Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Inception Exception (Level 2)

Have you ever been blitzed by a crazy dream barrage…

If so, let’s just say I can definitely relate the way this month has gone.

Granted, I could spill all the gory details; however, I figured I’d revisit a series started a couple years back instead, considering I did hint at a sequel then…plus I’m trying to be more intentional about finishing my “to be continued” posts these days.

With that said…

…as some of you may recall from my first ‘Inception’ post1...in every mind there's a unique set of acceptances, whether true or false, real or unreal. But regardless of their potential, the truth (or lack thereof) behind them as well as their origin can have an immense influence on what is believed and how it manifests.

Thus, when we apply this concept to our dreams, we find while the content may not be real, what can be realized from it certainly is…

…which brings me to why I’m writing this series: that we’ll be able to discern God’s heart as we press through the random reveries and nightmares of life2.


So there I was…in my cul-de-sac of vulnerability…suddenly surrounded by unfamiliar faces wearing suits I used to know.

I knew where I was…I just didn’t know…basically anything else.  

Who were these people conversing around me? And forget where am I…freakin’ when am I?

Am I waking up in the past…the present? Am I here to catch a glimpse of what’s to come…or worse…what could have been? 

Duh, duh, duhhhhh…

And dadgum, subconscious, simmer down! Who said you could be this hyperactive architect anyway?

Well, eventually, the construction pace slows and I’m able to find a picnic table to gather myself. Shortly after, a stranger approaches me like a Mormon walking up to his first house3. It’s here when I realize this guy is a part of Campus Choir, Lee University’s touring ensemble (or ”worship fraternity” as I like to call).

Now, before I continue, allow me to shed some context.

In short, my time at Lee, especially the first semester as a Campus Choir member, was a particularly painful episode in my life. While I learned some valuable lessons in hearing the voice of God…and what it means to be completely reliant, the rejection and ostracization proved too much for me to handle at the time…and the trickle-down effect would culminate in the dark years that followed4.

So for me to be met with any positive interaction from a Campus Choir colleague, I mean…if there was any doubt I was dreaming…this was the confirmation.

But as it turned out, not only did I end up enjoying a pleasant talk with my new dream friend…but would engage a few more before I found myself in Michigan reconciling with two former (real-life) friends who had fallen off the radar a couple years later.

You talk about a “dream tour”! Man…

…it’s like the dream was a walk-through of what should have happened as God intended.

Of course, I had to confront the contrast between what happened in the dream versus what happened in reality upon waking up; however, as the day went on, I couldn’t help but feel refreshed the more I processed.

Seriously…it was like God went all Dom Cobb/Ariadne on me and plunged into the depth of my subconscious to help me realize how…

a) People can (and often do) change over time
b) People can (and often do) move on…though not always the right way...
c) …but even if they don’t, I don’t have to worry about it because...
d) …I’m loved and forgiven…and in general, an awesome guy with a great heart and personality to match…regardless of what others think/say (or rather have thought/have said). Thus, I can trust in trusting God knowing He’s always faithful to illuminate the right path and deal with all our issues5 in His perfect timing.

How great is our God who takes upon our woundedness, our scars, and our master list of embarrassing moments…so He can shine His perspective through the lens He applies to them.

I’m telling you friends: We don’t need a totem6 to find security and comfort. ‘Cause truth is: God not only sets things right…but He makes it real to us.
All that to say: Sorry, Cobb. While you do amazing work, my God is (and will always be) the best inceptor of them all.

Stay tuned next time when I’ll drill down on how we can better recognize and understand what God’s telling us through our dreams.

Footnotes

1) Granted, the first installment was written way back on 5/30/14 (so totally okay if you don’t remember ;)
2) Whether real or imagined
3) Just sub small talk for Mormon Bible
4) Click here for my testimony
5) Lies we’ve received and believed, gossip/slander, stubbornness, unbelief, etc.
6) A totem is an object that is used to test if oneself is in one's own reality (dream or non-dream) and not in another person's dream. A totem has a specially modified quality (such as a distinct weight, balance, or feel) in the real world, but in a dream of someone who does not know it well, the characteristics of the totem will very likely be off

Photo creds: f1.bcbits.com & flickr.com

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Purifying our Thought Life (Part 1)

Last month, we started an intro discussion on how to purify our priorities and how we discover more of God’s desires as we love at all costs. Today I want to continue in the same vain, but switch gears slightly by exploring ways we can purify our thought life.

But before I dive in, let me just say…I may have gotten a little ahead of myself in writing that last post. ‘Cause while godly resolutions are certainly worth discussing, if we don’t have that foursquare foundation (i.e. mind, heart, soul, strength) set and surrendered, then we’ll likely find it difficult to live how we want to live/how we’re called to live when we reach the crossroads of life…

…which brings me to why I’m writing this…

…that no matter where we find ourselves, we’ll be reminded how the greatest battle is the one unseen1

With that said, here are three (of many) ways to purify your “thought life”.

1) Pay Attention

As obvious as this may sound, it bears mention at the #1 spot ‘cause…let’s face it: it’s hard to change something you’re not aware of.  Thankfully, when we pay close attention to our thought life, it’s not long before we’re able to identify those patterns and triggers that shape the framework of what we believe and how we behave.

For example, one of my guilty thought habits in recent years has been to focus on people who’ve hurt me whenever I work out.  More often than not, I’ll be running along rockin’ out to my jams only to hit a burst of energy as I indulge the idea of proving them wrong.

Now, as a runaholic, I can appreciate the extra bounce in my step; however, as I recently realized, whatever “benefit” is gained on behalf of vain fantasy is worth giving up for the sake of thinking like Jesus. After all, it was him who regularly taught how a person’s thoughts determine who that person is.

In my case, I was taking past pain and projecting it into fiction so I could somehow feel “un-rejected” and appreciated; however, if only I hadn’t engaged the pattern to the point it matured into habit, perhaps it’d be easier for me to trust God as far as who He says I am today.

Bottom line: Before we can take action on purifying a thought pattern, we first must be made aware of it. Only then can we begin to proactively renew our minds.

2) Pray Attention

While recognizing growth potential is certainly freeing, it’s not until we encounter that growth that we experience freedom. That’s why I submit the best way to boost awareness into action is through prayer. ‘Cause as it pertains to our thoughts, if we are willing to take our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and submit them to the authority of Christ, we’ll inevitably discover the joy in repentance…not to mention being transparent and vulnerable before the Lord.

Think of it like this: your mind is a spiritual battleground where evil forces combat agents of light every day. If you know your mind is being pursued, you wouldn’t want to leave it unprotected, right?

So how then must we defend it?

By declaring the Word through prayer2! See…this is why knowing and meditating on the Word of God is so important…’cause if you’re fearless and faithful to cover yourself in prayer…then you can ultimately experience the wonder-working power of God’s truths transforming that foursquare foundation we mentioned earlier.

Bottom line: By purifying your thought life through prayer, you put yourself in position for His thoughts to become your thoughts.



3) Stand at Attention

As great as prayer is, purifying your thought life doesn’t end there. Yes, catching bad thoughts and making them obedient to Christ is important, but it’s not until this exchange becomes a daily pattern that we begin to see heart + mind + soul-change.

Thus, if we want to seal the deal in purifying our thought life, we must be committed to stand at attention…at all times (Ephesians 6:14-17, 1 Corinthians 16:13). Only then can we truly pull our negative thinking out by the roots.

Bottom line: Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” ~ Abraham Lincoln3
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In closing, I encourage you to put these three steps into motion the way God has you.

Just make sure that whatever route you choose, you...
* Consider your goals...
* Create a game-plan...
* ...and close out by praying over it/submitting it to God so He can breathe over your good intentions with His intentions.

Remember: the world’s counsel will try to distract you from bad thoughts4, but through Christ, you can defeat and conquer them.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the permanent solution all day, every day.

Stay tuned next time when we'll go one step further in troubleshooting some of the more stubborn, resilient thought patterns. In the meantime, if any of this resonates with you, feel free to shoot a comment below.

Peace...
~ Cameron 
Footnotes

1) A notion completely contrarian to what we find embedded within our fragile, postmodern world
2) Seriously…if you were ever looking for a weapon that never fails…Word-fused prayer is it
3) Think of points #1 and #2 as getting your feet in the right place…and #3 as “stand firm”
4) Like yoga, journaling (which isn’t bad unless it’s an ends to a mean itself), Oprah’s “no-nonse strategies”, etc.

Photo creds: cutwatersolutions.com & fbccov.org

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.