Enticing Illusions & Dreams

He was sleeping around and, to be honest, I’m not even sure the women wanted to be there. I was visiting but did not know what I had gotten myself into, as I observed the scene unfolding in the basement…

An old man lived upstairs. He had a long, pointed beard of white and was frail and he made a good deal of noise upstairs bumbling around. The young man in the basement, whom I knew in appearance but not in spirit, was frustrated with the old man and grew angry. It wasn’t long before he decided to take a hatchet and go upstairs to do the old man in; and that’s what he did – to everyone’s horror.

I ran outside and fell backwards into the snowy landscape, frantically seeking a way of escape, frantically asking God for a way out, but there seemed to be none.

That was a spiritual alarm, a dream of warning I had concerning an acquaintance the other night. I have prayed for that young man who killed the man upstairs (You catch my drift?) because he was enticed by illusions of the grandeur of strength and life and his own intellect. I pray that he does not make himself god, as he did in the dream; I pray that Jesus breaks his legs and brings him home…

Broken legs are better than a lost soul, friend.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

James 2:19

Do you tremble?

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; only believe,” to a man who sought his daughter’s healing (Mark 5:36).

Jesus also said, “And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Even the thief’s belief at the cross was accompanied by a cross, wasn’t it. There comes a point in every believer’s life when belief must be accompanied by a cross — the dying to ourselves and living unto God, in deed and not in word only. In spirit and in truth and not only with lips from afar… still living in the baseness (or the basement) of the world.

I had another dream recently and in it some unknown woman was telling me and a small gathered crowd: “Oh, I believe in God and Jesus; I just don’t worry about morals because, you know, everyone struggles with sinning.”

Her words sounded so nice in the dream. I even followed to hear her for a moment…

In the very next moment, in good dream-scene-shuffling fashion, I was on the verge of adultery with a man I dearly love as a brother. I cannot tell you how that hurt my heart – both in the dream and after.

But I can tell you that the dream was correct in that the unknown woman’s philosophy of life leads exactly there:

That is belief without a cross, which always makes worse-than-demons out of men and women.

a belief that does not tremble is no belief at all, and trembling that does not endure in deed is lip-service alone.

When I woke, I knew the name of the woman leading any who would listen astray in the dream: Her name is Jezebel – as it has always been. Her words make us worse than demons because mankind was created in God’s image; angels were not. Thus, isn’t our fall far more significant, tragic, and deadly?

Crosses

For certain, Jesus wasn’t talking about a lightweight precious metal and gemstone cross around your neck.

For certain, Jesus also wasn’t talking about the dead weight of the Old Covenant either.

So what was He talking about? What cross? Didn’t Jesus die on the cross for us so that we don’t have to? – Isn’t that how most hirelings and more than a few good preachers put it?

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

How could Jesus say “Pick up your cross” and “My burden is light”?

Wooden crosses are not light. Burdens, generally, are not light either. In fact, I would say that carrying the Gospel is a heavy burden, a weighty burden; it does not come easily or lightly for all. In deed, for many it comes at great personal cost. Perhaps it’s that we don’t take “I am crucified with Christ” as literally as we should (Gal. 2:20)…

For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it?

Luke 14:28 AMP

Well, there’s little need for commentary on this one. Let’s sit at Jesus’ feet. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, beloved.

Luke 14 (Amplified version):

15When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

16But Jesus said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many guests;17and at the dinner hour he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have purchased a piece of land and I have to go out and see it; please consider me excused.’ 19Another one said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20And another said, ‘I have [recently] married a wife, and for that reason I am unable to come.’ 21So the servant came back and reported this to his master. Then [his master,] the head of the household, became angry [at the rejections of his invitation] and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and the disabled and the blind and the lame.’ 22And the servant [after returning] said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled [with guests]. 24For I tell you, not one of those who were invited [and declined] will taste my dinner.’”

25Now large crowds were going along with Jesus; and He turned and said to them, 26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not [c]hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]–he cannot be My disciple. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple. 28For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is unable to finish [the building], all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ 31Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one who is coming against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else [if he feels he is not powerful enough], while the other [king] is still a far distance away, he sends an envoy and asks for terms of peace. 33So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] [d]give up all his own possessions.

34“Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.”

Dreams

Truth be told, I’ve spent too much time considering and even mourning the costliness of that cross – partly in experiencing it and partly in perceiving it from afar in its various forms. I have no illusions of ease, though I have many times been enticed to follow after my own flesh (base, mortal, earthly desires) instead.

The frightening thing about the parable of the dinner guests is the fact that none of the guests gave poor excuses by our estimation:

A new wife? Well, that makes sense; of course, you’re excused!

A new piece of real estate? Wow! Well, go get ’em tiger!

A new set of hooves? Yep. Better test that out; make sure you got a good deal!

Do you see what I mean? These guests weren’t saying:

Nah; just don’t feel like it tonight.

Nah; I’m binging Netflix right now.

Sorry, God; you know I’ve got these health issues right now…

No, Jesus gave us the real grit of life, the real stuff that comes between us and His call to follow Him – real responsibilities, real obligations, real reputations to keep up.

And that is where trembling begins for me because I know how very real and how very easily these excuses come to us all.

(Of course, that parable is likely an analogy of Israel’s invitation and the Gentiles’ calling in, but many such things in the Bible are cautionary tales that well serve us personally too, if we hear and apply them.)

But what about the illusory and enticing excuses of life, friend? What do you do with those? Are they crucified with Christ, surrendered up to Him, or do you bottle feed them like a mourning woman with a motherless calf? –

If only,

If only,

Just only,

It’s only just,

Only if mine.

What’s an illusory and enticing excuse? How about –

I would, if my husband would. (Passing the buck.)

I’m tired of fighting; isn’t love what it’s all about anyway? (Conceding to culture: the approval of man.)

They’re hypocrites; I’m going to do it the right way. (Pride before the fall.)

You know that hurt me, God; did You send this temptation on purpose to hurt me? (Passing the buck again. God does not tempt us; we are led astray by our own desires.)

But that’s not fair, just, kind, etc… ; if that’s God’s idea of those things, then… (Making an idol of your own intellect, senses, etc…)

Oh, woman… If it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, it’s because I do. And I know the sting of it at the illusion’s end.

Dreams have been part of my personal journey, for better and worse. I consider them a blessing, though they just as often prove a burden. Well, as a friend here likes to say, let me worry about that: You do what God called you to do –

And beware Jezebel. She’s alive and well.

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