can call upon Him to send us help from heaven, so that we can entirely win our battles.

Was this dream and its interpretation of any help to you? How did you do, as you practiced interpreting it? Do you have any additional insights? Leave them as a comment. I have not covered every detail, and your input may further help me to understand my dream.

Dream Interpretation Exercise (Part 1)

A Dream Interpretation Exercise

Imagem739-1Over time, I have written quite a bit about dreams and their interpretations here at Out of the Fire. Some dreams are very literal and to the point. Little interpretation is needed, because we immediately understand their meanings. However, many dreams are symbolic, and therefore not very useful in their raw form. We need to interpret them and then be able to apply the interpretation, in order to get the maximum benefit from them.

In Genesis 41, we read of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams of the fat and lean cattle and the plump and blighted heads of grain. The story reveals three sequential parts of hearing from the Lord through dreams:

  1. Pharaoh tells Joseph the actual dream – vs. 17-24
  2. Joseph tells Pharaoh what the dream represents and who it concerns, which is the interpretation – vs. 25-32
  3. Finally, Joseph suggests to Pharaoh an appropriate response to the dream, which is the application. – vs. 33-36.

The application lets us know more than what the symbols mean. It often answers the question, “So, what do I do about it?” Interpretation can be difficult, but application is by far the most challenging part of understanding our dreams.

We need the Lord for all three parts: He is the Originator of the dream, He is the only One Who can give us the correct interpretation, and we also receive the application as revelation from Him. Dreams are communion between the Spirit of God and our spirit. Therefore, our intellect, which is part of our soul (not our spirit) is incapable of correctly understanding a dream to its fullest extent. If we try to figure out our dreams by our intellect, we will make grave mistakes.

When Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am told you can understand a dream to interpret it,” Joseph replied, “It is not in me. God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (vs. 15, 16). In other words, Joseph knew he must depend upon God, rather than any mental abilities, logic, or talents he possessed, to obtain correct understanding of the dream.

I’d like to offer those of you who are interested in understanding dreams an opportunity to walk through one of my recent dreams with me. We will do this in two parts. In this post, I’ll tell you the dream — which is the raw data, the facts.

Dreams can have several layers of meaning or application, and I believe this one is personal to me, but also has a universal application. See if you can find that general meaning.

The dream:

I was in a basement room at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I was holding a metal box, and in it was a treasure. An evil-looking man attacked me, trying to take my treasure. I scuffled with him once, getting beat up in the process, and my attacker overcame me. But although I was not able to prevail against the man, I was still able to hang onto my treasure.

A little later on, the evil man attacked me again, in an effort to steal my treasure. We both had handguns. I don’t remember any actual shooting going on, but we did a lot of physical grappling in the course of the struggle. This time, I completely overcame him. I managed to lock him in the basement room, and then I escaped.

I ran up a set of stairs, and at the top, I immediately saw three security guards (one woman and two men) who worked for the house of prayer. They were dressed in baby blue, jumpsuit uniforms.

I told them that a man who had killed five people in the past at the house of prayer was downstairs, armed, locked in a room.

Although the security guards carried rifles, I could see that they were very afraid about having to deal with this. So, I asked the woman guard, who was at the top of the stairs, if she would like me to call 911 to get the police, and she said yes.

I went to a nearby office to get access to a telephone, and the dream ended with me calling 911. As I was making the call, I felt frustrated that the security guards had not been able to take care of the situation. I was concerned that the bad guy might escape through a basement window, because dealing with him was taking too long.

__________________

Now that you’ve read the dream, take time to ponder it. Ask the Lord to show you what the overall message is, and also what the individual symbols speak of. Wait on Him for answers. Let Him apply Scripture to it. Keep coming back to it, asking for revelation.

When you think you have received what the symbols in the dream mean, write them down and keep them for later discussion.

In the next post, I will share with you my interpretations of some of the symbols showing up, and also some applications I see. At that time I invite you to share via a comment whatever God has revealed to you about the dream.

I hope you will have fun with this!

Part 2 — The Interpretation

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 8)

propheticperspectiveI’d like to close this series by mentioning a few extremes which can cause us to become unbalanced or skewed in our prophetic perspective. I sometimes run into enthusiastic people who think everything is prophetic. No, it’s not. Not everything which happens is symbolic; not everything has a spiritual implication. Some things just are what they are, without being a message from God.

More than once, I have been dismayed to see “prophecies” based on sporting events – the Super Bowl or World Series, for instance. Significance is attributed to the teams’ names, the colors they wear, and the numbers on the backs of the star players. Based on the outcome of the game, predictions are made for the coming year. This is weird — very weird — and yet Super Bowl divination seems to be a temptation among prophetic people.

A few years ago, a major bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. For several weeks, prophetic posts flew in all directions about what that event meant in the spirit realm. Can catastrophic events carry spiritual significance? Absolutely! But not all of them do, and sometimes the conclusions people draw from them, especially when prophesying into the future, are coming from their own imaginations.

Some people have come up with prophetic messages based on natural markings on animals which resemble various symbols. Let me just say that a pinto horse bearing a spot which resembles a map of Russia does not mean God is warning of a coming invasion. Horses and cows regularly have markings on their faces resembling lightning bolts. These are not warnings of judgments coming from heaven. That goes for star-shaped markings (not a prophetic sign that an asteroid is going to hit the earth), or patches which resemble numbers. Calling such phenomena prophetic signs is silly.

Don’t try to force the prophetic. In these last days, signs will appear in the heavens, and one day Jesus Himself will be seen coming in the clouds, but don’t try to find spiritual meaning in every cloud or etched on every doorknob.

Don’t follow signs. Follow Jesus. If you follow Him, signs and wonders will accompany you, as you proclaim Him. If you follow signs, you will just get goofy — because your focus will be in the wrong place. You will always need something new to dazzle you more than the last wonder you experienced.

Let’s recap what we’ve talked about in this series. If we want to increase in our ability to view life from God’s vantage point we can do that by:

1.)  Slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, so that we can listen to what God has to say. (“What do You want me to learn from Your Word today, Lord?” “What’s on Your heart today?”)

2.)  Asking for God’s counsel in sticky situations and then waiting for Him to reveal His solutions, rather than forging ahead in our own understanding. (“What would You say or do, if You were in my shoes, Jesus?”)

3.) Asking what is really going on beneath the surface in perplexing events, and what He is up to in the midst of them. (“Lord, why is this REALLY happening, and how do You want to work good out of it?”)

4.)  Listening to our inner peace barometer — receiving guidance through peace or the lack of it. (“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” — Colossians 3:15.)

5.)  Paying attention to possible divine connections — unlikely people God brings into our lives to speak into us or assist us in some way.

6.)  Noticing repeated pieces of information showing up — through things people say, songs we hear, words or phrases which we zero in on.

7.)  Tuning in to connections God makes in our spirit between bits and pieces of seemingly unrelated information. God will suddenly “connect the dots” between them in our understanding, so that we know what He is up to.

8.)  Paying attention to weaknesses in ourselves, which God brings to light — sometimes in our thoughts, sometimes through other people — so that He can cleanse us of attitudes and wrong perspectives we were not aware we harbored.

9.)  Listening to other people’s perspectives so that the Lord can expand our horizons and show us angles we had not previously considered.

10.)  Listening to others through a 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 filter. Ask God to help you see past surface words to what is behind them. (We then use what He shows us to help bring healing to people’s hearts.)

11.)  Waiting for the Lord to reveal things to us, rather than trying to come up with prophetic revelation by our own effort. (Less is more: go for quality, rather than quantity.)

Here is a link to a wonderful article by Francis Frangipane, which very much ties in with what I have written about in this series — What Does Jesus Say?

Previous — Part 7

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 7)

propheticperspectiveAs you pursue living from a prophetic perspective, you will be surprised by things the Lord pulls up out of your own heart, which you didn’t know were there — fears, insecurities, idolatries, prejudices, attitudes, and offenses you didn’t know you harbored. This is part of the process He uses to propel us higher into His vantage point.

Our natural minds are like muddy streams, full of impurities, and we’ve been living in the murk for so long that we are not even aware of it. The Holy Spirit reveals our weaknesses so that He can clean us up. If we cooperate with Him in the cleansing process, our “stream” becomes crystal clear. We can see the way He sees and hear the way He hears.

As the Lord brings these impurities to our consciousness, rather than resisting His promptings or being horribly ashamed of ourselves, we can simply give them to Him, repent, and let Him fix them. You might pray something like, “Father, I didn’t know that was in me! Please forgive me, and change my heart. Remove any distortion from my thinking which colors how I view life, myself, and others.” As we humble ourselves and ask for His help, He is faithful to make the necessary changes inside of us.

Let the Lord use other people to show you weak areas in your life, too. We all have blind spots about ourselves — but people close to us have no problem seeing where adjustments need to be made. Although it is painful to admit we’re not perfect, having the courage to listen and to be willing to change takes us higher into who we are meant to be. The less we fight it, the faster we get there! Coming into seeing from the Lord’s viewpoint involves discipline, refining, and humbling.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Throughout this series, we’ve talked about listening to the Lord in various ways. We can also come up into God’s thinking by learning to listen to people. Listening carefully is a lost art in itself, which we really should attempt to re-cultivate.  But if we are to be truly prophetic people, we must learn to listen at a deeper level, through the ears of the Spirit, to what others are saying.

God always looks past the surface appearance to the heart. We can learn to listen to people’s hearts too, and in doing so, we become like Him.

I am convinced that much of the fragmentation which exists in the Body of Christ stems from jumping to conclusions about what our brothers and sisters are saying, missing the real meaning, and then developing bad opinions and feelings about them based on inaccurate hearing of the intent of their words. If we will make an effort to listen thoughtfully and ask questions when we do not understand one another, we will hear differently. In listening with the ear of the Holy Spirit, we are required to apply the charitable love criteria laid out in 1 Corinthians 13.

Step one of listening to people’s hearts is getting past hearing their outward words in order to understand the motives behind the words. But it must go deeper still. Even wrong motives may be spawned by a cry for help or love which needs to be responded to even more than the motive itself does. A motive is often a symptom of a deeper root which needs to be dealt with. It takes patience and careful probing to get at what is in the heart. But if we will take the time to do it, asking the Lord to give us His ear, God will be able to use us to bring healing to hurting people.

In our next post, we’ll deal with some prophetic perspective “don’ts” and conclude by summarizing the main points of this series.

Previous: Part 6  

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 6)

propheticperspectiveIn previous posts in this series, we talked about gaining a prophetic perspective by

1.)  Slowing down in prayer and Bible reading, so that we can listen to what God has to say.

2.)  Asking for God’s counsel in sticky situations and then waiting for Him to reveal His solutions, rather than forging ahead in our own understanding.

3.)  Asking Him what is really going on beneath the surface in perplexing events, and what He is up to in the midst of them.

Another factor in gaining prophetic perspective is learning to pay attention to our inner peace barometer. Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts ….”

Peace, or the lack of it, is one of the most common methods the Holy Spirit uses to impart His guidance to us. If we will practice listening to the peace level we have within, we will gain a lot of ground in obtaining God’s vantage point on given situations we face. You may have a seemingly great opportunity present itself, which your rational mind says you would be a fool to pass up, and yet if the inner peace is missing in your spirit, it is a big clue that God is not in the opportunity. Conversely, through a deep-seated sense of peace, the Lord might lead you into an adventure which is entirely His will, but which outwardly looks quite risky. The rule of peace in our hearts is a mighty tool to help us move with God.

We can also increase prophetic perspective by learning to watch for divine connecting-of-the-dots moments we experience. Many people we cross paths with are God-placed connections — people whom we would not expect to be so. We may have a seemingly random conversation with someone, and even think afterwards, “What was that all about?” At exactly the right time somewhere down the road, God will recall that conversation to our memory to assist us in finding His plan.

Here’s a personal example, from about fifteen years ago:

A friend and I were chatting, and she mentioned a surgeon who had operated on both a family member and a friend. Although he had done general surgeries for them, she happened to say that his specialty was intestinal surgeries. Without knowing why, I thought about the conversation a few times after that.

Some months later, my husband was diagnosed with a large tumor in his digestive tract. Any of the general surgeons in our city would have been willing to operate on him, but the name of this particular doctor immediately was recalled to my mind. I felt certain it was the Lord’s leading, and we requested that he do the surgery. Through a random conversation, we acquired the best possible doctor — the only intestinal surgery specialist in our area. (And my husband is completely well today.)

Another way the Lord guides us into His perspectives is by connecting the dots in our thoughts between isolated bits of information. We suddenly have an understanding that multiple seemingly unrelated memories or ideas coming to mind are all part of one big jigsaw puzzle. By themselves, the pieces have little meaning, but when they are joined together, they indicate what God is doing or planning to do. This coming together of the pieces does not happen through logic, because our intellect would not be able to see the connections. It happens by the Holy Spirit interacting with our spirit.

Pay attention to repeat pieces of information which surface, perhaps through conversations, news articles, songs, sermons, prayers, etc. This is still another way God gets His thoughts across to us. What doesn’t make an impression the first time around eventually gets through to us through God-orchestrated repetition.

Once again, it is all a matter of listening for the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit. He occasionally drops revelation into us like a thunderbolt, but most of the time He speaks through quieter methods, so that we will learn to be intimate with Him. Learning to listen to His small nudges is part of the exciting adventure of coming to know Him deeply. Are you ready for the journey with Him?

Previous: Part 5
Next: Part 7

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 5)

propheticperspectiveWhen I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. – Psalm 73:16, 17

In Psalm 73, we have the story of a man who was perplexed and discouraged by unjust things he saw going on around him. Wicked men were oppressing the weak and boasting about it. They committed violent acts, opposed God, and made life miserable for righteous people. Yet they lived prosperously, their crimes went unchecked, and it seemed to the psalm writer as if God was oblivious to what was going on.

We live in such a world today. Injustice abounds, heinous crimes against humanity are committed, perversion runs rampant and is called normal, racism and anti-Semitism are on the rise. Evil is celebrated, and goodness is declared to be evil. And God’s people are persecuted for standing for Jesus and biblical truth.

In the midst of it all, it is easy to become frustrated, discouraged, fearful, or bitter. As a result, many who call themselves Christians are lashing out in response to what they see happening around them. They release angry, hate-filled words, not realizing that they have lowered themselves to the same level as those with whom they are so frustrated.

Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, discovered a better way. “I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” In other words, when he took the time to be with the Lord, to listen to Him and inquire of Him, he gained God’s vantage point. He remembered that the Lord is just, and that He will not always allow the wicked to get away with evil.

We can do likewise. When tumultuous events go on around us, we can enter into the secret place of God’s Presence and ask Him to show us what is happening beneath the surface.

“Lord, where are You in all this?” “Why did You allow this?” “How do You see this event?” “I see only senseless tragedy here, but what do You see?” “God, it looks like we have lost the battle. Is there some way You are going to bring good out of this?”

As we inquire of Him, He will give us His perspective, so that we can pray rightly. God’s viewpoint, when revealed, is often quite surprising. His big-picture purposes in how events play out are beyond what we could ever figure out on our own. He will always take whatever the devil means for harm to bring about righteous justice. Romans 8:28 alludes to this principle: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Furthermore, the devil and people he controls are mere pawns on God’s chessboard to bring His ultimate checkmate. The Lord sometimes uses evil events to bring hidden wounds to the surface so that they can be healed. He can then set things right in a greater way than if everything had simply sailed along smoothly.

When the Lord opens our understanding to see into His purposes, fear departs, hope arises in our hearts, and we gain fresh courage to partner with Him in higher-level intercession.

I encourage you to take your perplexities before the Lord. Ask Him to open your eyes to see as He sees. He will show you His plan and His prayer strategies. You will become a fearless overcomer, who cannot be shaken by what is going on in the natural world around you.

Previous — Part 4
Next — Part 6

Living from a Prophetic Perspective (Part 4)

propheticperspectiveSir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This principle applies not only to motion, but to how many of us respond when people or events cause us problems. We immediately push back. At the very least, we attempt to fix the situation in the quickest, most direct way possible. I am by nature that kind of person. I want to get to the point and fix things without wasting time dancing all over and around the issue.

There is a time and a place for direct action and speech, but I’ve noticed that the shortest route is quite often not God’s way. I am learning that most of the time I get better results by asking the Lord to give me His counsel on how to handle something, and then waiting until I hear back from Him about it. This is true in finding out how to pray into complex circumstances, but it is even more needful when dealing with people. I might have God’s overall mind on a matter, but not His specifics on how to take care of it. If I wait for His inspiration, He will show me a way I would never have thought of to achieve the desired end or to resolve an issue. Here is an example:

A prayer group my husband and I were leading ran into some problems with a person who was praying negatively.  She had a genuine concern, but due to heaviness of heart and frustration, her prayers were coming across as curses, rather than blessings, toward those she was praying for. Usually when something like this happens, we just try to steer prayer into a better direction without addressing the issue at all. Sometimes people simply get a little off here and there temporarily. But this was becoming an ongoing problem over a number of weeks, and we felt it was time to talk with the person about it.

I was thinking in terms of having to bring correction — not a pleasant thing to do! I didn’t want to hurt the lady’s feelings, and I didn’t want to drive her away from coming to the group. But it wasn’t healthy to let it go on any longer. I pleaded with the Lord, “Can’t You just speak to her about it? I don’t want to do this! Please, just make the problem go away!”

After several days of sweating it out in prayer, the Lord finally shared with me an approach which did not involve direct correction, and would actually be encouraging to the lady instead. He gave me an unusual, specific angle on how to pray into the very matter which was so frustrating to her.

I called her, shared with her that I had been praying about her concern and that I felt God had given me some light on how we could intercede differently and get the answers she desired. We had a powerful time of prayer together and then talked at length about the deeper purposes of God, with both of us being blessed by each other. Instead of causing hurt or anger, our conversation ended up bringing hope and bonding us closer together. I could never have thought up such an approach by myself, but the Lord knew all along exactly how to take care of it.

Sometimes, as I have sought God for how to tackle a problem, I have discovered that I really did not have God’s mind on the matter at all, although I started out feeling certain that I did.

Someone close to us was about to make a major decision which I did not feel was wise. It also had the potential to adversely affect our immediate family. I prayed about it  for several days, laying my concerns before the Lord and asking Him to help the person see that she was making a mistake.

To my surprise, He showed me that what I thought was an unwise decision was really His leading. The circumstances which seemed to my practical mind to be obvious signs that our loved one was making a mistake were indeed obstacles standing in the way, but not indicators that she was stepping out of His will. The hindrances simply needed His solutions. He then gave me some ideas about how they could be removed.

Had I spoken my mind before getting God’s vantage point, there would have been hurt and frustration between us. But by the time we chatted, we were able to discuss what could be done to make her dreams come true. We shared a happy conversation from a place of agreement.

These examples are meant to show that if we learn  to wait on the Lord before tackling problems, He will give us a higher perspective than we could ever imagine. He can help us to receive better solutions than we could achieve with our own thinking skills. We have to be willing to calm down and listen, but the results are rewarding. It’s even fun to see what He comes up with!

Previous — Part 3
Next — Part 5