Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interpreting By Day What God Speaks By Night

My friend Steve Maddox told me he was setting up outreach events at Borders Books. He arranged to offer free dream interpretation, and would spend the afternoon at Borders talking to people about their dreams.

I thought to myself, "I can do that."

Over the years people would share their dreams with me, and then ask what I thought they might mean. Often I would be rather dumbfounded that they asked, because any dream which had some sense of divine meaning (which certinaly is not all of them!) seemed so obvious to me. If dream interpretation was something which came natural to me, perhaps it was a gift - like Daniel who was able to interpret dreams better than all the kings magicians and astrologers.

Five years earlier I had been at a pastor's conference. Ed Silvoso was the main speaker, and I happened to sit with him at breakfast one morning of the conference. Ed and I talked. I told him my story: how I moved to Salem, Massachusetts from California to plant a church, how I had studied about Neo-Paganism, and how I had come to know some of the Witches in our city as friends. Ed remarked that Daniel was assigned the position as the chief of the occultists in Babylon by the king, because he did "the stuff" better than they did. Daniel was the head pastor of the Witches, he said.

After breakfast Ed spoke at the morning session. He retold my story to the conferencees, and told a room full of over 500 of my peers that I was a pastor to the Witches in Salem, like Daniel was a pastor to the Witches in Babylon. He spoke in a prophetic tone, the kind which only comes from Pentecostals.

Until recently I did not realize how much these two stories have merged into one long, wild tale.

I am convinced that my friends who are involved in the occult yearn as deeply for the graceful power which comes from God's good hand as I do. Healing, miracles, and prophetic utterances of promise and grace are things they want for their own lives just as much as I do. Of course, their pursuit of these things has taken a different path than my own, but perhaps like Daniel, there is power in my journey with Jesus, which can speak gracefully into their lives.

I thought about interpreting dreams like my friend Steve was doing at Borders Books as I was preparing for the month long Halloween season in Salem, and I decided it was time to give this a try.

We made up our signs. We put out our tents. People began to stand in line, just like they do every year we set out our ministry tents.

One evening close to Halloween itself, a young man in an elegant, long black ceremonial cape stood in line with his friends. I had trained a few people to interpret dreams that year, and was taking a break from the tent, and keeping the line outside the tent door happy. The caped man and I began to talk. He discovered I was a pastor, and we discussed the differences between his Pagan path, and my Christian worldview in friendly terms. For the most part I asked questions, and he answered them. He believed the spiritual realm was a helpful, friendly place. If he asked for guidance and help it would not lead him astray.

After talking for some time, he asked about the dream interpretation, and wondered if I interpreted dreams. I told him I did. He told me his dream.

He and his friends were in Red Rock, Colorado. It is a New Age "hot spot," a natural amphitheater, and beautiful concert venue. After some time of being there, black helicopters came racing over the hills, and began to shoot at he and his friends. Some of them died. Others were severly wounded. He and one other friend were able to escape into nearby caves, and hide from the helicopters. Then the dream ended.

"What do you think this means?" he asked.

I looked at him, and paused simply because my response was one of importance. Then I said, "The spiritual realm is not always benign, sometimes it is malignant and harmful."

The young man gasped out loud. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "You are so right!"

I had not thrown Bible verses at him to prove from a scriptural standpoint that demons existed, and spiritual deception was real. This was a young man who had studied religions, and understood many of the basics of Christianity. He had rejected the Christianity he was familiar with, and adopted another religious view, but his rejection of the Bible did not mean that he rejected all spiritual voices. He took stock in his own dreams, and that evening his dreams and my Christian worldview met.

Where he would not listen to the Bible, he would listen to his dreams, and the God Whom I believe wrote the words of scripture had visited his head by night.

Since that evening I have wondered how many non-Christians are visited by God in the night. After four seasons of interpreting dreams I have discovered that there are more people visited by God than I can possibly know. Perhaps He comes in dreams, perhaps in life experiences, or perhaps in words of power and grace. He visits them by night, and I believe that He waits for us to help interpret the wild variety of those visitations by day. I also believe that He is giving us the charisma to do so, and to speak prophetically into their lives.

I have had Witches call me late at night to ask my advice, and guidance in times of trouble, but I do not think that I am anything special. I believe that there are more Daniels out there. There are more pastors to the people who are not found in our churches, but are still looking for God's guiding voice to speak into their lives.


Erin said...

Awesome, Phil....thanks so much for sharing that...encouraging to me. I have people close to me who are new-age and pagan and I have always felt God probably spoke to them in dreams, but have always been told "not so".

Pastor Phil said...

We have found many examples of it. I am certain God loves people so much He will speak in whatever manner they will receive it.

Of course, this does not negate the idea that there are other voices out there. It simply allows that God os God and can do what He wants.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story.

I'm curious though, have you ever written anything about your approach to dream interpretation and your understanding of what it involves/how it "works"? It's something I've been curious to learn more about since you first mentioned you and others in your church do dream interpretation.

Pastor Phil said...

We teach it, and I have outlines about it, but I have written it out yet. I suppose me must do soon.

cern said...

'I am certain God loves people so much He will speak in whatever manner they will receive it.'

Oh dear. That is sounding an awful lot like something I've been saying for a while. Who stole my bro Pastor Phil? ;) Ok, so we differ slightly in our interpretation. But I also agree about the 'other voices' bit. I probably have a slightly different perspective on that too. But as a Neo-Shaman you'd expect that to be the case. :)



Jenelle said...

I like to pray for God to show up to impossible people in their dreams. Wake up the Daniels!

I dig that Ed S. used you as a nice example in front of that conference.

Pastor Phil said...

Cerny bro,

Don't fall asleep you might hear my interpretation by night! Bwa-ha-ha! :-)

Pastor Phil said...

Jeanelle - good prayer methinks.

Kay said...

"The Tent"