Earlier this year, I, Juan, had a dream that I truly believe God used to speak to me. I get a fair amount of dreams, as I suppose many do; but this dream was vivid, clear as day, and has stuck in my mind with almost perfect recall since.
The dream began with my wife and I overlooking some property that we owned. It was a nice plot of land along the beautiful California coast. Amazing 360 views of the ocean and the surrounding hills, high up on the cliffs above the tides below and with plenty of space to grow.
We had decided to partition some of our land and build a small house on a pleasant nearby cliff that overlooks a small cove feature. This would be for our guests to stay as well as a rental for some passive income. We received help from our friends and family to build this cabin-like home. Upon finishing, we were floored at the generosity of so many and incredibly grateful to our community for their help.
I walked in through the back door and sat down at the kitchen table for a quick break. Inside, my wife was putting the finishing touches on some of the interior decor and an older lady was at the sink hand washing some dishes.
As I was admiring my wife's attention to detail—hanging art frames and rotating the plants for optimal viewing pleasure—I, again, was overwhelmed by all of the people that helped us and thinking, "We've done it! We are achieving our goals and building towards our future."
Within seconds, I heard a deafening, terrible noise. Despite being almost 200 feet up on a cliff, the sea waves were swelling at an immense pace towards us. The surge had risen and spilled onto the cliffs in paralyzing quickness.
The cabin, along with its visually aligned adornments and freshly cleaned plates and mugs, was plucked from its foundation and imitated a boat made of Swiss cheese. The chaotic waves buckled the walls, the roof peeled back like a candy wrapper, and my eyes stung from the salt as I desperately looked for my wife. The safety of dry land was depressingly out of reach.
Shock sat in as I treaded water through the rampaging waves. After a few moments, a large wave lifted and hurled me towards a rock. I woke up upon impact.
Surprisingly, my heart was not pounding. I quickly sat up to let out an audible and inquisitive "hmmm" as I pondered what I had just experienced. It felt different. I knew it was different.
For many years now, I've been praying to God for direction. Direction for my family and where to live. What’s ahead of us? What are the next steps? Should we stay or move? How am I supposed to reach others with the Gospel? Where would I, and my family, go to make the greatest impact for God? The usual questions I ponder about life and how I should live as a Christian.
I personally feel called to disciple and teach. It's not hard to see the culture, the politics, and social issues that are overtaking our daily lives. I ache to speak to those matters, and I desire to instruct others to think biblically and live their lives with Godly wisdom. Living where we are, in California, makes this quite difficult. The culture is vehemently anti-God. Truth and logic are overtaken by emotions and entitlements. The fractured church has given rise to false doctrines and complacent followers of Christ.
For a long while now, I've felt like I've been stuck between figuring out if I'm a Jonah or a Lot. Am I called to be a light in the darkness in California, or do I need to take my family away from impending destruction lest we be destroyed along with it?
I have tried to be a light, live for what’s Godly, and be a part of the edification of others; but sooner or later the proverbial door is closed. We’ve been a part of small groups that ended due to the sins of the leaders or bad theology, and we’ve had to leave churches that dissolved or changed in ungodly ways. We’ve had too many Christian friends, very close to us, “deconstruct” their faith and turn away from God. I’ve tried a personal ministry of reaching out to friends and family members on how I can encourage them in studying the Bible and understanding hard topics. The major response had been that they were uninterested. People who claim to believe in God are saying they’re uninterested in learning more about Him or the Bible! It’s been heartbreaking for me.
Would anyone really blame me for wanting to throw in the towel and go somewhere else or am I just being a coward?
Is my desire to move away like that of Jonah's desire to avoid the seemingly fatal task of preaching to Nineveh? It’s a dead-end. It’s pointless. Or am I, like Lot, living in a culture that is beyond reconciliation with God and must take my family and flee or be doomed along with it? I’ve been torn on this for years. I want to be a light, but ultimately I want to follow God where he leads.
In the broad sense of culture, morals, and behaviors, California is not where I want to raise my family any longer. It's not from a place of fear, but of prudence. I don't make my bed in the center lane of a highway, but in the safety of my home. That's simply wisdom.
As I look around at the influence California has on culture, our nation, and the world I am saddened.
California is the primary source of entertainment throughout the country and a major contributor globally. Additionally, a staggering 90% of all US-made porn comes from California. Many CA-based video streaming services promote increasingly anti-God and sinful content. They boast of their library of content that focuses on deviant sexual actions and ideologies that are contrary to the Word of God. Disney was recently exposed for their “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” in wanting to desensitize children and increase acceptance of LGBTQIA+ culture in the next generation. I'm not saying all entertainment is bad. I, for one, am a huge fan of cinematic storytelling. I believe it can be used to understand deep truths about human nature and our world, or simply be a fun, temporary escape, but we need to be mindful of the content we and our children take in hours on end. As a parent, I want to know the messages my daughters are learning or behaviors being exemplified in the shows and movies they watch. I refuse to be or raise my daughters as passive consumers.
Social media and dating apps have had a devastating effect on this generation. It has increased mental health issues, promotes the destruction of the nuclear family with "hook-up culture", and has played a large role in dividing this country even beyond the political arena. Social media is riddled with posts about wishing death upon Christians, endless nonsensical arguments, and stating scientific truths about biology are considered hateful, bigoted, or “phobic”. Dating apps provide endless hook-ups with a thoughtless "swipe right". These companies (Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, etc.) are all based in California. I typically view these networks as tools, amoral, if you will. Communication with loved ones, learning new skills, and keeping up with current events are all wonderful things. However, any tool can be used improperly. I, personally, find traditional social media as a net negative for my life and family.
Beyond pop-culture, California boasts of having the highest abortion rates in the nation with their 153 clinics and over 500 facilities overall, which is 10 times the US state average. For all of human history, the killing of babies has been about convenience or a practice of the demonic, a sacrifice by fire to false gods like Baal (1,2,3). God clearly condemns this evil act in His Word. I do have great sympathy for those struggling, or have wrestled, with this dilemma. The culture glorifies abortion, calling it "reproductive healthcare" or a human right. It can be difficult for many mothers to know what is right when pressured by a parter, family, or life's hardships. I don't presume to know the answer to address each individual's situation, but I wholehearted believe the lives of the most precious among us should be protected above all and not ended prematurely out of convenience or skewed morality. I struggle in justifying staying in a state that promotes, legalizes, and uses my tax dollars to end the lives of tiny, beautiful, image-bearers of God.
What is promoted by the culture in California, to me, appears to be almost unimaginable ways of unfettered access to fulfill any earthly pleasure free from commitment, free from moral obligation, free from consequences, free from guilt, and free from God.
The culture is beyond backwards. They reject the truth for lies and rage against God and His people. They are actively saying, “if you are not for us, then you are against us.” Which is perhaps the only thing Christians and current culture have in common.
And that is why my heart is saddened. There is so much joy and peace in the grace of God. Not condemnation, but salvation. It can only be only be found in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and fought against by putting on the full armor of God.
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
Of course, California has plenty of Christians fighting against the culture. That is no small thing to overlook! But Christians can be a mixed bag. We are a broken people after all.
Over the last couple decades or so, at least in my experience, I've seen a pacifying wave slowly cover the church lulling Christians to sleep. Silencing them. Compromising them. Neutering them. Of course this can, and does, happen elsewhere, but it's been effecting the churches I've attended and the churches in my communities.
I have seen and heard the Gospel being distorted in increasing amounts as of late. Pastors are telling people Jesus is not the only way to heaven. Sermons saying that prosperity and wealth only follow the faithful—”believe and get rich!” Congregants told to ignore sin and believe that God loves and approves of all lifestyles. Every week, from the pulpit, the Word of God is being twisted to fit some financial or cultural agenda. It's not every church, but far too many.
How did all of this start? Well, the distortion of truth ultimately began back in the Garden, but we're not going back that far. From what I've witnessed, discussed with others, and studied, it truly became evident throughout California in the early 2000s. Shortly following the Toronto Blessing, a world-famous revival at an unsuspecting airport in 1994, revivals began popping up across North America. Brownsville, in Florida, is quite a noteworthy event to look into, as well. However, California was hit rather hard by this revival movement and permeated throughout the many churches I attended growing up, which, unarguably, has had a huge impact on me.
The movement fundamentally reshaped how worship was conducted on Sundays. As a child, I saw bodies shaking and convulsing on the floor, distracting from the normal routine of singing and clapping along to worship songs. Odd whispers and strange yelling, in almost other-worldly languages, are inseparable from my memories and experiences at church services, small groups, and youth camps. Friends of mine, jokingly labeling themselves as "Glory-Seekers", have shared stories of driving hours to other churches in an attempt to witness gold dust or angel feathers fall from the sanctuary ceiling. “Name it and claim it” or “Manifest the life you want” are regular conversational proclamations.
I sat in a folding chair in the front row to the beginning of a church culture that focused more on getting from God rather than living a life devoted to worshipping Him.
Before I continue, I want you to know that I am not trying to imply God was not present at these churches or that revivals are evil. I'm not a secessionist. I believe in prophecy, tongues, healings, and miracles. Honestly, I believe there was a lot God was doing, but I know the heart of man is selfish, deceitful, and sinful. I know this because I have a great capacity to be selfish, deceitful, and sinful. It’s human nature to long to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This longing, coupled with these easily fabricated outward actions to show godliness, or connection with God, or being touched by Him, can be a great temptation for many, and is not a new phenomenon. Only God can know if one's heart is genuine. Unfortunately, many events were merely shows, miracles were later debunked, and movements faded into obscurity. It saddens and enrages me when someone wants to encounter God, but is given a counterfeit experience.
As revival culture became normal church culture, I witnessed the fracturing of the church not seen since Martin Luther’s time. The response was to go hyper. Hyper-charismatic or hyper-conservative. Glory seekers came out of the woodwork. Doomsday/Y2K Preppers abounded as the end of the century neared, along with the rise in popularity of the Left Behind series. Secondary beliefs defined the type of Christian you were. We were dividing and losing love for one another.
The church’s response to all of this, I believe, is one of our greatest downfalls to this day. In an effort to get back to God, to become more palatable to non-Christians, and not seem as strange as our “brothers and sisters over at the other church”, it gave way to a series of deviations that watered down scripture and the gospel to appear less rigid or extreme. This Seeker-Sensitive approach destroyed the metaphorical back-bones of pastors and leaders in the church and propped open the gates to unbiblical and ungodly teachings as we let culture shape what the church should look like.
The first and most notable deviation was the Emergent Church. These churches discarded chunks of scripture in order to appeal to the emotions of man. It was a mix of traditions, to tug on nostalgia and feelings, a flowery gospel, so as not to offend the sinner, and pseudo-psychology to stimulate the mind. I completely understand why these churches became so popular. They were conducted in small groups, usually in people’s homes. Each session contained rituals that put faith into action. They attempted to address cultural issues, such as racial diversity within the church. However, these growing small churches and the desire for such a culture in the christian church fostered the next steps toward the New Age.
New Age Christianity, or more recently called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), was hit with some resistance by many church leaders. However, it was undeniable that the church was growing with these new ideas. NAR attempts to “redeem” pagan practices like Astrology, the Law of Attraction, Oneness, and “Following One’s Heart.” Unfortunately, these practices aren’t easy to redeem as they are outright contradictory to scripture. Certain leaders, of churches that I have attended, visited, or my home church has partnered with, have endorsed many anti-biblical teachings or blatant New Age practices. Practices like Destiny Card readings, which are essentially Tarot cards, or Grave-Soaking, the act of trying to take someone’s “spiritual mantle” by physically laying on top of a person's grave, or using sound waves and imagination to trance yourself into a spiritual realm. These practices are witchcraft, demonic, and not for Christians to partake of. I speak strongly of this, because God speaks strongly of this (2 Chronicles 33:6; Leviticus 20:6).
Along side NAR, is Progressive Christianity. This movement embraces some NAR philosophies, but takes adopting extra-biblical beliefs further. It turns to culture to ask, “what should we believe?” It blatantly takes scissors to the Word of God to cut out His commands and rewrite His truths. Progressive leaders distort scriptures to create a new “truth” about reality to fit culture. It takes LGBTQIA+, what God calls an abomination, and declares it righteous. It affirms abortion as life-giving. It lifts cultural moralism higher than Biblical teaching. It calls Jesus a mere moral teacher, ripping Him of his divinity. It promotes cult-like ideas that we are almost equal to God in divinity and power. And worse yet, it ignores sin as the ultimate separator between us and God, reducing repentance to an antiquated ritual not to be bothered with anymore, all in an effort to not offend. It is truly unloving and evil to ignore the repentance of sin, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and God's commandments.
Most popularly, teachings are stretching the truth in Genesis, in saying we are divine in nature, like little gods. Not simply that we were created in God's image, but that we are like God. We can save ourselves. We create and judge morality. We can manifest our reality. Progressive Christianity is not about how great God is anymore, but about how great we are. The ultimate lie. That very first lie.
Due to staying from theology and biblical understanding, a growing portion of the Christian church today is practically unrecognizable. It’s a false gospel. It’s a distortion of the truth. It’s a lie. I’m bothered by it. I’m sick of it. I'm heartbroken over it. I love God and his people. I address this because I don't want anyone led astray by the lies of the enemy. (Ephesians 5:11; Romans 16:17-18; Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 4:3-4)
We are called and designed to abide in God. Desire His desires. Love as He loves. Hate what is evil. That cannot be done if we change or ignore His Word. When you push aside the truth of God in order to be culturally relevant or non-offensive, you risk damaging future generations and eternally endangering your own soul. Something I pray upon no man.
I do pray God's people stand firm on His Word, fight for truth, speak out against evil, love what is righteous, and seek wisdom and discernment.
So what about the dream and what does this all mean?
After much prayer and counsel, it was a call to move. Specifically, out of California.
In my dream, we’re trying to build our lives, plan for our future, be a part of our community, and share what God has given us. The Bible is abundantly clear on this point that God created this world, and each of our lives, to reflect His Being and His beauty, to live and grow on the vines of His truths, and to share the Gospel. I believe what we were doing in the dream wasn’t sinful or outside of His will for our lives. We had gratitude and thankfulness in our hearts.
However, it was where we were building it. I believe our property on the coast represents our lives in California. It was a warning of something to come. Of what, I do not know.
The parable of the Two Builders came across my mind, as it probably did yours. I thought, “but we were building on top of a high cliff, not on the sands below. Doesn’t this count for building upon ‘the rock?’” Then God reminded me of when I was treading water in the dream. I could see higher ground further inland, but it was too late to reach it at that point. The “rock” we were building upon wasn’t high enough. The sand, referred to in the parable, is also called a “Wadi” an Arabic term. A Wadi is a leveled out, sandy area near waterways and streams. A dried up riverbed. They can be barren or lush. Close to trickling water sources and sometimes a very desirable place to be. However, these areas are known for sudden and violent flash floods. So it’s only a matter of time when the flood waters will instantly take out your home, family, and livelihood. Hence, the fooling builder homesteaded on the sand. I am no prophet, but I believe California is a cultural, political, and economic Wadi. Seems pleasant at first, but the flood waters are coming.
In my dream, the water could represent practically anything. Biblically, water has symbolized the act of purifying (e.g. The Flood or Baptism), but it's usually paired with judgment (e.g. The Flood, Parting of the Red Sea). I have no clear understanding of whether it is meant to be an isolated warning for only my family or a more far-reaching act upon California. It could mean a natural disaster–some sort of earthquake/tsunami combo. It could mean an economic collapse, war, or famine, or civil unrest. Any one of those things could destroy a person’s livelihood and/or their life. I highly doubt Lot considered rotten-egg smelling, flaming projectiles from the sky as a legitimate mechanism for how Sodom was to be destroyed. So I will not venture a guess myself at what the flood waters of my dream could mean.
All I can do is listen, pray, and follow where I believe God is leading me to take my family.
There is one aspect of the dream that I do want to happen, or at least continue, and that is our heart of thankfulness and gratitude to our friends and family. Our hearts are filled with love for everyone who has been there for us, helped us, befriended us, laughed with us, cried with us, shared a meal with us, and prayed for us. The life we’ve built so far has been surrounded by and foundational upon our relationships with you. We do not take our move lightly or without trepidation, but with wisdom, caution, and faith.
We are born and raised Californians. We truly love the state—from its sunset beaches to its snowy peaks. It’s been our home and our playground for decades, but it is in disrepair and falling apart. We mourn, shake our heads at, and pray for the state constantly. We pray for its people, for our neighbors, to know Christ. We mourn the damage that rejecting God has caused multiple generations. And we hope repentance and redemption with God comes swiftly.
As for me and my family, we are going to follow the Lord and where He leads us. Please pray for us as we pray for you and for, our home, California.
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