What is Our Identity?

God’s supernatural power flows through our connection and closeness with Him. This sermon was recorded in Guadalajara, Mexico where we saw many lives touched by God’s love and power.

Man started out as children of God in the Garden of Eden [the garden of pleasure]. Through stepping away from God as Lord and Father man became a slave to his own independence – we became slaves to our own self focus. The rest of the bible is really little more than the story of how God acts to return to us our true identity as His sons and daughters. God’s intent is that we go directly from slaves [to self focus and sin] to sons and daughter. Unfortunately, for most of us this return is a three step process. We start as slaves to our self focus and sin which becomes our second nature, so much so that we have no power, in ourselves, to get back to our true identity.

 

Read the transcript for Mark’s message here.

The Test of Time

Between the promise and the fulfillment comes the desert. This is the way it always has been and the way it is today. Why?
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;  and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2

Painful as it is there is a connection between the production of Jesus’ Character in us and enduring suffering during a period of waiting for the fulfillment of the promise. The Greek word here translates as “perseverance”, “steadfastness”, “patient endurance”, and it means “the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances”.

The simple fact is that in order to receive the fulfillment of the promises God has made to us we need to persevere in believing those promises and continue in doing those things which he has called us to do “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal.6:9

Paul has to tell us this because it is in our nature to give up. The problem is we are stuck in time. God gives us a promise and our present circumstances, our present moment, denies the promise because it hasn’t happened yet. We then experience the “test of time”. We start to believe, “It hasn’t happened yet, so it’s not going to happen”. This is the lie of the enemy which he uses to dismantle our faith. It is his principle weapon – delay. Now, here is God’s truth that we must take hold of; it hasn’t happened yet because God has something for us that is more important than the fulfillment of the promise. And that something is the production of Jesus’ character in us. Why does that matter so much? Because every gift of God to us is opposed by our enemy and we must fight the good fight of faith to receive it. We are in a war of faith vs. unbelief. We need the perseverance of Jesus to endure the delay. I think most of us know this by virtue of our experience with doubt. The question is; what can we do about it? How can we survive the delay? How can we wait well?

Delay always brings difficult questions and a terrible temptation. The questions it brings are;

“where is God in this delay and why doesn’t He do something about it?”

The temptation it brings is to cease believing one of these two truths:

1] that God is all loving &

2] that God is all powerful.

Any time we experience real delay and the suffering it brings, we are tempted by the enemy to believe either God is all loving but not very powerful, or He is all powerful but not very loving. We reason; if He were both, this unfulfilled promise would not be happening, so I should quit believing. This is a lie. The Bible tells us that God is both all loving and all powerful.

What is the answer to this dilemma? We see the answer most clearly in the story of Job. Satan comes to God and says, “the only reason people worship you is because you bless them.” What Satan is really saying is, “God you are not worth loving just for who you are. The only reason anyone would marry you is for your money.”

All of the angels hear this allegation and 1/3rd of them have already rebelled against God. Much is at stake. So, God allows what is completely unjust – the torture of an innocent and righteous man. Job suffers unimaginably and he is tempted by his own wife and friends to either believe that God is not just or that he has sinned – and he knows neither of these is true. The problem is he has no answer to the question, “why is this happening to me?”

The only answer Job has is to find the presence of God. He knows that if he can just come into God’s presence his questions will be answered and he will be vindicated.

“If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me and consider what he would say.” Job 23:3-5

Asaph comes to the same conclusion in Psalm 73 where he is overcome by the success of the evil all around him.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.” Vs 2-5

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.” Vs 16-18

Finally, he comes to one of the most profound truths in the Bible and the place of true peace:

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth” Vs.25

Job and Asaph are saying the same thing: the answer to our deepest questions and doubts is not a propositional truth but a presence. In the presence of God, the question is no longer of concern; the doubt is no longer relevant. And this has been my experience. When I seek His presence, not for an answered prayer but just to find Him and be with Him, I find that I can survive the waiting. I find the peace I desperately need.

We all married Him for His money – for what He could do to change our circumstances. This is a good reason to come to Him, but our peace and joy depend on going far beyond “what have you done for me lately?”

Our greatest peace and joy will come when we begin to value Him for who He is and not just for what He gives. Unanswered prayers and promises prompt us to examine our relationship with Him and to change our hearts motive for pursuing Him.

Knowing Him really is the reward.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Wait Well

Is there a biblical pattern to promises and their fulfillment in the life of a Christian? Abraham is given a promise of fathering a great nation. More than 50 years pass before he has a child. He is 100 before the promise is fulfilled. As a young man Joseph has a dream from God of ruling his family.

The next thing that happens is he is sold into slavery and ends up in prison alone and forgotten. Years go by before the promise is fulfilled.

Moses is the promised deliverer of Israel. He spends 40 years in the desert alone before his ministry starts. He is 80 when it starts.

Israel is promised a homeland. They start out to cross the desert to the promised land. It is a trip of maybe a week or two max. They spend 40 years wandering in the desert before they receive the promised land.

Jesus waits until he is 30 years old before he starts his ministry. He receives a supernatural affirmation of His father’s love at His baptism and then immediately is led into the desert for a 40 day fast ending with warfare with Satan. After Jesus is resurrected, he is with his disciples 40 days before he ascends to heaven. They have to wait 7 days for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 40 is the number in the Bible for testing and preparation and 7 is the number of perfection. They had to wait until God’s perfect fullness of time had passed before receiving the promised H.S. There is a pattern here- what is it?

How Can I Hear God – Part 2

  1. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit “speaking” directly to your mind. [Again, we call this revelation] Again, this is a little different. In this type of speaking the Holy Spirit does not use scripture, He speaks His thoughts directly from His mind to ours. He causes a thought from Him to appear in your mind. What makes this kind of communication so helpful is that it can happen anywhere at any time. For me it usually happens during my daily quiet time with God, but it does not come through the Bible. But what He says is always consistent with what He says in His word. This is the test to apply to determine whether or not to believe what you are hearing.

When He speaks this way, it has the same power to create faith as when He speaks through scripture. For me it is more effective than going through the bible hunting for a scripture to claim. I am ashamed to say I am quite the cynic. Often when I try to claim a promise from the Old Testament for myself, I end up thinking, “That promise was made more than 3000 years ago to King David. He was a very important guy, I am not. What gives me the right to take his promise and call it my own?” This is my struggle to believe, so it is really wonderful when God speaks to me directly with a promise – mind to mind so to speak. No pun intended!

For the last 6 months I have been going through a very hard time, lots of fear and uncertainty about the future. About a month ago God told me during my daily quiet time to go back over my prayer journal from the last 18 months and write down everything He said to me. I thought I would end up with 10-12 things. I ended up with 58 and as of today there are many more. I have discovered that I am having an ongoing conversation with God! My faith for what He has promised for me is huge now! It is big enough to drive the fear and worry away [as long as I read His promises regularly]. For me this is a huge breakthrough! I have been a very fear based Christian. This is changing fast!

Here are a few of the things He has said to me that created faith in me:

  1. “You are only looking at the negative. Look at the future possibilities with the eyes of faith. Trust me with your future, I’ve got it in my hands. You are not going to make a mistake! I am guiding you, you just haven’t seen it yet”.
  2. “You have been using your imagination to analyze all the things that could go wrong in your future. Stop doing that. Use your imagination to see all the things that I have promised you”.
  3. “Persevere in faith! Not just in obedience, but in continuing to choose to believe my promises to you. Don’t lose your eternal perspective. This time of uncertainty will end soon. You are entering a new season of fruitfulness – just trust me!”
  4. “I am teaching you Trust, Patience, Faithfulness, and Perseverance. Make these your goals and continue to listen for my voice. I don’t intend for you to ever live without hearing my voice. I will continue to speak.”
  5. “Turn your fear into praise. Use your praise as a weapon!” And on and on…

Sounds like the Bible doesn’t it? That’s why I believe it is coming from Him. Because I believe it is coming from Him, my faith is growing. Because my faith is growing my trust is growing and because my trust is growing, my experience of His peace is growing… and that’s all I need!

Here is my point. To grow in faith, we need to be hearing Him. To hear Him we need to be listening. We need to make listening to Him a habit. To do this we need to create a protected time of stillness and listening. The more we practice listening for His voice the better we get at it.

Too many people start trying to hear His voice when they are in trouble. It is hard to do when you are up to your waste in alligators. If we learn to hear his voice habitually, when the alligators come, we will be ready. So, start now with a  quiet place, your bible, a pen and journal. Pour out your heart to Him and then ask Him what He wants to say to you. Wait and write down whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about whether its Him or not. Wait a few weeks and go back and read what you think He might have said. You will be surprised!

How Can I Hear God?

24464_artwork_12bddbb2d50a965d946bfdaaf4a1d785Hello. This is Mark’s wife Shell with an introduction to this teaching.

I have often told Mark he needs to tell people the reason he hears from God so quickly. He takes an hour each day sitting in stillness and silence with God. Sometimes he won’t hear or sense anything for days, but he still shows up.

In his message on Faith Comes From Hearing, Mark shares some of experiences. You can also watch this sermon on his Youtube channel – https://youtu.be/Ssczr8cOiIg

FAITH COMES FROM HEARING

“…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”. Romans 10:17

Let’s break this verse down:

“Hearing the message” means literally to perceive sound. It refers to the sense of hearing. Faith comes when we “hear” something, just like hearing a voice. This means that faith does not come from us trying to create it. Faith is the result of an experience of hearing. What we “hear” comes to us somewhat like sound. It is either in words or some other sound that means something specific to us, e.g. like the sound of an ambulance siren. And what we hear is through the word of Christ.

This tells us two things. The first is that Faith has a personal source – it comes from Christ/God/The Holy Spirit. Real faith cannot be produced from any source but God. The second thing this phrase tells us is that faith comes from the “word” of God. The Greek word used here which is translated as word, is “rhema”. It comes from a root work that means “to say” or “to speak”. It translates as follows; “that which is or has been uttered by the living voice – “an utterance”. It also means “any sound produced by the voice”, and “having a definite meaning”. This tells us that we should expect this word from God to come in words most of the time. It is like any spoken message. It is discernable.

How should we expect these faith producing messages to come?

  1. Through the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible. [we call this revelation] God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit as we read His written word. Most of us have had this experience one time or another, hopefully often. You are reading the Bible and suddenly a verse or phrase “jumps out at you”. It is like the bible is speaking directly to you in your present circumstances. It is like you are hearing that verse or phrase for the first time. It has great impact upon you. You believe it! It is producing faith to believe what it is saying to you. How many of us have had this experience? Was it helpful? Would you like it to happen more often? How do we increase these experiences? We make a habit of reading the bible every day.
  2. Through the voice of the Holy Spirit as He uses the Bible to bring the message. [again, we call this revelation] This experience is a little different. It doesn’t start with reading the bible, it starts with listening to the Holy Spirit. It works this way; you are pouring your heart out to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit because you need to hear from Him. You could go to your Bible search program and type in a word that describes your condition, e.g. fear, sickness, depression, uncertainty, hopefulness, etc. but you have not done that yet. You are just pouring out your heart to God. Suddenly, a scripture address comes to you. You look it up and it “jumps out at you”. You experience what we just described – it speaks from God to you, and it produces faith.

Some years ago, my father was suffering from dementia. He was experiencing bouts of paranoia and delusions. He believed people were out to take his money. He called me daily to phone his lawyers and have them start law suites against people that had done him no harm. Ten minutes after hanging up the phone he would call again, and we would go through it all over again.  It was a terrible number of years for all of us but especially for me because I had to manage his affairs while his dementia was undermining them.

After doing this for several years I acquired a genuine fear of putting Shelley through the same kind of experience when I get older. I was telling God how much I did not want to do this to her, and I was asking for a sudden death that did not involve some sort of slow, withering, exhausting death that would make Shell’s life miserable. He interrupted my request with a scripture address. It was not a scripture that I was familiar with. It was Psalm 16:10. I turned to it and this is what it said, “…nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Ever since He said that, I have had faith that my death will not be a burden to Shell.

Check out Part 2 for the final point and an encouraging example

How to Face our Brokenness

Hiding_IconIn part 1 of this discussion we looked at the verse:

Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Most of the time this verse is offered as a warning against the sin of pride, and so it should be, but it has more to say to us than that.

Sins and failures are of two kinds; sins of commission and sins of omission. Perhaps when we fail to consider our weaknesses, doubts and fears we are failing by way of omission. It might be that we are doing quite fine in not thinking of ourselves in prideful terms and yet still be missing the point of the verse, because we have failed to consider ourselves in our totality – good and bad.

At this point in my argument someone might say, “All that matters is that I avoid sin. By not being prideful I am obeying the verse, so who cares about facing my weaknesses as long as they are not sin.” This is the sort of response one can expect from a sin-based faith, but could God have more in mind that that we avoid sin? Jesus said He came to give us abundant life. Surely abundant life is more than a life of simply avoiding sin.

So here is the question;

“could failing to address the hidden negative aspects of my life be coming between me and abundant life?”

Is it possible that failing to think about the negative aspects of my person could negatively affect my relationship with those I love, or even my relationship with my Father God?

We have an expression we use as a compliment. We say, “she is really real.” Or we say, “he is really genuine.” Or possibly, “With her, what you see is what you get”. What we are complimenting is their transparency.

We are saying that what we enjoy about them is that we are seeing the real person, both the good and the bad. The truth about relationships is that they are only as deep as they are honest. What I keep hidden about myself can never be a part of a relationship. This means that not all of me is a part of the relationship, and so the relationship will suffer. The more I keep hidden, the shallower the relationship.

The shallower the relationships the less abundant is my life.

And the same applies to my relationship with God.

Whatever part of my personhood that I refuse to bring to God is not a part of our relationship. What ever part I refuse to look at in myself is not available for God to heal. He never forces His healing on anyone. He waits until we will be honest with Him and then He begins to address our fears, doubts, and failures with us. Divine healing is a two-part process. We bring our pain to Him by being honest and He brings His truth and love to our pain.

What we need to note is that much of the time God’s healing comes through others. There are many blessings He chooses not to do directly because He values giving us significance in His Kingdom. We really are allowed to be His hands and feet, ears and mouth. And this brings us to the answer to the question; “Can I know others without knowing myself?”

The answer is no. Whatever I withhold of myself in my relationships with others will not be available to be healed through that relationship. Not only that but the relationship will not be “real”, because I am not being real. The more honest we are with ourselves and others, the more of God we will experience. And vice versa. The more honest we are with ourselves and God, the more of Him we will experience through others.

Relationships are the most valuable things we have. Our joy is tied to our relationships, first to God and then to others.

Relationships thrive on transparency like plants in the sun, so let’s open ourselves to the light.

To see the video of this talk visit Reluctantly Youtube Channel – https://youtu.be/CyywAatR2FI

 

Facing my Brokenness

Romans 12:3 “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Most of the time this verse is offered as a warning against the sin of pride, and so it should be, but it has more to say to us than that.

The first thing to note is that Paul is not giving us advice he is giving us a command – two commands actually. The first is a negative command; not to think of ourselves more highly than we should. Paul words this as a command rather than as advice because it is a human tendency to avoid addressing our shortcomings. Our default position is self-protection and defensiveness.

Think of the times you have had to bring correction to a close friend. How many times has their reaction been to say, “thank you so much, I really needed to hear that!” Not often. Usually we are met with some sort of excuse, deflection or counter attack. And we all do the same thing automatically when we are confronted with our weakness.

The second command is a positive command; think of yourself with sober judgement. It is the solution to the usual failure to be honest with ourselves. So far so good, but my question is; “honest with myself about what?”

The easy answer is “my sin”. But, sin is not the only problem we choose not to be honest about.

The fact is, sin is not our only problem.

There are many aspects of my personality that I do not want to think about. Many failures that I would just as soon forget. Many fears that only come in the night and leave me sleepless and anxious. Many doubts I hate to say out loud. Could it be that when Paul tells us to think of ourselves with sober judgement he might be including all these things we hate to confront?

By interpreting this verse as nothing more than an admonition against pride we can avoid the hidden aspects of our personality and history, that sabotage our peace and wellbeing. I doubt this is what God had in mind for this verse.

Check back in on Monday for the conclusion of this discussion and hopefully a video of Mark explaining it as well.

 

How can an all-powerful, all loving God allow suffering in His world?

loveAt first glance the nature of God presents us with a logical impossibility.

The Bible tells us that God is infinitely powerful [there is nothing he can’t do and nothing he can’t fix] and he is infinitely loving. When we suffer, and our immediate prayers are not answered, we are tempted to believe either one of these statements:

  1. God is not powerful enough to help me, or
  2. God does not love me enough to help me.

On the face of it, it appears to be an inescapable conundrum… until we ask another question…

If you had to choose, which would you choose; a world in which there is love, but some pain or, a world in which there is no love, but no pain?

Or put another way, which is more important to you;

a world with love or

a world without pain?

Most of us would choose a world with love and some pain. Love is just too wonderful and important to us to give up for the sake of avoiding pain.

“Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved” Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Love makes the world go ‘round”- song from the musical Carnival. “All you need is love” The Beatles… and on and on. There are very few songs about life without pain, but 100’s of thousands about love. You get the point. It seems I am suggesting that you cannot have love without pain. Is this true? Does love always come with the possibility of rejection/pain?

In God’s world the answer is yes. Let me explain…

As far as God is concerned love is everything. God does not just value love, He is love! His quintessential nature is love. He is a relationship of love between three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because His love is infinite He is always looking for more people to love. We were created by love, for love. So far so good, but this creates a problem.

We will explore the problem and solution in the next blog.

Opening Your Mind to Open Your Ears

hh-animals-deer-4In my last blog post I mentioned that we have a cultural communication bias against hearing God’s “voice”.

Our culture shouts at us and God whispers.

It is not simply that the subtlety of God’s communication occurs because He speaks softly, it is also the ways that He speaks softly.

He does not always speak in perfect sentences when He drops a through into our minds.

  • Sometimes He speaks through riddles.
  • He may begin a message with a strange question.
  • He may not even use a thought at all. He may use a mental image appearing in our mind’s eye.
  • Or perhaps a powerful emotion rising up unbidden.
  • Or perhaps a Bible reference to a book, chapter and verse.
  • Or even through a physical sensation arising without apparent cause.
  • And of course, through a dream.

Sounds rather complicated doesn’t it?

Thankfully, recognizing God’s voice is simplified when we know what to look for. Let’s look at some of the ways God communicates with us in more detail.

  1. Mental images

Many times, I have been praying for someone and my well-crafted, intelligent and very literary prayer was interrupted by some strange unbidden mental image appearing in my mind. In the beginning I dismissed these random images as the probable result of indigestion.

At some point someone told me that God communicates this way and that I should pay attention to these mental pictures and find out if they might be from God. I did, and they were. These mental images were the beginning of my prophetic ministry. Of course, not every random mental image that comes to us during prayer is from God, but the only way to find out is to share it and find out if it means anything to the person receiving the prayer. Risky business.

  1. Random Thoughts

Have you ever had the experience of praying for someone and a random thought about them comes to your mind? Perhaps it is a thought about their mental or spiritual condition e.g. unforgiveness, fear, anger, sorrow, anxiety, joy, peace, etc. Perhaps it is someone’s name. I was praying for an older lady who came forward for prayer for her arthritis. The name “Frank” came to my mind very clearly. I asked her who Frank was and she said it was her brother who died by being hit by a train. It turned out she had never forgiven God for the death of her brother. Bitterness was her spiritual condition – arthritis was merely it’s physical effect.

  1. Unbidden Emotions

God can communicate to us about someone by allowing us to feel what they are feeling. It is a strange thing to be in a group of people and suddenly experience a powerful negative emotion which has no connection to the state of your own life – happy one minute and feeling deep sadness the next. We usually dismiss this kind of negative experience as soon as possible, maybe even attributing it to Satan. But what if it is God trying to get our attention to pray for someone? And if it is Him, what do we do with it? Risky business.

  1. Unbidden Bible Verses

Have you had the experience of thinking of someone and then having a Bible verse come to your mind? Most of us have. What did you do with that verse? Did you;

  1. Ignore it?
  2. Pray it for them? Or
  3. Phone them to give them the verse?

Notice the increasing degree of risk from 1. – 3. Risky business.

  1. Unbidden physical sensations

What could a sudden pain or unusual physical sensation have to do with a communication from God? Probably nothing most of the time, but what if God is trying to tell you who to pray for? Just as God can share someone’s emotional state with us to facilitate prayer for them, so can He share their physical state. I have had the experience, and witnessed others have the experience, of sharing a sudden specific pain in a meeting, announce it and have someone healed of that specific pain or condition.

A friend of mine used to attend a street church frequented by lots of homeless people. He entered the meeting late and the only seat available was near the front, beside a homeless guy. My friend was a neatness and hygiene freak. When he sat down he noticed the smell coming from his homeless neighbor. It was overwhelmingly bad. He decided to leave but before he stood up to leave God told him [with a very clear thought in his mind] not to leave. He tried to stay but the smell was making him sick. He cried out to God, “Do something, I’m going to be sick!!” Immediately, a wonderful strong scent of flowers overcame him! He could smell nothing but the flowers. He looked around to see who had just brought flowers into the room, but no one had. He said he had never smelt anything like that wonderful smell. It lasted the whole time he was in the meeting. More wonderful still was the love that overcame him for the homeless man he was sitting beside.

The list goes on, but this blog is already too long. If you are intrigued with the subject of the varied ways God speaks to us, then Reluctantly Supernatural in an Age of Reason might be the book for you. Give it a read and join the discussion with a blog post or question of your own.

In the meantime, go out and take some risks listening for God’s momentary guidance in your life! Risky business…

 

 

What is “hearing God’s voice” anyway?”

No-JargonOne of the biggest problems we religious folk have is our jargon.

Sometimes I wonder if we have any idea what we are talking about. Has it ever occurred to you that our speech might be incomprehensible to our average non-religious neighbor or co-worker?

Probably not. I say “probably not” because much of the time our highly specialized religious jargon is not even comprehensible to other Christians outside of our particular [and sometimes peculiar] Christian sub-subculture.

Take the phrase “God told me” as an example.

I use that expression allot, and I hear it allot in my circles. So much so that the scandalous nature of the phrase has lost its scandalousity …. Is that a word?

Seriously, what do I mean when I say, “God told me…”?

How did He tell me?

And how do I know it was Him speaking?

And was He really speaking? Out loud?

And how often does this other-worldly phenomena happen? Is it the rule or the exception?

So many questions, so few brain cells…

Jesus promised us that His sheep would hear His voice. This suggests that He is speaking but the questions remain, how is He speaking and how do I know it is His voice? Let me try to explain His voice as I have experienced it.

First, let me say that my experience of God’s voice has never been audible. To the best of my recollection, I have never heard the audible voice of God. I have talked to a few credible people who have told me of the experience of hearing the voice of God as a sound in their ears but, all of them agree that this was a very rare occurrence in their relationship with God.

Perhaps a better question is, “How does God communicate with us apart from the Bible?”

I say, apart from the Bible because the Bible is the principle way that God communicates His truths to us. It must always remain our primary source for understanding God’s messages to His children. But, there are many questions that the Bible cannot answer, e.g. which job to take, which house to buy, which city to live in, and most importantly, which person to marry. Many of the questions that keep us awake at night cannot be answered by studying the Bible.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God could simply drop His thoughts directly into our minds? Imagine having a troubling question about something really important and being able to ask God for the answer, then to have His answer come to your mind as a random thought. Wouldn’t that be a comfort! Some say that this is impossible. They argue that God stopped doing that when He finished writing the Bible. The idea is that once we have a book of His thoughts we no longer have any need to hear from Him directly.

Can you imagine a marriage working that way?

She says, “tell me again right now that you love me and are happy you married me!”

He says, “I wrote that in a card 10 months ago for our anniversary, I’m not going to say it again!”

They say the secret to a great marriage is communication, how much more a great relationship with our Father God?

What I find ironic is that the same people who tell me God will not drop one of His thoughts into my mind tell me that Satan routinely drops his thoughts into my mind – many times each day! And we call that phenomena “temptation”. If I am to believe them, I must conclude that Satan has direct access to my mind, but God chooses not to. Why would a good Father allow that to happen? I just can’t see Him doing that. I believe He speaks to us far more often that we realize.

The problem we have is not His lack of communication, but rather our difficulty in recognizing how He communicates to us.

One of our biggest hurdles to overcome in recognizing His communications is overcoming our cultural communication bias. Our culture of communication is big, loud, aggressive, pushy, and manipulative [think advertising]. God’s culture of communication is the opposite of all of these… a still, small voice. We are listening for a message coming with special effects and He is whispering. We expect a message that cannot be ignored, and He is speaking with a voice so subtle that should we be of a mind not to hear Him, we won’t.

When God drops a thought into our mind it usually sounds like one of ours – easy to dismiss. “What an unusual thought… I wonder why I just thought that? Oh well, it can’t be important…” And on we go, missing His momentary guidance.

The truth is that if we are going to recognize His direct communication we are going to have to pay much more attention to our thought lives.

How to do that and what to pay attention to will be the subject of my next blog post.