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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God Told Me…

Does God speak to you? One of the greatest joys of the Christian life is hearing the voice of God. He may be telling me what to do, which way to go. He may be revealing new insights about Himself or others. Sometimes I just hear a quiet “I love you,” and those are the words I cherish the most.

One challenge in listening to God is that He so rarely speaks audibly. Rather, it’s that “still, small voice” inside of us, whispering to our spirit. We have to still ourselves to hear Him. And while God is perfect at making Himself known, we don’t always hear perfectly what He has to say. Sometimes, we simply get it all wrong.

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Please Pray For…

We’ve all been asked to pray for various things. Please pray for my sister, she’s going through a hard time. Please pray for me, I have an important decision to make. Please pray, my husband lost his job. And when someone asks us to pray, we feel compelled to say yes. After all, the Bible is full of examples—both exhortations to pray for each other and examples of those prayers. Prayer is an excellent way we can demonstrate our love for people, fulfilling God’s commandment to love one another as ourselves. Jesus clearly tells us to share our prayer requests:

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.  (Matthew 18:19-20)

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“Empower a Family, Change a Nation”

DRC map

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire) might be the poorest country in the world. It’s a place of both abundant natural resources and abject misery. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC is surrounded by ten other nations, including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Africa’s second-largest country (by land area), it’s home to 80 million people.

The DRC should be a prosperous nation, with its flowing rivers (and their ability to generate hydroelectric power), fertile soil, and rich mineral resources. It is not.

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Engaging the Unreached

Last week I wrote about entire cultures comprised of people who never get a chance to truly celebrate Christmas—because they’ve never heard of Jesus. There are over three billion people who live in these ethno-linguistic  groups, about 40% of the earth’s population. I also explained that of these people groups, there remain approximately 1,400 (around 568 with populations over 5,000) who are unengaged by the church. No one is yet doing anything to bring them the good news of God’s love.

It’s all well and good to make these lists and to bemoan the fact that after 2000 years, there are still entire people groups who are being left out of all our mission efforts. But awareness by itself accomplishes nothing. What can we do to change this situation? More importantly, what can I do?

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Go Ahead, Bother God!

  • “No, I haven’t prayed about this—it isn’t that important, after all.”
  • “I don’t want to bother God.”
  • “I’m sure God has more important things to take care of than my little problem.”

Have you ever heard someone say any of these things? Have you?

As finite human beings, it is difficult for us to conceive of an all-powerful, omniscient God. We get overwhelmed—people constantly make demands on us, our calendars are full, and we just don’t have the time or energy to deal with every little issue that comes up. Moreover, when we’re so swamped ourselves, we have a hard time caring about the minutia of other peoples’ lives. Let them deal with their own problems—we have enough of our own.

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Surviving an Election

I normally cringe when an election year approaches. I don’t enjoy politics. Self-promotion annoys me. I’m a “don’t rock the boat” kind of person, and elections are all about boat rocking. But of all the elections I’ve endured since I was old enough to vote (back when the redwoods were young), none have descended to the level of this one. What ever happened to thoughtful, respectful discourse?

It’s not the candidates—it’s their supporters.

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