Friday, February 28, 2014

The Awe of God

the awe of god
In September 2007, inspired by the awesome experience of hearing God audibly speak to me, I started this blog. Called The Awe of God, I set out to capture and document instances of God speaking to people.

Here’s what I learned along the way.
  1. God connects with each of us uniquely. For some of us, God speaks audibly. For others, it’s through scripture. Visions have been reported. In numerous instances, God speaks through the people around us. Other times, it’s a still small voice inside.
  2. God has a plan for our lives. Whether it’s showing a woman that she has breast cancer in order to educate others or saving a man from suicide, God will speak to us in order ensure that His will be fulfilled.
  3. By following God, things could happen that we never would have imagined. Like Alfonso Fernandez, who followed God to become the Spanish radio voice of the Minnesota Vikings. Or Jennifer Henderson, who left her $100,000-a-year job at a Toyota plant to open a Christian bookstore.
  4. While many people may be reluctant to admit it, they have heard God’s voice. Sometimes people don’t want to disclose that God talked to them for fear of appearing haughty (especially here in Minnesota) or seeming too religious. However, covered by the anonymity of a survey, 20 percent of Americans admitted to USA Today that they had heard the voice of God. Sometimes what God says to us is just extremely personal, and we don’t feel like sharing that with others.
  5. God’s presence is fleeting. I guess that He doesn’t want to overstay his welcome. Or it could be that He just wants to make a short yet powerful statement, such as the time when a grandmother heard a chorus of harps as she was comforting her dying grandson.
  6. God has a sense of humor. Johnny Hart, the creator of the comic strip “B.C.,” felt that God wanted him to do the comic strip as a way to share God’s humorous inspiration. Author John Eldredge shares God’s sense of humor in his book “Beautiful Outlaw” when, asking God why He doesn’t give John hearts anymore, God responds by having John come upon a dried piece of cow manure – in the perfect shape of a heart.
Thank you, God, for your amazing presence. I am still in awe.

At this point, I have decided to sunset The Awe of God blog. I encourage you to join the faith and culture conversation at my new blog, Reflections from the Center.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting along with coworkers

how to get along with coworkers
Getting along with coworkers can be difficult, especially as people often have different backgrounds.

On page 206 of "The Sacred Romance," author John Eldredge shares a story about his former coworkers:

Several years ago a friend at work took me aside to say, "I don't know if you're aware of this, but you are intimidating your colleagues." I wanted to laugh, because I didn't feel intimidating at work; much of the time I felt small and scared. But his words provoked a search that led me first to the realization that I was in fact a very driven person (the reason my colleagues experienced me as intimidating). As I began to wonder why, I journeyed back to the day I was arrested as a teenager and the Arrow that lodged with the message "You are on your own." Though I had been a Christian for many years and knew all the promises about God always being with me, they had no power in my soul. The Arrow remained defining and I lived from its perspective.

As I entered into that heart-room where this particular Arrow had struck, the wound felt tender and new. With Brent's help, I was able to bring it into the light of the Sacred Romance for God to touch, heal, and reinterpret. Standing again in that place, I had ears to hear Jesus tell me I am not on my own, that he will never leave or forsake me. Faced with a real question, the real answer meant something. The healing process is still underway and there are days when I can be a driven man, but much less so than before. That Arrow has lost its power. But it would still be there if all I had done was tell myself, "Be nicer to the people at work."

It's important to go back in our lives and determine how to dislodge the Arrows that still are causing us pain.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Religion in England

england flag
In "No Small Snakes: A Journey Into Spiritual Warfare," author Gordon Dalbey shares a compelling story on pp. 200-201 regarding how God told him to pray for England while he was attending a worship service:

Almost as soon as I had greeted my friends and settled into my seat, an overwhelming sense of alertness, openness, and brightness came upon me. A warmth flushed through my body, and before I could sing a note, I began to cry. A moment later, the crying eased – and then came again stronger, deeper, as in waves. As I sat there sobbing – hoping my friends were too busy singing to notice – a voice seemed to speak in my heart, 'Have I not loved you, My son?'

Within moments, I felt strength within me akin to anger, but before I could begin to worry what was wrong with me, I sensed something amiss in the atmosphere. What's wrong here, Lord? I asked. Immediately, the word self-righteousness came to mind; I bound that spirit over the gathering and, sensing the authority, cast it out. As the singing continued, I waited, alert for any further leading from God.

When the song ended, the worship leader began to speak with great enthusiasm about the power of God, and I found myself amazed to hear such unbridled excitement in a British accent. Lord, I thought, why am I so struck by that? I must have a real prejudice against the British. As the next song began, I sang out in praise to God, and I noticed the leader lifting his hands in joyful abandon.

Poor, uptight England! I thought. Imagine the joy they've missed by not letting go and praising God like that fellow! I stopped singing, shook my head, and sighed in dismay.

Suddenly, I heard a voice within me: 'Pray for England.'
What? I almost blurted out loud, sitting bolt upright. I waited and 'heard' nothing more, but the presence and power of those words remained electric within me. 'Me?' I asked under my breath. 'You want me to pray for England?' I felt as if I'd been listening to a symphony and the conductor's arms were now raised, awaiting the musicians. Sure, I'd prayed before for individuals, meetings, even churches. But for a whole nation?

Well… okay, Lord, I thought uneasily. I closed my eyes, and a map or picture of England came to mind. I prayed that the blood of Jesus would cleanse the entire island, and I saw great dark clouds pouring out of it. Emboldened, but careful not to go beyond my anointing, I asked God to identify particular enemy spirits working against Him in England. As the names of their activity came to mind, I asked God to pour out His Spirit on England in specific ways to counter those demons.

Congratulations to Dalbey for following Jesus' request, even though he was a bit hesitant at first.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Helping someone get to know Jesus

was jesus real
It's not necessarily the easiest thing to help people discover Jesus. In his book "Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus," author John Eldredge shares a poignant story on p. 192 about a friend who is a missionary in Thailand. This story is from the missionary's perspective:

It was a Saturday morning and I was enjoying a delicious conversation. I looked at my watch and realized I needed to go meet up with a friend of mine, to take her to a women's event at church. She doesn't know Jesus yet but is hungry. I anticipated lame conversation gorging myself on empty carbs. But I had told her I would go. She was taking a risk and I needed to receive her heart well. So I hung up, grabbed a cab, and headed downtown. Our plan was to meet at the station at 8:45. The minutes rolled on. 9:00. 9:15. 9:25. I imagined walking into the brunch late, plates empty, women looking at us trying to scrounge a seat and some leftovers. I stood there, hundreds of people passing me by with every arriving train. My blood started to boil, growing ever more frustrated at how I could be at home enjoying conversation with someone I'm coming to care for quite deeply. But instead, I was standing in a fume-filled, sweaty, rumbling train station waiting for a friend who I knew would be late.

In that moment, I heard the voice of Jesus as clear as anything. So you left intimacy in order to come be disappointed by someone who needed love, huh? He didn't have to say any more. There was no condemnation in his voice, only that of a kind friend who is letting me into a bit more of his own story. What his humanity was like, what his time on earth must have so often felt like. It made me love him all the more.

Jesus really did sacrifice a lot for us, and we can be patient as we help others get to know Him.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The playfulness of Jesus

dog tail wagging
If we look, we can see Jesus everywhere, in even the most simple things of life. Here's an example of that from John Eldredge's book "Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus" (pp. 190-191):
Last night I had a horrible night. I don't quite know how to describe it, but if I even use the word Gethsemane, I lose all by trying to establish a connection. Hours of evil attack, the fruit of which was, I couldn't find Jesus this morning. I felt as though he had abandoned me. Kneeling facedown in my office, worshipping, my face to the floor, I suddenly felt a presence next to me; something dropped by my ear. It was an old chewed-up toy. I looked and there was Oban, waking his tail. Wanna play? The playfulness of Jesus, cheering my heart through my dog. Oban laid down in front of me, and began to lick my hand. It was so merciful, so comforting; the comfort of Jesus.
Look around to see Jesus in your life today.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pirate hat

Jesus is often playful. He probably has a better sense of humor than most of us. Consider this passage from p. 190 of John Eldredge's book "Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus":

pirate hat

My son was having a tough freshman year at college. So many students there are bound under the religious fog. It was a lonely fall, filled with misunderstanding. One afternoon, just after a classmate said something particularly hurtful to him, Blaine returned to his room and slumped into his bed, about as low as a young man can get. He looked over to his desk, and 'saw' Jesus sitting there, in his desk chair, a smile on his face. He was wearing a pirate hat. Then he disappeared. A whiff of the Emmaus road.
Now if Jesus appears to you in a pirate hat, how could you not feel better about your situation?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hope in 2014

hope 2014
As 2014 approaches, many people set New Year's resolutions such as losing weight, spending more time with family, quitting smoking, and more.

In a recent letter from author John Eldredge, he said that God has hope in store for us:
A thrill of hope.

I think it's been quite sometime since my heart felt a thrill of hope. I've certainly had a nudge or two of hope, maybe even a stirring of hope. But wouldn't it be wonderful to feel a thrill of hope, perhaps to feel it in some new way for the first time? Let's see if we can find that, open our hearts to its coming, just as Mary opened herself to the coming of Jesus. . .
As 2014 approaches, my hope for everyone is. . . hope.
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