Check the Power Cords

How does God speak to us?

Someone might say, “Maybe the first question isn’t how, but does He.”

To answer that one, most folks would give examples illustrating their “yes” or “no.” I’m a “yes.”

My “yes” has had the usual answers through my spiritual journeying years. They include prayer, creation, spiritual texts, and other people. Oh, and one more, dreams.

In my early church history, dreams weren’t high on the list. What I mean is, teachers didn’t give them much attention. That was for various reasons. So as a young follower, I didn’t give it much thought. Then as an adult when others have mentioned visions or dreams as means of God speaking to them, it felt like a foreign language. It came across as very real and personal for them, so it left me feeling left out.

The first time I recall believing God had spoken to me through a dream was in 2005. I remember it very vividly. Both the dream and the message I received. I no longer felt like an outsider. Since that experience, I often wake from a dream with a notion to pause and listen. And when there’s a message, it’s pretty obvious. It happened two nights ago.

This post isn’t written to share the message (If you know me and want to know about it, reach out to me). I’m sharing these thoughts for one main reason. I believe the answer to “does God speak” and “how” are found in the heart of each created man and woman. Creators commune with their creations. The challenge we have is returning the favor. Sometimes from boredom, emotional hurt, doubt, discontent, impatience, expectations, or arrogance, we disconnect from all the communion avenues with our Creator. Which offers this counter question posed to the mirror: “Am I plugged in?” Like the first question about IT issues, “Did you check the power cord?”

My experience has led me to believe if I’m not hearing from God it’s not His fault. It’s on me to check all the power cords.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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“Listen, God” (Part 1)

One night this week, I woke from a dream and felt like I was mid-conversation with God. Not necessarily thrilled at the timing, I engaged for another hour and a half before going back to sleep.

When my body said, “You’re done sleeping,” our conversation picked back up and kept going throughout the day. I shared this with four different people. And pretty much each one of them asked me what God was saying. At that point, I admitted I was doing most of the talking. My tone was very much, “Listen, God. Here’s the deal. I need some things today. And I’m not going to hold back in telling you what they are.”

I got very specific with what I wanted from him before the day ended. I mean really specific. Guess what…I didn’t get anything I asked for. Instead, I got better things, things I really needed.

As I saw what I was receiving, in God-like fashion, He gave me more than I asked for. And when I gave him a chance to speak, this is what he said: “Get your eyes off yourself, John. Can you see that I heard you? Can you see what I’m giving you?”

He really is a good Father. He receives my tone, demands, and attempts to “ask and receive.” Then he responds with loving correction and gifts that show he’s everything he promises to be.

Photo by Social Income on Unsplash

What Are You Waiting For?

Two posts ago, I shared a prayer exercise. Here are a couple of stories from my exercise.

One of my five desires that I listed in my journal was “detection of God’s movement.” Since yesterday, my desire has been granted twice.

  1. Monday morning I woke up and sent this message to a friend: “Not sure why, but you dominated my dreams this morning. I spent much time in prayer for you. God loves you.” Last night they responded, “Thanks, friend!!! Means so much and I was up at 4:30am also after bad dreams. Thank you.”
  2. After my race Monday in WV, I drove to PA to run a race Wednesday morning. On my drive, I decided to search for a massage therapist in hopes to schedule an appointment Tuesday. Just so happens, a chiropractor office was across the street from my hotel. I walked over, and they gave me a referral to a local therapist. Long story short, she only had one hour available today. Not only did she give my muscles what they needed, we also talked the entire hour about church, prayer, God, coaching, and life direction. We both agreed…that hour was an answer to our prayers.

If you haven’t tried the exercise yet, what are you waiting for?

Three Ways to Let God Out of Your Box

You read that title right. You may not be almighty, but you are capable of stuffing God in a box of your making. It’s so easy that most of us do it without even knowing or thinking about it. And then we marvel at those who live what seem like extraordinary lives, not knowing that they have simply let God out of their box.

Case in point: Nick Vujicic. He was born without limbs-no arms or legs. Can you imagine the box he had as a child where he stuffed God? That box must have been filled with lots of whys, hows, whens, and seriouslys. And who could blame him? Sounds perfectly natural to think God had messed up-you might say he put himself in Nick’s box.

Somewhere along the way, Nick decided to let God out of that box. Nick is now 35 years old, married, travels the world speaking, and directs an organization that helps share the message of hope in the God he let out of his box. I started reading his devotional book, Limitless, this week where in the first day’s reading entitled Free from Limitations he wrote this:

Too often we tell ourselves we aren’t smart enough or attractive enough or talented enough to pursue our dreams. We buy into what others say about us, or we put restrictions on ourselves. What’s worse is that when we consider ourselves unworthy, we are putting limits on how God can work through us! When you give up on your dreams, you put God in a box.

From Nick’s quote, we can see three ways to let God out of any box where we’ve decided he belongs.

Don’t Give Up

Giving up is another one of those easy-to-do human things. What if we looked at giving up as putting God in a box? What if we stopped exercising our finite power in such a life-sucking way resulting in squelching the infinite power of God? For some other cases in point, consider the following people who didn’t give up:

  • Noah
  • Esther
  • Joshua
  • Daniel
  • Martin Luther
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Alexander Bell
  • Winston Churchill
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Jesus

How their lives and those impacted by their decisions would have been changed had God stayed in their box!

Are you considering giving up? On your marriage? On your education? On your faith? On your passion? Tell God, “It’s all yours. I’m not giving up. Show me what it’s like to let you out of my box.”

(Blog continued tomorrow)

Bed Stillness

“Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Selah” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭4:3-4‬ ‭HCSB‬

Often people tell me they aren’t getting good sleep. Just yesterday two people talked to me about their sleep. One of them “couldn’t sleep” the night before. The other one said they used to have to take pills to sleep, but since they’ve started addressing things in their life they are at more peace and don’t rely on pills anymore to sleep.

Learning to be still with God in the darkness of night or the early hours of morning is a sign of the faithful. These verses give three things that should keep one from needing drugs to sleep:

1) Know who the Lord honors and values, know he hears when you call on Him.

2) Be angry but don’t sin. It’s normal to have anger. It’s also human to sin. Sleep is lost when anger is allowed to harbor sin, not confess it, or keep you enslaved to it.

3) Reflect in your heart and be still. Recently when I’ve woken up either from a dream or earlier than the alarm, I’ve practiced being still and talking with God about whatever He’s bringing to my mind. Sleep, peace and rest are the result of bed stillness.

First-Step Paralysis

I had a two-hour conversation today with a friend. We identified big problems, discussed big projects, dreamed big ideas. Of course the tag lines of where to start eating the elephant and taking the first steps were spoken.

So what exactly keeps us in a state of inaction, never moving from identifying/discussing/dreaming, in essence a state of paralysis?

  • We think we have to have all the answers?
  • We think all the details have to be worked out prior?
  • We think since we aren’t the experts then we are disqualified?
  • We think someone else can solve/accomplish/tackle/produce/promote better than we can?
  • We think failure is more likely the outcome than success?
  • We think too much?

Is it possible that the answer to our inaction and paralysis is found in the ridiculous pressure of the pronoun “we”? To be more personal, “me”?

Is it possible that all we need to do is take the obvious first step, which may be the only one God has given us right now, and just trust He also has the next step?

Is it possible that we’ll forever be paralyzed without knowing more than the first step?

If only we could talk with Abraham or Noah or Nehemiah or Esther or Daniel or Mary or Paul.

Or better yet, if only we could follow their example and just start walking, just give up accepting paralysis, just take the first step.