Heard

(Final post in a 5-part series collaboration)

In the first four posts of this series, my guests have shared how they hear from God. Here’s a recap with a link to their post:

Dawn: worship, prayer, personal devotions, preaching, meditation, relationships

Bob: putting God first, asking Him to speak, aligning priorities, talking about him with others

Erin: peace from God after season of prayer, Spirit conviction, through others

Aaron: vision from within (words, peace), scripture

Before I answer the question, I believe it’s helpful to answer another question: What might be keeping me from hearing God’s voice? I believe that can be answered with this word-Noise. God is always present and available, but it’s quite possible he can’t be heard over all the other noise. And if I’m honest with myself, all that noise is entirely within my control.

“If I’m moving at an insane pace and there is no room in my life for quiet, I will miss God’s voice.” –Lance Witt, Replenish

So if I earnestly want to hear from God, I have to control the noise. And what that most likely means is tuning it out. Tuning out:

  • Distractions like social media
  • Voices contrary to godly dialogue (in my own head, lies from the enemy, subtleties in media/entertainment, misguided thinking or content from well-meaning people)
  • By slowing down
  • By scheduling quiet

Once I’ve handled the noise, then I’m ready to tune in to hear from God. Dawn, Bob, Erin, and Aaron have told us how they tune in. Here are five ways I tune in:

  1. Community. As an introvert, a community of one sounds fine to me. But I’ve learned that I rob myself and tune out the voice of God when I resist being in community. So my community consists of small groups from church, routine meet ups with like-minded men, being coached, and engaging in Sunday services by expecting to receive a personal message from God to me.
  2. Journaling. I’m not legalistic about it, but often journaling is a helpful exercise during or after reading scripture. When a thought or challenge surfaces that needs some exploring, that’s what guides how I approach my journal entry. Sometimes it looks like a paraphrase of what I read, putting into my own words or applying it to a current situation. Sometimes it ends up being a written prayer. Sometimes it’s bullet points. Sometimes it’s an outline for future teaching use. If you haven’t tried it and would like some direction, I suggest reading The Divine Mentor by  Wayne Cordeiro. Journaling has the potential of opening up an avenue of conversation that otherwise may not happen.
  3. Prayer. In order to hear from God, prayer should be viewed as an ongoing dialogue, a two-way conversation.  You might say a paraphrase of “pray without ceasing” would be “never hang up the phone.”
  4. Asking and Expecting. Similar to dinner conversation or an email thread, the dialogue of prayer should include more than input from one party. For my part of the conversation, I try to include questions that require an answer only God could give, such as:
    • “How did I do with that interaction with my coworker today?”
    • “What are you trying to say to me through that verse that just came to mind?”
    • “What encouraging words do you want me to share with the grocery cashier?” Ask the question and wait for the answer. He’ll answer the email when it’s time. Or it may wait until the next meal. That’s part of recognizing his sovereignty.  But it’s up to my end of the conversation to ask the question.
  5. Responding. Since all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is little doubt that he speaks to us. I have found that one of the best ways to tune in is to simply respond when he speaks. Much like a child who has been called to dinner or given any other direction from their parent, a respectful, “Heard,” helps both parties know they are connected.  And a “Thank you” can’t hurt either.

So what’s your answer? How do you hear from God? A DJ on thejoyfm Tuesday said he got a message from God through feeding his fish. One thing is true-God’s ability to be heard is unlimited. We five writers would like to hear how God is heard by you.

Known

One of my favorite songs right now is entitled “Known” by Tauren Wells.

It has a message that our culture needs: grace, identity, acceptance, faithfulness, and forgiveness, particularly from God.

I’ve recruited a few guest bloggers (Rick Howell, David Goodman, and Frank & Shelby Welch) for a collaboration based on this song. We will share how in 2019 God has shown he knows us. These will post on Wednesdays during December.

You got a story about being known by God this year? Feel free to share. If not on this platform, maybe share it this week in a personal conversation. It could be your answer to “What are you thankful for?”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Make It Count

Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:3

Mary’s family had much to thank Jesus for. He had made it clear that he was the giver of life. She decided to do something extraordinary to show her love and worship.

  • Her choice was to anoint him.
  • Her choice was to give up something she’d being saving for herself.
  • Her choice was extravagant.
  • Her choice was a declaration.
  • Her choice was sacrificial.
  • Her choice was to have a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
  • Her choice was to make it count.

What do you have to thank Jesus for?
What choice would make it count?

Thankful for Re- (2)

Everyone experiences loss; it’s part of life. To live trying to avoid loss is futile, even unrealistic. However, not all losses are the same. 

For the purpose of this blog, let’s categorize losses in life under two headings: uncommon and common. Uncommon loss refers to loss that is traumatic, unforeseen, you might even say unnatural. The events of loss in Orlando in the last week are in this category. It’s difficult to imagine being thankful for uncommon types of loss. Common loss, on the other hand, refers to loss that can be expected, foreseen, you might say natural to life. Common losses include financial investments, jobs, relationships for various reasons including death to illness and natural causes. Once you’ve grieved a common loss, it is most definitely possible to be thankful for the loss. How might that look, being thankful for loss?

With a loss comes the opportunity to fill the space vacated. A door is open. A chance for re– to occur (see blog Thankful for Re- 1)

  • When a home is lost due to fire, you can be thankful for the chance to rebuild. Ask Job.
  • When hope is lost due to a leader leaving, you can be thankful for the chance to rethink the mission. Ask Peter.
  • When your whole world seems lost due to God’s judgment for man’s actions, you can be thankful for the chance to rewrite history. Ask Noah.
  • When your future plans are lost due to your husband’s death, you can be thankful for the chance to redirect those plans. Ask Ruth.
  • When a friendship is lost due to jealousy and mental instability, you can be thankful for the chance to redefine friendship. Ask David.

In your common loss, look for the open door. Look for the re-. Be thankful for the re-.

What common loss have you grieved and can now find the re- to be thankful for? What got you to that place of thankfulness?

Thankful for Re- (1)

Scripture encourages us to include statements of thankfulness in our prayer lives (Philippians 4:6). In my prayer of thanks today, two things came to mind:  forgiveness and loss. One sounds positive, the other negative. Why did those come to mind? What’s the basis for being thankful in good and bad, joy and sorrow, positive and negative? This is the first of two blogs sharing those thoughts.

Thinking on those two things led me to words that began with the prefix re-. Re– often begins words that indicate a return to a previous condition, often verbs that indicate restoration. Such words include replace, remake, realign, redeem, and reform.

When forgiveness occurs, several doors may open for a return to a previous condition

  • Rebirth – a child offers their mother forgiveness for giving them up for adoption and their relationship is reborn
  • Renewal – a spouse offers their mate forgiveness for keeping a secret and their trust is renewed
  • Restart – a boss offers their employee forgiveness for a misjudgment and their work is restarted
  • Reunite – a church offers their pastor forgiveness for sin and their communion is reunited

These examples are certainly good, joyful, positive outcomes. Good, but not easy to achieve. Forgiveness takes hard work, just like getting anything back to its previous condition. If you’re wrestling with the hard work of forgiveness, think on the re-. Look forward to being thankful for re-.

When have you experienced the thankfulness of re- through forgiveness? How did you get there?

Recovering Demanders

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This Psalm came to mind when I read this sentence in Breakfast with Bonhoeffer: “Fellowship can be entered when participants enter not as demanders but as thankful recipients.”

Many churchgoing people are recovering demanders. Some know it; others are still figuring it out. Were they to write a Psalm about how to enter church, it may quip, “I’ll enter so long as it suits me.” They may not say it, but they enter the court with expectations, maybe even unspoken demands.

Psalm 100 gives it’s own demands that can help recovering demanders:

  • Make a joyful noise – unashamedly
  • Serve with gladness – service has a way of producing thankfulness and squelching demanding
  • Come with singing – indicates coming with a participatory spirit rather than a sit-and-watch posture
  • Know the Lord is God – the focus is not on any human leader or human preferences
  • Enter with thanksgiving...Give thanks to Him – indicates entering already in a thankful spirit
  • Bless His name – this mindset puts the follower/the created/the child in the right position under their Leader/their Creator/their Father

Psalm 100 establishes a case plan for recovering demanders.

Finishing Well

In his conclusion of It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over, R.T. Kendall listed the following ten principles to follow in order to finish well:

  1. Put yourself totally under Holy Scripture
  2. Be accountable to reliable people
  3. Be squeaky clean regarding finances 
  4. Maintain sexual purity
  5. Come to terms with jealousy you feel by another person’s gifts or popularity
  6. Be willing to not get the credit for what you do
  7. Always keep your word
  8. Live in total forgiveness
  9. Be a thankful person
  10. Maintain a strong personal prayer life; spend much time alone with God