When God Speaks

Hello? Who is this? Do I know you?

Have you ever had one of those calls when the person on the other end starts speaking, assuming you know who’s calling, but you aren’t clear who it is? You think you recognize the voice, and you feel a little embarrassed that you can’t attach a name right away? What do you say?

Awkward, isn’t it?

I think sometimes that’s how we feel about God. He expects we will know his voice, but we aren’t always certain we do. How is God supposed to sound? How do I know I’m not just talking to myself?

How do I know if it’s God speaking?

It can be challenging to decipher. We do have an enemy who is out to mess us up. The Bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14). And, he used scripture to tempt Jesus (Matt. 4:3-11).

No wonder we can be confused!

But I think God wants to make it easier for us. He tells us in John 10 that we are his sheep, and his sheep know his voice. I find that reassuring when I’m feeling a bit confused about whether I’m hearing God or not. If I’m his sheep, then I will know his voice. Phew!

These are some of the ways I know I am hearing from God:102

  1. Jesus came to forgive, not condemn. Satan is the accuser and “father of lies.” If what I hear condemns, accuses or is untruthful (even if there is a thread of truth), it is not from God. If what I hear convicts with hope and forgiveness and settles my heart, even if I feel sorrowful about it, it is God.
  2. Satan’s goal is to devour, kill, steal and destroy. Jesus came to give us abundant life. If what I hear is destructive to me or someone else and leaves me feeling hopeless, devastated and stuck, it is not God. When God speaks, I feel a sense of promise, restoration and life. Like a breath of fresh air.
  3. When God speaks, what he says matches his character and what his word says. His character is loving, patient, kind and forgiving. He is mighty and just and merciful. Sometimes it may seem that even the Bible is contradictory, but if we dig deeper into the context, we often find the answers to each seeming conundrum. God is consistent.
  4. God’s words bring peace not turmoil. Even if I don’t like what I hear from God, I still know it is right and my heart feels settled. Even in the craziest situations. Like when I moved here with no job, hardly any money and only a temporary place to live. Single with three teenagers. Or when I met my husband online and traveled to Australia to meet him. And he moved here with his three young children to marry me and live in America. As crazy as it seemed, I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew God spoke and in a place of faith, I (we) followed his lead.

Sometimes it seems scary to listen for God.

I mean, what if I didn’t really hear him or heard him wrong? What if I don’t like what he’s telling me or asking me to do because I can’t really see the bigger picture and can’t imagine things working out? What about when I need to humble myself and forgive someone or pray for someone or in love tell someone something difficult they need to hear?

All very good points.

I’ve found that God is faithful to meet me in every one of those situations. He forgives me and has a good plan even if I miss what he said, or didn’t hear him completely accurately. Even when I don’t like what he has to say, he can handle it and help me follow through. And if he asks me to do something difficult, he’s right there to make me able to do it if I trust him.

The good news is he loves us, speaks to us and wants us to be able to hear him. And the more we get to know him, the more confident we’ll be when he speaks.

When has God spoken to you, but you weren’t sure about it? When has he spoken and you knew it confidently?

Time for a Makeover

Yes, I’m in the middle of a rewrite. Again.

But that’s not the makeover I’m talking about. The makeover to which I refer is the one the girls in your life can experience upon reading Sherry Kyle’s new book, The Girl’s Guide to your Dream Room.

A timeless treasure chest of stories, ideas, quizzes, and practical advice, The Girl’s Guide to your Dream Room, opens a new world of design for young ladies. In addition, it leads them through short Bible applications that tie in with each chapter’s theme. Your girls will enjoy the Interior Design 101 sections which offer lessons in art, decor, furnishings and more. This fun filled, DIY guide also offers Tiny Tips for room decorating and organization.

The easy to read layout made it fun to explore.   DSC_0047 (2)

My 13 year old daughter, Bella, has enjoyed taking the quizzes and filling out brief questionnaires to discover the styles and colors that best suit her. After reading and doing the activities in the first chapter, she came to find me, full of excitement and room design ideas she wants to implement as soon as she can!  Needless to say, she loves the book. We are even using it for her home schooling art classes since it has so much incredible information and project ideas.

And the book came with a key chain!

That, of course, made it an instant hit with Bella.

Highly recommended, a lot of fun, packed with great info – a great Christmas gift idea.

Go to Sherry’s website to order or for more of her fabulous books.

Can You Hear Me Now?

God is speaking.197

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear God as if, say, he were a friend across the table having coffee?

When you’re up against a big decision or even feeling a bit lost in life, wouldn’t it be great to have the creator of the universe, the one who knows everything about everything whisper a little direction or positive encouragement?

I think sometimes we expect God should boom at us in a commanding voice. Or maybe we feel as if his caring about us in any personal way is absurd—after all, if he is there, why would he want to speak to me? Perhaps we don’t really believe there is a God at all. The Big Bang Theory seems to handle the question for us, even if we’re not clear how the matter got there in the first place.

But what if God exists, does care and wants to say something?

To you. And me.

Remember the 1977 movie with John Denver and George Burns  titled “Oh, God!”? Theology aside, the film’s premise is that God wants us to know he is there.

He speaks to us.

Not only in a handful of movies, like Evan Almighty, but in real life. Yours and mine. He loves us. He wants good for us. And he tells us about it every day in a variety of ways.

It may sound a little crazy, but I hear from him every day.  No, I’m not some super saint with special powers and an “in” with God. But I take it seriously when he claims that we can ask him things, and he will answer.

For example, he tells us that if we lack wisdom, we have only to ask, and he will give it to us. The Bible reminds us that he thinks differently than we do, but if we choose to believe in him and acknowledge him as the one who saves us, we will be given “the mind of Christ” by his Spirit.

Sounds good to me!

If he spoke to Adam, Eve, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Mary and numerous others, why wouldn’t he speak to you and me? He longs for a personal relationship with us and that means communication, right?

Well then, how does he speak?

These are the ways I’ve heard him:                                                                      DSC_0006

  1. Through creation—it never fails that while I quietly marvel at the ocean, a bird, trees or flowers, a new born baby or even my son’s ball python, some amazing revelation or connection to my life gets whispered into my thoughts.
  2. Circumstances—so many times situations work out or don’t in a specific way that I couldn’t have orchestrated. Generally, this occurs when I’ve asked God for direction or to work out something that seems impossible. Like a window opening in a dark room, light floods in and a path is clear where nothing could be seen previously.
  3. Other people—I make it a point to ask trusted people for advice. God can speak through anyone he chooses, not only those who believe in his existence. It amazes me how God uses another person’s words to answer a question or give me direction or encouragement. A deep sense of “rightness” settles in my heart. Often, God is the only one who could have known what I needed to hear.
  4. The Bible—you knew that was coming, didn’t you? God says his word is alive and does things when we read it, share it and live it. I’ve experienced being in places of turmoil, confusion, lethargy and discouragement and felt prompted to read a particular section from the Bible. God transforms me as I let the words penetrate my heart.
  5. God’s voice—yep, you read that right. I often hear him whisper to me. I want to hear him so I sit very quietly and meditate on how wonderful he is. I tell him how I feel about things. I ask him to help me, to speak to me, to guide me. I wait and listen. And he does. Not a booming voice, but a tiny whisper in my heart. Not an accusing, condemning one, but a peaceful, settling whisper.IMG_4078

He wants to be there for us. He has good things to say. I believe he wants to speak to everyone.  Why don’t you ask him?

When have you heard God? I’d love to hear from you about it.

Some verses for reference: James 1:5-6; I Corinthians 2:9-16; Matthew 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12; Isaiah 55:8-11; 2Kings 19:11-12; Psalm 103

How Can I Ever Forgive Myself?

I hate myself. 068

How many times have I thought this, whispered it or screamed the words at myself? Too many to count.

I imagine you’ve done the same. Quick to believe the worst, we punish ourselves, by rehearsing our sins, bad choices or the lies we’ve believed over and over. Don’t we?

And so we reach the final focus in our series on forgiveness—learning to forgive ourselves. I’d experienced God’ forgiveness, and chose to believe Psalm 103:12 that says he forgives as far as the east is from the west (which is infinitely far if you keep going around the circle).I had finally forgiven the people I loved who had hurt me, releasing them into God’s hands.

But I couldn’t forgive myself.

After all, it was me who chose the life I ended up living. My poor judgment caused the pain I suffered. God had tried to gain my trust and attention and pointed out the truth about myself and my situation. But I hadn’t been willing to deal with the truth. It was too hard, too scary, too painful.

I caused my years of heartache.

As my children shared their hearts about all that had happened, I hated myself and my self-imposed blindness. They had come to me with their hurts from a dysfunctional family life, but I did nothing to intervene. I couldn’t forgive myself for the way they had suffered as a result of my leaving them unprotected over the years.

I was so intent on holding onto a dream of the marriage I wanted, that I sacrificed my children. I saw myself as the ancient worshipers of Molech, god of the Ammonites, who threw their children into flames as living sacrifices which God said, in Leviticus 20:1-5 and Jeremiah 32:35, was detestable (refer also to Leviticus 18:2, Deut. 12:31 and I Kings 11:5).

How could I do something so awful to the ones I love the most?

But in spite of my choices, God had been putting the pieces of my children back together. Still, I felt as if the damage was irreparable; that I could never make it up to them. How could crying and telling them how sorry I was ever be enough? How could my right choices and protection of them now make up for all the years I left them uncovered and vulnerable? My children were willing to work through forgiving me, but I was not willing to forgive myself. Then a friend showed me a verse in Job that spoke to my heart.

I felt my spiritual eyes open.

Jesus showed me the huge wall I had built around myself with my lack of forgiveness. It was keeping me trapped in places where He wanted me to be free.  I had been judging myself and keeping myself weighed down with the need for justice against me.

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. But now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you.

Job 36:16-17

Jesus had already forgiven me and begun to restore my relationship with Him and my children. It was me not forgiving myself that kept me trapped. I had to let go of wanting to punish myself for not changing my life situation sooner.

I confessed my lack of forgiveness for myself.

God showed me His love for me in special ways unique to me, like seeing dolphins jumping in the ocean by my house. He reminded me of the good plans he had for me–even though I may not see them all yet. Through the Bible and other relationships, he taught me how to better love and help my children in their lives. My new freedom also brought the ability to let go of them. As I released myself from the guilt and shame I had been living under, I was able to let God work in His own way in each of their lives. That did more for them than me beating myself up on their behalf.

Forgiveness of God, others and self.                       DSC_0016

Each one holds an important key to the door of freedom.

Below is a link to a song that greatly aided me in the process of learning to forgive myself.

Wait for Your Rain by Todd Agnew

Have you forgiven yourself?