Hearing God

dream“Then I told them about the desire God had put into my heart.”

-Nehemiah 2:18

Today it seems little.  Important, yes, but H-O scale.  But on that day, it was larger than life – even larger than health.  And a lesson awaited that was life-changing.

From the time I was 15 years old, I knew that God was leading me to be a pastor.  I also knew there would be a pathway to get there, and five years later, I was still on that pathway.  I was about the graduate from college.  For a year I’d had the privilege of serving at my very first church, full-time in the summer, and on the weekends during school.  The people there were gracious and really patient.  It had been a wonderful experience.  Now, as I was about to graduate from college, both the church and I were preparing to move on.

Because I was a July graduate, and had blown through college in three years, I decided to lay out a year before going to graduate school.  When the church caught wind of it, they were delighted to meet with me on a Sunday night and offer me a full-time position.  They offered me more than twice what I had ever made in a year (if I told you how much it was, you’d laugh).  I said it sounded good; just let me take the week and pray about it, and I’d let them know the next Sunday.  I left town that night assuming that the next year of my life was set.

Just one slight problem.  [click to continue…]

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planting“Our behavior, attitudes, and initiatives toward others are an act of sowing.  The acts of others toward us, at least in a general sense, are an act of reaping.  If others are being critical, judgmental, or hostile to us, before we write them off as uncaring jerks, it may be wise to examine what we’ve been sowing in our own attitudes and relationships.  If we aren’t seeing generosity being returned, maybe we haven’t been giving.”

-from my journal, January 10, 2001

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others – ignoring God! – harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8, The Message).

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Sometimes when the Lord wants to tell me something significant, he opens my eyes.

Sometimes he closes them.  Literally.  And speaks to me through a dream.

A few years ago I was on an airplane, reading about how God reveals himself through dreams, and I decided to see if the Lord had anything to say to me in that manner.  That night in the hotel room, I asked him to speak to me through my dreams, and I “instructed” my brain to remember.

Remember I did.  Clearly.  Vividly.  Unforgettably. [click to continue…]

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Photo by Dolinski

Pastors get lots of interesting questions.  You be the pastor for a minute and answer this one I once received:

Does God like to have fun?  What does God do for fun?

What would you say?  To me, it’s a sad commentary on our Christianity when someone even has to ask the first question.  But both questions deserve an answer, or at least a thought.  Here, for what it’s worth, is mine.  Click on the comments link below and share yours.

Does God like to have fun?  You bet he does!  Have you ever seen a platypus?  Or a puppy?  Or a picture of me?

Does God like to have fun?  Of course!  Why else would he put two sisters in the same family, and give one straight blonde hair and the other one curly dark hair?  In fact, why else would He create everybody so differently? [click to continue…]

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Can You Be Content AND Change the World?

by Andy Wood on August 18, 2008

in Tense Truths

Tense Truth:  I must learn to accept the world and its circumstances as it is, not as I would have it.  I must also learn to take courageous action to be an agent of change.  The wisdom to know the difference is found in the discipline of hearing God’s voice.

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Contentment and Change decided to play table tennis one day.  I was the ball.  Can you relate?

Serve:  Be grateful for all you have.

Return:  Do something to change the world!

Rest in the Lord.  Wait quietly for Him.

Press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ.

Be still.

Get off your butt.

Surrender.

Seize every opportunity.

Be content!

Don’t be complacent!

Don’t be covetous.

Be courageous.

Wow.  I’m tired, and I’m not ever keeping score.  I’ve never bothered to even count the number of times I’ve zigged (tried to change something) when I should have zagged (been content with the situation).  Or vice-versa – when the call was to hit the ground running, I hit the hay. [click to continue…]

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Connecting the Dots

by Andy Wood on July 22, 2008

in Enlarging Your Capacity, LV Cycle

Connect the Dots 2Yesterday God played “connect the dots” with me.  He used a series of apparently random or loosely-connected ideas to form a whole – a picture of what He’s up to or what He wants to communicate.  I’d like to share what I learned in the process.  So here are the “dots”:

Be Ready
Tim Challies told an amazing story about a crash landing that took place at the Toronto airport in August 2005 during a horrific storm.  The plane overshot the runway and came to a crashing halt.

Some fifteen to twenty seconds had elapsed from the time the aircraft left the runway. Amazingly, the fuselage was largely intact. But as the plane had crossed Convair Drive, fuel had begun to leak and had immediately caught fire. As the plane came to a halt the fire began to spread and to intensify.

Keep in mind that it had been 27 years since a similar incident had happened in Toronto.

For twenty-seven years the firefighters had trained to deal with a situation like this one. An entire generation of firefighters had come and gone without seeing a single incident. They could almost be excused for being under-prepared, slow to respond, slow to act.

They weren’t.  By the time the tower controller activated the airport’s crash alarm, 26 seconds after the flight left the runway, the firefighters were already in route.  They arrived only 52 seconds after the plain left the runway.

Despite twenty seven years without an incident, those firefighters were ready and they responded well in advance of the parameters dictated by safety regulations. In less than a minute they were on the scene and were assisting the passengers. It took less time for them to get to the crash site than it did for fully half of the passengers to leave it.

Fifty-two seconds!  After not having an incident in 27 years.  The key was training.  They had disciplined, trained, and practiced so much that when the crash occurred, they were ready.

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Casting netsHow do you learn best?  Mark Meadows used to amaze me in third grade.  He’d just sit there.  Never write.  Never raise his hand to answer a question.  Just sit and listen.  And make “A’s.”

Cameron Walker?  Never stopped moving.

Me?  I don’t think I ever stopped running my mouth.  (Hey!  I heard that!)

We all learned.  We just did it in different ways.

The same is true of people in the Bible.  Guys like Paul could go off into the desert for three years and think about stuff.  Analyze things.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, rehash everything he’d ever believed (incorrectly) about the Law.

Our buddy Peter was different.  From the day He met Peter, Jesus began transforming him from a “man of fish” to a man of God.  Like Moses before him, Peter learned with pictures and visual objects.  Things like coins and nets and fish and swords.  I’d like to show you a few objects Jesus used to teach Peter to hear God’s voice.  I think you can learn, too.  Even if you learn best by talking or sitting there listening, I’ll bet you can pick up a few important lessons from Peter’s experience.

[click to continue…]

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From Dufus to Discerner

by Andy Wood on May 7, 2008

in Ability, Insight, Life Currency

NetsIt’s one of the most amazing transformation stories in history.

From dufus to discerner.

Pathetic to prophetic.

Simon, the wishy-washy to Peter, the Rock.

This fisher became a fisher of men.  And the guy who was nearly always getting it wrong ended up writing two books of the New Testament under the most powerful level of inspiration there is.

“He who has ears, let him hear,” Jesus said (Matthew 13:9).  Peter learned to listen to God.  And if that guy did, you can, too.

I want to show you three ways Peter learned to hear God’s voice. [click to continue…]

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The Devil’s Mouthpiece

by Andy Wood on May 5, 2008

in Insight, Life Currency, Words

The Devil’s MouthpieceI owe Peter an apology.  And if the Lord will let me, when we link up in Heaven, I plan on delivering it.  I ragged on the man for many years.  Laughed at him.  Mercilessly dissed him for being the guy who was always making a verbal fool of himself.

But a couple of years ago, I made peace with Pete.  And I promised I’d never criticize or mock him again.  Why?  Because Peter was the one who was willing to make a mistake if it meant learning.  Or leading.  He was the one who got out of the boat to at least try walking on the water.  He was the one who was willing to say what everybody else was thinking.  And he, Christianity’s biggest failure, was the one who looked Jesus in the eye after denying Him and said, “Yes, Lord.  You know I love you” (John 21:17).

In Matthew 16, this fisherman/disciple speaks out twice.  The first time, Jesus responds by saying, “Peter, only God could have revealed this to you.”  The next time, Jesus is in his face, saying, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matthew 16:23).

One minute, Peter is hearing something that is doubtless a revelation from God Himself.  The next, he is hearing from Satan.

Uh oh.

[click to continue…]

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The Holy Spirit Salad

by Andy Wood on May 2, 2008

in Insight, Life Currency

Salad 2If you believe that God never speaks to individuals any more because He has given us the Bible, you’re a practical atheist.  If you’re waiting on the Holy Spirit to tell you whether to order fish or chicken (He’d never lead you to red meat, of course), then you have just elevated lunch to a cosmic event.  But if you can learn to turn and tune your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to apply the truth of God’s word to your specific situation, you can experience God in life- and world-changing ways.

I tell men all the time, “Dude, when it comes to marriage, you out-punted your coverage.”  Another way of saying, most guys I know anything about out-married themselves.  I am certainly no exception.  My wife is an amazing partner and discerner.  I call her “Elijah” sometimes because of how she can shred proud, lazy, or disrespectful people.  All in Christian love, of course.  I also envy the way she can tune in to the voice of God at times.

That said, we have this recurring argument.  Well, it’s not really an argument because all I do is laugh, and all she does is get exasperated.  So far all the sharp knives are still in the drawer and my bruised ribs are healing nicely, thank you.

The argument (I’m laughing even as I say this) is over the Holy Spirit salad. [click to continue…]

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I May As Well Be Dead

by Andy Wood on April 29, 2008

in Tense Truths

Message from God(Note: I’m starting a new category today I call “tense truths.” Truth because it’s, well, true! Tense because it’s often misunderstood or has other balancing truths that need to be considered.)

Tense Truth: God still speaks to those who will listen. True, people sometimes misunderstand, misuse, or manipulate others with “messages from God.” Regardless, God is willingly and faithfully engaged in the pursuit of communicating with His people.

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I may as well be dead.

That’s the way David put it.

Ask anybody on the street about getting messages from God; nine out of ten of them will assume you’re joking or clinically nuts.

Ask George Strait about messages from God, and he’ll sing to you about seeing flowers growing in the sidewalk at just the right time, or in the miracle of seeing his baby girl born.

Ask theologians, pastors, and writers about hearing from God, at least in somewhat-Evangelical circles, and you’ll get two kinds of responses. One is something of a mystical free-for-all – sort of like a friend of mine I’ll call Weird Wally. [click to continue…]

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