What If You Could Hear God?


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Have you ever wondered if you could hear from God how that might change things in your life?

Maybe you’ve listened to people who say “I heard God say…” and thought they were deluded, misguided, bragging, or fanatical?

Who actually hears God?

Everyone.

Yep. You read that correctly. Everyone can hear God.

Because he speaks to everyone. All. The. Time.

The real question is are we listening? Do we recognize his voice when he speaks? Can we distinguish his words from the barrage that we deem is our own thoughts or maybe other “voices”?

The truth is that God says when we seek him, he’s waiting to be found. When we talk to him, he’s listening and will answer us. We can call him Father (Rom. 8:15), and we are his sons and daughters. The Bible tells us that even when we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit groans on our behalf to God.

Sound too good to be true?

It is good, AND it’s true.

Here’s the thing…do you recognize your parent’s voice? Your children, spouse or best friends? Why?

You spend or spent time with them in close settings. They are familiar because you’ve been around them so much. You’ve paid attention to when they speak and what they say. You’ve listened to them and talked with them. Sometimes you can even finish their sentences because you know them so well. Right?

Jesus says his sheep know his voice. Sheep know their shepherd’s voice because they are in his/her care all day and night long. They hover around their shepherd. They’re in his/her presence all the time. They recognize the voice of the one caring for them.

They also know the difference between an enemy and the shepherd. When a wolf comes, the sheep huddle around each other, knowing it isn’t their caretaker.

We are like those sheep. Jesus cares for us. He searches for us when we’re lost. His voice is stern when calling us back from danger and lovingly kind when he’s ministering to our wounds or needs. When we spend time with him, we will know his voice.

When he speaks, we will hear him.

There’s no great mystery or secret about hearing God if we want to. If we’re asking. If we’re listening.

Jesus said many times in his word:

He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15

I hear him. You can too.

Sometimes he speaks through his word, the Bible, sometimes through a friend, leader or pastor. He speaks through creation, music, art, pictures(visions) and dreams. Often, he whispers in our hearts, and sometimes we may even hear his audible voice.

If you want to hear him, ask him to help you. If you don’t know him, tell him you want to.

Hearing God is for everyone and anyone who so desires. We are all his children. He loves us. He’s for us. He wants us to know him. And we CAN hear him.

If we’re listening.

Are You Struggling?


My personal interpretation of Psalm 6:

God, please don’t be angry with me because I’m weak right now. I’m struggling to trust you and not be afraid when my situation looks bleak and frightening. I need your healing.

I know your love never fails so I ask you to save me. I know you love me. Please deliver me.

If I die, how can I praise you? And I feel like I will die because my enemies are out to do me harm. Their actions leave me weeping and groaning on my bed.

But God hears me and will deal with my enemies. He will be merciful to me even as I struggle through this.

David, who wrote this Psalm, had real time enemies.

His father-in-law, King Saul, had betrayed him. He asked David to sing to him and then threw his spear at David to kill him. On Saul’s “bad” days, he was chasing David down with an army. On his good days, Saul told David he loved him and was sorry. And that’s only part of the story! (see 1 Samuel in the Bible)

Some of us have been in relationships like that, haven’t we?

Our enemies may be people in our life, destructive or negative thoughts or actual circumstances. No matter what the physical reality is, the spiritual reality is that our enemy is Satan and his demonic forces.  Real events affect us in real ways, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Satan uses those events to destroy us and whispers lies to enforce the negative impact.

God embraces us in those events to bring comfort, healing and a deeper knowledge of his love and power.

God understands our struggles. He doesn’t condemn us for them. And when we call out to him for help, he will show us love and mercy, and He will save us.

What is your struggle today?

John Mark Miller: The Real Deal


Recently I had the privilege of interviewing John Mark Miller, a musician and writer who leads worship at First Baptist Church of Sunset, Texas. John Mark inspires and encourages other Christian artists with his blog and has recently been showcasing various artists. I was blessed to be on his list.

What I admire most about John Mark is his genuine love for the Lord, music and fellow artists. He exudes grace and kindness. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I have.

Hi, John Mark. Thanks so much for spending some time with us today. I’ve appreciated reading your blog and interacting with you through comments and emails. I guess we’ll jump right into the questions I have for you.

First, let me ask when did you first know you were born to be a singer and a writer?

I was born singing, and I caught on to writing as soon as I could! When I was just a toddler, my mom remembers finding me rolling around the back yard on my riding toy, singing a hymn that she and my dad had sung in church that morning. She was impressed that I remembered the melody perfectly, and started to encourage my musical gifts. I sang my first church solo when I was five years old and started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old. I honestly cannot remember a time when music wasn’t an important part of my life, and here I am all these years later, still making music and teaching others how to join in!

Interestingly enough, it was my dad who honed in on my gift for writing. He read some of the stories I wrote for spelling class and told me that he thought I had real talent. He was a pastor, and before I knew it I was writing articles for the church newsletter and helping him prepare Sunday School curriculum and church publications. One weekend as we drove to a funeral, he realized he needed a poem to recite for the Graveside Service and told me to write one on the spot! I did… and thanks to his belief in me as a writer, I’m still at it!

It’s great that your parents were so encouraging and helpful in fostering your God-given talents. Perhaps that’s one reason you are so great at encouraging other artists.

So, along those same lines, what is your favorite worship song?

My all-time favorite worship song is “Before the Throne of God Above,” but I also find great inspiration in “Give Me Jesus” by Fernando Ortega and “All of Me” by Selah.

I love that song by Fernando Ortega as well. A few of his CD’s spend time in my player!

And how about favorite books?

Where books are concerned, I’m going to have to break this down into categories! I would say that my favorite devotional book is “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, my favorite fictional book is “The Robe” by Lloyd C. Douglas, and my favorite biography/memoir is “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickham.

That’s quite a nice collection. I read and re-read “My Utmost for His Highest” over a three year period, and it literally changed my life. What do you feel most inspires your creativity?

I feel most inspired when I spend time outside, either walking for exercise or just sitting and drinking in all of God’s beauty. Taking time to notice the splendor of Creation helps me to quiet the distractions, focus my prayers, and allows me to listen for His still, small voice. It has been during these quiet moments of reflection that many of my greatest ideas have come to me.

It’s amazing how even a little bit of time outside can bring out the creator in us!

Now this may seem like a strange question, but I think you can tell a lot about a person by their favorite “working” drink. I tend to stick with water or tea. How about you?

I absolutely love a steaming mug of hot tea (either Earl Grey or Vanilla Rooibos) while I’m working on a project. The warmth is comforting, and the aroma stimulates the senses. I’d have to agree with C.S. Lewis, who said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me!”

That’s a great quote! I might have to add it to my bulletin board. When is it that we would find you nursing that steaming mug of tea? Are you most productive in the morning or at night?

Though I’m married to a night owl, I will forever be a hopeless morning person! Much to my wife’s dismay, I wake up bright and early and ready to work. My best work takes place early in the morning, and I’ve noticed that my writing is much stronger and more focused after I’ve spent some quiet time with the Lord.

I so agree with you. Spending time with the Lord makes the difference between a good and rough day, writing or otherwise. Do you have a “life verse?” How does it influence your creative endeavors?

Since high school, my life verse has been John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” I used to get very nervous playing the piano in church, to the point that my fingers and pedal feet would shake uncontrollably and cause the entire piano to have tremors! I remember sitting in church waiting for my turn to play, and reading this verse on a small index card. It was comforting to remember that without God I could do nothing, but with Him behind me I was guaranteed to bear good fruit. I have clung to this through the years, and it’s just as helpful to me now as it ever was!

That’s a verse my husband has been meditating on lately. It’s so true that whatever we produce comes from Jesus working in us. It’s a great reminder. What would you say is the most important message you want your listeners or readers to take away from your work?

The sole purpose of launching my blog, The Artistic Christian, was to help people realize that the beauty of God is all around us. There is such rich beauty in the midst of the most everyday moments, and all of it declares the truth of Who God is. Psalm 19:1 says “the heavens declare the glory of God,” and each aspect of nature tells us something about God’s character. Immovable mountains declare His strength, soft rose pedals declare his tenderness and beauty, and so on. Not only this, but anytime an artist creates he or she is imitating God, since we are all made in His image (Gen. 1:26). Because of this, artistic works also point us to God, since they reveal the divine spark which lies in each of our hearts.

I hope that by reading my work, my readers will have their eyes opened to the beauty and splendor that lies everywhere they look, and realize that all of it was designed to draw our hearts toward worshiping God. And once they begin to see this, I want to remind them that if they will seek God with all their heart, they will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

I certainly get that from your blog. Where can people find your work? Can they purchase it yet?

I am still working on getting a book published, but my reflections on art, culture, and life can be found at my primary blog, The Artistic Christian, at http://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com.

Also, my sermons and thoughts on Bible Study and church life can be found at my self-titled devotional blog, at http://johnmarkmiller.wordpress.com

Finally, readers can keep up with my thoughts and latest releases by following me on Twitter: @JohnMark_Miller

Thank you so much for investing this time with us today!

Thank you for interviewing me. It’s been an honor.

Go visit John Mark Miller on Twitter and his blogs. I guarantee you’ll be blessed and glad you did!

Christmas # 5


A few weeks ago, I realized that this year is the fifth Christmas Brendan and I have spent together. Wow! The awareness made me think back, recapping each year and its unique joys. Perhaps you’d like to join me…

Blair making his favorite "Sandies"
Blair making cookies 2008

Christmas 2008 – I spent the ten days prior to Christmas in Australia. Brendan and I shopped for the children together for the first time. I introduced my pending Aussie family to my Christmas tradition of stockings and learned about Santa bags! The kids and I made Christmas cookies. Santa surfing in the mall surprised this White Christmas girl. Brendan proposed on December 22.  I returned home the next day; then watched Brendan, Brodie, Bella and Blair open their presents Christmas morning via Skype which was on my Christmas Eve afternoon.

Band Hero all night
Band Hero all night

Christmas 2009 – Our first married Christmas. Brendan and I enjoyed some special moments in front of the fireplace with our Christmas tree lights twinkling ambience. Bella and Blair scootered through the kitchen on new Razors. Brodie practiced shooting his new pellet gun. We all played Mario Cart and Band Hero with the grown up kids until way too late that night. My future daughter-in-law Sabina helped me pack up Christmas because of my increasing illness from the mold in our house (of which we knew nothing at the time!)

Christmas 2010 – We celebrated Christmas with our dear friends Jeff and Jo who had allowed us to live with them because of the necessity of leaving our moldy house. We had been trying to purchase a home here, but every offer and counter offer fell through. Our friends were blessed to have children in their home and we were blessed to have a home to stay in! They left for the holidays so we were able to enjoy spending the time with all but one of our children! Two new grandchildren added to the fun. It ended up being a great Christmas in spite of our not so perfect situation.

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Christmas 2011 – Our first Christmas in this house.  We enjoyed the delight of decorating our home with lights and tree and stockings even 245more because all of our things had been in storage the previous year. Brendan and I treated ourselves to new bikes and rode around the block freezing our hands and faces! We added a new dimension of music by replacing our dead piano (in pieces in our garage) with a keyboard from Santa. Bella and Blair still reveled in the double blessings of Santa bags and stockings!

Christmas 2012 – Here we are! We have a really tall tree and the house decked with Christmas around every corner. The weather has been bitterly cold for us Aussie/California types. Scraping frost off the windows in the morning in order to drive kids to school kind of cold! Bella’s old enough to have figured out the Santa “game” of Christmas and to help wrap packages and decorate at church. Brodie’s off with friends most of the time, and Blair is filled with the wonder of new discoveries.  As a family, we’ve chosen gifts to give to others in far off countries who have nothing. Some families far away will get to have some clothes, soccer balls, a goat and freedom from slavery. It’s been a Christmas for solidifying traditions and making some new ones. I love my husband more every day.  What a journey we’ve been on. What a journey we have yet to go.

261 Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? Is this year different? In what way?