How to Hear God

If you want to learn how to hear God’s voice, I highly recommend the book Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere. Its subtitle is How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams, and Visions. It is available here. The author came out of the cessationist camp and landed squarely in the middle of the charismatic Vineyard Christian Fellowship, even being mentored by the founder of that ministry, John Wimber. He also wrote Surprised by the Power of the Spirit in which he describes how that transformation took place.

In Surprised by the Voice of God, Jack Deere gives many examples of God speaking to people in multiple ways in the Bible and in contemporary life. He tells how to accurately hear God speak through prophecies, dreams, visions, and other forms of divine communication. As a biblical scholar, he points out things that we laymen might miss in our regular Bible reading. For example, he goes through the book of Acts and shows that, with the exception of chapter 17, every chapter contains an example of, or a reference to, supernatural revelatory communication from God to his servants. He also tells fascinating stories of real people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by hearing God speak to them. And he shares personal experiences of hearing God speak to him in a variety of ways and the effect it has had on his spiritual life. He writes in a very personal, engaging style and reveals a sense of humor and humility you might not expect from a theology professor. I really enjoy reading his books.

My personal journey of learning how to hear God’s voice began when I realized that I was never sure if I was hearing from God or from my own mind or from the devil or what! I asked the Lord to help me hear Him better. Gary had just lost his job at the end of 2001, and I asked God to do this for me because I knew that His people really need to be able to hear His voice and know it’s Him, especially as we get into the last days and deception gets stronger. So I prayed for God to speak to me clearly. The thought came to me, “Buy yourself a new dress.” I laughed. I thought, “I don’t buy myself clothes. Everything I get is for the kids. I don’t buy dresses. I don’t even wear dresses! I don’t want to buy myself a new dress. Gary just lost his job. We have no money. And I’m supposed to go buy myself a new dress?” So I realized it must be God telling me that, because I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it myself. So I told Gary what had just happened, and he said, “Let’s go shopping.”

We went to Elder Beerman’s, and they just happened to be having Clover Days sales. They had reduced prices on their most expensive dresses, so that you could buy a $100 dress for $10. I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited. I started trying on all these fancy dresses. Most of them were long dresses, and I wondered where I could even wear them. I decided that I really liked 3 particular dresses – 2 long, fancy ones and one more practical knee-length dress that I could wear to church. We bought all 3 of them and took them home. I felt so good about my bargains, and it was fun having some new dresses in my closet. The next morning I woke up to hear these words: “I only told you to buy one dress.” Oh no! I asked the Lord to forgive me for disobeying Him and asked what I should do about it. I knew that I had to take two of the dresses back. But which two? I prayed and asked the Lord and tried to figure out with my mind which dress would be the right one to keep. The logical choice was the one I could wear to church. But somehow I didn’t think that was what He wanted. I started to understand that when I ask God His will, I’m not supposed to use my mind to figure out what makes the most sense. I’m really supposed to listen to what He says. I just couldn’t figure out which dress I was supposed to keep, so I asked the Lord to bypass my mind and speak to my spirit. When I did that I knew I was supposed to keep the red dress. We drove back over to the store and took the other dresses back and got the money back for them. My favorite one had really been a sparkly sapphire blue long dress, and I secretly wished I could have kept that one, but it was not to be. The whole thing turned out to be a real test of obedience for me.

After that, I started really paying attention to my spirit and what God was saying to my spirit instead of mentally figuring out what made sense to me whenever I was supposed to be consulting God about something. I read several books. One was by Joy Dawson called Forever Ruined for the Ordinary available here. It was an eye-opening book in which she talked about ways of seeking God’s will that are similar to the Urim and Thummim that the Old Testament priests used. She taught that we need to put our soul and our flesh in submission to our spirit. From her book, I learned to pray that God would bypass my mind and speak to my spirit- that it was okay. When I did it earlier, I wasn’t sure it was right. I learned to ask God yes or no questions. I learned that we need to bind anything that would keep us from hearing God speak to us. Then I learned that we can feel and hear our spirit somewhere near our stomach region. We started asking God specific questions about whether we should go to a certain place or if we should do a certain thing. We would phrase it as a question that could be answered yes or no. We started to hear in our spirits the answer to the question. We learned to stop thinking and start listening with our spirits.

We have been doing this for a couple of years now, and it’s getting easier to hear with our spirits. After we hear His answer, it’s up to us to obey even if what we heard seems crazy. The Lord has used this to give us such assurance that we are really hearing from Him and not just muddling along in life, hoping that we’re pleasing Him and doing His will. He has taken us through some really hard times, but being able to hear clearly from Him has made it easier than it would have been and has helped us to make right choices when they seemed to be illogical and even harmful to us. We know that we’re hearing from God and not some other spirit because we bind anything that would keep us from hearing from Him. This includes demonic spirits. We know that we’ve been hearing His instructions because He has delivered us from an impossible situation of homelessness, hopelessness and despair and has brought us into a place of abundance, prosperity and joy.

You CAN hear God’s voice! You have to learn a whole new way of listening, though – with your spirit, not your mind.

St. Patrick: Miracle Worker or Benevolent Deceiver?

I chose a read-aloud for St. Patrick’s Day that came highly recommended by sources that I trust called Flame Over Tara. I started reading it to the kids, and we were getting involved in the story and enjoying it well enough. But I started noticing that the author seemed to be suggesting that St. Patrick didn’t really work any miracles but just took advantage of his knowledge of natural phenomena to trick the people into believing that God was with him instead of with the Druids. She said through her characters that they accepted what he preached because he was a good man, not because of any power he had or miracles that he did. It seems that she believes that Christians don’t need to do signs and wonders because the false prophets can do lying signs and wonders, too. She seems to have bought into the lie that cessationists have perpetrated that signs and wonders ended with the first church era.

I put that book down after skimming ahead and seeing that she followed that same line of reasoning throughout the book. She explained away all of the miracles that I knew St. Patrick really did perform. I had read a book by Kathie Walters that told the true story of St. Patrick and other early saints of the Church. I’m not Catholic and neither is Kathie Walters, but she and I both know that we need to read original sources to find the truth about the miracles that occurred in the lives of the Church fathers. Kathie’s book is called Celtic Flames available here. I picked up Kathie’s book and read her account of Patrick’s life to my children instead of finishing Flame Over Tara. These are some of the miracles she found recorded in those original sources:

1. At Tara, one of the king’s favorite druids attacked Patrick with contention and shouting and even blaspheming. Patrick called on God to let him be “lifted up and let him die.” No sooner had Patrick finished speaking than a supernatural force raised the wizard in the air. He fell heavily down, his head striking a stone. And so he died in the presence of those assembled.

2. The king was furious at Patrick for killing his druid, so he called on his men to kill him. Patrick cried out, “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.” Then the sky darkened and an earthquake shook the ground and the swords and spears of the guards and even moved the chariots.

3. The king then invited Patrick to his castle, planning to kill him on the way, but the men laying in wait for him never saw him. All they saw were deer walking through the forest. God had disguised Patrick and his friends and caused the enemy to be blinded to them.

4. The king’s other druid poisoned Patrick’s cup, but Patrick blessed all that he ate and drank and the poison had no ill-effect.

5. In a competition between Patrick and the druids, Patrick was able to reverse things the druids did even though they couldn’t do it themselves. Then he and one of the druids were each placed in a hut and each hut was set on fire. Patrick, like the children in the fiery furnace, was unharmed, but the druid died in the flames.

6. In Dublin, Patrick had a reputation for being “Patrick, the potent reviver of many dead persons.” The king of Dublin had just lost his two children, one to sickness, the other to drowning when Patrick arrived in the city. The king asked him to come and promised that if God restored his children to life, he and all the citizens would become Christians. Patrick did raise them from the dead, and the king and all his subjects turned away form the worship of idols and they were baptized.

My children’s faith in God and their openness to anything that God wants to do through them is very important to me. I don’t want to undermine their faith through any book or author that doesn’t believe in the whole word of God. I want my children to pray for all of the gifts of the Spirit. I don’t want them to believe that all of those things have been done away with. We are believing for the power to heal, to set the captives free, to cast out demons and to raise the dead. We don’t need to expose ourselves to words of doubt or skepticism.

I learned about the purging of the miracles and signs and wonders from Church history through a book called Surprised By the Voice of God by Jack Deere available here several years ago. He exposes the fact that historians during the 1800’s rewrote the history of the early Church fathers and took out all of the accounts of the miracles that these powerful men and women of God worked because they didn’t think that anybody would believe them. They thought that the people of the time only believed that the things these saints did were miracles because the people were superstitious and didn’t understand natural phenomena. They assumed that science would be able to disprove the miracles and such things as superstition and that there is always a natural explanation for everything that happened. That’s a lot of arrogance and assumption. They can’t prove that they’ve got the story right. They weren’t there, and they are just assuming things based on their own theological bias.

They changed phrases found in the original texts and substituted phrases that they liked better. For example, John Howie wrote a biography of a Scottish Reformer, George Wishart, in 1775. He said that Wishart “possessed the spirit of prophecy in an extraordinary degree.” In a revised and expanded edition written in 1846, the editor changed Howie’s original sentence to read, “He possessed an extraordinary degree of sagacious foresight.” That’s not the same thing as the spirit of prophecy! Sagacious foresight means that Wishart’s predictive powers came from his own wisdom instead of God’s supernatural revelation. He assumed, because of his theological views, that the Scottish Reformers were mistaken about the nature of prophecy. So he felt free to actually change an original text in order to conform it to his own theology. He also attacked the credibility of the biographers who wrote about the prophetic gifts of the Scottish Reformers. Historical writers often ignore supernatural events when they retell the stories from the original sources. They just leave them out because they don’t believe them or aren’t interested in them. The result of this selective writing is that ordinary modern readers remain ignorant of the supernatural elements of the lives of godly people in earlier history.

Our family sees and hears about miracles that happen every day. Skeptics constantly try to prove that there’s always a natural explanation, but they cannot disprove the miracles I’ve experienced in my own life. Our God is a miracle-working God, and He is just waiting for us to believe Him enough to pray for them and to be conformed to His image so that He can trust us with His power.

Family Tradition: St. Patrick’s Day Meets Green Eggs and Ham

This is one of our favorite family traditions. On St. Patrick’s Day I make ham and eggs and dress it up a little with some green food coloring. We all love it! Gary probably wouldn’t be too crazy about it, but he’s always at work when I make it anyway. Kelsey helped me cook this year. It’s so nice to have some kids that are old enough to help with things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.

I ran out of green food coloring, but never fear – we know that yellow and blue makes green, so we just used blue food coloring instead. There was one small problem though. The ham wasn’t yellow, so it didn’t turn green. It turned blue. But nobody seemed to care about the color; they just loved the flavor.

Emma was so cute. She ate some last year but didn’t remember it. She looked a little bit unsure of the green stuff on her plate at first. But she’s a trooper. Not much can stop her from eating. She dug in and ended up loving it.

Spirit-led Scheduling

I have 10 children from 19 mos up to 19 yo. I don’t have things down perfectly. Sometimes it feels like I can only either get school done
or get the house clean. I have a few things that have been helping me lately. I’m always working on this. One thing that has helped me get the kids to do more chores is www.chorebuster.net It divides the chores among the kids after I filled in the ones that needed to be done and
how often each needed to be done. It allows you to give the younger ones fewer and easier chores. But the kids accept the assignments as fair, because they know a computer assigned them, not me. And each of them gets to learn how to do each chore at their ability level. It takes some time to set it up, but then the program works automatically to assign chores each week. I have an ideal schedule made up, but we hardly ever follow it. Chores are supposed to be done right after breakfast. Then I do together school with the 6 oldest, which consists of my reading aloud to them. I do Bible and History, using books from the Sonlight reading list or other books that are related to the unit we’re studying. I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead our homeschooling each day, then I do pretty much whatever I think of. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, I can’t think! So whenever a plan or title comes into my mind, I figure that’s Him! I also use the Narrated Bible and Genesis: Finding Our Roots and other books that Heart of Wisdom recommends to do our Bible time. We pray together to start things off. We put our spiritual armor on first thing. I have the 10-year-old and the 8-year-old work on Phonics and Math on their own during this time.

I’ve gotten a lot of help from www.cindyrushton.com for scheduling and doing unit studies and notebooking and lapbooking. This is the schedule I used 3 years ago. I put the 4 oldest together to try to get most things done, then they did math and language arts on their own. Then I grouped the 6 and 8 year old together for some things. The twin 3-year-olds sometimes did preschool with the 6 and 8 yr. olds. They liked being teachers. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t. The older kids took turns watching the baby while I was reading to them. If the chores hadn’t been finished before school, I had them do them after school. But by that time, my husband was usually home from work, and we had to fix supper. I’m getting the older ones to help with that. And a big thing that someone suggested that really helped me was to have the older kids do their own laundry.

My 16 year old prayed about what his responsibilities should be, and he said the Lord told him to clean the dining room table every day, vacuum around the dining room table and the living room and do the dishes every day. Those are the main things that make the house look company-ready. Since he started doing these chores things have looked pretty good most of the time. If we know someone is coming, usually it doesn’t take too long to make things look pretty spiffy, by my standards! My standards aren’t very high after all these years and all these children, but I know what’s livable for us and what’s reasonable for me to expect.

I am doing school mostly with just Bible, Math and living books. It’s working for us. I feel really good about what my children are learning. We talk about relationships with others, too, and walking in love and forgiveness. Some days we just talk about what the Lord has been laying on my heart or my oldest son’s heart. But I still feel like they’re learning the most important things on those days.

We don’t have a whole lot of fellowship with others. The ones who drop in on us are single people! It’s really hard to get together with other families right now. But I consider it a season that will come to an end some day, and then we can have people over for dinner and go to others’ houses. My main ministry right now is to my own children and husband. I’ve finally accepted the fact that this is enough. God is pleased with me.

As far as crafts and nature study, I think I will take days off from the regular
schedule and devote most of a day to these extra activities.

My menu planning is: I make a list of meals for the week, make a shopping list, go grocery shopping on Sat. or Sun. and then try to remember to look at my list every day when it’s close to meal time! My husband and I go grocery shopping together. It gives me time away from the house and gives us time together.