How to Hear God (Part 1)

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I started hearing God about a month after I committed my life to Jesus in December 2008. Yes, I do realize how that sounds, but there are things in my life that have happened that leave no room for doubt that this is true. Just read about me and the Marine. When I say I hear from God, I don’t mean that an out-loud voice comes down from heaven. I mean there is a whisper in my soul and, to me, it is often as distinct and loud as a voice from heaven would be. Entire books have been written on this subject (see Dallas Willard, Hearing God) and so I don’t mean to cover it once and for all here.

In John 10:27, we are told that Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Based on this verse, it is clear that those who hear from God:

          1.    Have a relationship with Jesus. (My sheep; I know them)

          2.    Are receptive to hearing from him. (listen to my voice)

          3.    Are willing to walk in faith to follow him. (they follow me)

None of these is easy to simply check off your list. Each requires effort, openness, and attentiveness. I want to explore the first one today and the others over the next two weeks.

So, how do you have a relationship with Jesus? Bob Goff, in his book Love Does, says that he realized at some point during his Christian life that he didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, he was a stalker of Jesus. “I collected pictures and gathered artifacts and bumper stickers about Christianity, and I talked about knowing Jesus like we were best friends, when actually we really hardly knew each other at all. And I memorized Bible verses and the names of the books of the Bible in order and the sequence of a bunch of events as well as who was there. At some point I had to confess that I was stalking Jesus. I was actually creeping myself out a little and I realized I was probably creeping God out too.”

Ouch. I get it. I don’t want to be a Jesus stalker. I want to be a Jesus knower. And to know him, I have to be with him and commune with him. Now, let’s just be upfront about this: He is not physically present on earth with us and so this is no small task. This is what I try to do (I stress “try”):

  • I intentionally put myself in the places I have met with him before.  When I am in creation (near the water or watching a sunset) I am overwhelmed by his presence.
  • I spend time with other people who know him.  I have developed friendships with people who have loved Jesus much longer than me. I study them, listen to them, learn from them.
  • I spend time with people who are dying to know him.  I have developed friendships with people who are searching and asking about Jesus. God uses me (and you) to show them who he is.
  • I ask him to reveal himself to me in my day.  This is a simple prayer that I have seen God answer every time I make it.

How do you commune with Jesus?

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How to Quit Stuff

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There are many verses in Scripture that encourage us to stand firm and not give up (Acts 20:24; 1 Corin. 15:58; 1 Corin. 16:13; Gal. 6:9Eph. 4:1; Heb. 12:1; 2 Peter 1:10), so the idea of quitting seems contrary to how we are to be as followers of Jesus.  But the Scriptures make clear that we are to stay firm in our faith, our calling, and doing good.  I do all kinds of things that do not squarely fall into these categories.  Does that mean I need to quit them?  Bob Goff says he quits something every Thursday; it’s part of his rhythm of life.  I love this idea because I am often overwhelmed by busyness and stretched thin by various demands on my time, sometimes to the point that I cannot manage to take care of basic things in my life.  But I needed to think through how to quit stuff, so I came up with a series of questions to ask and bring to God in prayer to figure out whether a certain activity is something I need to quit.

Does the activity:

  • bring me life or drain me?
  • create space or demand space?
  • refresh or tire me?
  • enable or inhibit my ability to live out my calling?
  • build my faith or undermine it?
  • calm my mind and heart?
  • trigger discontent with my life?
  • lift me up or bring me down?
  • cause me to be more loving or more judgmental?
  • lead me into a particular temptation?
  • make me less or more likely to hear God’s whispers?
  • take time away from a family member or friend who needs me?

Sometimes a “no” to just one of these questions leads me to quit that particular activity.  Sometimes the answer is not that clear, but learning to ask the questions is a game-changer.

Is there something you need to quit?

What other questions would you ask to determine if you need to quit something?