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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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4.28.2008

So...do we "hear" from God?

This is a topic that has come up quite a bit the past few weeks, and it is something I would like to continue discussing. After Nancy raised the question at our discussion yesterday, it became pretty clear to me that I have some pretty strong feelings about this and some pretty big questions, so I was hoping to get some more ideas bouncing around as I'm not sure how I am feeling is best.

On Sunday I mentioned that we didn't "hear from God" about starting this cohort. What I didn't say is that we did spend a very long time considering it and about two weeks praying about it quite a bit before we posted on the blog. Then in December when we were discussing meeting more often and being more intentional we did a very similar thing. Neither time would I say that we heard a clear answer from God. Rather, based on our experiences, our limited knowledge of Columbus, and our best guess as to what God wants us to do for this community we acted. So, we didn't hear directly from God, nor did we find the mandatory verses to back up what we were doing, but we decided to take a chance under God's grace.

I do have to admit that I have big problems with people that say the have heard from God. Largely this is because so many people claim this and then make horrible decisions. This has been happening throughout history and will likely continue to happen. This has caused me to not trust anyone that says they have heard from God, but I'm not sure that is the proper response and only leads to a life with little faith.

Perhaps the idea of "hearing" from God is what troubles me? Is there a better word or a better way to describe how God communicates directly with individuals? Also, I can think of hundreds of examples where people have heard from God and it ended very badly, but very few that ended well. Can anyone think of some good examples?

4 comments:

NancyJ said...

There are many who have heard from God and something good followed. Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Daniel, Peter and Paul and then as history continues Augustine, Martin Luther, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila. And even more recent, John Wesley, Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life), the original Willow Creek, Brian McLarin and certainly the author of the Justice daily guides. These individuals' revelations encouraged, challenged and pointed others to God. But revelation is NOT meant to be perfect or meant to be concretized. God's revelation to anyone includes the person's history, perspective and experience interconnected in and through it. It is meant for a time, a people and a place and then new revelation comes again in a new time and a new place.

If you think about the common thread among these, they experienced an awakening and many, if not all experienced desert time--a cleansing and preparation. All sincerely sought union with God and then mission followed awakening others. The important thing is to follow their example in union with God and then follow them as leaders. We often follow an idea or the leader without realizing we individually must connect ourselves to God as our first and highest priority.

Nick, I thought so much of Sunday's discussion and I thought..."who am I really to believe I hear God's voice. Maybe it really is my imagination.”

But something you can consider as a way of a test is...Is there pride here? Is there fear? Is there judgment? Many times my insights will be filled with one or more of these things and that is my caution and time for waiting. It seems that perhaps the past revelation you and Jane experienced from others contained all three.

I have been wrong so many times and I have been humbled so many times, but it doesn't stop me from taking the risk to ask, seek and believe that God can guide, direct and give me His wisdom and presence. I have asked questions and received answers that I could not have concluded on my own. He has given me insights that I simply cannot take credit for.

I am so sorry for the hurt caused by friends you trusted and valued. As Adam said, it is love that goes beyond being right and says, "let me think about that—I want to understand."

But we have great responsibility with the freedom we are given to explore all that God is and how our beliefs may change and evolve over time. And I do understand the mainline churches' caution and concern regarding so much questioning of our beliefs because too much freedom can be harmful especially to the young and weak. That is something for me to consider prayerfully and soberly.

Lastly, II Chronicles 16: 9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

I want to be that one whose heart is perfect toward him. I want to be the one He shows Himself strong in.

Jesse said...

Well, I too am very glad you have decided to post a bit about this Nick. I think I'm going to try to post a few thoughts as well, as I realized during our discussion on Sunday that even though this is a very important topic to me, and one that I think has shaped my spirituality in the last half year or so, it is difficult to put into words and share with others in a meaningful way. But I want to try :)

Your post is meaningful Nick, because you highlight that we "hear" from God in many different ways. Some of those ways are very practical - like considering a situation, talking it out with another person, extended prayer and then finally making a decision. This is the process by which Kellye and I have determined we were NOT supposed to go on the last two mission trips we were invited to attend. And in retrospect, I believe we made the right decision. So to say we "hear" from God is a common language way of saying God "reveals" himself to us, we interact with him, and because he is truth, we get direction and guidance.

On Monday, I had an experience with "hearing" from God. I've shared with some of you the challenges that have come up this last week at school, mostly between the head administrator and the teachers. After a long, intense and emotionally draining meeting discussing every side of the issue, I was sitting in my classroom recovering. I had a conversation with a co-worker, and he mentioned that the challenges for the head administrator were really great. Very distinctly, I felt I should go and tell the head administrator (my boss) that I appreciated her work, her dedication, and basically that I loved her even though the situation was difficult. I walked out of my classroom, 50 feet down the hall, and saw the administrator walking down the hall toward me. I told her those few words, and she said really appreciated it.

Alright - sorry for the long story, but thinking about Nick's post, our conversation on Sunday, and my experience Monday night, I think there is another test for "hearing" from God: if what we "hear" from God is going to be damaging or harmful to the person, it may very well NOT be from God (recall Adam's mention of the "love" test). There may be special situations, but there should be very, very clear guidance, beyond just a spiritual inkling, sense, or "hearing."

Zack said...

Nick, I enjoy talking to you and reading your posts, because I often feel similar.
For me hearing from God completly ties into the whole epistemology thing of how do we know what is supernatural or from God?
And how do we experience truth
I think one of my biggest struggles is always comparing myself to other christians and wondering why I don't experience God the same way they do.

Eve and I have both done missions trips through the group YWAM which was founded by Loren Cunningham after he had a vision of waves of young people washing up on the shores of different countries to bring the good news. He also wrote the book "Is that really you God?" which most DTS's encourage you to read. One of their core teachings and values is that God speaks and we can hear him.

When I was there it seemed like everyone was "hearing from God" and had prophecies for people ect. In Eve's DTS everyone was assigned another person in the group and was told to pray for them and ask God what to tell them and write it down to give them.
On my school things got crazy enough that people actually played "Holy Spirit Hide-N-Seek" Where one person goes and hides somewhere on the entire 10+acre property and everyone else prays about where they are and then writes it down on a peice of paper and then goes and looks one place.

I heard it seemed like a million stories about people who would like pray for someone and then get a specific word of knowledge about them and go tell them and it would be the exact perfect thing and about people who heard from God to go to a certain place and it turned out just perfectly and a bunch of people became christians because of it ect. ,but most of the stuff was 2nd or 3rd hand and then the stuff that would happen to me i would explain away completely, but other people were dead convinced it was God.
One night a group of 8 of us were praying and we decided as like part of worship to proclaim one charicteristic about God and so we all prayed about it for a bit and then when we went to shout it out we all had the exact same thing "God is faithful" this seemed a bit weird to me, but not a necessarily God thing especially since I didn't feel like I had "heard" from God to say "God is faithful"

So I guess the end is I really don't know. I think the mystery is part of it if we knew exactly how to hear from God or exactly who hears from Him then people would probably abuse it mroe. I'm pretty sure the old testament prophets were hearing from God and that God does still in some way communicate with people today. I think there are some unexplainable things and that we shouldn't be too quick to assign coincidences to being from God. I also feel like the more we seek to hear from God the more likely we are to hear him whether we know it was God or not.

Nick Johnson said...

Hey everyone, thanks for your responses. I think, maybe similar to Zack, the thing that bugs me is it seems like only the best Christians hear from God. Or maybe they are the only one's who trust him. Nancy's list of people is certainly a good one and is encouraging, but what hope does that leave for musicologists such as myself? I find it odd that we have to work so hard to hear from God. On one hand that makes God seem less powerful - like he can only talk to someone who fasts all day and prays 5 five hours a day or something. On the other hand, perhaps those people are the only one's that deserve to hear from God. I've been in kind of a mood for the past couple years where I really don't want my church telling me to do x or y (like telling me every week to get into the word), so I think that might be rubbing off. Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a good thing. I know that it is pride, but sometimes I'm just like hey church, leave me alone.

I think the qualifiers that Nancy and Adam have been talking about are very helpful, and I wish more people in the world would think about that. Jesse, I also like the 'reveal' idea. I am just in a place where I find it very hard to trust anything, including God. I'm not sure if this is because I'm a scholar and I'm taught to always question everything fully, but I'm not sure it is always healthy.