God’s words have the power to transform lives. Jesus said they are “spirit and they are life” (John 6:63) and that we can’t live without them (Matthew 4:4). Here’s a testimony from our online community that shows how God’s words bring grace and hope to the darkest of circumstances:
I looked around the room and thought I was going crazy. I had heard God’s voice. Was I imagining it?
A few years ago* I went into hiding from my ex-husband who had been threatening to kill my three children and I. My father revealed my location to my him after I denied him contact with our disabled son (who he had been beating). I asked God if he was really there since I couldn’t do it anymore and I needed his help.
The dispute with my father led him to get me charged with attempted arson. Within 17 hours of being taken from my children by the police, I found myself in a women’s correctional facility. I had lost everything – my children, my job, my study – and was about to lose my house. I had not done what my father claimed but he chose to betray me anyway. I was broken. I couldn’t believe what had happened or where I was. Anyone who knows me is astounded by what happened to me – it was surreal. At the time I also developed a medical condition – a form of PTSD – where I struggled to walk and would lose the ability to stand. This occurred most days and I would have to drag my legs around or use a wheelchair.
Some of you have heard the story of how God led me into ministry at a time when I didn’t believe women should be in ministry! As you can imagine it was a interesting journey. Then God asked me to take what I had learned and pass it onto others, and so the ministry of God Conversations for Women was born.
Today I’m very excited to announce the launch of a new teaching resource: God Conversations for Women! In this 4-part CD teaching series we explore God’s heart for the 21st C woman in detail. We talk about the tough questions: why Jesus’ ideals of gender equality didn’t gain traction, the impact of the feminism movement, why some churches today still refuse to ordain women and what gender equality has to do with child marriage and gendercide.
1. Unlikely – My story of how a woman who doesn’t believe in female pastors ends up becoming one – and how God helped me work through the theological issues of my head, as well as the identity issues of my heart.
2. What the Bible Says about Women (and Men) This is a chunky message that aims to bring clarity to a complex and often controversial topic. We may believe in gender equality but why do some place limits of women and what about those unusual verses in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians that seem to contradict God’s heart?
I’ve always wanted to hear the audible voice of God. I imagined it booming forth, sending tremors through my body and swallowing me up in a mystical cloud, leaving me with no doubt where it came from. In fact, when I first started learning to hear God’s voice, this is what I expected. But sadly the booming voice never came. Yes, I’ve heard the voice of God many times, but it has never come out loud.
Perhaps you’ve had the same expectation – and perhaps with the same outcome. Part of the reason we expect God to speak out loud is due to the assumptions we bring to the Biblical accounts. We read; “And God said…” and we liken it to a friend talking with us across the table. But a closer look at Scripture reveals this to be a misplaced understanding. Hearing God’s voice should be understood more as a spiritual experience than a physical one.
A Spiritual Voice
When Jesus preached his sermons, he often closed with the line; “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (eg. Mark 4:9,23, Luke 8:8). The reason Jesus spoke in parables was to differentiate between those who had open hearts and those who didn’t. This should indicate to us that hearing God’s message wasn’t primarily a physical experience – after all, his audiences heard his words, yet many still wandered away. As Jesus said; “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13, see also Ezekiel 12:2). Unlike these, we are exhorted to see with the “eyes of our hearts” (Ephesians 1:18) – the emphasis is on our spiritual eyes and ears, not our natural ones.
In Christianity we talk a lot about having a personal relationship with God. The essence of God is love, so this is a real relationship, not a set of beliefs to know or a list of things to do. There can no relationship without communication and that makes the ability to hear God’s voice an essential to knowing God (Read ‘The God Life and How to Live It’).
It’s for this reason that the ministry of God Conversations exists. Our mission is to equip people to recognise and respond to God’s voice. Last month we celebrated our eight year anniversary and I shared some of the significant moments along the way. But the real highlights of this ministry are the times when people hear God’s voice for themselves.
Three Powerful Testimonies and What We Learn from Them
In this video I share three small, but wonderful testimonies from the Other Side of the Conversation Seminar (hosted by Forward Grace Church in the Netherlands) and what we learn from them:
- The power of obeying what God says
- Hearing God’s voice is for everybody – even those who feel uncomfortable!
- God’s willingness to provide confirmation to what we hear.
An Invitation to Get Involved
Today we’re inviting you to invest in the ministry of God Conversations! Tania is not on salaried staff at her church, so for the past 8 years the ministry has been made possible through church offerings and the generosity of Tania’s personal friends and the leadership team who have freely given their finance, advice and skills to build the ministry. As a leadership team, we now feel it is time in God to broaden the net and allow others to come on board. So this month we’re inviting you to invest in God Conversations! There are two ways to join our partnership team:
It was an unusual pairing. Eugene Peterson, author of the popular Message translation of the Bible meets Bono, lead singer of U2. Bono first connected with Peterson back in 2002 to thank him for the work that had so deeply impacted him: “No translation I’ve read speaks to me in my own language.” Their conversation at Peterson’s Montana home is a revealing one that contains an important message for musicians and artists, but also highlights a key for all those wanting to hear God’s voice. Watch their conversation here:
You’ll notice that Bono and Eugene talk a lot about honesty – particularly in the Psalms. As Bono says; “They have this rawness… the psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy he’s feeling …as well as the deep sorrow and confusion” (11:40). For Peterson who first began The Message when he was teaching a friend how to pray; “The Psalms are not pretty, they’re not nice” (12:40).
Bono’s passion is of course the arts, and more specifically songwriting. But his comments highlight an important element in our own conversations with God. If we long to hear God’s voice more clearly, we must take off the masks that hide our true selves. We must stop pretending in our prayer lives – especially when we’re experiencing hard times. Honesty is not so much a sign of irreverence as it is a sign of trust. After all, we get upset with those we love the most.