Thank God for Nightmares.
We have all had them. They come in different forms, with different subjects, but the common experience with nightmares is the shock, horror and fear that propels us to wake in fright, heart pounding. It usually takes us a few minutes to realise it was all a dream, a nightmare, and sometimes you need to actually get out of bed, walk around, make yourself a drink, sit and wake up properly before your brain gets a clue.
I don’t know how people without Jesus handle nightmares. All my children used to do is call out and either Steve and myself would run to them, pray over them and comfort them and they would go back to sleep. Sometimes it would take some time, but they would go back to sleep. If either Steve or myself woke up after a nightmare, we would pray for each other and the fear would go and peace would take over.
One night last year I was half asleep and suddenly woke up properly and the whole room was dark, as though there had been a blackout. But it wasn’t just dark, it was black, there was a presence in the room. The house we were in had had all kinds of weird anomalies and we were convinced that people who had rented the place previously were either witches or satanists. Doorways had appeared and disappeared, objects disappeared and reappeared practically before our eyes, we had plagues of fleas and ants and spiders, we had dog attacks, our cat died, people suddenly becoming loud and aggressive just as they walked past our house and then going back to normal once they were past, neighbours becoming hostile and aggressive and so many other things. We were convinced our neighbour was a witch, she was a deeply disturbed woman and her little boy used to laugh and cry hysterically when he went out to play. There were all sorts of strange things going on and we spent most of our time praying in tongues and just trying to get through the day. Of course we didn’t stay there, but it was the worst house we had ever been in.
But back to the ‘nightmare’, in the half-dream, half-waking experience I had, I could not move, but I could turn my head to see if Steve was awake, and I called out his name. Then I woke up properly and realised the presence had gone and the light in the bedroom was normal. It was horrible, and I will never forget it. Nightmares are the kinds of things we remember vividly, and some people are plagued with them frequently. To those ones I would counsel, call out to Jesus Christ, ask Him to save you, He is our Saviour and our protector against the darkness and our mortal enemy, Satan. You need to be born again and Jesus came to earth as a human being, indwelt by God, ‘The Word’ (see the gospel of John first chapter) in order to bear our sin, to become our sin, so that he may be sacrificed on our behalf so that we don’t have to bear the punishment of our sin. If you have not asked Jesus to save you and asked him to forgive you of your sin that sent him to the cross, you will not be received by God the father in heaven when you die. And it is this subject that I want to discuss.
Nightmares, no matter how bad they are, are simply a means that God uses to tell us that we have hope. Waking up from a nightmare has to be among one of life’s worst moments. If you have really really bad nightmares you know the horror and trauma that assails you while you are in them. But you have the blessed moment when you wake and realise it was not real, it was a dream. Fair enough, some people are still affected by the emotional torment of those nightmares, and some people simply can’t sleep because of them. But those people, in their waking moments still have hope. They can still go to Jesus and ask Him to heal them, to give them peace, to deliver them from the demons of their past and their inner minds. And He does, and He will.
We have hope.
Until we are on our deathbeds.
I am going to upload a video of the testimony of a woman who used to be a close friend of the satanist Anton Le Vey, the architect of America’s first Church of Satan. You can read about his life and career online, he was a pretty ugly character. He kept company with people like L. Ron Hubbard, also a satanist. Le Vey is reported to have ‘seen the light’ whilst on his deathbed. According to the woman in this video, satanists apparently revere death and consider it a great victory. What happened to Anton Le Vey apparently was not what he was expecting. He realised, to his great horror, that the nightmare was only just beginning and that he was not going to ever wake up from it. This is what hell is. Imagine your worst nightmare, and never being able to wake up from it. The horror, the pain and the trauma never ends, and there is no escape. Ever. For eternity.
It would take too long to list all the scriptural passages that refer to hell. I will include a fairly comprehensive article which will do that instead. To read more on what the bible says about hell go here.
The one verse which has always struck me as the most instructive is from Matthew 10:28.
27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10 NKJV
Even when Jesus is telling us about hell and God’s judgement, he is immediately afterwards giving us reassurance that we are valuable to him. He is giving us comfort in the midst of our fear, although it is fear of man that he is warning us against. It is better to fear God Jesus says, because God’s judgement is final and the wages of sin is eternal death.
This is why nightmares are such a vivid illustration of what awaits the unrepentant sinner, the one who ignores God’s grace. Today is the day of salvation.
Next time you have a nightmare, remember that. Remember that Jesus has given us today, the morning, the light, in which we can know the truth, and repent and be saved from eternal nightmares without end and with no escape.
Any unsaved person reading this will immediately try and dismiss this. Many so called Christians will also say that a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell, but Scripture is very clear on this subject. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it false. But God IS loving. He IS merciful, which is why He has provided a way of escape. His escape is now, while you are alive. We sometimes wonder why the very worst sinners, the mass murderers or the genocidal maniacs end up living such long lives. It is because their judgement awaits them at the end of their lives, and God is merciful to all. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, his mercy is fair and equitable to all, everyone, no matter how terrible their sin is able to be forgiven and will find a place in heaven with God. But make no mistake, a person who does not accept the salvation found in Christ will not find a place in heaven.
Our repentance needs to be true. Jesus said many will come to Him in that day, the day of the Lord (judgement day) and say ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do this in your name, didn’t we do that in your name’, and God will say ‘depart from me I never knew you’. (Matthew 7:3) We can’t kid God. You can’t say “well, I believe” and then go on with your life as though your life is still your own. God requires not just faith, but our whole life.
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 16:25 NKJV
Yet, as we give Him our lives, He gives us – in exchange – His life. Who wouldn’t rather have eternal life, the life of Christ himself than our own miserable and petty lives filled with fear and hatred and anger. We have nothing to offer God, yet He gladly receives what we have. Like the widow with two mites who gave everything she had. (Mark 12: 41-44). Jesus told his disciples that her gift was greater than a wealthy man’s gift because she gave everything. Always in the Kingdom of God, it is the humble offering of ourselves, as little as we are, that impresses and pleases God. When Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) tried to pretend they were like the widow and gave ‘everything they had’ after selling some real estate, they were struck dead by God for lying. They could have just given what they wanted to give and kept the rest and not lied about it. Nobody was forcing them to give anything, but they wanted others to believe that they were humble and righteous, and it was this ugly and self-loving deception which caused their deaths.
So next time you wake in fright, and then feel the wave of relief when you realise that it was just a dream, remember that while it is still day you have the opportunity to make that relief an eternal reality. You will never have to face eternal torment and death if you make the decision now to accept the salvation and love that Jesus offers us.
God bless you now and forever more.
Further reading on this blog: ‘Hell, Who Goes There‘.
Cookie Monster: The lights were shining
The night was fine
And me was having a real great time
Then me got careless
Me don’t know how
But me had something me can’t find now!
(chorus) Me lost me cookie at the disco
Cookie Monster: The mood exciting
The music loud
Me just a part of that happy crowd
Me feet go crazy
Across the floor
But something made my sweetie not be there no more!
One Sunday over Christmas, Steve and I visited the sort of church we are almost never in. We visited out of curiosity but also out of familiarity because the last time we were in the city we had been in this church and enjoyed our visit. It was a couple of decades later however and a lot had changed.
The interior of the church was black. We kind of expected that since we had checked out their internet site. But we stayed to talk to the pastors at the door anyway.
Within about ten minutes of us being there, we noticed that the stage down the front was looking a little blurry. I turned to the Pastor we were speaking to and asked him if that was a smoke machine down the front and he said that it was. He put the blame on ‘them’ whoever they were and said that ‘they’ loved having the smoke machines.
As time progressed, we found a seat and waited for the meeting to start. We generally, like the cowards we are, like being at the back just in case we need to make a quick getaway. On this occasion however it proved useful. As soon as the music started, the strobe lights began. The whole building was dark, there was a stage with all the rock instruments you could want, there was a young woman wearing a very short skirt and holding a microphone and there was a smoke machine and strobe lights. The only thing that could complete the picture was a mirror ball.
Why do churches do this?
I mean really, why?
Look at the logic behind it, it makes no sense. Out in the world, people go to discos, or nightclubs or rock concerts to do one of three things – generally. They are either there to hook up with somebody, they are there to buy or consume drugs, or they are there to hang out with their friends, switch off their brains and drink themselves to oblivion. All in all, the intent is to forget their lives, which are meaningless, fear-laden and filled with dysfunctional relationships. And if things are going well, they still go to the pub, club, or friends places to do the same things. Such is life in the world.
So the logic in the seeker-sensitive churches is – we will entice the unchurched into church by making a church look like a club or disco. Because that’s where people go to ‘have a good time’ without recognising that the time they are having is not ‘good’ at all, it is perverse. But then you have to actually be saved from out of this perverse generation in order to recognise that. So once people are in the ‘church’, we will do the classic bait and switch. We will wham them with the gospel and they will get saved. Maybe. I mean would you bother getting saved if there was no difference between life inside and outside the church? What would be the point. In fact, most seeker sensitive churches don’t preach the gospel or anything like it. They waffle, they tell people that heaven will be a party, they refuse to mention sin, repentance or the cross because that might, gasp, be offensive, and then they wonder why their congregations have the maturity of three year olds.
The average person in the street is not that stupid. They do not think that a church looking like a disco actually is a disco. Nor do they consider that they will be able to do any of the above disco related activities in a church because they will generally expect that a church would not encourage them – being a church, a place of worshipping God. Most people know at some level that they are sinning by getting drunk, doing drugs, having sex and ignoring God. What sinners are looking for is answers to life’s problems. And, being intelligent, they assume that because what they are doing doesn’t work, that what does work will be something different. They just haven’t found it yet. Similar to the tenet that insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over in the hope that something will change.
The problem with seeker-sensitive churches is that they are announcing to the world that they don’t actually have the answer to life’s problems, and they are expecting the world to tell them what to do next. This is a total abdication of truth, it is also a cowardly refusal to actually seek the Lord to know His mind on how to reach the lost. They have sold their soul in order to be friends with the world, in order to save the world. Nope, doesn’t work. Not only that, but scripture (James 4:4) tells us that if you are friends with the world you are an enemy of God. WOW. How did the SS churches miss that one? They missed it because they don’t read their Bibles, nor do they have any genuine faith. In fact, I would have to say that most of them are either not saved, or are just baby Christians who have never grown up.
But back to our church visit. Well, we certainly did lose something at this disco. In fact, it wasn’t just us. The church had lost its whole reason for being. We didn’t stay to listen to any preaching, but really, we didn’t think that this would be an issue. If this is how they believe churches should appeal to people in post-modern society, they really had lost the plot. And I guess they also lost the Holy Spirit, because nobody had any idea how to worship the Lord in that environment at all.
I was beginning to wonder if I was going to go blind because every time the strobe lights whirled around they hit me right at eye level. I don’t know whose idea that was, but it was completely ridiculous. You couldn’t concentrate on anything that was going on at the front, because you were continually shielding your eyes against the lights. It was like being blinded by somebody’s car headlights on high beam at night, and just as enjoyable.
We stayed ten minutes and left. Just before we left, I disappeared to the bathroom, and Steve talked briefly with a young guy who came and sat next to him. He told Steve he only came there for the music. Which was a little sad, because frankly, the ‘worship leader’ couldn’t sing. What was interesting was that this young guy who just came for the music clearly wasn’t a Christian. He was like a guy on the street who just came in to sit for a while and enjoy the free disco. So, yeah, to some degree their devious plan worked. It got one guy off the street and inside. But with nobody to tell him the gospsel? He was sadly going to stay lost.
Wonderful, merciful Saviour
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would’ve thought that a Lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men
Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost our way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way
You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne
You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for