God speaks

Stopped Praying

Something was said by a former student of mine. "One day I just stopped praying, but God never stopped speaking to me." I have been fascinated with that statement all morning. She mentioned a removal of herself from "what I was socialized to be."

If we have grown up even a bit in or around the Church, there are practices taught to be utilized and enacted in particular ways. I am not sure that this is how we are meant to live. God has made each one of us a particular way with very colorful wiring, and we cannot expect to relate to or hear from God in the exact same way as every other person.

It is very possible for me to hear and know the heart of God at the core of who I am when I allow myself the freedom to hear from God from that place instead of the rigid expectations of how certain people have heard from Him in the past.

As long as I am giving good check to those things I believe I am hearing from God. I want to be more focused on listening to Him than I am on the pathways or practices I have been taught along the way.

Those things I believe I am hearing from God still need to be checked against His Word and His Body (fellow believers) to be sure my heart is not deceiving itself and calling it God's voice, but there is still a far greater freedom in that than the socialized ways I have been taught for years in the Church.

Yes, there was a moment when I stopped making prayer closets, creating calendared "quiet times". There was a moment I stopped praying, but the more entangled I become with the heart of Jesus, I realize He never stops speaking to me. 

Save some for Me

savetimeLast night I had a real hard time sleeping likely due to the great hunger from eating less and less these days on a diet, but I believe it was equally a spiritual hunger from less and less experience of God's presence these days. When I could not sleep, I chose to listen to that spiritual hunger. God spoke to my listening heart last night, and it was to say, "Save room for me."

Over and over God spoke these words to my heart last night. "Save room for me." I laid in my bed hearing those words over and over until the word "enough" was added to the phrase. God spoke to my heart and said, "Save enough room for me."

In a time of spiritual hunger and wilderness, God has made clear to me I need to begin setting aside and saving time for Him. Also, that time needs to be enough for Him to fit. I am not to save time for my God in the forced margins of time I concoct.

With no job, I have been surprised how little time it seems I have now. I am walking a wilderness. D.T. Olson said, "When one is forced to endure the wilderness for a time, it may be experienced either as a place of maturing and learning or as a place of disintegration and death." At this point, I feel more pressed than I did when I was employed in full time ministry, and right now has been a difficult wilderness season for me.

I have been challenged to begin asking WHAT instead of WHY. "O my God, what are you doing in my heart and life while I am waiting?" I do not need to ask WHY God is doing anything, because most likely is a question to which I will never get the answer.

Right now, though, I am to save enough time for my God, my Abba, and my Jesus. I am to save time that is enough for Him to fill rather than cram tightly within.

On hearing and understanding God

phonesOne of the reasons we do not hear God as we did in the Old Testament is because our sin has grown to do this to us. Humanity has been so sickened with sin that we have lost our hearing and we no longer even speak God's language enough to understand Him if we even could hear His voice.

Hearts have been so hardened over time that we are too incredibly foreign to God whose image is actually imprinted upon us. We who are in His very image are terribly foreign to Him because of our sin.

The good news is that God desires his imprinted people. He desires connection, contact, and conversation once again. The silence we hate is as hurtful to God.

He had to speak a language we would finally be able to understand. Jesus is that language. "Jesus is God spelling Himself out," wrote SD Gordon.

Jesus is God Himself. Jesus is God Himself speaking a language our foreign sin-soaked hearts can finally understand.

That intimacy we once knew in Eden is possible now only in Jesus.

Lonely listening

All the things we wrestle with in life are moments when we are truly alone in our hearts and minds. God gets you alone in those moments, and when we are finally alone in those moments, God can meet you and speak to you. I notice this in several of the most stressful and painful moments of my life, when I have no idea what will happen or how anything can happen. In those moments I come to God and hear Him most. Why is this the case?

Because the noisiest parts of our hearts and lives are our stubbornness and pride. Our self-confidence is terribly noisy.

This is why moments of heartbreak, disappointment, sickness, and brokenness are the times we hear God clearest. It is in those times our noisy self-confidence is shut off, and we have no choice but to hear the only One worthy of our confidence.

When God wrote my aching heart a letter

success You are successful, PC. No matter what anyone else says or expects of you, if you will remain obedient, faithful, and passionate, you are and will be successful.

Trust this, PC. Trust it and allow your aching heart to be affected by what I am saying to you.

I have given you this word:

SUCCESSFUL

You are my son. I am very pleased with you. You have been obedient and faithful through your ache and dryness. PC, you are successful and I have wired you for this success.

I DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS, PC. No one and nothing else defines your success. If you remain obedient to the things I have wired you for!

I love you, PC. I have never left you. I have never been far off from you. In fact, your aching heart has been so much closer to me than you even realized.

We will be lovers once more. I have your heart. I always have. Even when it aches, it has always been mine. I am proud of you, and you are successful, son.

Past encouragement for today: old journal entry

I had just lost my job, Tonya was in Zimbabwe, and a promised position was pulled from under me. So I left for a weekend to Bowman Lake up past the Yuba Gap. The only things I brought with me were a tent, a journal, a Bible, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, a bit of food, and a six pack of beer. I had no idea what was going on in my life. I found my last journal entry from that trip... Interesting how these things are perfect encouragement today as well.

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June 6 (Sunset…THE LAST BIG ONE…WHEN GOD SPEAKS)

I climbed up on the rock face behind my site to watch the sunset over the lake. Well, actually, the sun sets behind the mountain in front of my site, but I can still experience the sunset if I don’t see the sunset. I climbed up on top of the rock face and looked out over the lake at the mountains that spring up on the other side. I watched as the shadow cast from the mountains in front crept up the mountains behind my site. I just sat and watched for a while. It kind of reminded me of a canary being put to sleep. It was as if God were putting the mountains to sleep for the night.

You look at these mountains and they even LOOK old and tough. They look like they have put in a long day’s work. All day long I have watched these mountains in amazement. To amaze a guy in the 21st + century is a pretty daunting task. We need to be entertained by bigger and better things, and for years to this day, mountains have been bigger and better. Even now they are bigger and better than most things. They have succeeded in amazing me all day long, and that is no easy task. So they deserve the sleep and rest. So God put the mountains to sleep like a little canary.

You see the blanket draped over the cage, but you know there’s a bird in there. This is why after the shadow covers the mountains entirely, the moon will come up and cast its special light upon them to make them silhouettes. They just look like big black masses beyond the deep blue space of water, but you know there are mountains over there. They’re just sleeping!

While God was putting the mountains to sleep, he spoke to my heart words I needed to hear. I just sat and listened for a while. He sounded a bit like a conversation a friend of mine had with Brennan Manning a few years ago over cigarettes and coffee at the Anderson, IN Waffle House. My friend and I (along with others) had been digesting Brennan’s words for a couple years at that point. My friend had established a comedy/drama team based heavily on the writing of Brennan Manning and the songs of his ‘soul mate’, Rich Mullins. My friend asked Brennan for any advice to offer a group of young guys who wanted to serve God and spread his love through comedy and drama.

This man who we all were pretty convinced could walk on water with Jesus, whose words we had sucked all we could from said a rather unexpected thing. He said, “Get a job!”

God spoke a similar message into my heart tonight. A bit more tenderly, but the same idea! He said:

“I know you’re worried and you’re scared. I know you are questioning why you left a profession you love to follow a path that had not lead back to that profession. I know you are scared about what you are going to do, and that you feel like your passion has been removed. I know all of this, but I have a new and different plan for you. You are going to do bigger and better things for me, but you are not ready yet. You have some passions in your heart you have not paid attention to. You have passions you do not know about yet. I will show those to you when you are ready, but you are not ready right now. In the time being, while I am preparing you and raising you up, get a job. Get a job, pay your bills and support your family. This job does not need to be a career or even something you are passionate about; I am preparing you for that and remember you are not ready yet. You will find what that is in time, but go on looking hard after me. I have bigger and better things for you outside student life. You will reach more people for me. You will bring glory to me through new things in the future, but for now you need to work and support your family. You need to pay your bills and continue learning. Look further for those passions you have ignored and the ones I will reveal to you in time.

I love you PC!