Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hearing From God part two

John 10:23 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  So last time we started talking about hearing God’s voice and I talked about the fact that God wants us to live in communion with him. That word communion is where we get our word communicate comes from. We have been taught to talk to God not talk with God.  Here we see that God’s people hear his voice and follow him not only that but because they hear him he knows them. I want to encourage you today to keep talking with God. The more you listen the more you hear. So lets take just a few lines today to talk about the ways to hear God.
            The first way is the one that we are always told about the Bible. It is the active word of God. It still speaks God’s words to us today and I don’t want anyone to think that I am belittling this way God speaks to us. I have on several occasions picked mine up to read and had words that just seem to be spoken right to my heart.  A great example of that is Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." I was reading this at a time when I felt far away from God and it jumped off the page at me that God will hear me and answer me when I seek him with my whole heart. That he has plans to prosper me.   So I know that God still speaks by his word but that is only one way that God speaks, and it isn’t the most common way either.
            The most common way is not even attributed to God by most people we call it our conscious.  Most people think that that little voice that tells you right from wrong is their voice but scripture makes it plain that it isn’t our voice. Jesus himself says that conviction of sin or wrongdoing is one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit. John 16:7&8 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” Once you realize and begin to recognize that voice as belonging to God then you will understand when He speaks along the line of one of the other jobs of the Holy Spirit. For more on the Jobs of the Holy Spirit read the rest of John 16:5-16 on your own.  This is the start to hearing God speak  we will continue talking about this with a couple of more ways to hear God speak this weekend when I post part three of this series. 
            On a personal note if you are reading this and it is helping you please leave a comment of drop me an email or facebook post letting me know. Till Saturday  Keep listening and talking With God.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How do You Hear God Speak pt one

          As a pastor and revivalist one of the most often asked questions I get is: How do I know it is God speaking to me? Or: How can I hear God like you do? To be quite honest this question surprises me every time I hear it. It says more about the leadership of churches than about the individual asking the question. How can people be attending a Bible believing, Bible teaching church and not have been taught how to hear the voice of God?  So to keep my blog entries small and readable we are going to take the next two entries to talk about this vital topic. 
          My usual answer to the question is this question: How do you know your spouse or parents voice when they talk to you on the phone without seeing them?  Or How come you can place 30 moms with 60 kids in a room and have one child call mommy and the right mommy turn around?   The answer is easy because you communicate with them regularly.  That is the answer to how to hear God speak to you, you have to communicate with him. Now let me explain, I know that every Christian prays but we are taught to pray by giving thanks asking for request giving praise but that isn’t communication that is talking at someone not to them.  How long would your other relationships last if all you ever did was talk at them and not listen to them talk?  Not long that is for sure.  So the reason that we don’t hear God speak or aren’t sure it is God when he is speaking is that we don’t take the time to listen and have a real relationship and I don’t just mean by reading our Bibles don’t get me wrong that is one way God speaks but He is a living God he wants to talk with us one on one. I want to challenge you today to start listening to God. Take some time and just listen Start a conversation with HIM ask HIM to talk to you then shut up and listen.
Then after he has said something answer him. That is communication
Next time we will talk about ways that God speaks. Until then go enjoy conversing with God.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Publishing Miracle??

So wanted to share something I find amazing.  I have started working on a book about prayerwalking. It is called "Prayer Walking Your Community for Spiritual Breakthrough."  I did this because of several people asking me if I could send them teachings on prayer walking. As I was working on it I began to think about getting it pulished.  So I went online and googled Christian Book Publishing. Of course several of  things come up but a couple of them really caught my attention because I have read books by authors they have published.  I sent inquires to both and have heard back from one of them already.  They assigned me a submisions editor whose job is to read my manuscript and see if it is even worth thier time. So for the last two days we have been playing phone tag. Now look at this quote from their web site: (Name Removed)Publishing only accepts for publication about 3 percent of all manuscripts received. Our selectivity makes it possible for us to provide our authors with a level of market penetration that is second to none because of the quality of our product. We have the best reputation in the industry for quality and service and are looking forward to speaking with you about your work."
So I am talking with this editor about my manuscript which isnt even finished and which I haven'tsubmitted becasue their site also says they only accept finished manuscripts. But she says so I know what were talking about give me a synopis of your book so I begin to talk about what Iam writing and tell her "I will have the finished manuscript by the first of next week, but it will be very very rough.  As we continue talking about prayer walking she says "You need to send me what you have done today."  I said but it isnt finished. She replies I don't acctually have to have a finished manuscript to do what I do  and I need you to understand that I need what you have right now  because baised on our conversation I am sending you a contract for your book.  We don't normally do that but if it is half as good as the stuff your telling me on the phone We can sell this book.  So send me what you have now so I can justify why I am sending this contract.
God has sent me a contract for my book without the publisher ever seeing the book.    So soon you may be seeing my book in your local bookstore.  What a crazy week. Guess now why I God allowed me to be stuck in the house. I have plenty of time to write.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Do you EXPECT???

Lately I have spent several hours talking with various different people all who have what seems on the surface like different issues but at the heart of it all is one little word expectation. OK so the word isn't that little and even bigger is the issue.  When people say how can a loving God allow such and such or why didn't God stop this or that or heal or do or say something, what they are really asking is why didn't God do what I expected him to do?  We all have this problem to a certain extinct. Let me show mine to help you think about yours.  Here I sit writing and talking about God on a regular basis, I have started a couple of ministries this year based on what I thought I heard God saying and just when things were starting to look like I actually would get to see the results of all this seed planting my physical condition worsens. I had a doctors appointment with my new specialist this week who dropped the proverbial bomb on me.  To manage my condition I am having my immune system completely repressed. Under his orders I need to stay away from the general public and not have people outside of my immediate family around me because I am now subsectable to every germ and illness there is.  So how can I prayer walk? How can I run a church? How can I see Habakkuk 1:5 come to pass.  And then God placed several people in my online life who are going through expectations of their own. Some simple like I thought ministry would be easier; to the very hard like, If God is real how could he let me be gang raped?   As I looked at all of them and even my own situation I realized that everyone of us had an expectation of Who God was or what he should do. 

Take a moment right now and examine your own life and you will realize that some where in your life and beliefs you have an expectation of who God is or what He does.  We all do, so what happens when God doesn't "live up" to our expectations?   One of three things happen 1. We get angry at God or ourselves.  I have seen it. This response shows itself in several ways  we blame God for the thing that didn't happen the way we thought it would.  An example the parents of a young lady who was raped have expressed to me the following statement " I ask God daily to protect my family so how come he didn't keep my daughter from getting hurt?"  The expectation is that protection is nothing bad will happen no matter what.  The reality of the situation is that the young lady could have been killed as well as raped so how can we say that God didn't protect her?  When I mentioned this to the mother her response was it isn't enough for her to be alive he let her be hurt.    See when it comes to blame nothing can overcome at that point.
2. God doesn't exist  This one is very common  the proof that God doesn't exist is that he didn't preform in the way we expect.  Another young lady who has been involved in ministries I have been part of  informed me that she didn't believe in God anymore because of two reasons  the following is an exact quote from her.  First in may I was raped by three different guys  if God really existed he knew that I was saving my virginity for marriage and he should have saved me from losing the one thing that i was saving.  Also if he exists and you work for him why doesn't he heal you?  How can he allow you to have such a life threatening illness. If he exists he would keep you well. This is how I know God doesn't exist.

So how do you answer this reaction no matter what you say in the face of this expectation you can't change the expectation that God cant exist if evil and pain exist.  Nothing one can say will ever change a closed and made up mind. 
3. This response is the one that is the least likely to happen. You change your expectation.  This is where I am at I am trying to realize that what I thought God was saying was my expectation not God's plan.  God's plan will fulfill itself  Jeremiah 29:11 says " For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Some how this illness which seems to harm the plan of my life is not going to bring harm it is going to bring hope and a future.  How can you be so sure  Because despite what I expected I know that God is true to his word.  He says in Isaiah 55:6-11 " Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Gods word will not return without accomplishing the purpose he sent it to accomplish.  If we take these words of God to heart and apply them to our expectations then we realize when it seems that God is not living up to what we expect that our expectation of result is not his expectation of result.  Since God doesn't change we must.   That's where I sit right now trying to  change my expectations.   Take a look at yours and think about it.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Resistance to Revival

The more I spend time with those who claim they want to experience a move of God that is world shaking the more I realize that is not what they want. They want a move of God that changes those around them to be more like them not a move of God that changes everyone it touches to be more like God.   We desire a revival that will make Tom, Dick, Jane and Sue more like what we think they should be like but the minute God reveals to us that we need to Change as part of the revival then we are finished and decide "This is not for me anymore."  In the last few months as I have seen and directed those who claimed to want to see a move of God more and more of them have given me an excuse as to why they cant be part of what God is doing here. Deep down inside they know God is about to change their perceptions and challenge them to grow and become something they aren't yet.  Because we resist change we resist the Holy Spirit who is leading us into change. So once again I have sounded the shofar of revival and once again when it isn't about feeling the touchy feely goodness of God but the all consuming fire of God people run looking for something they want not what God is doing.  I sit at home and wonder and pray and cry out for a group of people who want God to move not just in their neighbors lives or their enemies lives or other peoples lives but in their own as well.  I ask God and I despair that I am the only one who wants God so bad I am willing to give up everything to get HIM even if it means giving up myself and my "identity"  I sit here and wonder am I the only one?  I can't be can I?   But experience tells me that it sure looks like it. And for that I cry.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul

Tomorrow I will catch up on what has been happening in my prayerwalks but I felt lead to share last Sundays Sermon with everyone as I have been getting a lot of people who are going through this phenomenon and don't understand it for what it is.

So Lately I have been talking to a lot of committed Christians who for no apparent reason seem to think that God has stopped listening to them. They feel abandoned by HIM or like he is hiding from them. They say things like: "It feels like my prayers are just bouncing of the walls." or "I have been asking God for _____ for weeks and he doesn't answer me at all." This leads most of them start asking me what do I think is the problem with them that they can't hear or feel God in their life anymore. As a pastor this is one of the most frustrating questions to be asked. I mean if there is sin in their life then that is probably what is blocking God and usually he will tell me or the person I am talking to will let something slip that shows me what is between them and God but a lot of times they are living in right relationship and still aren't hearing the voice of God or feel his presence in their lives. When that happens I try to explain that besides unconfused sin there are two other reasons that we might not be hearing from God.
So the first reason besides a break in your relationship with God is that the enemy is delaying God's answer to you so that you will either accuse yourself of some unknown unresolved sin or so that you will accuse God of breaking his promise to never leave us. (Hebrews13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6 and Matthew 28:20) God is Truth and therefore cannot lie since he promised to never leave us, to be with us till the end of the earth then we know that he is hear. Since he promise "call on me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you don't know" (Jeremiah 33:3) we know that he is keeping his word. But if we look at Daniel chapter 10 we see an example of the enemy delaying an answer to prayer. Daniel 10:12&13 say this:
12 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
for 21 days the answer to Daniels prayers were delayed by the prince of Persia this is not a physical prince but the demonic prince of the region of Persia. Why would Satan or his demons delay our answer from getting to us
Well scripture tells us that he is the accuser. The response of everyone I talked to about this recently proves it they all wanted to know what sin they were committing that was stopping God from having fellowship with him. Sometimes it is sin but if it is God will reveal it so that it can be dealt with. Satan also uses it to accuse God of breaking his promise. This is the oldest trick in his arsenal of tricks against mankind. it is the one he used on eve in the garden if you think about it boiled down to its most basic is God is a liar he is keeping stuff from you he didn’t keep his word to make you in his image. He made you less than him. And we buy into it almost every time at least until we learn that is what he is doing and then we are aware of this trick and it doesn’t work as well. There is one other reason for us not to hear God for a period and it was called by the Christian mystics of old the "Dark Night of the Soul.
2. The Dark Night of the Soul was a term created by Saint John of the Cross in 1587. It is a time of Stillness when God hides his presence from our perception to cause us to seek him harder. It happens only when God is trying to take us to a new level of relationship with Him. It leads to a deadening for a period of time of everything spiritual in our lives we have no desire to seek the things of God. By that I mean we don't "feel" like it we may want to in our spirit but our emotions seem to disconnect from our spirit. We are as several people have told me lately "Just going through the motions" This is held out in scripture look at most of the psalms of David they are either songs of praise to God or cries for God not to hide himself any longer. As an example look at Psalms13: 1-3 in those first three verses of this psalm David ask how long to God 4 times and ends verse three by saying if you don't reveal yourself to me soon I am going to die. And yet the Psalm ends with David standing in faith on what he knows to be true not what he is feeling is the truth. Read this whole psalm to see what I am talking about. Some people ask me how I know that the Dark night of the soul is not just sin in our lives that we don't know about. My answer is found in Isaiah 50:10 It says "Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God." Notice that those who walk in darkness and have no light put their trust in God. This is a Biblical description of that Dark Night of the Soul.
If you happen to be finding yourself in a Dark Night of the Soul take heart they are not permanent they are to see if you are willing to press on and in doing so you enter into a deeper relationship with God that isn’t based on feelings or what you can see and hear and feel but on what you KNOW is True.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The tale of the Surprise Prayer walk

So this week I got a surprise from God. When I first started being lead to do this whole prayerwalking thing, I wanted to be able to get inside of the Local High School to prayerwalk.  Truthfully I have no contacts there I don't know anyone who could get me access but my youngest son does go to school there. And I was called Friday and asked to attend a meeting to discuss my sons academic career on Monday morning. So I arrived at the school with about 10 minutes to spare before my appointment and the Secretary gave me directions to my meeting. She told me that I was to meet in an office on the far side of the campus and gave me detailed directions so I left and began to follow her directions walking through the Halls of the school and I thought "I am not going to waste this opportunity. I will pray and declare the kingdom of God over this route at least." Little did I know that I had been set up again by God. The directions literally took me through every hallway in the school and lead me almost exactly to the office I started in.  I walked and prayed over the entire school before my meeting. How is that for a God surprise.  And that my friends is the tale of the surprise prayerwalk.