The language of dreams – the fourth love language

“The language of dreams is the fourth love language, and it’s God’s lingua franca.  There is no dialect that God speaks more fluently or frequently in Scripture.  Whether it’s dreams by night or dreams by day, God is the Dream Giver.”- Mark Batterson

“At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ . . . ‘So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”- 1 Kings 3:5, 9 (NIV)

In Chapter 8 (“Dreamers by Day”) of Whisper, Mark Batterson covers the language of dreams.  Every dream, Pastor Batterson notes, possess a genealogy.   Those who came before you set up your dreams.  And you follow suit as you set up dreams for those who come after you.  Therefore, dreams really consist of a dream within a dream.

Furthermore, the author subscribes to the school of thought that one must steward the brain.  As a result, you learn as much about the brain as you can.  In addition, Mark believes, God dwells in the synapses of the brain.  Thus, He speaks to us at the level of our thoughts, ideas, and dreams.  However, Pastor Batterson cautions, we must be careful to give God the credit when He gives us ideas we don’t believe originated with us.

In conclusion, Mark asserts, dreams, vision, and prophecy = natural by-products of being filled with God’s Spirit.  As a result, we need to discern God’s voice not only for ourselves, but also for others.  Because the dreams God gives us are never just for us.  They’re for everyone our dreams affect and inspire.  Mark exhorts:

“You never know when or where or who or how your dream will inspire someone else to pursue his or her dream.  Only the Dream Giver knows that.  But we’ll have a lot of people to thank someday for directly and indirectly inspiring our dreams.”

Today’s question: How has God spoken in the language of dreams to you?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Word pictures – speaking the truth in love”

Sometimes the obstacle = the way

“But sometimes the obstacle is the way!  God gets in the way to show us the way.”- Mark Batterson

“I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.”- Numbers 22:32

Mark Batterson concludes Chapter 7 of Whisper as he notes that we often believe when God closes a door, that represents His final answer.  In other words, Pastor Batterson states, “we put a period where God puts a comma.”  Although we think the answer’s a no, it’s really a not yet (emphasis authors).

However, Mark admits, it’s not always easy discerning between no and not yet.  Therefore, the author offers this rule of thumb: “if you hear God saying no, give that dream back to Him with an open hand.  That often takes more courage than hanging on.  But if God hasn’t released you, then keep keeping on.”

Yet, problems arise when we want what we want now.  Like the angel reminded Balaam, we sometimes choose a reckless path.  In addition, Pastor Batterson observes that the word reckless (Numbers 22:32) comes from the Hebrew word yarat.  It’s the ancient equivalent of reckless driving.  As a result, when we opt for a reckless path, Mark exhorts:

“Don’t be surprised if God slows you down.  Don’t’ be surprised if God gets in the way.  Why?  Because He loves you too much to let you go headlong into trouble.  If Balaam’s talking donkey teaches us anything, it’s this: God can use anything to accomplish His purposes, and He can do it anywhere, anytime, anyhow.”

In conclusion, Pastor Batterson writes, over time one of two things happens:

  1. Your theology conforms to your reality.  Then your expectations get smaller and smaller until you’re hardly able to believe God for anything.
  2. Your reality conforms to your theology.   As a result, your expectations get bigger and bigger. You believe God for absolutely everything!

Today’s question: How has God made the way via your obstacle?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The language of dreams – the fourth love language”

Percieved detours and delays set up divine appointments

“What we perceive as detours and delays are often God’s ways of setting up divine appointments.  And they often start out as closed doors.”- Mark Batterson

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.”- Acts 16:6 (NIV)

As Mark Batterson continues Chapter 7 of Whisper, he talks about a check in the spirit.  Pastor Batterson notes that the apostle Paul intended to go to Bithynia on his second missionary journey.  However, the Holy Spirit prevented Paul from preaching there.  In addition, that check in Paul’s spirit was followed by the vision of a man in Macedonia.  The man asked Paul to come there and help them.

Consequently, a check in the spirit, Mark adds, is:

  • difficult to define, difficult to discern
  • a feeling of uneasiness you can’t ignore
  • a sixth sense that something’s not quite right
  • creates a lack of peace in your spirit
  • God’s red light; failure to obey the sign might send you heading toward trouble

Therefore, God closes doors to protect us, redirect us, and keep us from less than His best.  However, we chafe at perceived detours and delays,  even though God often uses them to set up divine appointments.

In this context, Pastor Batterson raises the subject of fleeces.  While Mark believes fleeces carry God’s stamp of approval, he offers three warnings and instructions:

  1. Test your motives.  Make sure you’re asking for the right reasons.  If you fail to test your motives, you risk testing God.  As Mark stresses, “the driving engine must be a genuine desire to honor God.”
  2. Delayed obedience is disobedience.  We must make sure the fleece doesn’t function as a delaying tactic or as a substitute for faith.  While there’s a time to seek God’s will, the time comes when you need to act on it.
  3. Set specific parameters in prayer.  Finally, define the fleece.  Otherwise, it’s easy to come up with false negatives or false positives.  Furthermore, don’t discount the fact that fleeces require divine intervention.

Today’s question: How do you react to perceived detours and delays?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The obstacle = the way”

Open doors and closed doors – a package deal

“One of the promises of Scripture I pray most frequently is Revelation 3:7, and let me note up front that it’s a package deal.  You can’t pray for open doors without accepting closed doors.  After all, one usually leads to the other.”- Mark Batterson

“These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.  What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”- Revelation 3:7

Mark Batterson continues Chapter 7 of Whisper as he talks about the subject of open and closed doors.  The author compares the will of God to the iconic opening to the classic television series Get Smart.  As the program opens, Maxwell Smart walks through a series of doors before he finally enters CONTROL headquarters in Washington, D. C.

Similarly, Mark observes, we walk through a door, thinking it’s our final destination.  But, it’s actually a door leading to a door that leads to another door.  Most noteworthy, Pastor Batterson underscores, opening and closing doors provides on of the most mysterious and miraculous ways in which God reveals His sovereignty.

Furthermore, Jesus opens impossible doors and leads us to impossible places.  As Mark stresses, it’s one of the ways Jesus whispers.  And God has reasons beyond human reason, resources beyond human resources.

Someday, Pastor Batterson believes, we’ll thank God for closed doors as much as we readily thank Him for open doors.  Yes, closed doors slam in our faces.  And we fail to understand why they closed.  However, Mark adds, closed doors = expressions of God’s prevenient grace.  In addition, sometimes closed doors:

  • come in the form of failure
  • are checks from the Holy Spirit that keep us from walking through doors in the first place

Either way, Pastor Batterson emphasizes, “God sometimes shows the way by getting in the way.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you accept open and closed doors as a package deal?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Perceived detours and delays set up divine appointments

The peace of Christ – peace in the perfect storm

“It’s [the peace of Christ] not just peace in the midst of the storm; it’s peace in the perfect storm.  Instead of being scared out of your wits, you have a holy confidence against all odds.”- Mark Batterson

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”- Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

In today’s blog, Mark Batterson concludes his discussion of five tests he employs  when discerning God’s will and voice.

2.  The Peace Test.  When the apostle Paul said to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” Pastor Batterson notes, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel scared or stressed.  It simply means you know in your heart of hearts what you’ve discerned as God’s will is the right thing to do.

3.  The Wise Counsel Test.  As Mark observes, you don’t discern God’s will all by your lonesome.  Because solo efforts usually result in losing your way.  As a result, Pastor Batterson advises you to surround yourself with people who have:

  • experience discerning God’s will
  • the ability to bring out the best in you
  • permission to speak the truth in love

Seeking wise counsel creates an important check and balance, since we possess an infinite ability to deceive ourselves.

4.  The Crazy Test.  Pastor Batterson defines a God-sized dream as always beyond our abilities, logic, and resources.  Plainly states, it’s impossible to do without God’s help.  And often, in the author’s experience, God ideas often seem like crazy ideas.

In addition, Mark states, faith consists of the willingness to look foolish.  So when your desire’s the will of God, “crazy turns into crazy awesome.”

5.  The Released-from and Called-to Test.  Mark compares the will of God to a lock with two pins, called-to and released-from.  Sometimes you get released from a current responsibility.  However, you feel unsure of God’s next calling.   You detect a spiritual no-man’s land.  Therefore, until God gives further instructions, Mark advises doing what you last heard Him say.

Today’s question: How does Jesus give you peace in the perfect storm?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation, “My God – the strength of my soul”

Discerning the will of God – knowing His heart

“Discerning the will of God is about so much more than doing His will.  Discerning His will is about knowing His heart, and that happens only when you get close enough to hear Him whisper.”- Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson continues Chapter 7 of Whisper as he defines faith as “taking the first step before God reveals the second step.”  Sometimes, though, that first step results in failure.  The door slams shut – sometimes with our fingers still in the doorjamb.

Yet,  through failed attempts God gets us where we need to be.  Failure’s nothing short of His grace.  Thus, we can show gratefulness for closed as well as open doors.  Generally, Pastor Batterson observes, closed doors lead to open doors.

When it comes to discerning the will of God, Mark sometimes wishes we could just cast lots.  Like the disciples did when choosing Judas’ replacement.  However, that “option” takes intimacy out of the equation.  And intimacy = the end goal.  Furthermore, discerning the will of God consists of much more than doing His will.  It’s about knowing His heart.  And for that to happen, you must be close enough to hear God whisper.

Therefore, Pastor Batterson describes five tests he employs when discerning the will of God, the voice of God.  Mark discusses the first test today.

1.  The Goose Bump Test.  Mark notes an intriguing name Celtic Christians had for the Holy Spirit.  Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit An Geadh-Glas, meaning “the Wild Goose.”  In fact, Pastor Batterson has written a book on this topic called Wild Goose Chase.

Mark loves the imagery and implications of the name, as it reflects an element of unpredictability about the Holy Spirit and what He does.  Even though we’re on a Wild Goose chase most of the time, we’ll get where God wants us to go as long as we’re in step with the Spirit.

In conclusion, when you pursue a God-sized dream or God-ordained calling, you should feel goose bumps now and then.  And like a game of hot and cold, your desires get hotter and hotter the closer you get to God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Today’s question: How have you experienced a Wild Goose chase as you live a Spirit-led life?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The peace of Christ – peace in the perfect storm”

We interpret signs via Scripture

“Let me remind you that we don’t interpret Scripture via signs; we interpret signs via Scripture.  And generally speaking, God uses signs to confirm His Word, His will.”- Mark Batterson

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up to heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.  And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”- Mark 16:19-20 (KJV)

In Chapter 7 (“The Door to Bithynia”) of Whisper, Mark Batterson notes that, as Christians, we speak the language of the Holy Spirit.  And door comprise one of His dialects: open doors and closed doors.  Yes, in John 4:48, Jesus warned against signs and wonders as a litmus test of faith.  However, when it comes to navigating the will of God, that doesn’t negate their value.

Furthermore, ignoring signs equates to ignoring the God who speaks through them.  Also, Pastor Batterson cautions, signs are subject to interpretation.  In other words, there’s a very fine line between reading signs and reading into them.  Therefore, we must learn to read signs the same way we read Scripture – with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Mark exhorts us to make no mistake about it: God speaks through circumstances.  Although Scripture provides direct evidence, circumstantial evidence also exists.

Most noteworthy, Mark observes, the language of doors requires the gift of discernment.  The author defines discernment as “the ability to appraise a situation with supernatural insight.  It’s prophetic perception that sees past problems and envisions possibilities.  Simply put, it’s picking up what God is throwing down.”

In conclusion, Pastor Batterson reminds us that we interpret signs via Scripture, not vice versa.  And the words with which Mark closes his gospel set a precedent: “signs following.”

Today’s question: How do you interpret signs via Scripture?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the latest Short Meditation, “My God – the strength of my soul”

Tomorrow’s blog: “Discerning the will of God – knowing His heart”

Selfish ambition or godly ambition?

“We’re all driven by too much selfish ambition, but none of us has nearly enough godly ambition.  You can’t have too much ambition when it comes to the things of God.”- Mark Batterson

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”- Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

As Mark Batterson concludes Chapter 6 of Whisper, he asserts that God calls us to compete for what’s right- instead of complaining about what’s wrong.  However, we find it hard to discern the language of desire.  As Pastor Batterson points out, that’s because we have mixed emotions.  Furthermore, we possess an infinite ability for self-deception.

Thus, Mark offers five hard-earned lessons, or caution signs, that he’s acquired in life.

  1. Check your ego at the door.  If you fail to put your ego on the altar everyday, you’ll fall into the comparison trap.  And you’ll accomplish little for the kingdom of God, because it’s all about you.
  2. If you want it too much, you might want it for the wrong reasons.  When you want something too much, Mark states, that want often indicates you’re not ready for it.  For your desire’s become an idol in your life.  Most noteworthy, idols include God-give desires and God-ordained callings.
  3. Emotion is a great servant but a terrible master.  Here the ninth fruit of the Spirit, self-control, is so critical.  Mark believes it’s listed last because it takes so long to cultivate.  As the emotional gatekeeper, self-control keeps the other emotions in check.
  4. One key to discerning whether a desire is God-ordained is deciphering whether it waxes or wanes over time.  As Pastor Batterson states: “If you’re delighting yourself in the Lord and that desire passes the test of time by waxing stronger, there’s a greater likelihood it’s a good thing and a God thing.”
  5. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.  Mark believes we need to exercise our spiritual gifts using a measure of emotional intelligence.  Otherwise, it’s possible they’ll do more harm than good.

In conclusion, the author states, waste no worry on what others think.  Rather, worry about what God thinks.

Today’s question: What Bible verses steer you toward godly ambition?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “We interpret signs via Scripture”

The sweet spot – where gifts and desires overlap

“The key is finding the sweet spot where gifts and desires overlap.  God-given gifts are what we’re best at.  God-ordained desires are what we’re most passionate about.  And the place where those gifts and desires overlap is the sweet spot.”- Mark Batterson

“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”- Martin Luther

Mark Batterson continues Chapter 6 of Whisper as he talks about the connection between passions and talents.  Pastor Batterson states that, in Romans 12:6-8, the apostle Paul encouraged us to use our God-given gifts (talents) in the pursuit of God-given desires (passions).  In addition, Paul defined three traits of Christ-followers: generosity, diligence, and cheerfulness.

When you define the word diligence, Mark observes, it’s easy to overlook one nuance.  Diligence, he states, includes delighting in what you do.  And doing that transforms everything into an act of worship.

In addition, Pastor Batterson states, emotions fall into two basic categories: negative and positive.  Negative emotions, such as fear, keep us out of trouble – vital to survival.  On the other hand, positive emotions, such as hope, enable us to thrive – getting us out of trouble.

Most noteworthy, the author considers emotions a facet of God’s image – and thus, a gift from God.  Obviously, we need to sanctify and steward that gift.

In conclusion, Mark lists three basic emotions that help us discern the voice of God – mad, sad, and glad.  Emotions, he notes, make a great backseat driver if we’re delighting ourselves in the Lord. This delight channels our emotions in the right direction and fine tunes them.  God speaks to you through your emotions.  Without them, evil goes unchecked.

Today’s question: What helps you identify your sweet spot?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Selfish ambition or godly ambition?”

The voice of our own gladness

“The voice we should listen to the most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to the least, and that is the voice of our own gladness.”- Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC (1995)

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”- Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

Mark Batterson continues Chapter 6 of Whisper as he connects desires and talents.  When your desires line up with your talents, Mark stresses, you’re doubly dangerous to Satan.  Yet, God also calls us to accomplish things outside of our skill sets.  That requires tremendous dependence upon God’s help.

Most noteworthy, Pastor Batterson observes, Jesus revealed an inviolable supernatural sequence in the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Mark believes many people read Jesus’ statement backward.  As a result, they seek God only after acquiring everything that the world has to offer.

However, the author cautions, you can’t place God second, third, or tenth and expect Him to give you the desires of your heart.  Therefore, seeking God first is:

  • delighting yourself in the Lord
  • giving Him the first word and the last word
  • making sure His voice is the loudest voice in your life

Yes, taking up your cross involves sacrifice.  As you delight yourself in the Lord, though, God gives you the desire to fulfill His calling.  No matter how difficult the task.

In conclusion, Mark states, another factor adding to task difficulty occurs when we “sacrifice our desires on the altar of other people’s expectations.”  It’s hard to feel the joy of the Lord when we’re listening to the wrong voices.  For if we give those voices our ear, we’ll conform to the pattern of the world around us.  Thus, we’re best served listening to the voice of our own gladness.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you listen to the voice of your own gladness?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The sweet spot – where gifts and desires overlap”