Three Books by Jack TheWordMan

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#3 Does God Speak in Dreams Today?

I occasionally remember dreams I’ve had but Jo never does—except for one notable time in the Canela village.

One afternoon our whole family was having a swim in the creek just outside the village. I left first and our 10-year-old daughter Leanne decided to leave a minute later sprinting up the trail to catch up with me. As she rounded a bend, she nearly ran into a long grey stick propped between bushes about waist high, barring the trail. Oh, daddy is having fun with me, she thought, as she grabbed the stick to clear the path. Instantly the long grey snake wrapped itself around her arm and bit her.

She screamed, shook the snake off her arm, and raced back to the creek crying, “A snake bit me! A snake bit me!

When Jo heard Leanne scream, she instantly remembered dreaming this scene the night before—a dream she had forgotten. “It was like God was telling me, ‘Don’t worry. Be calm. I know all about this snake,’” Jo said later. She soothed Leanne and led the girls home. It did turn out alright; the snake either was not poisonous or God intervened and saved her.

What is it with dreams?

The Bible mentions dreams or visions over 220 times. Matthew begins his story of Jesus by telling of Joseph’s four dreams: 1) It’s okay to marry Mary. 2) Take your family to Egypt. 3) Go back to Israel. 4) Go live in Galilee, and one dream of the Wise Men: Go home without telling Herod about Jesus. Five dreams in the first thirty verses!

People took dreams seriously back in those days.

Even today, many non-western people take dreams seriously. Large numbers of Muslims in Iran are turning to Jesus. One third of these testify that a dream about Jesus telling them, “I am the way to God” had prepared them. This astounds people like me who explain vivid dreams by blaming the spicy food we ate the night before.

Dreams don’t astound Canela people. A popular early morning greeting is, “What did you dream?” One of our Canela friends and helpers started getting drunk on sugar cane rum every time he went into town. The Canelas elders’ council lectured him and shamed him but nothing helped. We prayed for him for years. One day we returned to the village from a two-month-workshop in the city and he told us he had stopped drinking after having a dream.

“’Do you want to stop drinking?’ a man up in the sky asked me. I told him I did. ‘Every morning take a large cup of cold water, go outside, look into the sky, think about me, and drink it down in one long swallow.’ I have been doing that for two months. One day in town someone offered me a drink of cane rum and when I smelled it I ran outside because I nearly vomited.”

Why don’t we westerners, and Christians especially, dream God dreams? Is it because we don’t believe in dreams and therefore don’t have them? Or do we, but we aren’t comfortable telling anyone about them? Are we missing out? Have any of you readers had God oriented dreams? Want to tell me some?

Monday, May 2, 2011

#2 Part Two of Notice, Remember and Tell Stories

“Why did God make people?” The traditional Jewish answer is, “Because He loves stories!” 
True! Who packed the Bible full of stories? God did! Who constantly told them to His friends? Jesus did! Stories carry truth. Stories build faith. Stories bring glory to God. No wonder He arranges our lives so that we have stories to tell about Him. 

Jo was pregnant with Cheryl while Valorie and Leanne were just little tots. We were in the last week of a three-month-long survival training camp in southern Mexico, and I was about to go on a weeklong survival hike. “While you are away,” Jo said, “I will pray Psalms 91 and 121 every day.” (A vital part of the story.)

I left the next day with a small group of men. An experienced missionary led us a day’s hike into the jungle to play the part of a lost hunting party and practice our newly learnt survival skills until other groups of trainees found us—hopefully within a few days. 

We scavenged daily for food and for dry firewood to burn to keep us warm at night. One day while following and marking a faint trail, I spotted a long branch about the thickness of a fence post lying across a fallen log. Dry firewood! Alright! I put it on my shoulder and carried my prize back to camp. I dropped it near my improvised cot and lay down to rest before grabbing my machete to hack it into pieces. 

At the first blow, my firewood began to bleed! I stared at the gory mess that oozed from  the cut in the branch. Then, from a knothole near the middle slithered a four foot-long snake, with a nasty cut in its belly. I immediately stomped on its head, and carried the still writhing serpent to the staff member to identify. Yes, a highly poisonous snake. 

Oh happy night! Not only did the snake stay in the branch and not bite me, after a bit of cleaning and roasting it turned into supper—a welcome meal after meagre rations for nearly a week. I also thanked God for answering Jo’s Psalm 91:13 prayer about “trampling the serpent” and Psalm 121:7, “the Lord will keep you from all harm.”

That night I asked myself two “why?” questions. For thirty minutes as I carried that branch down the hill, the knothole had been right beside my head. If the snake had come out and bitten me in the neck or throat, I would have died within seconds. Why hadn’t it? Obviously, Someone with a plan wanted me alive. 

After I threw the pole down, the snake could easily have slipped out of the pole and escaped into the bushes. Why didn’t it? Obviously, Someone wanted me to know it was there. Someone who wanted me to tell the story. Someone who loves stories, especially stories that make Him look good. 

Like this one.

To Bring Him Glory,

©  2011 Jack D Popjes
Ph: 780 948-0082