Thinking Out Loud

March 16, 2017

Recurring Dreams

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:14 am

I suppose it’s appropriate that a faith-focused blogger should have recurring dreams about the church he attended through his teen years, and a Christian summer camp he worked at in his twenties. My dream rotation isn’t limited to those two themes; last night was the one where I’m back in my parent’s house/neighborhood, and then there are some work-related ones.

The church theme is the one which seems to recur most often. Each time it’s a variance on that church however; things are never exactly as they are in reality. In some the lobby is a cross between an airport terminal and a grand marketplace. The architecture of the place — which in real life is rather bland — is what features; there are very few impressions of the people I knew when I attended there.

The camp dream is similar in the sense it’s more of a presque vu than a déjà vu (and yes, I’m actually using the former incorrectly in terms of its common meaning, but I’m borrowing from an author whose name is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t think of it — an irony in this case.) There are features of the camp property that are similar to its real life situation, but certain factors are rearranged to make the building layout or topography different.

There’s never a nightmarish quality to these, or a message or a lesson. They are simply the ride my subconscious takes me on while I sleep; a movie with no tickets required and no popcorn. In the neighborhood dream last night I am further from home and having to ride my bicycle up a steep hill. Anyone want to have a go with that one? I’m not sure it’s terribly significant. 

Do you have a recurring dream theme? 

Do you look for messages in your dreams?

We have a great article on sleep at C201: 

Three well known Christian publishers have looked at the subject of dreams:

  • Cindy McGill and David Sluka’s What Your Dreams are Telling You: Unlocking Solutions While You Sleep was published in 2013 by Revell, a Baker Publishing Group company.
  • Ira L. Milligan’s Understanding the Dreams You Dream: Biblical Keys for Hearing God’s Voice in the Night was published in 2012 by Destiny Image Publishing, a charismatic publishing company. This theme occurs more frequently in charismatic writing and preaching.
  • Another Charismatic publishing house released Benny Thomas’ Exploring and Interpreting Dreams which was published in 2013 by Whittaker House.

We looked at sleep and dreams a few times here before:




January 29, 2016

Learn to Fly Again

Filed under: Christianity, personal — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:10 am

img 012816Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the day the space shuttle exploded. It paralleled how my life was going at the end of January 1986.

Just shortly after New Year’s Day, I had left for Southern California hoping to enter into a career in the management side of what was becoming known as Contemporary Christian Music. It was also the name of the magazine most associated with the genre, and I was being interviewed by a man I greatly respected for the job of Assistant Editor of that publication. While I didn’t have the proverbial “green card,” my knowledge of the business and experience as a music journalist were certainly in my favor. Besides, I had no moving costs, so what they were budgeting there could easily be switched over to the some relatively minor costs of getting my immigration status established.

But I didn’t get the job.

Undaunted, I went for an interview with a small independent record label. The guy running it could surely use my expertise and we’d worked together before.

But then I got a call that another record company executive wanted to speak with me. Three interviews in ten days, or so I thought. It turned out he wanted to tell me why I shouldn’t give up what I was doing in Toronto on the basis of the other company’s offer.

Wait, what? What was I doing in Toronto?

I was gigging from speaking engagements to youth group presentations of something called The Searchlight Video Roadshow. Me, some sound equipment, a by-today’s-standards primitive video projection system, and a bunch of Christian music videos. Part of the reason I flew back from Los Angeles on the 25th was to do a particularly important presentation of the show at the end of the month.

We had a contact at MuchMusic, which was the Canadian equivalent of MTV, and with its Latin, mass-inspired lyrics, the song “Kyrie” by Mister Mister was getting some crossover airplay on some edgier Christian radio stations. We asked our friend if he could dub us a “clean” copy of the song, as this would be a large group that had seen the show twice before, and we needed some new tunes.

At the last minute I asked him to include another Mister Mister song.

And then the Challenger blew up, 73 seconds into the flight.

While this affected everyone differently, the explosion seemed a metaphor for my life at that point. Three interviews in So. Cal. and no job. But it wasn’t about me.

As a peripatetic youth minister, I probably could have done more the night of the show to capture what the kids were thinking that night. It was a news cycle from which there was no escape; and that one of the astronauts was a teacher only added to the event’s proximity. Some youth pastors probably played to the emotion of the moment.

But we did one thing right that night, we played the other Mister Mister song. Take your broken wings, and learn to fly again. Not a Christian song exactly, but the right song for the right moment.

I spent the next weeks and months in a bit of a slump. My body was back in Toronto doing what I had been doing before, but my heart was in the editorial offices of CCM Magazine, or the management offices of the record company…

…Later that year I learned to fly again. In June, my own little music business made the largest individual sale we’ve ever made in 30 years. The same month I got invited to be the Staff Training Week speaker at a Christian summer camp, where I met the girl who just weeks later at Thanksgiving (plus one day) I would ask to marry me. The year ended quite differently than it had begun…

If you’re reading this in the middle of your own explosion, your own brokenness, take those broken wings and learn to fly again.

2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.




October 10, 2010

“He Will Not Give Me Children” — A Cry for Help

Reposted from October, 2008

Every married couple knows that sometimes marriage involves compromise. But what do you do when the will of one spouse trumps the deepest longings of the heart of the other?

If my wife and one of my sons wants KFC tonight, and my other son and I want Chinese, there are various solutions. Have one tonight, and the other tomorrow night. Go to a food court. Declare a draw and go out for burgers.

But what was I to do with the woman who suddenly blurted out after a dozen or more years of marriage, “He will not give me children.” She didn’t say, “I can’t get pregnant;” or “He can’t father a child;” she said “will not,” in a way that almost intoned, “Help me! Do something.”

Or the woman who came in my store and complained about her husband’s lack of sexual response — albeit caused by a major illness — and said, “A woman’s got needs, you know.” Or the woman who told me, “We haven’t taken a vacation in ten years.” Or the man who wishes his wife would spice things up a little in the bedroom. Or cook something other than Kraft Dinner. Or the woman who is stuck at home all day because he won’t buy an inexpensive second car. Or the man who has a chance at a job on the other side of the country, but she wants to be close to family.

There are times when one person’s desires and goals totally and completely triumphs over the other’s for an entire lifetime. It could come under the heading of compromise, yes; but with a clear winner and a clear loser. “Losing the battle, but winning the war;” doesn’t really describe the situation properly. If an individual desire of the one person is so central — such as the desire to have children — it’s more like a hurt that never goes away. You don’t get Chinese food or KFC the next day.

The question I want to ask the “HWNGMC” woman, but have always been afraid to is, “Did you know this before you got married?” Sigh.

This section was added today, October 10, 2010

Sometimes it seems areas of life end in a draw.

Around the same time as I wrote this, a local church was going through the issue of whether or not to have women as church elders.   The pastor was wise, and brought in two guest speakers for Sunday night workshops to discuss their side of the issue.

I sat there uncomfortably and finally decided to ask the second one what he felt the scriptural precedent was for resolving this kind of issue when both sides were presenting strong arguments.   He nicely dodged the question by saying it went outside his mandate, and that this was the whole purpose of our discussions.

It’s the same question in theology and doctrine in local churches as it is in marriage:  What do you do when you don’t know what to do?  When the debate seems to end in a draw?

Life does involve compromise and as it turned out today, in a similar food debate to the one that introduced part one of this post two years ago, we ended up going out for burgers.   (Actually it turned out they also had fish and chips and Greek gyros, but that’s another story…)

How do you resolve “draws” in your marriage, or your church?


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