Carl here. I grew up in a Lutheran world where prayer was pretty much practiced as leaving a message on voicemail for God to check later: you pray, you’re pretty sure someone is listening up there, and you go about your business.
Obviously, God must have had a lot of unheard messages on His voicemail, because all around me, nobody seemed to be listening for a reply to their prayers.
That would be much harder. That kind of prayer life would require responsibility on my part. Far too easy to just give God a call and leave Him a prayer message.
When I became a true follower of Jesus, I began to realize that not only was He listening to me, He was responding!
Responding in love!
Love Speaks (that is a catchy title for a book, right)?
Many Christians believe they have never once confidently heard a reply from the Lord after they left Him a prayer voicemail. And why is that? According to Scripture, there could be multiple reasons. Here are just 3, along with possible solutions:
Sin BLOCKS the communication lines. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
The answer:repent! I actually practice a daily repentance for my sins. Repentance to the Father, in Jesus’ name, brings you into intimate fellowship with Him, and positions you to hear in fresh ways from the Word and the Spirit.
We don’t EXPECT Him to answer. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
The answer:start believing that not only will God hear you, He has wonderful plans ahead, and He is planning on prospering you!
Maybe He’s being QUIET: “The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior, He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Zephaniah 3:17).
The answer: learn to listen to His quiet love all around you, and be secure in this stillness!
So does God check His voicemail?
The answer is NO: He doesn’t even have a mobile phone!
What’s way better than all the instant communication, mobile phones, and the personal assistant of Siri (for all you iPhone users..)?
I mean, seriously, what can be better than Google or Siri on the information highway?
GOD IS ALWAYS PREVIOUS.
Meaning: He is Providential; He is Omniscient; He is Omnipresent; He is ALMIGHTY!
Memorize this verse and remember it the next time you go to prayer and are thinking of leaving a voicemail:
“It will also come to pass that BEFORE THEY CALL, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I WILL HEAR” (Isaiah 65:24).
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Have you ever wondered how to flow in perhaps the greatest of all the spiritual gifts, the word of wisdom? The following devotional blog is an excerpt from my new book, Love Speaks, and is “Way #16” out of the 21 ways to recognize God’s multi-faceted voice.
Just what is the Word of Wisdom? First off, Paul wrote, “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:8).
A simple definition: A supernatural revelation of the mind and purpose of God communicated by the Holy Spirit. When the Lord specifically reveals His purpose to an individual, that person receives it through a word of God’s wisdom. It is His wisdom flowing to you, and is oftentimes like a heavenly plan.
In the Old Testament, the whole range of Messianic prediction, and predictions concerning nations, cities, and individuals came to the prophets by the word of wisdom.
In the New Testament, the glorious new covenant truth with the order and rules of the church of Jesus Christ, as well as the predictions of Agabus (in the Book of Acts) and the Revelation of John on the Isle of Patmos, came through this gift.
The word of wisdom transports one to the very council chamber of the Almighty.
It will help you put together a “pattern” that is like a heavenly plan, filled with God’s wisdom, and fitted just for you!
I look at the word of wisdom like the piece of the puzzle that is the linking piece.
Sometimes in life, as you are seeking God’s will, it’s like you are putting together pieces in a puzzle. In front of you is the picture, and the detail, of the portion of the puzzle you are fitting together. But perhaps you are lacking a key piece. And then, suddenly, you have eyes to see that one key piece.
The moment you fit it in place, it unlocks five or ten more pieces instantly, and together the part of the picture you are working on is complete and perfect.
The word of wisdom is that key piece that unlocks a number of others and helps you move forward into your destiny and fulfilling God’s will for your life by His direction.
“The Most Startling of Guidance”
Let me turn to an example from Loren Cunningham, founder of one of the world’s best known missionary organizations, Youth With A Mission, or YWAM. His book, Is That Really You, God? has become a classic on the subject of hearing God’s voice.
Here is an excerpt from a pivotal time in Loren’s ministry where God gave a word of wisdom to impart a blueprint.
They had fulfilled some amazing vision up until this point, but were waiting upon the Lord for guidance as to what His plans were for their future.
“The breakthrough started one amazing night in Hawaii. I had decided to stay up all night and pray, asking three of the school staff to join me. The four of us walked to a small, wooden annex about 10:00 p.m., turned on the light and went in. We knelt down on the rough floor beside some folding chairs.
Here is some of what came forth from the Spirit.
-The word Kona. Kona was a place on the Big Island, but we had never been there.
-The idea of founding a University.
-A white ship anchored in a bay.
Later that morning, I went in to a classroom of 92 students and asked them all to wait upon God in silence. I was praying for confirmation to some of these words.
Here is what the students, led by the Holy Spirit, saw.
-The letter K and then the word, KONA.
-A picture of a “big place,” like a University.
-A picture of a white ship anchored in a bay” (excerpt from, “Is That Really You, God?” by Loren Cunningham, YWAM Publications).
I know what you might be thinking. “You can’t write this stuff!”
What’s the end of this story?
These words and guidance came forward as a kind of blueprint for the future days of Loren’s ministry and the destiny of YWAM.
In the coming years, they moved to Kona, founded a University that is still impacting thousands of youth in over 100 nations, and they obtained a white ship called the Anastasis.
Upon this actual ship, my wife Sarah Elizabeth originally received her missions training, through YWAM, when she was only 19 years old.
And it all began in that all-night prayer meeting and morning “waiting upon the Lord” session as a word of wisdom confirmed from the Holy Spirit!
So, begin to believe that when you are sincere in seeking the Lord about guidance, you can see the guidance arrive through the remarkable gift of the word of wisdom. -Carl Wesley Anderson
**To learn more about, “Love Speaks: 21 Ways to Recognize God’s Multi-Faceted Voice” please visit The Official Love Speaks Page
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Never heard of the once-renowned “Green Martyrs” of Ireland?
Neither had I, until I studied Thomas Cahill’s excellent book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. In it, he shares how Ireland was unique in religious history for being the only land into which Christianity was introduced without persecution: there was no shedding of blood. There were no Irish “red martyrs” as St. Patrick and others brought the reality of Jesus to the Irish with little or no opposition.
People became Christians through a gospel of both the love and power of Jesus Christ: even the Druid priests were converted when they saw the power of God displayed above the dark powers they were accustomed to.
The Irish monks in their ingenuity thought up another form of martyrdom that did not require persecution and bloodshed: they would come to call themselves, “Green Martyrs” and give their whole lives dedicated to worship and prayer.
The Green Martyr was one who followed the cost of discipleship that Jesus laid down, the “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me” kind of commitment that leads to a self-sacrificial existence.
They chose the most remote corners of the Island, places like Skellig Michael, a rocky outcropping some 8 miles southwest of the tip of the Irish coast. Literally, “the ends of the earth” as their maps simply did not go any further than this point.
To this day you can still see the ruins of perhaps the best-preserved ancient monastery in Ireland.
I was taken out to this island on a boat trip to celebrate my 23rd Birthday while on my first missionary journey many years ago.
Skellig Michael is an ancient outpost of continuous prayer, consisting of a collection of beehive stone huts surrounding a small oratory building.
Skellig Michael on the Skellig Isles
And here’s a little secret (you read it here first: Star Wars Episode 7 was filmed there with Luke Skywalker on Skellig Michael! The monastery ruins were featured briefly at the end of of Episode 7 and will open Episode 8 when released later this year)!
I think God is shining a spotlight on a very special “place” on the earth, known only to Him for 600 years. For generations, rotations of 12 monks came to live here and dedicated their lives to study, prayer, fasting, community and worship.
It’s kind of like the original 24/7 model of prayer. It links current movements like Pete Grieg’s 24/7 Prayer Community based near London, or Mike Bickle’s IHOP Community based in Kansas City, or even the radical expressions of worship coming out of Bethel’s Redding Community or Jesus Culture.
Perhaps without realizing it, all of these modern movements have their roots in the ancient “Green Martyrs” of Ireland!
So here are 3 possible applications to becoming a modern “Green Martyr” (without having to move to Skellig Michael in Ireland):
1. Cultivate a lifestyle of radical commitment to God in prayer.
You can learn to cultivate a daily, hour by hour dependence upon the Spirit by new levels of self-control and self-discipline. Pray more! Pray fervently. Fast & pray, too. Try checking in with the Holy Spirit every hour of the day.
2. Read & meditate on scripture, daily.
The monks did. I visited the ruins of Nendrum Monastery, between Belfast and Downpatrick in Ulster, Northern Ireland. It contains the best-preserved ancient sundial in Ireland, where I noticed there were 8 markers which marked 8 distinct times of the day that these men and women of God would pause in their lives, pray, and meditate on Scripture. Try this: set some markers on your mobile phone to alert you to pause and pray throughout your day!
3. Find a spot in your home to dedicate as “holy space” to God.
The Christian Celts called these places, “thin places” because the veil between Heaven and Earth was so thin and they could sense the glory and presence of God lingering there. This could be a prayer room, or even a favorite chair where you commit to daily communing with the Spirit of God, interceding for others, or just reading Scripture. And the more time you spend in communion with God, the more you personally carry a “thin place” with you, wherever you travel, and can bring the presence of the King of Kings to others who need Him.
Remember the “Green Martyrs” and become one, in full devotion to Christ! -Carl Wesley Anderson. Please visit our Official Love Speaks Page to learn even more!
“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before You” (Psalm 22: 27).
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Have you ever bumped into somebody you know in a kind of “chance encounter,” enjoyed amazing fellowship with them, and wondered, “Was this God’s guiding hand?”
If so, you’ve enjoyed Way #13 (out of 21 possible “ways”) that LOVE SPEAKS: a “Holy Coincidence, Batman!”
A simple definition: “The idea that your Heavenly Father has gone before you on your journey and prepared a surprise person or people, in the normal circumstances of life, to stumble upon.”
I use the word stumble in the definition because that is how we perceive the situation; in the most incredible of odds against it, there in front of you is someone familiar. And God put them there.
Recently whilst in England I met & became instant friends with a wonderful couple, Julie & Nigel, who are worship leaders, at a Conference. I did not even think to ask them where in the country they lived. I assumed London.
A week later, I had traveled 200 miles away to the south of England, and I was meeting Eric Delve, a dear friend and former mentor in evangelism, for a meal at a pub. We decided to go to this particular pub, (literally out in the country, in the middle of nowhere) quite spontaneously.
In fact Eric had driven 90 minutes from his home just to meet me in this unfamiliar place.
Soon after settling into a table near the fireplace, I looked up and noticed this rather familiar-looking couple arrive and settle in next to us. I stared at them for a moment and thought, surely I know them?
And sure enough, it was none other than Julie & Nigel!
It turns out that in all the thousands of places in England to go for a cup of tea, they actually lived quite near this pub, and there they were!
Eric wisely said, “Our Chief Sponsor has drawn us together in order to surprise us with a joyful meeting; He has re-arranged the pieces on the chess board!”
And so HE had. We enjoyed several hours of wonderful fellowship.
The odds would be, in the natural, one-in-a-million that we would all have met at that particular place and that particular time together. We all felt the love of God the Father for us.
Holy Coincidence, Batman!
So, Divine appointment = Divine love!
God arranges His divine appointments to display His love for you personally.
That is a Holy Coincidence, Batman!
One of my favorite Revivalists of the 20th century was an Irishman named J. Edwin Orr. In the 1930s, the Father put a hunger for revival into this young man. With only a bicycle and a little money, but with a huge heart and massive faith in the provision of the Father, he set out upon a journey. His mission was to sow seeds of prayer for revival for all of the United Kingdom.
He shares a story to illustrate a “holy coincidence” in his own words,
“On the night of the 19th of March, we were approaching Edinburgh on our bicycles. I was traveling at the time with a brother, Stanley. We were singing the chorus as we rode, ‘No, Never alone!’ It was getting rather late, 10:30 p.m.
“Where are we going to sleep tonight?” Stanley asked suddenly.
“I’m sure I don’t know,” said I.
“What are we going to do about it?” he persisted.
“Why worry?” I replied. “Our Father knows all about it.”
So we rode on, and prayed simply that the Father would provide us with bed and breakfast.
“Well,” said I, “it is rather late to expect hospitality, but I feel that Father will provide it. We’ll visit a certain acquaintance of mine at Merchiston Grove and see if the Father gives us an exceptional sign, and if so we’ll know that we are not imposing in accepting hospitality.”
“When we arrived at the house, we made a remarkable discovery.
“These friends, who had seen me only once before, had THAT DAY received from South America a letter enquiring for me. The letter was lying on the table when I turned up at their front door! Delightful hospitality was offered and enjoyed.” –J. Edwin Orr, “10,000 Miles of Miracles in Britain” published originally in 1932.
So from this day on, begin to recognize that in every “divine appointment” there is the handiwork of your personal Father making the situation wonderful, so that you will know His love and direction for you.
Holy Coincidence, Batman!
***This Blog Post is an excerpt from, “Love Speaks: 21 Ways to Recognize God’s Multi-Faceted Voice.” Please visit The Official Love Speaks Website for more info!
In this New Year, it is a healthy exercise to pause every so often and ponder the Providence of the Father.
He really does love you personally.
He really does speak, every week, to help you learn what His best plans are for you.
He really does reach out from the eternal realm, into this temporal realm, and give you grace and strength to go on, no matter how hard the path.
The idea that His handiwork has led you to this very day, and oftentimes He has gone ahead of you, should lead you to praise and thanksgiving.
He is ahead of you now.
He is dwelling many years into your very future, and shifting and changing things so that when you arrive, you find your path made clear, and your heart’s calling finds fulfillment.
What do I mean by the word, “providence”?
Your Father is speaking through His direct and indirect leadings of circumstances and outward signs.
Often you will not notice His guidance through these outward circumstances, but later, when you look back, you recognize how everything worked itself out for your good, and it was He that was taking the initiative to bring His will to pass for you.
Remember this Old Testament Scripture of Providence reflected in the life of Joseph?
“Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 45:8 & 50:20).
As Paul reminds us in Romans,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Many of you know I am in a battle with cancer.
God will cause it to work together for good.
America is in a massive political shift.
God will cause it to work together for good.
The world is teetering on the brink of financial instability, terrorist threats and attacks, and environmental disasters.
God will cause it to work together for good.
Commander Robert E. Lee, remarking on his achievements during the American Civil War, once said, “My trust is in the mercy and wisdom of a kind Providence, who orders all things for our good.”
A number of years ago I was reading through a massive 2-volume set on the life of 18th century evangelist George Whitefield. Each volume contained more than 500 pages so it was taking me some months to read through. At the same time, I was praying over an invitation to return to London and preach the gospel, and I needed to know if God’s will was in this particular trip.
I finished reading one night in my book and put my marker down at the end of a particular chapter. It “happened” to be on page 498.
The next day I was running late for an appointment. I tend to drive a little fast when I am running late (which happens most of the time). One thing I hate when trying to go fast is when there is a slow car in front of me. Suddenly I felt the Lord impress upon me to write down her license plate number. I looked at it, grabbed a piece of paper, and wrote down, GWF 499.
I thought nothing of it at the time, finally passing this car and arriving late to my appointment. I had stuffed the piece of paper into my pocket.
Late that night, I was sitting in my rocking chair in my study and praying, “Lord, do you want me to take this invitation to preach in London?” He said, “Look again at that license plate number.”
So I pulled out the license plate info and pondered it. What could it mean? GWF…ah! A light bulb went off. Maybe that stands for “George WhiteField!” and the number, 499? Maybe the page number of the book?
So I quickly grabbed the volume of the book I had been reading, and opened it up to find my marker at exactly page 498. As I turned the page, I realized I would have the answer to my prayer on that page, if I was discerning correctly the Providence of God in sending that slow driver in the green car in answer to my prayers.
Sure enough, GWF, page 499, had a quotation of a letter that John Wesley had written to Whitefield, inviting him to come to London to preach!!!
God can use ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in your circumstances to speak to you. You just need to be aware that HE is there—a God who truly is, “ever-present.”
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For a Christian only, we don’t spell GOD, G-O-D. Instead, we spell Him like this: Father-Son-Holy Spirit.
This is called by many, the Trinity or Triune God.
This revelation, and the relationship and intimate voice that follows, is only accessible to a Christian. Many millions of people outside of true faith in Christ are praying to God from a distance. They still spell GOD, G-O-D.
And people outside true faith in Christ are kept from an intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father through their sinful nature. It still separates them from Him. Thus, without Jesus you cannot really know God as Father.
For example, millions of people claim New Age as their “religion” of choice.
New Age teachings promote a loss of God as the glorious, infinite, personal Trinity.
“Humans are simply congealed energy, the All in self-reflective mode. You create your own reality. Both death and morality are an illusion, and hence ‘we are God.’ These teachings not only misunderstand the fallen nature of man and our human condition, but the seriousness of our sin before God. There is no Savior to cleanse our guilty hearts, no personal, loving God to share our tears.”
Yet, the eternal God in all 3 Persons enters the world stage with something unique to Christianity.
For all who are in relationship to Jesus Christ, Enter: agape.
As soon as a person opens their heart in repentance to Christ, His love and His voice are poured out.
It’s a choice every person has to make to say, “Yes!”
Almighty God can become Intimate Abba to a follower of Christ. Love Speaks teaches that all 3 Persons of the Trinity are speaking in this present dispensation!
As Jonathan Edwards once noted after studying the topic of the Triune God extensively,
“I think [the doctrine of the Trinity] to be the highest and deepest of all Divine mysteries.”
As a diamond or special gemstone reflects the light shone upon it in many facets, so God’s glory upon you continually reflects many aspects of His voice to discern and His love to experience, and all 3 Persons of the Trinity are actively involved.
To put it very simply, as you study each way God speaks, think of His contact with you in these terms (while remembering that this is all a mystery):
The Fatherspeaks primarily externally, through His Providence, circumstances, nature and creation, and other ways. These signs of His love are quite literally everywhere. And each sign then bears witness within your spirit, through the Holy Spirit’s confirmation.
“For God (the Father) so loved (agape) the world that He gave His one and only son” (John 3:16).
The Son, Jesus Christspeaks primarily through both His Word (the Bible) and through His Body (other believers). We are all part of the one Body of Christ no matter what our church background. His Word (the Bible) is the foundation of all revelation and the trusted source of confirmation for everything we hear from God.
“The Son of God (Jesus) who loved (agape) me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Holy Spirit speaks primarily internally, from within your human spirit, as He now inhabits your heart with the divine Kingdom of God. His voice flows out of your mind and can be discerned by your spirit. And He confirms all direction at least two or three times through both internal and external means.
“I urge you by the love (agape) of the (Holy) Spirit” (Romans 15:30).
Note: The Holy Spirit as a Person comes to abide inside every believer in Jesus Christ. His workings require the believer to actively participate in a sanctifying, holy lifestyle that involves a dying to self and old, selfish priorities.
So throughout this book, perhaps consider a fresh surrender to Jesus Christ, and a fresh commitment to participation with the Holy Spirit, as He leads you to die to yourself and your old ways, and learn new ways to communicate with Him.
Thus, with the Holy Spirit’s help, you can learn to truly listen to God’s multi-faceted voice and follow Christ who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
***This Post is a portion from the Introduction of my new book, “Love Speaks: 21 Ways to Recognized God’s Multi-Faceted Voice.”
 Bruce Milne, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, pg. 139, InterVarsityPress, 1982, 1988.
 Jonathan Edwards, Works, Banner of Truth Trust, England. From an unpublished treatise on the trinity.
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I would like to begin by defining the term, “LOVE” from my new book title, Love Speaks: 21 Ways to Recognize God’s Multi-Faceted Voice.
We understand from Scripture that GOD IS LOVE. That’s a wonderful opening thought! He shared with Jeremiah so many years ago,
“I HAVE LOVED YOU with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
So just how does a Christian spell the word LOVE?
For a Christian only, we don’t spell LOVE, L-O-V-E. Instead, we spell it like this:
A-G-A-P-E. That’s right.
This word is unique to the Christian’s understanding of God. Why?
For the ancient Greeks (and the modern world) the words that describe love include a variety of ways like friendship, or love for a worthy object, like a sports team, or a worthy person, like a spouse or a child. The revolutionary event of the cross of Jesus Christ reveals a revolutionary love that is as impacting in modern times as it was then.
“Agape is a love for the unworthy, for one who has forfeited all right to the lover’s devotion,” writes Bruce Milne. “The Old Testament has witness for this in God’s love for Israel, and in Hosea’s love for his faithless wife.
“Holiness and love conjoin perfectly in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As God, He embodies divine holiness that is separate from and resistant to all sin and evil, yet His very coming is God’s loving, gracious response to human guilt and helplessness.
“They unite also in the ministry of God the Holy Spirit whose essential ministry is the renewal and sanctification of God’s people in fulfillment of God’s purpose of love (agape).”
Revolutionary, yes? So Paul writes, “But God demonstrates His own love (agape) toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
LOVE is GOD’s LOVE, as GOD IS LOVE (also see 1 John 4:7-19).
Practical Application: Declare that You Are Beloved of the Father
This final portion of this blog is an excerpt from Section 4, the practical application section of Love Speaks.
While it is true that every week, God is reaching out in certain ways to speak TO you, as a loving Father He is also speaking words OVER you. Words that help you understand that you are loved and beloved!
“This is My beloved Son” said the eternal, loving Father to His Son. And His Son in turn reveals the Father’s agape love to all who receive Him.
Jesus launched His own ministry with the Father’s personal love and voice. He called Him “My BELOVED Son.”
You are God’s BELOVED son or daughter, prince or princess of the King. Know it. Trust it. And live it.
In your prayer life, expect the Father to listen and respond to your prayers, and speak wonderful, truthful words OVER you.
Sarah Young, in her devotional book with 365 daily readings from the Lord, shares it this way,
“I am a God who gives and gives and gives. I search for people who are able to receive in full measure. To increase your intimacy with Me, the two traits you need the most are receptivity and attentiveness. Receptivity is opening up your innermost being to be filled with My abundant riches. Attentiveness is directing your gaze to Me; searching for Me in all your moments.”
In my experience I (Carl) have found I needed a new ability in my relationship with the Holy Spirit within to work together with Him in hearing His voice.
Every morning I prepare myself in both prayer and reading of the word, expecting the Lord to guide me, however He chooses to do so, and if indeed He chooses to do so on any particular day. Some days there seems to be no contact from God, and other days there seems to be multiple different contacts and thrilling moments of His voice personally speaking and confirming my path.
Try praying this every day, perhaps every morning:
“Father, I set my heart to seek your face today. I declare the truth, I am a beloved (insert the word, SON or DAUGHTER) of God. I receive your love today through hearing your voice. Speak to me above the noise of this world. Speak to me through Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Speak, Father, for your servant is listening.”
 Bruce Milne, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, pg. 139, InterVarsityPress, 1982, 1988.
 Sarah Young, an excerpt from March 28, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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My new book is filled with 21 unique ways that God is reaching out in an ongoing dialogue with you and I. The foundation of understanding this idea is wrapped up in His love for us as our Father-God.
Nobody I know has had a “perfect” earthly father or grandfather.
So when it comes to accepting the love and personal contact from our Heavenly Father, the question often arises, “Why does God, who is complete in Himself and filled with infinite attributes, want to fill my heart with His love?”
So let’s begin with a few Scriptures that tell a tale of a Father’s love, and answer the “why?” question.
Consider this wonderful passage, part of the recollection speech which Moses is giving to remind the children of Israel about just how special the LORD has been to them,
“In the wilderness you saw how the Lord your God carried you, AS A FATHER CARRIES HIS SON, all the way you went until you reached this place” (Deuteronomy 1:31).
He goes on to share something of the very nature and character of God as a Father.
A true father provides his children with several blessings: protection, provision, and identity. The same can be said of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the personal presence of the Holy Spirit.
First, let’s look at “protection” and “provision.”
“The LORD your God goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp (an example of how He is protecting His children), in fire by night and cloud by day (an example of His provision), to show you the way in which you should go” (Deuteronomy 1:33).
Through this symbol of the appearance of a cloud to the children of Israel as they navigated through the wilderness, we discover something of the character of God as Father.
This supernatural substance had an appearance of a cloud by day, offering shade from the heat of the sun in the desert, and an appearance of fire by night, offering comfort, light, and warmth on the cool evenings in the desert.
And I love the idea of the Father going ahead of His children, seeking out the very best places to camp which offer protection and provision. They followed the cloud, and the love of the Father followed them. And consider,
“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as He would His own eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His feathers” (Deuteronomy 32: 10-11).
What an awesome word picture that is! We, the Father’s children, were sought out, protected, and loved; the Father is here pictured like an eagle taking very personal attention to his own children, and forever protecting them in his own powerful wings.
Carried on His feathers!
Next, let’s see “identity” as God the Father reveals His fatherhood characteristics to a chosen family of sons and daughters.
Consider that, from times eternal, it was in the heart of the fullness of the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, to create a race of beings which would share eternity with them, and thus, mankind would bring that same Trinity great pleasure and happiness and joy.
Corrie ten Boom once said, “God has no grandchildren.”
You and I are forever treated as equal sons and daughters to Father-God.
We are given a whole new identity through our association with Jesus the Messiah: we become sons and daughters of the Father—of “His Father” and “our Father.”
Come with me on that amazing Easter morning, perhaps the most amazing morning in all of history.
Mary herself approaches the empty tomb and begins to weep, thinking that the body of Jesus has been stolen. The mystery of the resurrection had not yet been revealed.
She mistakes Jesus Himself to be the gardener (a wonderful detail in this story), but when she hears His voice, she recognizes Him, and He then declares these most sacred and empowering words,
“I ascend to My Father, and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20: 17).
You see, God has no grandchildren after all, only the redeemed family in the Messiah. We are eternal recipients of His love, care, and affection. We will be the very ones who bring Him pleasure and joy to all eternity.
Here’s a thought: what will you be doing, 10,000 times 10,000 years from now?
Perhaps—you will be enjoying God’s Presence, and, just perhaps,
https://secureservercdn.net/184.108.40.206/98a.912.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/photodune-320427-grandfather-with-child-on-beach-relaxing-m.jpg?time=163363686911551732Carlhttps://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/98a.912.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BtoBLogo-Web-125-matt.pngCarl2016-07-11 14:17:282018-10-23 13:15:34God Has No Grandchildren
One of my mentors in spiritual growth a few years ago was by one of the U.K.’s most influential evangelists: J.John of the Philo Trust. The following devotional is a summary, (along with some scriptures & my thoughts), of a conversation I had with J.John about the 3 most basic mandates for every follower of Christ.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16: 15.
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I Tim. 6: 12.
From the earliest days of the Book of Acts, the disciples spoke out. They, as His first witnesses, shared the story of the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ. And they have passed the baton to you and I.
From this day until the return of Christ, it is your turn to courageously speak out of what Christ has accomplished in you and through you. Shine as a witness and never be afraid of the court of public opinion.
In these days of religious misconceptions and political madness, humble people are still seeking answers to the most basic questions of life. And you have THE answer: Jesus.
“The powerful announcement is that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun. This announcement, stated as a fact about the way the world is rather than an as an appeal about the way you might like your life, your emotions, or your bank balance to be, is the foundation of everything else. It means that all people everywhere are gladly invited to come in, to join the party, to discover forgiveness for the past, an astonishing destiny in God’s future, and a vocation in the present.”
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 1-2, The Message Bible.
Living out your faith to the broken world and fallen humanity around you is a vital component of your spiritual life. The earliest communities of believers actually displayed the wonderful fruit of a Spirit-filled life. They gave to one another sacrificially and in pure love. They took seriously the Word and they let it become life within. They lived radical “counter culture” lives in a way which were dedicated each day to the service of God. They showed the world “real character” and were filled with zeal in their service to Christ.
While it’s true that by following the mandate of “speak out” that you are “speaking” a testimony, it is also true that by following the mandate of “live out” that your life itself IS that testimony; like Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “You are our letter, known and read by all men” (II Cor. 3:2).
I remember the story of the amazing Roman Catholic leader St. Francis of Assisi.
A young friar once asked to accompany Francis on a preaching mission. As they talked, they walked about the town together. When their walk was ended, Francis bade the young man farewell. Disappointed, the young friar protested,
“I thought we were going on a preaching mission!”
“We did preach,” said Francis. “They marked us as we walked.”
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink….Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25: 35a, 40b.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4: 7.
To “reach out” is to live “incarnately” like Jesus did, and intentionally make choices (and usually those choices take you out of your “comfort zone” and put you in “uncomfortable territory”). You’ll find even Jesus modeled this when He sent out the seventy; to those who were sick (who had real “felt needs”) He instructed them to heal the sick, and then only after meeting those real bodily needs, announce to them, “The Kingdom of God is here.”
Christ is love; Christ is love-in-action.
A great modern-day Good Samaritan examples of leadership are Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. They felt the calling to stop “doing church” and instead became missional strategists who started to “be the church.” They help non-profits with areas of human trafficking, helping the poor and disenfranchised, and their model of “church” includes regular times where every person involved has practical outreach opportunities to go and serve in the love of Jesus and meet real needs on a real level.
“We feel bad. We recognize need,” shares Brandon, “we talk about it with others. But so often we fall short of doing anything. We often confuse the heart of compassion that requires a response with the feeling of sympathy that remains idle. Most of us hear about need and sympathize. But that’s not compassion. It’s not justice. It’s not mercy. Sympathy remains only sympathy until we do something about it. Then it becomes an act of compassion: an appropriate response to the call of need.”
So, don’t hold back this week, move forward: Speak Out, Live Out, Reach Out!
The river that flows through Chicago, U.S.A. is about to become green once again. The annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day brings flowing toasts of green beer throughout America, and strange rituals like this one. The Irish descendants of Chicago might go a little too far in their celebration of Irish Heritage, but it still begs the question:
Who was the real St. Patrick, and what are we REALLY celebrating?
I first arrived on Irish shores at the age of 22 as a young, idealistic missionary and evangelist. I soon realized I had a lot to learn (from the Irish)!
One of my invitations was to join a leader named Raymond who had purchased a large bus, called the, “Tea Trawler” and turned the back of the bus into a portable stage. We would drive into poor areas, or small towns, and begin to worship God in praise from the platform to attract a crowd. Then I would bring an evangelistic message to those who had gathered, and close with an invitation to come into the bus and enjoy a cup of tea and discuss spiritual matters and receive prayer.
I remember one night I was preaching on the 10 Commandments, and a rude man from an upper window yelled at me, “this is the 11th Commandment: thou shalt shut your *&^% mouth so we can go to sleep!” and he hurled a potato or some vegetable at me. I continued preaching, in the love of God, anyway. Several people came in for a cup of tea, and prayed to receive Christ that night.
It was a combination of bold witness and relational/conversational evangelism, and very much in the spirit of St. Patrick.
So WHO are we really celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day?
We are celebrating a man of God who was an apostolic missionary and a bold preacher of JESUS.
We are celebrating someone who introduced a whole “new model” of evangelism, relational/conversational evangelism, to a culture.
First, he was an apostolic missionary and bold preacher; he was NOT IRISH!
He was originally from the region we now call England, taken captive as a teenage slave to Ireland by raiders. He escaped slavery to freedom, only to feel a calling to ministry and return.
The LORD gave him a dream one night and he saw the very people who once had held him captive, calling him back over to help them and introduce them to Jesus.***
In modern times, imagine you are German and living in Germany, and taken captive by ISIS as a teenager. You then escape from the terrorists, only to return to Germany and be called by God to return to Iraq and give your whole life as a missionary to the families of the terrorists. THAT WAS THE REAL ST. PATRICK!!!
He trained in the south of France and began his mission in the North of Ireland. He wrote in his journal,
“I felt no fear, because the Spirit of God was so fervent within me.”
His bold preaching included sharing God’s love everywhere, by seeking out those who were steeped in spiritual darkness. People followed the cults of the Druids and their teachings that “god” was ANGRY with them. The ancient belief was that to appease “god’s anger” one must sacrifice an animal or even a firstborn son.
The blood must be shed upon the altar, and then the priest would either drink the blood, or pour it upon the land, and in that act they believed they became somehow “one” with god, and god would not be angry anymore with them.
Patrick, and for many centuries, other disciples of his who carried on the mission, brought the truth:
God was not demanding these sacrifices out of “anger” for them; the opposite is true: He took the initiative in sending His One and Only Son to become a once-and-for-all sacrifice FOR THEM; indeed Christ offered His body & blood as the sin-bearer, in love.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us, for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
And in being covered by His “holy” blood, and receiving the power of His Holy Spirit released after Christ’s resurrection, you can truly become “One” with God, forever.
Second, he introduced the love of Jesus Christ through relational evangelism. The Roman model of the day was “forced conversion to the State religion of Christianity.”
Think of Ireland not with large cities, but small groupings of family units. Patrick and the monks would form communities, usually consisting of 12 monks, who would create a base of operation to both pray/worship and grow food and give it away.
People were converted by this unique approach of having their “felt needs” met and also being welcomed in an atmosphere of the very Presence of the “High King of Heaven” through prayer and worship. Just like the “Tea Trawler!”
In Dublin I remember spending the night on the couch of a remarkable lady: Lilian Rowe. She was all afire for Jesus. She owned a car, but so she could be active in evangelism, she hired a Taxi every morning for work, just to give an earful of the gospel for 10 minutes to the Taxi driver!
On her mantle, above her fireplace, was a picture of BONO of the group U2.
I asked her about it, and found out that she, and her husband Chris, were one of the Christian influences for Bono himself, and helped disciple him in the faith in his early years before all the hit songs and records came.
I remember Lilian’s passion for Jesus which overflowed into her passion for the lost. This, too, was very “St. Patrick” in influence.
So this month on St. Patrick’s Day, and then leading forward into Easter, let’s remember, not St. Patrick, but Jesus Christ, whom Patrick preached: whose blood was shed upon the cross as He offered God’s once-and-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
Let’s remember the examples like Raymond’s “Tea Trawler” or Lilian Rowe, and all the lessons that the Irish can teach us: like becoming sold-out missionaries, like joining in real communities of love and service, and like sharing the Good News in a relational fashion, whether that’s over a cup of tea and prayer for others, or simple conversations in taxi’s, (or with our co-workers or family members).
So, who is the real St. Patrick? Click below to watch a short documentary I made about 10 years ago to learn more. Filmed on-location on actual sites of Patrick himself, I share some history and more teaching about this remarkable missionary.
“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
-from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, 5th Century.
***Sources: “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill & “Celtic Saints” by The Pitkin Guide. Chicago foto courtesy of Flickr.
https://secureservercdn.net/18.104.22.168/98a.912.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/chicago-green-river.jpg?time=16336368697071024Carlhttps://secureservercdn.net/22.214.171.124/98a.912.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BtoBLogo-Web-125-matt.pngCarl2016-03-07 09:24:162016-03-07 09:24:16Will the REAL ST. PATRICK Please Stand Up?