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!


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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Preach the Gospel

St_John_from_an_Armenian_Gospel_Manuscript_Wellcome_L0016377What is the gospel? I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it the fact that God loves everybody? Is it loving our neighbor—being the good Samaritan? Is it the message of salvation that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? And where does repentance fit in?

While Merriam-Webster defines “gospel” as “the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation,” there is no single Biblical passage that clearly defines the word. However, bits and pieces appear throughout Scripture. Continue reading

Be a Berean

How well do you know the Bible? Do you attend a church with Biblical teaching? Do you read books about the Bible? Watch a Christian TV show? Perhaps you’re part of a small group, a “home group.” Some groups discuss the previous weekend’s sermon; others may read a book together and discuss that. When is the last time you cracked open a Bible and read it for yourself? Continue reading

To the Penny

1977 - Pete Holzmann Engr corner StanfordPete and I were chatting with a friend, sharing stories about how we’d learned to trust God. So often we’re focused on what’s happening now that we forget to look back at the many years of God’s faithfulness and direction. As Pete related one major lesson he’d learned many years ago, explaining how it laid the foundation for so much of the ministry he had now, I realized that it’s a story worth sharing. I didn’t know Pete when this happened—I met him a month later—but it’s had a huge impact on my life. Maybe God will use it in your life, too. Continue reading

Why Becoming a Christian is Worth Everything

Two weeks ago I asked, “With all the promises of suffering God gives us, why would anyone in their right mind become a Christian?” We don’t follow Jesus to receive lots of money, or lots of “stuff”—houses, cars, clothes, etc. We don’t follow Jesus to make life go smoothly. So why do we make Him our Lord? Today I hope to answer that question, at least in part.

In truth, the benefits are tremendous—they’re just not always tangible. Instead of receiving material goods, we receive a Person. And not any person, but the God of the universe, the God who created us, the God who is perfect in every way.

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Want to Suffer? Become a Christian.

Does becoming a Christian make life better? Will converting to Christianity solve all your problems? Will you be happier or more prosperous? Will your circumstances will improve as you live by “Biblical principles”?

This is a common assumption in the church. You may have heard of a little booklet published by Campus Crusade (now called Cru) way back in 1952. Written by Bill Bright, it’s called “The Four Spiritual Laws,” and was intended to be used as an evangelistic tool to quickly and concisely share the gospel. According to this booklet, the first law is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That sounds so positive. Who wouldn’t want their life to follow a wonderful plan?

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