How to hear the voice of God—part two

The ability to carry on a conversation with God is the birthright of any child of God. Prayer was never meant to be a monologue that ends with “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Rather it is an ongoing dialogue between you and God, filled with laughter at times, tears at times, chit chat at times, serious business sometimes, jokes at other times.

You have a Father in heaven who likes you, who cares about you, who likes spending time with you. Your Father expects to have a relationship with you, just like a good father in any reasonably healthy family wants to have a relationship with his children.

The Bible confirms this expectation. In John 10:27, Jesus says that His followers can hear His voice. Romans 8:16 tells us the God’s Spirit talks with our spirits. 2 Corinthians 13:14 invites us to experience “fellowship” with God’s Holy Spirit. The Bible is filled with examples of people hearing from God (Genesis 15:4, 1 Samuel 3, 1 Kings 6:11, 1 Kings 13:1, 1 Kings 17:2, Jeremiah 2:1, Acts 8:29, etc.). Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit will guide them into all truth (John 16:13).

But suppose you don’t experience this kind of give and take, this kind of ongoing conversation with God in your life. Does that mean that you are somehow a second class citizen, that there’s something wrong with you?

Not at all. For many years I didn’t hear from God, and I was clueless as to how to go about learning this process. This isn’t something that is regularly taught in most churches, so let me share some things with you that I’ve found helpful.

This isn’t spooky. It isn’t weird. You probably won’t hear an audible voice, though you might. You probably won’t see any visions, though you might. You probably won’t have any angels appear to you, though you might. Mostly, hearing from God is just a quiet inner voice or an inner sense of what God is saying to you.

Is it foolproof? No. You might think you’re hearing from God when you’re not, though I’ll give you some suggestions that will help you validate what you get when you ask God a question. If there’s ever a conflict between what you think you’re hearing from God and what God clearly says in the Bible, go with the Bible every time. God isn’t going to tell you to steal or commit adultery or engage in other behaviors that are contrary to what He has revealed in the Bible.

More next time…

This post is adapted from content found in my book Spiritual Self Defense. More info here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Keturah was the mother of Abraham’s other children.
New question: According to Zechariah, what is the exact location where the Lord will return to earth?

How to hear the voice of God – part one

How does God speak to you?

I gotta believe that the answer to that question is going to be a little different for each person because we’re all unique. But I also think that God is trying to speak to each of us and will speak if we’re willing to listen.

For me, God usually whispers to me with a quiet inner voice in my mind. For example, one cold January day years ago, I was out taking a walk on a trail in the country, feeling pretty down about everything that was going wrong in my life at the time. After pouring out my heart to God, I heard Him say, “Listen.”

So I listened. Nothing. Silence. Chirp. Silence. Chirp. More silence. I was listening, but no one was talking except a couple crazy birds that forgot to fly south for the winter.

Then God spoke: “Even though it’s gonna be a long winter, they still sing.”

How about you? How does God speak to you?

In the next couple posts, I would like to share with you some things I’ve learned along the way about hearing the voice of God.

PS. The other day I was rereading part of the novel I wrote, The Man from Sun Prairie (which, by the way, is a story about hearing the voice of God). There’s this line on page 30—every time I read it, I laugh out loud. And then something happens at the bottom of page 178 that puts tears in my eyes. No, I can’t promise the same thing will happen to you, but it seems unfair that I wouldn’t invite you to find out.

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: David’s sons who died before their time: (1) Solomon’s older brother, the unnamed son of Bathsheba died as an infant. (2) Amnon was murdered by his half brother Absolom. (3) Absolom was killed by Joab and his soldiers during the battle that followed Absolom’s revolt. (4) Adonijah was executed by order of King Solomon.
New question: Hagar was the mother of Ishmael. Sarah was the mother of Isaac. Who was the mother of Abraham’s other children?

Helping people in pain

How do you help loved ones who struggle with depression and hopelessness?

A friend posed this question to me a couple weeks ago, and I thought you and I could address it together. So let me start by asking you: What do you think? What works for you?

Here are my thoughts. For a long time I figured the only hope for depression and hopelessness was a good therapist. I figured this was something that God could fix, but probably wouldn’t. So apart from therapy and medication, you were stuck until you got to heaven. The best you could do is put on a happy face, and pretend you’re okay.

Then shortly after 9/11/2001, I discovered a process that God uses to fix things like this. I explain that whole process in great detail in my textbook, Spiritual Self Defense.

Of course I was excited about this, and went around trying to get everyone I knew enrolled. As you might imagine, that didn’t go over as well as I hoped. Change is hard. Even good change is threatening to most people. This is part of the reason why people remain stuck where they are for years and years.

And so, yes, I recommend you get my textbook and learn the process. It will give you powerful tools for helping other people—and, of course, for helping yourself. But I also add this caution: People can’t be bullied or pushed into transformation. They’re ready when they’re ready. Meanwhile, you and I can do all we can to create high trust relationships with the people we love. That way, when people are ready, we can be there for them.

Hope this helps.

PS. More information on the Spiritual Self Defense textbook here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible.
New question: Four of David’s son’s were executed, murdered, or died before their time. Can you name any of them?

The one thing that matters

I don’t know what kind of life you are experiencing. You may have a charmed existence where everything goes right. Then again, maybe your life is more like mine—dancing through a minefield.

In 1982, I quit my job to move to Wisconsin and start a business. That business failed. I worked an entire year without making any money. My wife and I started a couple new businesses. They limped along for a few years until we had our first child in 1991. Then they fell apart, and we were left homeless with a baby for eight months in 1992. We dug our way out of that hole, and we were doing okay until just before Christmas 1995. The day our third child was born, I lost my job. Even though I was laid off (not fired), my unemployment claim was denied after one month of benefits. Zero income with three little children. Almost went homeless again, but managed to create another business that sustained us. Then 9/11 happened. My primary client depended on the manufacturing industry which nosedived after 9/11. Income back to zero. I tried to make it as a writer, went bankrupt, and almost lost our home. I picked up a janitorial contract and did some other odd jobs to get us back on our feet. Again worked on making it as a writer. But someone kept deleting my online ads (who knows why). Somehow, however, I managed to get enough business to survive just by word of mouth.

If I were to rattle off my adjusted gross income for each of the last five years, you would tell me I’m lying. You would say no one could survive on that amount of money. And, you’re right. It’s impossible. It can’t be done. But God is a God of the impossible.

My bills are mostly paid. I have enough food to eat, a home to live in, a mortgage that is mostly paid, clothes to wear, a car to drive. But even more important than that is this: I’m okay. I’m not stressed. I’m at peace. I like my life. Yes, I want to do better, but I’m deeply grateful for the adventure God has me on.

I’m only mentioning the financial challenges we’ve faced. There have been all kinds of other disasters; it would take pages to list them. But again, it’s all okay.

The Bible says that a righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. I have another way of putting that: Everything can go wrong, but as long as one thing goes right, you’ll be okay.

One thing. The one thing that matters. The one thing that cannot be shaken.

Have you found it? Have you found that one thing?

PS. I just want you to know, I haven’t forgotten about you. I really like to get something out to you every couple days, but sometimes you need to just take some time out, climb the tallest tree, look around, and figure out which direction to go. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Paul and Barnabas were the first Christian missionaries.
New question: What is the longest chapter of the Bible?

When love seems far away

A friend contacted me with a challenge I want to share with you. He works closely with the recovery community, and here’s what he observes: People make radical changes in their lives, but people who know and have been hurt by the “addict” are unwilling or unable to recognize those changes, to forgive, to accept and embrace that new person.

I have a friend who is a registered sex offender. He went to prison, came out, turned his life around, and was doing much good in his community until someone found out his sex offender status. He was hounded out of a job and out of town. Now he lives over a thousand miles away, trying to rebuild his life.

Another story: When a young man I know started getting into drugs, his “good” friends stopped hanging out with him (probably at the urging of their Christian parents). The net result: His only friends were fellow users. The pull of drugs got stronger, and the supportive community that might help him “just say no” evaporated.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Here’s my question: When you hear stories like this, what goes through your mind? How would you respond? What do you do when you’re rejected? How do you decide who to include and who to remove from your life?

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Jesus quoted the book of Deuteronomy when tempted in the wilderness.
New question: Which three prophets spoke into the life of the Old Testament hero and king, David?

What do you think?

I have a question for you:

What problems do people bring to you that you find challenging, difficult or impossible?

Or, alternatively: What challenges do you face that you would like help with?

I ask for a couple reasons. (1) I like connecting people with other people who can help them. (2) Maybe I can help. I don’t know.

Anyway, think it over and private message me, or contact me at

I haven’t posted for a few days. Again, couple reasons: (1) I did get tied up with some other things. (2) I’m pausing to determine what would be most helpful for me to post. That’s why your response to this will be so helpful to me.

Anyway, while I was searching for an image to put with this post, I found an image on Flickr with the caption: What do you think happens when we die? So…how would you respond to that? Of course, you never really know what someone’s motivation is for posting something like that, but just to get the conversation started, I wrote: “Great question. What do you think? Here’s what I think: Every moment of our lives reveals the direction we’re headed: toward God or away from Him. Death turns that direction into a destination.”

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: In the New International Version New Testament, the first word spoken by Jesus that we read is, “Let” (permit, allow). See Matthew 3:15. The first recorded word that Jesus spoke as a child will be familiar to any parent: “Why” (Luke 2:49).
New question: Which Old Testament book does Jesus quote when tempted in the wilderness?

[Re]Connect with Jesus in a meaningful way

Jesus wants to (1) heal your hurts, (2) renew your mind, (3) transform your life, (4) release the best version of you—the eternal, capable, beautiful you; the you fitted for eternal life.

No matter where you are in life, it’s good to stop and check your connection with Jesus. How do you establish a meaningful relationship with Jesus? I’ve seen this explained many different ways over the years, but here’s the version that makes the most sense to me. Perhaps it will also help you.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: Joshua and Jesus had almost identical names in Hebrew.
New question: In the New International Version New Testament, what is the first word spoken by Jesus we encounter?

Remove guilt from your life

The presence of guilt in your life is like the “check engine” light in your car—its a signal that something is wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you exactly what’s wrong.

As a culture, we’ve seesawed back and forth—first saying that all guilt indicated the presence of sin, and then saying that all guilt was false—an unnecessary and undesirable cultural construct. The truth is somewhere in between. If I set the neighbor’s dog on fire and don’t feel guilty about it, then something is wrong. But if I take the blame for something that isn’t my fault, then something is also wrong. If I receive God’s forgiveness, and still feel guilty, then that’s a different kind of problem.

That’s why we need to through a simple troubleshooting process to get at the cause of guilt and repair it. I’ve created a one-page guide that explains how I do that. Perhaps it will be helpful for you.

Find it here:

Bible trivia:
Answer from last time: David & Goliath occurred about 500 years earlier than Daniel & the lion’s den.
New question: Which Old Testament hero’s name in Hebrew was very similar to Jesus’ name in Hebrew?