How to Hang Out with God

hearing god in conversationUsually I like to finish reading a book before I recommend it to someone else. Today I’m making an exception. I’ve read enough of Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C. Williamson, to know that I didn’t want to wait another moment to recommend it. This is a book I can recommend to every believer—and perhaps even you who doubt God’s existence.

I’ve written about this topic before; see Did You Say Something? from July, 2013 for one such post. I don’t intend to rehash what I wrote then, as I doubt I could express my thoughts much better now. This book, however, surpasses my little post in all ways. Of course, he gets to use an entire book to do so.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

Above all else, God wants us to know him personally—he wants a personal relationship. But we mostly want to know direction: “Should I take this job or that job?” We want information; God wants a conversation. We want to know answers; God wants us to know him.

… false expectations about hearing God cause us to overlook the many ways he actually does speak to us.

In all the biblical accounts of men and women who hear God’s word, their principal emotion is fear, not peace; that’s why all the messengers have to exclaim, “Fear not!”

The book covers all the different ways we hear from God, but it goes far beyond that. Chapters include “How to Recognize the Voice of God,” “Hearing God’s Voice for Others,” and “God Shouts in His Silence,” among others. Williamson not only explains what God’s voice is like, but what it isn’t like. In short, he answers all the questions I didn’t even know I had about listening prayer.

For example, one of my ongoing concerns is if I’m really hearing my voice, not God’s.  When it’s something I very much want to do—or not do—does my voice drown out the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit? Am I hearing what I want to hear, instead of what God is saying? Williamson addresses these concerns in chapter 9: “Hijacking the Conversation.”

Williamson’s style is easy and entertaining to read. All this Godly wisdom is couched in stories about his childhood—how he learned these truths from his parents and now passes them along to us. He writes with humility, and grace for those of us learning God’s ways. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers (although he sure has a lot of them!), but rather shares his understanding, learned through his experience of walking with God for many years.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you may recognize Williamson as the author of Is Sunday School Destroying our Kids?, which I reviewed and recommended back in 2014, as well as the blogger behind Beliefs of the Heart, which I list at right under “Blogs I Read.” Obviously, I’m impressed by the wisdom and insight God has granted him. He’s a pastor in Michigan; if we lived closer, I’d definitely check out his church.

You can find Hearing God in Conversation online at Amazon, etc., and in Christian bookstores. And no, I don’t get paid for writing this glowing review!

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Rules, or Relationship

I love this quote from a book I once read: “Those who walk the narrow path are more likely to fall off the edge!” It popped back into my head last week as I was rereading Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

In Colossians 2:16-23, Paul discusses the spiritual futility of rigidly following human rules, such avoiding certain foods, or celebrating special religious holidays—not that we can or cannot do these things (I avoid sugar, for example), but that we can’t earn our way to heaven, or even become more holy, by doing them. He ends his comments with this surprising conclusion:

Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

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Guilty

Here’s a little quiz for you. When a Christian is caught doing something wrong, we should:

  1. Post it on Facebook
  2. Gloat
  3. Alert the press
  4. Talk to them gently, one on one

I wish the church was full of perfect people. I wish none of us ever did anything wrong—that no Christian ever had an affair, or watched pornography. Never cheated on their taxes or fiddled with the accounting. Never hated, or was slef-righteous, or ignored a person in need.

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Cool Christianity, Part 2

As I mentioned last week, I recently read an article titled “Meet the Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” (I’m a bit confused by the “woke” in there, but whatever.) The article bemoaned the gap between public opinion and the opinions of evangelical Christians. To quote: “It doesn’t help that Christian communities can be out of step with the rest of the country when it comes to certain issues.” Furthermore, the authors insist that it’s the Christians who need to change.

Last week I visited the article’s first premise—that Christianity is supposed to be cool. Today I want to consider the notion that Christians should align themselves with our culture’s values. Continue reading

Cool Christianity

I recently read an article titled “Meet the Woke Young People Trying to Make Christianity Cool Again.” (I’m a bit confused by the “woke” in there, but whatever.) The article bemoaned the gap between public opinion and the opinions of evangelical Christians. To quote: “It doesn’t help that Christian communities can be out of step with the rest of the country when it comes to certain issues.” This assumes that being cool is a good thing.

Furthermore, the authors insist that Christians are the ones who need to change. In other words, we need to bring the ignorant, regressive Christians into line with the majority of Americans. In our efforts to be cool, we should embrace the world’s values. That would make Christianity “cool.” Continue reading

Thoughts on “Between 65 and death…”

A list providing advice for aging has been circulating online. It starts out.: “Many of us are between 65 and death….” Perhaps you’ve seen it too. If not, I included it at the end of this post. The list is attributed to Alan S Bame. I have no idea who that is, but I want to give credit where credit is due.

I’m not quite in the targeted age group—not for a few more years and why rush things—but I’m close enough that I clicked to read both more of the article along with the comments.  The general consensus is that it’s good advice, something we should take to heart. And yes, there are many items which are obviously worthwhile. Keep love alive. Do your part to stay healthy. Get out. Listen to others, including those younger than you. Don’t worry. Laugh. Forgive.

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I Think You Should Resolve to…

What if someone else made your New Year’s resolutions?

That was the question our pastor posed to us. It got an embarrassed twitter of laughter. Seems we all have something that needs changing, but we don’t want to admit it. Or maybe we do admit it—but we aren’t willing to put out the effort to deal with it. We laugh, but the question obviously hits home.

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