Saturday, March 15, 2008

operator....information....give me Jesus on the line

'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' Jeremiah 33:3

Brad Jersak, author of “Can you hear me? Tuning into a God who speaks” says that Jeremiah 33:3 is God’s phone number. He tells us that we can call on our Shepherd and we, the sheep, can hear his voice. He talks about real conversational prayers with the Lord, rather than the phone messages we are used to leaving on God’s answering machine.

The first time I heard him speak in 2002, I was totally mesmerized. (I’m listening to it right now and it’s still great!) It was the refreshment to my soul that I had been searching for all my life. It seemed too good to be true. “Am I aloud to believe this?” I thought. Until this point in my spiritual life, I had never heard that I could expect the Lord to talk to me on an intimate level. Oh, I had heard it theologically speaking in a “don’t try this at home” kind of way, but this was real and it made sense.

The seminar was two days and it was sooooo juicy! Brad gave us exercises to do and they worked! It was really faith building. For instance, he had us get a partner, someone we didn’t know, and ask the Lord “if that person had a banner over them, what would it say?” Well the woman who prayed for me reported that my banner said “Joy”.

This was a deeply personnel message because the Lord had been speaking to me about joy for a few years. A scripture about joy would pop out, or a person praying for me would sense something to do with joy. This had happened enough that I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. In subsequent years, God has still been speaking joy over me. He has specifically told me that I am “a faithful servant marked by joy”. In my life, this joy was elusive at first. Years went by where I had pockets of joy but it was not in abundant supply as the Lord had promised. However, I can testify that in the past couple of years I have realized much joy as I have walked in greater freedom and I am sure there is more to come. However, I digress……

The next exercise was to ask Jesus what He would say to us if we met Him in heaven. I found this to be a bit of a stretch as I sat, eyes closed, straining my brain to hear something. But then I decided to relax and just go with it. I imagined myself walking into the throne room, and saw Jesus standing in a white robe. This is where my imagination stopped and the vision kept going. Jesus was really tall, almost twice my size. He came over to me and hugged me with a warm embrace. In surprise, I exclaimed, “You know me!” And He replied “Oh, I know you very well”.

This encounter touched me deep in my spirit. It was like I was waiting to hear those words. To know that he had heard all those answering machine messages I had left and he really did know me! He met me in a place in my heart where I had always felt lost in the crowd…..overlooked… unmemorable plain jane. As a single tear streamed down my cheek, Brad looked at me from the front and asked if I would share what I got since it was obvious that it had been meaningful. When I shared, he said that Jesus often tells us something that we need to hear now. I think that’s true.

Over the past few years, I have learned to hear God’s voice in a greater measure. It’s not quite as conversational as Brad reports but it’s definitely there. I have learned to recognize how God speaks to me.

I share these stories out of the abundance of my heart. It is my desire to encourage you in your faith not to brag or be all pie in the sky. God doesn’t play favorites. He knows us all intimately and longs to let each of us know what is special about us and who he has made us to be.

Try it………..ask Jesus what He would say to you if you met Him in heaven today. Let me know what happens.


Valorosa said...

This is the reason the Holy Spirit was left to be with us. Jesus told His apostles that the "comforter" would not come if He did not leave us. :-)

All this is the truth Ruth
Thanks for sharing :-)

Left you a comment on your comment over at a fundamental shift.

Valorosa said...

It's on being an artist.

Happy said...

Ruth, sometimes reading your blog is like stopping by an oasis for a bit... today was definitely one of those experiences. :) Thank you for writing so beautifully and sharing so honestly...

I had a really cool God-encounter this morning. The timing was really weird - I came down with some sort of weird stomach/fever/headache-y something - half an hour before rehearsal yesterday (I was leading worship this morning) - but I duked it out and led anyway. I had the option of calling in sick this morning, but I didn't - maybe should have, but didn't - and it was a crazy morning - I broke two strings in the middle of the second song at the first service, but the band covered beautifully - and there were friends there who knew I wasn't feeling well who were praying hard - and about 1/2 way through the set during the second service, all of a sudden I heard God whisper, "Happy, I'm really proud of you." And I kept singing, and just grinned, because it was such a cool moment - and funny, I started to feel better right about then... :)

Still tired, still not 100%, but better - and resting in the knowledge that God knew what this weekend was really like, and He was proud of me for sticking to what He'd called me to. It was just cool.

Anyway... I'll stop rambling now. :)


Ruth said...

Hey Valorosa - Yes I never thought of it that way - the HS is in me. When I imagine God I always think of Him somewhere in the distance but He is actually with me!

I just realized my name rhymes with truth when you said "all this is the truth Ruth.

I'll head over to Happy's place to see what you said there.


Ruth said...

Happy ~ you just make me so happy... you're contagious!

It blesses me that you called my blog an "oasis". When I started a women's bible study in my church, the Lord gave me the name "The Grace Oasis....a place of refreshing". I had a vision of creating a place that was not just bible talk but was a place to be refreshed.

Thanks for sharing your moment with the Lord. This is exactly what I am talking about. When you know it's from the Lord and you receive it in your spirit, it's absolutely life giving.

jON said...

what an interesting post based on recent conversations, and especially the most recent response i just left you over there...

i don't think i could have said it any better, and it sounds like you already understand everything i was trying to say. so thanks for sharing out the abundance of your heart. always good to hear something this real, tried, and true. not just theories.

Ruth said...

Thanks Jon - I was just reading your response from something else and formulating my was something like "well maybe we have to agree to disagree." :)

But maybe not. I think we both agree that God speaks to us personally outside of the bible. Anyways..I'll check in over there again.

You said "always good to hear something this real, tried, and true. not just theories." - this is what I am passionate about and why I talk about my own experience so much. I love to talk about spiritual truths and how they actually work. Talk about theology on its own is like dry bones.

Brad Jersak said in the audio that I linked to "if the red letters and your experience don't match, then get a new experience". I totally agree.

So why don't you take me up on my challenge in my original post? What will Jesus say to you when he meets you?

So why don't you take me up on my challenge in the post

jON said...

i am agreeable with agreeing to disagree. i have enjoyed the give and take as this has been a different experience for me. mostly i have questions and i research and study those questions. but this is the first time i have taken a stab at "defining" anything i believe, and your questions of said topic have been very helpful at helping me to do just that.

in fact, the more i have thought about it even in the past day, i have come to this amount of clarity. (for the moment)

i DO believe that the bible has an amount of "authority". i allow it to cut me and shape me and mold me. i have simply had bad experiences in the past while holding to the evangelical concept of "the authority of scripture." which, in the circles i was in, meant that if someone could find a verse and explain it well enough, then you had to follow their interpretation of that verse. it didn't matter if your heart and spirit were screaming inside of you "no! that's the wrong way for you!" because scripture was the highest authority, even over god himself communicating to you directly through holy spirit.
(much like in your post, here)

and i don't want to go back to that place. which is why i'm careful about adopting evangelical phrases or concepts that have come about through man-made convictions over time, but when traced, don't actually have any real grounding in scripture.

because i agree that scripture is living and active, but i also believe now that it is a different experience for everyone and that god wants different things from all of us. and that we shouldn't try to force our own convictions on anyone else. because as with my experience, i was being told by men that what god was asking me to do (in my own heart through holy spirit) wasn't really god. except that it was. so i had to make a choice of who i was going to listen to.

i think we're actually on the same page, here. just in two very differnt places. each one placed as the lord sees fit. so we can talk with each other about being a part of "the body", but at a certain point, with you being an eye, and me being a toe nail, we're just going to have experiences that are not the same at all. but we're still a part of the same body.

sorry to your readers as this is coming WAY out of context. but thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with me. i do appreciate them very much. iron sharpening iron, you know. hopefully, even in a small way, i have been able to do this for you as well.

Ruth said...

Yes Jon I too have definitly enjoyed the give and take and the iron sharpening that has been going on in these conversations. I have enjoyed spending time in your room and as I said before, I felt the kingdom of heaven there. However, I needed to test you to see if you were grounded or just a loose cannon. :)

Finding truth is such a delicate balance and that is why I say in my header it is best found in community with humble hearts.

I understand where you are coming from when you said
"..and i don't want to go back to that place. which is why i'm careful about adopting evangelical phrases or concepts that have come about through man-made convictions over time, but when traced, don't actually have any real grounding in scripture."

I understand that we are all rather gun shy - those of us who have spent any length of time in the machine. That is why I am so passionate about talking about truth and weighing everything up in my spirit.

....Bless you brother.

Ps. for those who are wondering what the heck we are talking about, please join us over at Jon's place.

Nate said...

"What were you thinking?" That is God's response when I meet him.

Anyway, I would like to explore more the authority of scripture if you would? It is something that I wasn't wondering about until it was brought up. It is definately something that I need to make my mind up about. Here are my views on it, tell me what you think of them, or if you completely disagree.

Are they God's words to us? Yes
Are they commands to us? Only when stated that way.
What will happen if we don't follow them? A little more complex. It is the why we don't follow them. If out right rejecting them, lake of fire. If unintentionally missing a few, forgiveness.

I guess the big question to me is, when is it a command? When is it just wisdom imparted? And when is it jibberish? (Song of Solomon, I have not heard one sermon on anything in that book ever)And if it is not jibberish, why is it there?

Those are the things I have made my mind up about scripture, and the questions I have. What are everyone else's thoughts?

jON said...

i am most interested in continuing this discussion about the bible. for my part, as i see things, the two lines of thinking that i am searching out in this regard deal with:
1. - "the word of god." what does that mean? what does the bible actually have to say that "the word of god" is and how it is used?

2. - my main piece of research for the summer - "spirit vs. law." when we read narratives from the bible, do we see them consulting scripture to hear from god, or did they hear from him directly?

not sure if ruth wants to be the host for this, but i am definitely down for continuation. what say you, ruth?

we drew near to each other. jesus' eyes not wavering but staring straight into mine. straight through me. without glancing away, holding my gaze, he asked, "what do you have to say for yourself?"

"the only thing i can say. the cross. i have no other defense."

a smile breaks out across his face as he throws his arm around my shoulder. "exactly. welcome to the party! you need a beer?"

Ruth said...

Thanks Nate and Jon for playing along. I noticed that the Lord asked both of you a question first. Of course we know that when he asks us a question he already knows the answer. The reason he asks is because he wants us to reveal what we already know in our heart.

YES I WOULD LOVE to continue the discussion about the bible's authority. I think I have to do some home work though if I do an actual post. Its much easier when I just remark off the cuff. I will ponder it though.

It would be great if a few of us explored it. I have noticed a lot of talk in blog land about abandoning legalistic interpretaions but not so much about submitting to the truth of the bible.

As for your thoughts and questions Nate:

"I guess the big question to me is, when is it a command? When is it just wisdom imparted? And when is it jibberish?"

I have found the more I read the bible in context and experience what the Lord does in my everyday life the more I have an understanding and trust in it. I can put my weight on it. I can use it as a plumb line. I can make decisions and judgments based on my entire understanding rather than a few lines taken out of context.

It is occuring to me that legalism is actually born out of ignorance and pride. Not taking the time to truly understand or having the humility to say one doesn't know...but just having blanket judgements based on surface knowledge. Does that make sense? It just came to me now - off the cuff. :)

PS. you do know don't you that The Song of Solomon is about sex, among other things, like the imagery of a love relationship between God and Man.

jON said...

"I have noticed a lot of talk in blog land about abandoning legalistic interpretaions but not so much about submitting to the truth of the bible."

absolutely. much has been given, because so many of us are so young on this path, to casting off the chains that bound us. and many of those chains were man-made interpretations of scripture and doctrines built off of those interpretations. which we were then told were "god's will for us," even when it wasn't. it has left many gun-shy about approaching the bible because it can be hard to see outside of that old-belief system that was layered over the actual scripture. so that when you read the bible, you don't actually see the simple words on the page, you only see the doctrine that has been formed using that particular passage as a base. or so it was in my life...

but i am getting to the point where i am not afraid anymore of the spirit inside of me and where it is leading me. and i have been away from the old thinking long enough that i can read many passages in the bible doctrine-free. but it still leaves me wondering what exactly the bible is, and how it is to be used in my life. as nate said, i am not settled on that issue yet. so discussion would be good.

if you desire to come up with an actual post for the topic, feel free. but don't feel pressured to do so. as you may have seen from my own site that i am "blogging-lite" and simply making the titles themselves the topics of discussion. you don't even have to be the host if you don't want to.

but i think that this topic is important enough and worthwhile enough to tackle.

welcome back, i hope you had a wonderful time with the fam!

Ruth said...

"but i am getting to the point where i am not afraid anymore of the spirit inside of me and where it is leading me. and i have been away from the old thinking long enough that i can read many passages in the bible doctrine-free."

I say AMEN to that brother!! You have eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands. Continue to walk out your freedom in humility and your eyes will be opened to even more.

When is the last time you read through the bible with your new eyes? I did it last year (I'm still on November) and it has been so grounding for me. Everything is new and fresh and I have so much more understanding. I suggest the One Year Bible because it gives you OT/NT and Psalms and Proverbs in each reading. I found it helpful especially when some days all three texts were talking about the same thing. It really pulled the whole bible together for me.

Yes - more discussion about this is valuable. I will definitely work it in. I am planning to explore hearing God's voice some more which lends itself to a discussion about how to test a revelation.

Nate said...

Ruth, Yea I do know that it is about sex, and the extablished church has said that sex is bad, and it does not really talk about it but to suppress it. This has caused a lot of relational prolblems in my life. Making me think that all sex is bad, made being a good loving spouse difficult for me. But, getting back to the topic at hand.

Back when stating that I read the bible as a set of parables gets very close to your statement:
"I can make decisions and judgments based on my entire understanding rather than a few lines taken out of context." That is what I mean by parables. I look at the whole situation, rather than the specific statement, and try to determine the value that I am supposed to be portraying.

In another life I had to try to elicit specific behavior from people. So in determining how to do that, I found that when people have belief in a value, they will exhibit that value. Such as, someone who believes in honesty, will not lie. So in finding the value to be taught in the stories from the bible, I am then able to use that value in my life under many different circumstances. One of Jesus most perplexing values was the one of inclusion. To the pharisees of the day, they could not begin to understand why Jesus would hang out with the sinners and publicans. He simply did not see them as anything other than another person to ass to the flock. Who they were, or shere they came from was of no account to Him. In modern life we can use that in many ways, whether it be nationality, race, religion, status of straight or homosexual etc... To God, it simply does not matter.

That is how I use the bible now. Is that how I should use the bible? Not really sure, but if I were really wrong, I know the Holy Spirit would be kicking my butt.

Ruth said...

I figgered you knew what it was about Nate...I just thought it would be fun to tease you.:)

You said:
"Is that how I should use the bible? Not really sure, but if I were really wrong, I know the Holy Spirit would be kicking my butt."

That's the ticket right there. When we let Christ rule in us we have the law written on our heart and we respond to the HS. I can tell that you are earnest and humble in your faith Nate and that you have a heart that responds to the HS.

I think we all agree that the bible is God's word. I even think we all agree that we can trust God's word and should lean on it. However, we are apprehensive about following a man made doctrine that interprets God's word in a legalistic or manipulative way.

My main caution for myself is that I do submit to something or I can basicaly make up a religion in my own head.

The bible talks about submitting to each other. I feel it is important to have interdependent, vulnerable and accountable relationships with other Christians. I don't put all the weight on any one person because no one can be perfect.

Truth is found in community with a humble heart....have I said that before somewhere?

Nate said...

Well we are just getting to know one another, and sometimes I get shocked by the nievete of others that have been in church all of their lives, and really have no bible knowledge.

Most have never heard of Song of Solomon, except when they have to memorize the books of the bible in sunday school when young. When they do, I love to see the shock on their faces. As the master card add says, "Priceless."