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God Will Not Be Manipulated Into An Agenda

Have you ever prayed that God would speak to you in an audible voice?  I have. 

I’m always amazed and impressed when people tell me God spoke to them audibly.  Not through a dream.  Not through circumstances.  Not through someone else.  Not through a warm sensation in the middle of the gut.  But audibly, as in “burning-bush-God-speaking-to-Moses audibly.”

When people tell me of their audible experience from God, I think that’s wonderful, and I don’t question or doubt their claim.  All I know is that it hasn’t happened to me . . . yet.  And, quite honestly, it might never happen.  The question I ask myself is, Am I okay with that?  Am I less of a Christian if I never physically hear the voice of God?

When I journeyed across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I prayed every day—EVERY day—that God would speak to me.  I had several hours of alone time with God each day as I hiked the Pyrenes Mountains and crossed the arid plains of the Meseta.  I prayed, “Lord, reveal yourself to me.  Speak to me.  I want a vision of you.  I’m not asking for a vision for ministry but a vision of you and your presence in my life.”

Chirp-chirp, chirp-chirp. Silence.  Nothing.

I can’t say my prayers bounced off the ceiling, as the sky was my ceiling.  I believe God heard my prayers.  And I believe God cared about my simple request.

So, what was it then? 

Over the next month, as I prayed that daily prayer, I began to notice something happening to me.  I began to sense that I was changing and that God was speaking through the still, small voice of his Spirit.  I just didn’t hear it audibly.

Here’s what I discovered: I needed to slow down and be in a position to receive rather than always be on the run and expect God to speak to me on my terms and in my time.  God will not be manipulated or squeezed into my agenda and timeline.  If I am still before the Lord, over a long enough period of time, the distractions of this world begin to fall away, and I begin to “hear” his still, small voice. Not physically but spiritually.

As I prayed, and as I walked, God was shaping me more than speaking to me.  Erwin McManus says, “God shapes his will in us far more than he speaks his will in us” (The Last Arrow, 178).

When God spoke to Elijah, it wasn’t in the strong wind.  It wasn’t in the earthquake.  It wasn’t in the fire.  It was in the sound of a low whisper, which, in order to hear, one must be completely still (1 Kings 19:11-12).  The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I encourage you this week to practice the spiritual discipline of quietude.  Turn the volume down on your stereo.  Step away from the noise.  Do your best to find time daily to pause, be still and listen.  And maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear the sound of a low whisper, not with the ears of the flesh but with the ears of your spirit.

The Trappist monks practice this Latin phrase, “Fuge tace et quiesce.”  Live in solitude, silence and inner peace. 

Don’t fret about hearing God speak his will in you.  Simply let him shape his will in you for his glory and purposes.  Amen.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Normal Life – Wk. 1

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In a culture that oversells, overvalues, and overplays the thrill-a-minute adventure, “normal” is just, well, . . . normal.  Bland. Ordinary.  And who wants a boring, normal, ordinary life?

I do.

After being in Spain for a month-long adventure and sabbatical of a lifetime, where I hiked over mountains, traversed through valleys and saw amazing sights of Romanesque and Baroque architecture, I was due for a little “normal.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I love adventure and excitement.  But I don’t want to live there . . . every day. . . nonstop.  We were not created to sustain a 100-mile pace and 120-heartbeats per minute.  We were created to live in balance, rhythm, and with a healthy pace.  In other words, we were created to live in the normal, accentuated with moments of adrenaline, not the other way around. 

I like my normal bed, my normal house, my normal job, and my normal, old, 2000 Toyota Sienna.  I like my daily routine of devotions and prayer and then getting to my normal office, grabbing a normal cup of coffee, and then easing into my normal work of study, meetings, planning, and “visioning.” 

Ned Campbell, my friend and Servant Leader of our Men’s Ministry, told me that when you climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Kenya, you can only stay at the top of the 19,341 peak for fifteen or twenty minutes, due to the lack of oxygen.  It’s exhilarating, I’m sure, to make it to the top, but you can’t live there.  Why not? Because that’s not normal. 

The mountain-top experience is meant to be just that, an experience.  But your day-to-day life is not lived on the mountain-top, and I venture to say, it shouldn’t be lived in the valley either.  Both are momentary stops, not everyday life.  Normal, day-to-day life is lived on the trail, the in-between, where sometimes you’re going up, and sometimes you’re going down. Sometimes you need to stop and rest. And sometimes you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  But that’s normal.  And that’s okay.

The Psalms are full of reminders of how we are to live life and find joy in the day-to-day and not just in moments of grand adventure.  “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1-2).  “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

Why don’t you take a moment right now and give thanks to God that you don’t always have to pursue the next best thing, the greatest thrill, and the grandest adventure in order to satisfy your soul?  Thank Him that He shows up with you in the normal moments of your normal life.

“God does not always speak in the thunder and lightning.  God often speaks in the still and silence” (Eugene Cho, Overrated, 186).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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