Breaking The Sound Barriers

 

Why we may not hear God – and what to do about it

Have you ever been in a situation when you are desperately looking for a lost item and some one speaks out and says “let’s ask God”, you first reaction could be “O, Yes but we have lost something”, even “Ok pray” but we never believe that God will speak.

I heard this story a little while ago when a four-year-old daughter, and her mother and father were raking the grass after a hot day mowing the lawn when mum shouted, “My engagement ring! its gone!”

They all looked together at the numerous massive garden bags stuffed with grass and everything else, bags that would have to be opened and dumped out one by one. Then would they find the ring.

The 4-year-old came up with a suggestion suggested, “Let’s ask God to show us where to start,” The temptation was to dismiss the notion as impractical. But what if the Holy Spirit were leading her?

“All right,” they agreed, “let’s ask the Lord to show us where the ring is.” So having sat on the grass, prayed for help, and remained quiet for a moment.

Suddenly the 4-year-old cried out, “God told me!” Then she pointed to one of the bags. “Open that one, Dad!” the Fathered turned the bag on its side and opened it. The ring tumbled out.

That day, Dad and Mum were shown that the 4-year-old had “ears to hear” what the Lord was saying (Mt. 11:15, NASB). And her parents learned a valuable lesson about the unexpected ways God might speak—if only we’ll listen.

Granted, having ears to hear may not always be as easy as it was for the 4-year-old that day. At times, God is silent. At other times, He may speak, but we’re hindered from hearing. What are the most common reasons for that spiritual deafness?

Three stand out to me: closed minds, closed hearts, and closed lifestyles.

The Barrier of a Closed Mind

Sometimes we close our minds against the possibility of hearing God. That close-mindedness can take a number of forms.

“Who, me?” When the Lord called Gideon to leadership, Gideon reacted in disbelief. As he saw it, he was an unimportant member of a minor family in the weakest of clans (Jdg. 6:15). “Give me a sign,” he insisted, “that it is really you talking to me” (v. 17).

Gideon doubted not that God would speak, but that God would speak to him. Why would the Lord of the universe converse with a nobody?

A number of years ago I was asked a question while on the phone to a car supplied who wanted to put right another breakdown of my car and said “Ask what ever you want” and I heard God saying “you have not as you don’t ask”.   So asked, I did from a new car and amazingly within 3 days a new vehicle was delivered.  It just taught me a lesson in life on asking, Jesus’ invitation should encourage us: “Ask and it will be given to you” (Lk. 11:9), I am not using it to asks for stuff what ever your need may be I am juts encouraging you to ask in the will of God and see what happens.

Jesus follows that invitation with the reminder that if even sinful human fathers care about their children, how much more will their Father in heaven do so (v. 13). This is the same Father by whom “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Lk. 12:7). This Father cares about the details of our lives; the things that matter to us matter to Him—and He cares enough to speak to us about them.

Let’s not allow doubt to deafen us to God’s voice. No matter how small we may be in our own eyes, we can have faith that if we seek to hear from God, He will speak, for “he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

Be careful in our asking and listening as sometimes we just miss God’s communication with us is because it doesn’t come in the way we expect.

Think of the people standing around Jesus on the day God spoke from heaven. Jesus understood clearly what His heavenly Father said. But “the crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered” (Jn. 12:29). How many times has God spoken and we heard thunder then?   Apparently, their expectations about how God might speak did not include an audible voice from heaven. So when the word of the Lord came to them, all they heard was noise.

Open minds stay alert to both the ordinary and the extraordinary and surprising ways God may choose to speak. I think most of us get lost in the surprising ways or extraordinary ways that we miss the ordinary in our lives.   I would suggest to you that God more often speaks in the ordinary than any other way.    We can miss it as it can be too ordinary.   Lets hear God in all ways and let God be God shall we?

The story of Augustine may encourage us as saint of old and his experience, he is regarded a s senior father in our faith and his encounter with God.  One day in his youth, Augustine of Hippo wept alone in a garden, plagued by the knowledge that his life was not consecrated to God. He begged for divine help to break decisively from his sinful past.

Suddenly, he heard a child nearby, chanting a refrain: “Take up and read, take up and read!”

Was it simply part of a child’s game? Augustine wasn’t sure. But he was alert to the possibility that the Lord was speaking through that child. So Augustine found a copy of the Scriptures, opened it, and read the first words he saw:

Let us behave decently…not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery.…Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Ro. 13:13–14

The text struck him like a thunderbolt. Of that moment, Augustine later said to God, “You converted me to Yourself.”

“It might get weird!” Another consideration may cause us to close our minds to God’s voice: How many religious cults have begun with an individual claiming “God told me…”? How many unbalanced people have engaged in strange, even criminal, behavior that they thought was inspired by God? How many otherwise normal people, for that matter, have made poor decisions because they thought they were acting under God’s private, specific instructions?

Understandably, we don’t want to make the same mistake: to ascribe to the Lord our own silly notions or defame His reputation by claiming He’s told us something that proves untrue. Such caution is admirable. But listening to God is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s possible, even common, for Christians sometimes to hear the Lord accurately and to be mistaken at other times. Learning to listen with discernment is a form of spiritual growth. To help us in this process, God has provided ways of correcting us—or of confirming what He has said.

If we believe that God has spoken to us about a matter of doctrine or morals, we can compare what we believe we’ve heard with the teaching of Scripture. If what we heard involves a personal decision, we can seek the counsel of wise Christian friends. If we believe we heard a call to action that requires God’s provision, the arrival of that provision can be a form of confirmation.   We also have each other so learn to seek counsel and submit to each other so we can be confirmed.    Do not go looking for the ways you want and the answers that come in line with your thinking, let people be honest and even if you don’t see it.

I know Gods grace to us is not to have any aspects of our lives closed in any such ways but to be those who have come into freedom that we might have a liberated mind.   A mind that can fly into the experiences and encounter of God in every way God comes to us to give all to us all so that we can be given to the will of God as well.

Next time we can move on to the other two hearts and lifestyle

 

Who, what did any one say anything?

GOD SPEAKS, from Genesis to Revelation BIBLE STUDY:   From Scripture’s beginning to its end, the message is clear: God speaks. The Bible opens with “and God said” (Gen. 1:3) and closes with, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches” (Rev. 22:16).

Yet we can become so familiar with the words God said that we never stop to ask, How did God speak? Did people hear Him audibly? See Him? Somehow “know” that something in their hearts was from Him? Looking at scriptural examples of when and how God spoke can give us insights into how we continue to hear Him today.

Ways God Spoke

When we look at biblical passages to discover how God spoke, we find the following categories.

a. “God said.” Sometimes, we don’t see an indication of how God spoke, just that He did. We’re only told “God said” (Gen. 6:13) or “the word of the Lord came” (1 K. 16:1) or “the Lord appeared” (Gen. 26:2).

b. Face to face. In Gen. 3:8–9, we get a hint of one way God communicated—face to face—when we read that Adam and Eve “heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”

c. Audible voice. Some people didn’t see God, but they did hear an audible voice (e.g., 2 Pet. 1:16–18). Often this audible voice was accompanied by a physical phenomenon such as a light, storm, cloud, or fire.

d. Angel. God often sent angels as messengers. In fact, the Hebrew and Greek words translated in English as angel mean “messenger,” “representative,” or “envoy.” (Note: In some passages, such as Judges 13, the name “the angel of the Lord” might refer to a physical appearance of God Himself.)

e. Dream or vision. Often people heard God, or talked with Him or with angels, in dreams or visions. God also showed people pictures or scenes in dreams (Daniel 7). Sometimes the person who had the dream or vision needed help interpreting the message he had just received (Daniel 2).

f. The Holy Spirit coming upon or moving in a human. Another form of communication occurred when the Holy Spirit “came upon” a man or woman, and the person began to speak out, prophesy, praise God, or speak in tongues (1 Sam. 10:9–11). At other times, God or the Holy Spirit moved “inside” a human’s mind or heart (Ezra 1:5).

g. Message or prophesy through other humans. Just as God sent angels as His messengers, He also sent messages through other people (1 K. 12:22–24). Sometimes the messenger is identified as a prophet or prophetess (e.g., Moses and his sister, Miriam, in Ex. 15:20 and Dt. 34:10) and the message as a prophecy or oracle.

h. Urim and Thummim/casting lots. We also see God answering people’s questions through the Urim and Thummim and the casting of lots. We know little about the Urim and Thummim, only that they were physical objects (see Ex. 28:30). We’re also not told the mechanism people used to “cast lots.” An interesting variation occurs in Josh. 7:14, where, after God speaks clearly and directly to Joshua about sin in the camp, He stops short of revealing the troublemaker. Instead, the guilty man is “taken” through an unspecified process of identification.

For the following passages, record whom God spoke to and check the appropriate column to indicate the method He used. (Match the categories to the descriptions above.) Sometimes you’ll see multiple methods in the same passage.

Though this list seems long, it’s only a brief overview. Because we had to draw the line somewhere, we’ve mostly drawn from the Old and New Testament historical books, skipping the Old Testament prophetic books entirely.

WAYS GOD SPOKE

a. “God said”

b. Face to face

c. Audible voice

d. Angel

e. Dream or vision

f. Holy Spirit came upon or moved

g. Human messenger

h. Urim and Thummim/casting lots

 

WHO RECEIVED THE MESSAGE?

HOW DID GOD SPEAK?

NOTES & OBSERVATIONS

a b c d e f g h
Gen. 3:8–9                    
Gen. 4:6                    
Gen. 15:1                    
Gen. 18:1–2                    
Gen. 20:3                    
Gen. 21:17                    
Gen. 25:21–23                    
Gen. 32:24–30                    
Gen. 35:9                    
Gen. 41:15–16, 25                    
Gen. 46:2                    
Ex. 3:2–4                    
Ex. 33:7–11                    
Num. 11:24–29                    
Num. 22:9–35                    
Num. 27:21                    
Dt. 5:22                    
Josh. 1:1–2                    
Josh. 5:13–15                    
Josh. 18:8–10                    
Jdg. 2:1–5                    
Jdg. 4:4–6                    
Jdg. 6:6–11                    
Jdg. 7:9–14                    
Jdg. 13:24–25                    
1 Sam. 2:27                    
1 Sam. 3:1–15                    
1 Sam. 19:19–24                    
2 Sam. 23:1–2                    
1 K. 3:5                    
1 K. 20:35–43                    
1 K. 22:1–28                    
2 K. 20:1–5                    
2 K. 22:10–15                    
1 Chron. 21:8–11                    
1 Chron. 28:11–12                    
2 Chron. 21:12                    
2 Chron. 35:20–22                    
Ezra 1:1                    
Neh. 2:11–12                    
Job 38:1                    
Mt. 1:18–20                    
Mt. 2:19–22                    
Mt. 3:16–17                    
Mt. 4:1                    
Lk. 1:11–13                    
Lk. 1:26–27                    
Lk. 1:41–42                    
Lk. 1:67                    
Lk. 2:25–35                    
Lk. 2:36–38                    
Lk. 9:28–36                    
Lk. 10:21                    
Lk. 24:1–8                    
Jn. 1:14                    
Acts 1:10–11                    
Acts 1:24–26                    
Acts 2:1–4                    
Acts 4:5–13                    
Acts 7:55–56                    
Acts 8:26, 29                    
Acts 9:1–7                    
Acts 9:10                    
Acts 10:3–7                    
Acts 10:9–16, 19                    
Acts 11:27–28                    
Acts 13:1–2                    
Acts 13:9–10                    
Acts 16:9                    
Acts 18:9                    
Acts 19:6–7                    
Acts 21:10–11                    
Acts 23:11                    
Acts 27:21–26                    
Ro. 8:16                    
2 Cor. 12:1–2                    
2 Cor. 12:8–9                    
Heb. 1:1–2                    
2 Pet. 1:20–21                    
Rev. 1:1, 9–11                    
Rev. 22:8–11                    

WRAP IT UP

After you’ve finished looking up the passages, here are some questions to consider.

• What observations struck you as you looked up these passages?

• Did anything surprise you or challenge assumptions you held about how God speaks?

• Did you see any differences between how God spoke in the Old Testament and how He spoke in the New Testament?

• Did you sense God saying anything to you personally as you read these passages?

• Is anything you read likely to change your own conversations with God? If so, how?

• Write a summary statement of what you most want to remember from this study.

GOD STILL SPEAKS!   How is that effecting me?

Leadership while sitting Continued – lessons from a cyclists seat.

Heralded as the greatest cycling Olympics ever, the London 2012 velodrome has become a golden event at least 7 golds and a few other silver and bronze medals for the UK, from speed trials, team sprint, omnium producing Gold medals.   Cycling lessons will be written and debated for many years in team strategies and life’s forums I am sure.   Watching the interviews of the team trainer works and how his strategies shave produced such a golden team.   His comments of breaking down each event and dealing with the little things, then all the little changes amalgamate to make big advances.  In their own right these little changes are insignificant yet together in the overall achievement great advance.  Changes such as even down to how a cyclist would wash their hands.

Even before the golden advance in the velodrome we began in the last blog to enjoy some of the benefits in lessons from a bicycle seat, looking at Lance Armstrong’s‘ advice  in building team.    We will now continue without any more introduction looking at some noteworthy thinking and how it affects the life of a Christ follower.

Lance Armstrong outlines practical insights to gain advance for our consideration.

  • No matter what the cards are that life deals you, you have to make the most of it.   

For all of Lance’s athletic prowess, one thing that he could not control was the fact that he developed testicular cancer. This cancer later spread to his brain and he developed a brain tumour. For a while, it looked as though Lance was losing the battle against cancer. Yet he kept fighting. At the same time, he kept winning. Many people would have given up in those circumstances. Yet, not only did he not give up, he triumphed against adversity, winning races while suffering from cancer.

The bible teaches us that our lives are not about amassing but much more about producing the character of the Son in our lives becoming like the Christ and being sons of God this is our goal, that He might fill all in all.   In other words life is about producing what the scriptures call ‘Overcomers’ that we are to overcome rather than duck and avoid life.   So many people duck responsibility avoid accountability and even rebuke the challenges, bind them in prayer and cast them out when they have been presented with overcoming opportunities.

We hear many say that they are a transitional generation for example they are  a  bridge to the generations or racial gaps, what ever gaps really, yet so often when we are presented with the gifts of transition we tend to think that they are evil and from satan, but they are actually gifts to bring transition and cause us to overcome.

  • Every race starts with a single rotation of the wheel.

To achieve great things, you have to first achieve the little things.  A long-distance race victory doesn’t just happen instantly, it has to begin somewhere and from those many rotations of the wheel, victory followed.    Every little press down of the foot to create another rotation of the wheel counts, or you could say every small event makes the big picture work.    Someone once said ‘the sea is made of water droplets’, for you and I we only see the sea and push aside the little drops that make it up as we only want or value the big, great, yet the small pushed aside are where life is at really.

  • Preparation.

For a race that would last days, he would spend all year round training hard and competing in other events. He was known to push himself to extremes in training, more-so than most endurance athletes.

We are encouraged through the scripture to be shrewd and wise taking a view of the culmination of Gods purpose and not to live in the shallows of now only.   Is this not the encouragement of “without a vision people are unrestrained (perish)” it is about having a view which demands a long-range.   To be expectant of the return of Christ yet plan for the long-term future, it’s the tension of living the ‘now and not yet’ making provision for the long haul and the immediate.

  •  Do not doubt yourself when others doubt you.

For a large portion of his career, Lance had to put up with doping allegations made against him, many of them made by former team-mates. Some of these allegations could perhaps be attributed to jealously.     Being accused of something, particularly by former friends, can be quite upsetting. Much speculation remains on whether or not Lance took performance enhancing drugs, and it’s likely to follow him the rest of his life.

Believe that God has chosen you, empowered you equipped you don’t let others hold you back or their insecurity or control pull down what God has promised.   See through Gods view on your life.   ‘Enduring for the joy set before’ was the Jesus style of life that  is distracting challenge our wills, some times challenges makes us wonder yet there was a joy in Christ of knowing what God wanted of Him the Christ.   Don’t take on other people’s feelings, live in the inner life of God.

  • Family is important.

Winning is important. But it’s not everything. Despite his hectic training schedule, Lance Armstrong still found time to father five children.

A Family is what  God is after, the church is the family of God we must see this as important beyond anything else, to be a family and model a family at every level.    To prevent the church becoming organisational and remain as a family that the influence, leadership and stability of the community of God, the church comes from mothers, brothers, fathers and sisters.  For this is the governments of the church, there will be the functional apostles, prophets etc., reproducing the very same in a people,  yet these functions are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers but certainly not positional but relationship in a family.   It’s a challenge in our day as we cross to business models, which there is nothing wrong with business in its sphere yet the church crosses and finds little true relationships, as we take on cooperate models and realise we are about filling the earth with a person not business strategies we are FAMILY, the FAMILY OF GOD together, the Christ like corporate body, the image and likeness of the Father.

  • The determination to succeed.

His drive to become the best was phenomenal. It is all the more incredible to have succeeded so often in an endurance sport. Unlike many other sports, endurance sports are not won with one play, or a short period of maximum effort. They require maximum effort over a long period of time.    To win one Tour de France title is incredible, to win it seven times is something else.

Jesus set his ‘face like flint’ he determined his direction, he asked can ‘this cup be taken away’ then concluded ‘not my will but yours be done’ he determined to finish.   Paul said ‘I have run the race…I have finished the race‘ determination to get to the end, the old idiom that goes ‘the measure of a person is in how they finish, finishing well’

  • Do not get complacent.

Once you have achieved your goals, there’s always the temptation to sit back, relax and enjoy your success. After the first few Tour de France wins, you would forgive Lance for slacking-off training a little. After all, he had accomplished great feats. Yet Lance wasn’t happy with just one or two wins, he wanted more. Even as he was rapidly approaching middle-age and suffering from a terrible disease, he kept going.

You could say of Lance ‘He put the same amount of determination into his last victory as he did his first one’.    Don’t let your world become small and just survive, it seems some times that life throws all at us to produce this,  but we must not be complacent.     Knowing if God who started something ‘will complete it’ as Paul put it can we join in with that same essence and life to complete what we start and not get complacent?

  • If you have succeeded at anything, there’s always more to do.

No matter what life throws at you, with the right frame of mind you can overcome. Even when life is cruel. And when all others doubt you, you can go that extra mile and become the best in the world.

We are OVERCOMERS in Christ, who can separate us from the love of God, all these are there so we know and experience that we can be those who get through and accomplish the goal of God for all creation.

Leadership Lessons while sitting down, leading from a bike!

 

Olympic fever has hit the Uk having had the most successful day ever in the competitive day at London 2012 yesterday, Thursday 3rd August so the news casters report.    I wonder how many people will take up some kind of sport from all that’s going on shooting, rowing judo and of course cycling.   Cycling has captured people’s imagination with Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and co.

A number of years ago a friend introduced me to another great cyclist who put pen to paper regarding his own experience of the sport, bringing lessons to leadership, team involvement and many other aspects, his name being Lance Armstrong.   Let me see if I can simply put some lasting thoughts together from his penning.   Armstrong paints a picture of team, of corporate riding which is most powerful.   Rather than painting a picture of captains and leaders he paints a way of constant movement, empowerment, honouring the gifts/talents, strengths along with personal ability for the corporate.   In essence I would sum it up with “the terrain determines the leadership”.       That is the best hill climber, downhill rider, flat, or what the terrain determines,  takes the lead.   That the one who has the best ability to meet the coming terrain comes through the team and takes the lead seamlessly and intuitively without competition or jostling or wanting the accolade to be seen the terrain determines who takes the advance and the whole benefits.

We live in a world where those with a title take the lead, or where hierarchy determines the lead, with a top down mentality ruling and making  decisions, rather than the best suited person, or allowing the empowerment or the gifted, the grace gift, to shine through.  It shows a picture where advance is determined by grace, skill, along with who is the best to meet the terrain and circumstances in front.

I fully understand I may be in danger of making more of Armstrong’s’ thoughts than he meant,  yet it has opened up my imagination, it has become a wonderful picture of how the body at every level, and in every area of general life should function within leadership and within any corporate expression.   To have a corporate people who with intuitive procession move constantly, enabling the other to move through all as they  recognise the one with the skill to meet the rigours to advance, rather that all waiting to be asked, told or appointed and titled to do something.   When space is made for the terrain it enables and graces the person with the right skill to come though and takes us ALL on to  achieving the most we can corporately.    We require a new day,  a new way, and a new people to come through, to move corporately, preferring and honouring one another, not stepping back and waiting but moving forward to take on the riggers that are set for us.    It demands us to be mature and not allow any defence, or insecurity to overwhelm us but rather be excited to see the whole breaking through and making advance without loss of face or anything else, allowing  my identity to come through the whole.

Over the years, believe it or not I admit I enjoyed the “Star Trek” series and realised how each series addressed the issues of their era, such as in the first series, the issues of the 1960‘s  with each following spin-off reflecting  their decade.   They displayed and spoke into such topics  as war, peace, value of personal loyalty, imperialism, class, human rights, racism ( it exposed the first cross racial kiss on TV), along with other  important issues.   All its manifestations of leadership styles were cleverly woven in and were there for all to see as the series advanced and the spin off’s came, e.g. Captain James T. Kirk and his interaction with his team, Spock “Bones” as the top dog, he had the only seat in the centre of the ship, then came Captain Jean-Luc Picard who displayed more of a team but he still “made it so”, set the direction and sat in the middle of a row of seats, although he created much more of a team than the first.   The next step is seen through Commander Sisko (DSN), Captain Kate Janeway  (Voyager), now a woman took on the captain’s chair which was now no longer in the centre, but every discipline had their seat and every expert had a place at the centre of the ship, taking responsibility for their disciple, answering what ever the need in front of them demanded.    It was empowering, the multiple people to be corporate befit.

So where does that leave us?    Let me suggest in looking at the Jesus way, I would have to conclude the “you feed” of the feeding of the 5000, although the scripture says that Jesus “knowing what he would do” was seeking to bring through a cooperate environment.   The sending of the 70 out by two’s is yet another way of bringing everyone through.   The “it is better that I leave you that the Spirit may come” is this not again the establishment of the many rather than just the “ONE”, that the  corporate body meets its terrain and allows those fitted by their grace gift to take the advance.   The lead would change in every challenge and joy.

Paul’s encouragement of “as every joint supplies” here the emphasis of supply is important, along with the ‘every”  the corporate body is after maturity,it is not about who controls, or who is the line manager, even or who is the greatest leader?   The greatest is the servant of all, the greatest is the one given to the whole, laying down his/her life for the whole?   The great love of laying down your life for your bother!

Just thoughts may be or some real truth of direction in the advance of leadership.   A family, for is this not what we are, a family needs a sacrificial people laying down for the right people to do the next thing.     We do not want to see the family simply becoming an organisation,  we have enough examples of what happens when that takes place, rather let us see a dynamic advance, new team and corporate influence happening,  determined by the task, the terrain of advance.   In the day of the body, the ‘ekklesia’ of God come.

Next time we will look at more insights from the cycling seat