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An Indestructible life and other anomalies

Posted by Tim :: Ministry News

On Easter Sunday, I gave everything I had in me to persuade everyone in attendance at Stonebrook Community Church (which included half of the Texas A & M softball team) that every person can experience the power of an indestructible life by identifying with the life experiences of Mary Magdalene and Thomas (called Didymus), and by imitating their example of personal death and resurrection.

Except for any non-Christians in the crowd, I should have been talking to the choir. Every born-again believer should have felt that their lives in some way resonated with the dramatically altered lifestyle of Mary and Thomas. How can a man or woman, having been confronted with a man who resurrected from the dead (and that man being the Son of God, no less!) ever think they would live any other way than a bold and zealous life concerning the truth that they now know? I simply cannot imagine living ďa normal lifeĒ after that.

I know I simply could not. Which makes me wonder, ďAm I that abnormal?Ē I have for so long thought that the normal Christian life is one of deep love and radical devotion to Christ and His cause. And so to this day Iím confused by Christians who are more concerned about living like Americans than living like people who have seen the Lord. I just feel like there is a serious disconnect there.

Having gotten that off my chest, thereís something else bothering me. What is up with these testimonies of Christians sensing Godís voice so strongly that they will say something completely unplanned or do something thatís completely irrational in obedience to it?
A couple weeks ago, Wendy Rehm shared a story that while she was in Louisiana for Katrina Relief work, she found herself deeply burdened that she was at the wrong church service. She felt like she had to go to different church service and, on top of that, she had to make her way to sit in a specific chair!
Or another friend of mine who shared that he had to attend a Jim Cymbala speaking event to talk to him about his prodigal son in New York. Well, Jim was swamped by a crowd answering questions and signing autographs when all the sudden he stopped still for a moment, looked straight at my friend, and said something to the extent of ďYou have a son that was wandered from the faith. I need to talk to you.Ē
Nate Swinton shares similar stories of getting up in the middle of the night at Godís beckoning and doing something unusual. Whatís up with that!!

Now itís my turn to be missing something, because you know what, I just canít think of very many stories of my own like that! Donít get me wrong. Iím not looking for a buzz to override the pure, absolute Word of God to direct my life. If all I have is the Scriptures to guide me for the rest of my days, I will die a happy man. BUT, if God wants to relate to me on a more personal, experiential level and Iím missing it, Iíd like to correct that in a big way!

Now, as God would have it, Iím the guest speaker this weekend at a Teen Retreat about ďhearing and obeying the voice of GodĒ. And here I am recognizing that there is a level of hearing the voice of God that is rare in my life. Not a comfortable spot to be in.

So if any of you have some experiences or insight on this realm of hearing Godís voice in this way, please post a comment or send me an e-mail. Iíll need to borrow from others experiences until God is able to get through to me and give me some of my own stories to tell.


Comments


I find I can hear God's voice pretty clearly when I give him the space to speak. I used to just think that I must be hearing my own voice that was pretending to be God's voice. But I learned that if I listen, and then test God's voice with scripture and prayer that often times I can hear God speak into my life. A good example of this, which you might have heard me share before, goes like this:

It was last fall, the thursday of finals week. My original petition for reinstatement had been denied. I had to appeal to the dean of my college the next day. I was really discouraged and distraught. That night some of us went to Christy Korthals acting class. They did like 8 minute plays. I found myself sitting alone at a table and overwhelmed with doubt. During one of the plays I heard a voice say "Why did you leave?" I instantly knew it was God referring to my doubt, and me not spending time with Him because of my doubt. I didn't have an answer for that question. Next He said "Stop sinning". This was pretty straightforward. After that, He told me to never, ever, ever, ever give up. The next day, I went in to the dean of the college, and got reinstated. I've heard God speak to me quite a bit in the last year. Ive learned that I just need to believe that He wants to speak to me, and give Him the space and time to do so.

Posted by: TJ at April 18, 2006 01:50 AM

Christ wants you to know that he loves you and that he will be with you anywhere and everywhere. God has blessed you with his holy spirit and through this gift you can speak to him at all times and he to you if you will believe he can do all things.

Posted by: Steve O at April 18, 2006 02:42 AM

Tim,

The times that God has really "spoken to me" usually go something like this: I'll be completely minding my own business when I feel a very strong impulse to do something. That something has ranged from drastically changing a conversation topic to spiritual things, to telling 4 Linden guys that they need to come to Louisiana, to getting up in the middle of the night to drive to towers, to a bunch of other "strange" things.

If, at any point, I were to sit down rationally and think about any of those impulses, I'd see that they're un-natural (to my flesh, mind you), and illogical. The thing I've noticed though (yea, I'll get to a point) is that every time God speaks to me,

1. He speaks to my heart (not "a rational plan" but he puts a desire on my heart to do something).
2. It's always in-line with Scripture (I can easily go to the Bible or remember a memory verse to confirm it's a good thing to do)
3. It's always confirmed as a "God Thing" as soon as I start to obey just a little. This means that people around me are like "Yea!" and it bears obvious fruit.

I'm not sure what theology says, but that's how God speaks to me, through my heart. Maybe he speaks to each person in they way they understand best.


That said, I agree with you on the whole "normal/radical" lifestyle thing. The hope that that's a realistic way to live as a christian has kept me around all these years.

Posted by: nate at April 18, 2006 09:55 AM

I read this blog entry earlier this morning and later I read today's chunk of "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers (http://www.myutmost.org/04/0418.html) and I actually really thought that it applies to what you're talking about, Tim...

It seems like we aren't "guaranteed" any amazing spiritual experiences when I think about how the Bible talks a lot about the concepts of perseverance and having faith in what we can't see. Chambers is talking about being ready and available for God to use us. I imagine that the stories shared above all started from that key point...that the people were on "good speaking terms" with God (not having sin that they were withholding from God...a.k.a. had confessed their sin) and that they were ready to go with God's game plan for that hour/day/their life (a.k.a. submitting to God's plan). The verse that comes to mind is 2 Timothy 2:20-21:

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

I have to admit that I totally love hearing stories of how God has moved in crazy ways and people have obeyed in crazy ways, but I almost have to wonder if He loves our obedience just as much if not more when we DON'T see "amazing" or "fantastic" happen...

Maybe this is totally not what you're looking for, Tim, but I just got really excited about sharing today's section of "My Utmost" :) Thanks for listening :)

Posted by: Nancy at April 18, 2006 05:21 PM

More than anything, I love the "normal" way God moves and speaks to me, because that is the God I am building a relationship with on a daily basis.

I am of the opinion that we humans get used to things fairly quickly - that includes the way God relates to us daily. It is so easy for me to overlook that because it has become "normal" in my life. Then when God asks me to do something "abnormal" - like drive across a city I don't know only meet a college girl who is going to be in Ames this summer - it seems kinda crazy and definitely a sovereign God thing.

The thing I keep asking God for, is for me to see the ways He says He loves me and hear Him speak to me through His Word. I desire first of all that God win in my life.

I also love the way God uses and speaks through others - like on Sunday - how amazing your message was, Tim! God speaks powerfully through you in ways unique only to your relationship with Him.

When you were speaking about Mary being the first one to the tomb & to see the risen Christ, I saw clearly for the first time God giving "Eve" the first glimpse of forgiveness. And how Jesus was not intimidated by Thomas's doubt - Jesus dealt with him individually on his specific issue of unbelief, abandonment, and hurt. WOW! What a God we have! What love He has for each one of us --individually! And this I, as well as everyone else there, was reminded of because God chose to speak to you then through you.

Thanks for being willing to share what God has been speaking to & teaching you!!

Posted by: wendy sue at April 19, 2006 09:37 AM
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