Community | 5.2.16

This past weekend, my husband, Ken, and I attended a surprise birthday party for our next-door neighbor. Their house was filled to overflowing with family and friends – and yet, it was interestingly quiet. Our neighbors are deaf, and most of
their friends are too. But even though there wasn’t much sound, there was a LOT of communication going on.

We were surrounded by friendly people who were having a great time together, laughing – mostly silently – gesturing, and paying close attention to what the others were saying with their hands and faces. We did our best to understand them and to make ourselves understood, although neither of us knows much sign language. And they were all making the same effort toward us.

Luckily for us, their daughter is hearing, and of course, also knows sign language. She very graciously helped us to connect by interpreting what our new friends were saying, and then translating our words into signing for them. In this situation, we all needed an interpreter, someone who understood both languages and could help us communicate.

That birthday party got me thinking about how we experience communicating with God. Sometimes the language barrier between God and us seems impossible to cross. Even though we may believe that He is present and is communicating to us personally through creation, the Bible, and other people, we still need help in learning the language of the Spirit.

We were created for community, not isolation – and common language is a primary bridge to this connection. We become fluent in God’s language, and thus connected to His community, the same way we learn human languages – by watching, imitating, studying, and practicing – learning from others who are walking with God and can help us interpret what we are reading, hearing, and experiencing.

Great quote by Ruth Haley Barton, from Sacred Rhythms:

It is impossible to overstate the importance of community in the spiritual transformation process. This is not the same thing as the Christian busyness that often accompanies church life; it is about quietly sharing the journey with others who are also drawn to deeper levels of spiritual transformation that enable them to discern and do God’s will.

God’s Word | 4.10.16

This is my second spring in North Carolina. If anything, I’m more excited this year than last. Every day I go out and poke around in the yard to see what new green thing has popped up. The really amazing thing to me is that most of this overflowing color and life just happens; spring is kind to all, even in the yards that aren’t really even being taken care of.

What does this have to do with hearing God? God’s word comes to us in another important way. Alongside His written Word in the Bible, Jesus the Living Word, and the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, the Bible also tells us that God’s word also refers to any expression of His heart and mind, His character, and His purposes. Continue reading God’s Word | 4.10.16

Three Lights | 4.3.16

We’ve been thinking about the importance of listening to and recognizing the still, small voice of God in our inner spirit – comforting, teaching, affirming, convicting, and guiding – the Spirit of Christ living in us. But what about those times when we need specific direction from God in making a wise and godly decision or a choice about something we are facing?

There is no magic formula, but in general, a message from God usually comes to us as we are responsible to study and meditate on Scripture, become experienced at recognizing the Spirit’s voice within us, and then stay alert to the circumstances that happen. These three interdependent points of reference are what Dallas Willard refers to as “the three lights.”

Most Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired written Word of God, and is always where the voice of God can be heard. It contains everything we need to know about how to live well, with clear instructions about many areas of life that there’s no question about God’s will for us. We rely on Biblical principles that can guide us in the areas that aren’t covered directly in Scripture; such as how to parent your kids, where you should live, what college you should go to, or what career or job you should pursue. You just won’t find that kind of specific information in the Bible, and here is where you can begin to see the importance of developing your conversational relationship with God.

Reading and studying Scripture is useless without the Holy Spirit’s voice to interpret, reveal, and illuminate the truth of the mind of God. I know from my own experience that the inner voice could be my own thoughts, or any number of other voices that enter my consciousness. But, the voice of the Holy Spirit will never contradict Biblical principles. And on their own, external circumstances – often referred to as the opening or closing of a door – don’t tell us much either. Could be God, could be Satan, and could be anything, really. But our study of the written Word of God and inner promptings of the Holy Spirit come together to help us discern whether this particular circumstance is an open or closed door from God.

For me, knowing that God’s voice of guidance does not usually come out of the blue is reassuring. Reflecting on the “three lights” is something tangible we can actually DO, as we seek to know, hear, and follow God.

Who’s Talking? | 3.20.16

Last week, I shared the story of how I experienced God’s voice of encouragement to follow up on the idea of Soulmind. But as they say, here’s the rest of the story (so far!) There are regular entries in my journal since then; worrying over how this could possibly even work, self-doubt – feeling stupid for thinking the world needed another devotional or more mediocre music; why don’t I just go get a regular job, this is just my own bad idea anyway. Sound familiar? Continue reading Who’s Talking? | 3.20.16