What was Really Happening at Christmas Time

By now you’ve probably sung the words of that ancient Christmas carol “Silent Night” in church or at a Carols event under the stars. The story goes that a pastor was walking home on Christmas eve and felt inspired to write them as he walked through his village set with yellow lights and snow-lined rooftops. The words of “Silent Night” were sung in a little Austrian church the next day, then spread throughout the German speaking world in the early 1800s and came to the US fifty years later to become one of the great classics we sing every December.

 

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright. It’s a beautiful line but it doesn’t fully capture the story. Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation gives us a slightly different version of the events. Unlike the scene depicted by the lilting carol, we see what was really going on in the spiritual realm. Instead of the peaceful glow surrounding the holy family pictured on our greeting cards, we see an enemy symbolised as a red seven-headed dragon. Instead of a baby sleeping peacefully in a manger, we see a vicious attack on a pregnant woman as she cries out in her pain. There’s a violent outbreak of war in the heavenlies and a cosmic uprising as the powers of evil seek to destroy God’s plan (Revelation 12:1-9).
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The Wacky, the Frightening and the Spectacular: Researching our Experiences Hearing God’s Voice

How do Christians hear, recognise and respond to God’s voice? This question lays at the heart of my doctoral research which was officially approved this week. After two sketchy Skype appointments (wi-fi is not always great between Sydney and the farthest ends of southern New Zealand) between myself and a panel of academics, I received final approval to commence my candidature as a doctoral student (Read here about why I chose to do my Doctor of Ministry). Time to break out the bubbly!

 

research hearing God's voice

It’s been a wonderful first year back to study – at least most of the time. During the year I’ve oscillated between This is awesome! to What on earth were you thinking? The introduction to the higher echelons of the academic world has been both stretching and humbling. I imagine it’s not so different to becoming a new parent with a whole new language; new set of rules and a baffling array of equipment. At times you feel the delight of it all and other times, you want to bury your head in the sand. There’s been words like ‘ubiquity’, ‘orthopraxy’, ‘dialectic’, ‘reductionism’ and others that even my spell-checker doesn’t understand. There’s technical gear like Google books, Ebsco (journal search) and Zotero (referencing software). Then there’s rules like ‘avoid metaphors’ and ‘write impersonally’ and principles like the need to ‘complexify’ the topic (so much for keeping it simple…)
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Three Tips to Recognise a God-Dream

You wake up drowsy eyed, wander into the kitchen and sit down with a cup of coffee. Slowly the images return, flashing through your mind in fleeting sequence. It’s like you were  there. You can still feel the emotion, stirring and lingering like the taste of last evening’s meal. Strangely coherent, they seem to shed light on your thoughts from the day before.

Three Tips to Recognise a God Dream

But was it God?

We know that everybody dreams – usually for 1-2 hours every night. Psychologists tell us we dream to process the events of the day – it’s our brain’s natural healing mechanisms doing some ‘house-cleaning’ – in the same way that sleep allows for restoration of our physical body.

But we also know that God speaks in dreams and that he’s been doing so throughout history. The Scriptures tell us that dreams are one of the most common ways he speaks (Numbers 12:6), that they are made accessible to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16-17) and that many of the great biblical events began while someone was sleeping (eg. Gen.15:8-21, Gen. 28:10-22, Gen. 37:5-11, Matt. 2:7-23, Acts 10:9-17, etc.)

So how do we know if a dream is from God? 

It’s important first of all to understand that not every dream comes from God – in the same way that not every waking thought is from him! Most of the dreams we have are natural dreams – they are the activity of our unconscious minds while we are asleep. They may be interesting to take note of, and occasionally helpful in understanding ourselves, but they are not the voice of the Holy Spirit.
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Podcast (026) Why God Speaks in Dreams and Visions

When God spoke to Joseph about his future destiny as a great leader, he waited until he was sleeping. When God spoke to the Apostle Peter about his strategy for building the church, he put Peter in a trance. When God answered Paul about which direction to go next on his missionary journey, he chose to answer in a dream.

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Why would God speak to us in the night and not the day? Why wait until we are sleeping? 

In this podcast, we explore some of the answers to these questions. You’ll learn how dreams can be used to get difficult messages through, how dreams make God’s voice accessible to everybody regardless of their personality type and how dreams and visions reveal God’s masterful creativity and his incredible heart to communicate.

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The Awaken Your Dreams 3-part CD Series will equip you how to recognise God’s voice in dreams and visions. Learn how dreams are God’s most common mode of communication, how to understand the language of dreams and how to recognise if a dream is from God!

Podcast (025) How to Hear God’s Voice as a Married Couple

How do you follow God’s voice for your life if there are two of you? What if both of you hear different things? Or what if one person gets the low-down from God while the other doesn’t? How does God lead married couples? On the show today we have some guests who are brilliantly qualified to answer these questions and I know you’re going to learn a lot from them!

married couple

Brett Ryan is the CEO of Focus on the Family Australia. He’s spent more than 12 years as a Children’s Pastor at Citylife Church Citylife Church, Melbourne, Australia building a significant ministry to over 1,000 children across 3 different church campuses. Brett’s wife Kate has been a PE teacher for the past 24 years, first of all as a Primary teacher and then as a Secondary teacher. Today Kate and Brett work together to serve the community and the church with a heart to see families thrive.

In this episode, I talk with Brett and Kate about:

  • The story of how God led them through the various career changes in their lives
  • What the story of Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents) in Judges 13 can teach us about hearing God’s voice
  • How to deal with the scenario when one partner has heard from God while the other hasn’t
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