I was recently asked this question:
My church does not teach anything about talking to the Holy Spirit. What assurance can you give me as a Christian that this is the right path in our quest to have a close relationship to God. And why don’t churches talk about this kind of thing?
One of the foundational truths of the Christian faith – the one thing that unites all true believers is the belief that “Jesus is Lord”. In fact, to become a follower of Christ, to take on the name “Christian” means that you have decided to make Jesus the Lord of your life. You seek to follow His ways and let Him guide you in your daily decisions.
How did He say He would guide us? He’s no longer physically here on the earth where we can see Him. Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:12-13
In the New Testament, the word “Spirit” is used to refer to “the Lord”, to “God” and to “Christ” interchangeably, so it seems that the Spirit is the same as God or Jesus. Here are some Scriptures to illustrate this point:
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
In fact, Peter says that it was the Spirit of Christ that spoke to the prophets of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament scriptures (I Peter 1:11).
From the dawn of creation, God is described as a Spirit.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:2-3
Jesus affirmed this when speaking to the woman at the well in Samaria. He said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
It seems pretty clear that the Spirit refers to God or Jesus so talking to the Holy Spirit is the same as talking to God or Jesus. Jesus said He would guide us through the Holy Spirit (aka the Spirit of Truth) so talking to Him would be an essential part of our guidance – at least in my opinion. When you are driving a car and the passenger says to you, “Turn right up there.” My natural reaction is to ask, “You mean here?” and point with my hand to confirm that I understood what they meant. Even though they are guiding me, I still sometimes need clarification and therefore I need to talk to them. It’s the same with the Lord.
When I was a little girl, someone told me, “Talk to Jesus every day – He’s your best friend.” And I thought to myself, “Well, if I talk to Him, He better talk to me too!” Even in my childlike understanding, I knew that relationships are a two-way street. Both parties need to communicate if there’s a relationship – if not, it’s just a monologue! How boring that would be!
When I chose to follow Christ, I was twelve years old. The very next day after this decision, I was walking to my locker at school and something made me mad. I said a curse word. Immediately, I heard in my heart, “You are a Christian now and Christians don’t talk that way.” Guess what? That was the Holy Spirit teaching me how to follow Christ. That certainly wasn’t my thought – it was completely foreign to my mind. I stopped immediately and thought to myself, “Yes, that’s right. I will no longer curse.” And I stopped using curse words – I was only a kid so the habit hadn’t really caught on yet. 🙂
Later that same “voice in my heart” told me to go to church. I went home and told my mother, “I want to go to church.” She said, “Okay, which one?” I had no idea so I took out the phone book and started looking for a church. I decided to go to one service of each different kind of church listed to see what they were like (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, etc.). Finally, I decided to attend a small Presbyterian church where a friend from school was playing the piano.
The church told me, “Read your Bible.” So I did. I noticed that every story in the Bible was about people interacting with God. God spoke to someone and they responded and that became their story, as recorded in the Scripture. So I began to expect God to speak to me like He did to everyone else. There were no stories of God NOT speaking to people so I figured that was the normal experience of a follower of God.
Every day I talked to God and I expected Him to talk to me. Why not? He talked to lots of people in the Bible. It took me years to learn how He talks, but I did learn it. And you can too. Here’s a post that will help you with that, Look for Him – He’s right there.
There’s also a spiritual training course you can take called, “Developing a Close Relationship with God: A Simple Method” (http://tinyurl.com/Heart4God)
Each type of church has their own methods for how they encourage people in their connection with God. Some use ritual, some use stained glass, some use silence, some use music, some use preaching or teaching. Because we are all so unique, some methods will resonate more with you than with others. That’s okay. Find what works for you and pursue it! Ask God to show you how to draw close to Him and He will – I promise. He knows how to “speak your language” whether that is quiet meditation or loud, joyful music.
Do you talk to the Holy Spirit? I do – every day. What has your experience been? Feel free to share below – to encourage others who are just learning about this. 🙂
[By the way, there ARE churches that talk about this – they are usually called charismatic or Pentecostal. Look for one near you – it just might surprise you what you find there! If you need help finding one in your area, let me know and I’ll help you.]
“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18
This Scripture keeps coming to my mind this morning. Jesus said this in the context of the Holy Spirit coming as our helper. He seems to imply that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the same as Him coming. And He says He won’t leave them as “orphans” – as though He is their father.
I have noticed the number one thing that holds us back from experiencing the “abundant life” that Jesus promised is the “orphan mindset” – aka victim mentality. We all struggle with times of feeling alone, abandoned, unloved, uncared for, etc – we feel like we are on our own in the cold, cruel world.
But Jesus said, ” I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” The main question is – Do we believe this? When we choose to believe He is always with us, something special happens – we start noticing Him around us. It opens our eyes to see His goodness and provision. However if we don’t believe this, we become blind to it and it increases our feelings of abandonment.
I think this is part of “awakening” to your identity as a son/daughter of God – believing the Lord’s love and goodness toward us that He never leaves us. “As a woman thinks in her heart, so is she.” Proverbs 23:7 (KWV)
What do you think?
This post is to continue the discussion of Spirit vs Soul. The first part of the post is here – I recommend you read that one first or else this might not make sense (you have been forewarned). 🙂
Quick summary: You are a spirit and you have a soul. Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Learning to switch between them can change your experience of life dramatically – you can have much more peace, joy, love, patience, etc. There is a process in learning how to make the switch – it starts with learning the difference between the two. Most of us are clueless – I know I was! The process is:
a) Become aware of your spirit
b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place
c) Strengthen your spirit
d) Let your spirit lead
Last time we discussed the first two points, this time I will cover the last two. Here we go!
Strengthen your spirit
Strengthening your spirit involves learning what your spirit can do. It is an education for your soul in who you really are. Your soul may have heard many negative messages about who you are (i.e. you’re stupid, you’ll never succeed, etc.). As you learn who you are in your spirit – God’s DNA in you – you begin to see your own value, the value God put in you. You have a core value that no one can take away.
Think of all the negative things you have either heard or thought about yourself. Now write down some statements of the opposite of those things. For instance, if you tell yourself, “I’m dumb and I can’t remember things”. Then the opposite would be, “I am intelligent and I have a good memory”. Once you have a list of these, begin to say them to yourself out loud each day.
It feels like my soul is drinking in the words.
I like to look at the list while I am reading them (versus memorizing the list and recalling it from memory). First, I ask God’s Spirit to come and fill me and wash me. Then I read my list out loud to myself. I use the pronoun “I” instead of “you” because it helps me to “own” the statement of truth.
Below is an example of some of the things I have said to myself. I start with, “Spirit of Sandy, I call you to attention. You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. These are some of the blessings you have:
- I am free and I give others their freedom.
- I am accepted and I belong.
- I am appreciated and acknowledged for my contributions to the world.
- What I say is important, valued and received with honor and respect.
- I am loved for who I am.
- I receive love and respect from other people.
- I have faithful, loving, close relationships. I am a blessing to others.
- I am compassionate and I am able to receive compassion from others.
- I am worthy. I am trustworthy. I am faithful.
- I trust God to order my steps and to take care of everything that concerns me.
- I have everything I need to fulfill my destiny.
- I rely on the Holy Spirit to show me things.
- I am confident and secure. I am FEARLESS!
- I am welcome to demonstrate who I am. The world is waiting for me with anticipation and joy.
You can borrow any of these statements that feels true to you or you can write your own. Write them without using negative statements. Instead of “I’m not dumb”, you would say, “I am intelligent” or something similar that is positive. Choose your words carefully because it makes a difference. You are learning to speak kindly to yourself and that’s very important.
Now I’m going to be honest – when I first started doing this, it was tough. I would read my list out loud and my soul would react and say things like, “Yeah, right!” with this sarcastic tone of unbelief. Saying things like “I am accepted and I belong” would cause my soul to immediately remind me of how rejected I felt the day before because of something a friend did to me. But I kept doing it – because I wanted to CHANGE the conversation in my head. My soul needed to acknowledge my spirit’s place and my spirit was not going to feel confident to step out if it was constantly listening to the negativity coming from my soul. This step really helps you to experience the difference between the two. At first, my spirit was quite weak. I simply read my list because I was desperate to change. I didn’t feel confident or strong or fearless. But I had a tiny bit of faith and a whole lot of determination to see things change. And they did!
I will also say that helping your soul heal from the wounds of rejection and fear is also a big part of becoming whole. I didn’t know how to do that when I started this process, but a few years later I did. The exercises in this book called Freedom through Forgiveness helped me tremendously. Healing the soul enables you to switch between your spirit and soul more easily.
Now for the last step ….
Let your spirit lead
The last step is to work with your spirit and your soul each day as the need arises. I would not try this step until you have done the previous steps for several weeks, maybe longer. You will begin to feel different inside as a result of those steps. Then you’ll be ready to move forward with this process.
Your soul is like a little child that needs protection from harmful influences. Your spirit was designed to do that. When your soul feels sad, lonely, fearful, rejected, etc., your spirit can give it what it needs in terms of encouragement, support, security, acceptance, etc. because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your spirit.
Here’s an example. I have often felt anxious about facing new challenges. Whenever I notice that my soul is anxious, I say out loud, “I come out of agreement with anxiety and fear. I release peace and trust in the Lord into my soul.” This is my spirit ministering to my soul. It actually makes me feel better, usually within a few minutes. When I have felt sad or lonely, like no one understands my troubles, I will tell my soul, “It’s okay. You’re not alone. Jesus said He would never leave you or give up on you. Lord, open my soul up to receive Your love.” Then I will wait expectantly – soon I feel God’s love fill my soul. I soak it up by just being still and letting His love fill the sad, empty place in my soul. I’m tapping into my spirit where God’s Spirit is. Peace will come over me and I let it permeate my entire being, including my soul – the place that felt sad or lonely just a few minutes before now feels happy and full.
Once you’ve 1) become aware of your spirit, 2) acknowledge that it has a right to be expressed and 3) you’ve strengthened your spirit by embracing the truth, try letting your spirit lead. On a day when you have to face something you don’t really want to, ask your spirit to come to the front and ask your soul to go to the back and sit down. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Then walk into the uncomfortable situation. You will probably notice that you are functioning better than you expected. Most people are amazed at the results. They tell me that they went from being fearful to being confident in less than 30 seconds. This is because they had been strengthening their spirit and when they needed it, the strength was there.
Practice calling your spirit to lead whenever you feel weak or overwhelmed by life’s demands. This is what I usually say, “Spirit, I call you to attention – please come forward and lead. Soul, please go to the back and rest. Holy Spirit, I need your help – please guide me now.”
Try it out in different situations and see what happens. If you try it and you don’t see the results you were expecting, it may be that your spirit is not yet strong enough in that area. If you felt intimidated when you wanted to feel confident, maybe you need to concentrate on “I am secure and confident” for a few weeks and then go back and try it again.
There are many different ways to apply this concept. I may do some future posts on this because it seems to come up a lot. How will you use this new idea? Can you think of some scenarios where switching to your spirit would enable you to face some things you’ve avoided?
Here’s an example from one of my clients: She had an important business meeting coming up. She was meeting with an influential person and had to give a presentation on a new business idea. She was hoping to get this person’s feedback and ultimately their support (maybe even do some work together to start a new product line). She was very nervous – it was a big deal to her. She really wanted to see it succeed. She was afraid her anxiety would interfere with the meeting – the other person would pick up on that and it would likely cause them to hesitate to work with her. I taught her this principle of Spirit vs Soul and she worked for weeks on strengthening her spirit in being confident and secure. She also worked on some areas of inner healing regarding negative messages she had received in the past about herself. On the day of the meeting, she called her spirit to attention and walked into the room.
After the meeting, she called me. She was AMAZED at how smoothly everything went. She said she had such clarity and was able to communicate exactly what she wanted to say. The other person was impressed at how well she had thought through the new idea and immediately congratulated her. They also agreed to work with her and were happy to support her in launching the new product. She couldn’t believe how successful and confident she felt. It was a complete transformation from the way she used to be.
Now please keep in mind – this is not an overnight process. It takes TIME and EFFORT. But it is really, really worth it. Are you ready to try? Go to Part 1 of this post and start. It’s not that hard, but it does take persistence and practice until it becomes natural. Then you’ll have your own story of amazing breakthrough!
Any questions? Please feel free to contact me or comment below.
(My contact email is on the About Me page if you’d prefer to contact me privately.)
I have noticed that very few people talk about the different parts of ourselves that are unseen. Most people acknowledge that there are at least 2 parts of us – the part everyone can see on the outside (our body) and the hidden part inside of us (our inner being). But I have discovered that our inner being is comprised of at least 2 parts, which I refer to as Spirit and Soul. In reading what others have to say, I’ve noticed there is no universal language to describe it – each author uses different words (which adds to the confusion, I’m sure). Rather than try to pick words that fit all the different expressions of this reality, I’m going to stick to the words I’m familiar with from the Bible. It helps to give me a foundation from which to build. It also connects to the ancient traditions of the Christian faith, which I value. I’m going to try to express what I have seen, heard and experienced in my own life and in those I have helped. It has made a HUGE difference in my life.
I discovered a doorway to peace and joy and love that I never knew existed.
Spirit vs Soul
You are a spirit and you have a soul (Hebrews 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:23). Your spirit carries your spiritual DNA – that’s part of your identity. Your spiritual DNA is the way God made you for His specific purposes to be fulfilled in your life time. When you become a follower of Jesus, your spirit becomes one with His Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17).
Your soul carries your natural identity – who you are on the earth. This would include your personality, your likes and dislikes about natural things (i.e. I love chocolate). Most of our daily lives revolve around the soul. This is what feels most comfortable to us – it comes naturally.
Some people define the soul as containing the mind, the will and the emotions. I’m not sure it’s that simple because we also carry “the mind of Christ” in our spirit (I Corinthians 2:16). Our spirit has intelligence, creativity and intuition. It also seems to be the seat of our conscience (our sense of right and wrong). You could say the soul contains YOUR mind, will and emotions whereas your spirit carries the mind, will and emotions of the Holy Spirit (if you are one with Him).
Your spirit and your soul were each created with their own purpose. They are not the same. Your soul was created to do certain things. Your spirit was created to do certain other things. They are both valid. They are both very important. Sometimes what causes us to struggle is when we try to get our soul to do what our spirit was created to do and vice versa. It causes confusion for us – especially when we don’t get the results we were expecting! This has happened to me many times. Once I learned the difference between the two and how to switch between then, I got much better results. As I have shared this with others, they have told me what a game changer it is! So that’s why I’m trying to share it here.
If you let your spirit lead your life, you experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit every day – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You experience this wonderful fruit in all your relationships, both at home and at work or school. You experience the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10).
If you lead your life by your soul, you may feel anxious, uptight, or unsure of what you’re doing. You worry about what people are thinking about you. You worry about the future; you dwell on the past. It’s easy to get “stuck” in your soul. This is perfectly natural. Most mental health issues are in the soul. That’s where we primarily need healing in order to be happy and healthy.
In order to move from living by your soul to being led by your spirit, there is a process that can help you. I learned this from Arthur Burk in his series, Nurturing Your Spirit. I will summarize the main ideas that helped me. Some of this is my own insights and some of this is from his series. Arthur tells people when he teaches, “Look – here are my ideas about this topic. You take it and run with it!” So that’s what I’m doing. 🙂
Your spirit is a very real part of you. If you have ignored it for most of your life (like we all have done), it will take a while to make the change. First, you have to become aware of your spirit through daily practice. What you want to do is
a) Become aware of your spirit
b) Acknowledge your spirit’s place
c) Strengthen your spirit
d) Let your spirit lead
Become aware of your spirit
The first step is to become aware of your spirit and to begin to connect with it. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to recognize your spirit. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths. Focus on the way the air feels as it flows through your chest. Imagine your spirit filling you on the inside just like your breath fills you. Stay with the feeling for a few minutes. Focus on your breath and just “be”.
It takes a lot of practice to become aware of your spirit. I recommend that you take a minute and do this breathing exercise every day. You can do it when you first wake up, or when you are waiting at stop light in traffic or anytime you remember to do it. The point is to practice and pay attention until it becomes easy for you to recognize your spirit.
Acknowledge your spirit’s place
As you begin to connect with your spirit, you will recognize what value it has. God created it for a very specific purpose. He will show you that purpose, to encourage you and strengthen you. Acknowledge to yourself that your spirit has a right to be expressed. That there is something special inside of you that deserves to be known to the outside world.
Each day ask God’s Spirit to come and fill your spirit and wash it. Take a few deep breaths and see if you feel anything. Sometimes it feels like you are standing in a rain shower. Sometimes it may feel like a soft blanket of peace or love. Sometimes you don’t feel anything, but it is still happening. God promises to give His Spirit to anyone who asks.
God’s Spirit is the provider of all the resources you need to fulfill your destiny. When you invite Him to come and fill you, He begins to direct your day and lead your steps (and you notice it). At first, it may seem surprising. After a while, it becomes very comforting.
I’m going to stop there for today. This is a lot to take in when you first read it. Ponder this concept of being a three part being – body, soul and spirit. Practice the breathing exercise and see if you can recognize your spirit. What does it feel like to you? How would you describe it? Spend some time each day paying attention to it and begin to acknowledge your spirit and its value.
If you have some insight you’d like to share, please feel free to comment below. I will continue this topic in the next post.
Rating: Educational, inspirational
Recently one of my clients told me he wanted to draw closer to God, but didn’t know how. Faith was new to him. He was raised in a home where no one went to church or prayed or anything so he didn’t really know where to start. He asked me for some direction. Here are some thoughts I shared with him.
Developing a spiritual practice that helps you draw closer to God is really important. But you want to make sure it doesn’t become an empty ritual. It needs to be authentic and based on your desire for God. I discovered early on in my spiritual journey that there is one prayer that God answers every time – asking Him to give you the desire to seek Him. When I first started out, I was excited to talk to God. It was new and different. But then over time, I felt my spiritual fervor waning. At first, I was kind of embarrassed. How do you get the desire for God back?
The answer I discovered is this: Admit you lack the desire and ask Him to give it to you. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works. When I ask God to give me the desire to spend time with Him, usually within a day or two it comes. It is not immediate, but it always comes. I’ve done this many times over the years.
So – that’s the first “exercise” I shared with him – ask God for desire. Because without the desire, any spiritual exercise can become an empty ritual.
Then I wrote up a “spiritual exercise” for him. I reached back into my past and tried to remember the first things I was taught that helped me become more closely connected with God. At first, I did these every day as a discipline – whether I felt like it or not. I wanted to teach myself to have a spiritual practice. Then after awhile they became second nature to me. I do them now without even realizing it – they have become part of who I am.
These are in a certain order – do them this way for 30 days. After the practice becomes familiar, you can improvise. 🙂
1. Acknowledge God – Honor who God is and that you need Him, humble yourself.
2. Confess your self-centered ways – Admit to God and yourself the thoughts and decisions you’ve made in the last 24 hours that were self-centered and apart from Him.
3. Ask the Spirit of God to lead you – Ask Him to show you His ways and the right decisions to make.
4. Open the Bible – Ask for inspiration and then read a passage from the Bible.
5. Turn something from what you read into a prayer – Make it personal to your life.
6. Give thanks – Tell God what you are thankful for.
7. Ask for what you need and finish by thanking God in advance for providing what is needed. He loves it when you thank Him ahead of time because it demonstrates your confidence that He is good and trustworthy. (It also gives you hope.)
8. Sing a song to Him – Learn some worship songs or make up one of your own. Rejoice in the goodness of God and His care for you.
This is not a rigid ritual, but more of a practice to teach your heart to turn to the Lord and depend on Him. You will be so glad that you did!
You are dearly loved by God and He is looking forward to talking to you and spending time with you. Did you know that?
So, how about you? Do you have a spiritual practice that you do on a regular basis that helps you to connect with the Lord? Please share it with us!
Rating: Educational, pleasant
I want to tell you a story – it’s the story of a small brown dog. This story illustrates how following the Holy Spirit in the unseen realm can be quite an unexpected adventure! 🙂
Several months ago whenever I walked my dog, I kept getting impressions of a small dog. I have never owned a small dog. Most of my dogs have been medium-sized dogs or larger. I currently had a dog and had no intention of getting a new dog. I didn’t know why I kept getting these impressions or faint images of a small dog in my mind.
I began to notice small dogs in my neighborhood. One day I walked out my front door and there was a woman I had never seen before. She was walking a Shih Tzu. I asked her about her dog – she told me she had rescued it and that she had two other small dogs at home. Then the neighbor down the street lost her Yorkie and came to my house to see if I had seen her dog. She was so worried! I helped her put up posters in the neighborhood and spread the word among the neighbors via text message. Thankfully, someone saw her dog and returned it to her. Crisis averted – all was well.
That summer my dog passed away – he was 14.5 years old. I missed him terribly – he was my fitness partner, always eager to get me up and walking around the neighborhood.
About 3 months later, I suddenly started getting the pictures of the small dog again. This time it was more insistent and I noticed a color – it was a small brown dog. I told my husband about it. We were getting ready to go out of town for the holidays (near Thanksgiving) so he suggested that if we were to get a dog, we should wait until after we got back. I sighed and patiently waited. I wasn’t sure why I kept getting these pictures, but I felt sure they were important and I should do something to respond.
Unfortunately, we both got sick and had to delay our trip. I was starting to feel anxious – I felt sure that there was a small brown dog that needed our help and we needed to find it. As soon as we returned, I started looking for a small brown dog on Petfinder.com. I also looked in the Lost and Found site for pets (a local service). Nothing felt right. We went to two pet adoption events at pet stores (hosted by rescue groups) – lots of nice doggies, but not the dog I sensed needed us.
Finally we decided to try the county shelter. I am very happy to report that all the small dogs were already adopted! What a relief! Yet the search continued.
I began to wonder if it was “just me”. Maybe I wanted a dog and this was just my crazy idea.
Then a friend called and said he needed prayer. He asked if he could meet with my husband and I. We agreed. He came over and while we were waiting on God, the presence of God filled the living room. It was very tangible. The Lord spoke to our friend and it was exactly what he needed to hear. My husband also received a word from the Lord for him – and it lined up with what the Lord had told our friend. While these two men were being “spiritual”, all I got was a larger, clearer picture of a small brown dog! Front and center – the image filled my mind. I took that as a sign that God really was behind this dog search and that He wanted us to find a specific dog who needed us.
The next day we went back to the shelter. Still no dogs that matched my vision. We came home and I laid down to rest. I felt an insistent nudge to go on Craigslist. I am not a fan of Craigslist – there’s a lot of shady things that go on there and you never know who you are dealing with (especially in Miami). But the nudge wouldn’t go away. I did a search and there was a post that caught my eye. I contacted the person by phone.
A woman named Zoey said a casual friend lost her apartment and asked her to keep the dog for a few weeks until she got a new place. She did it as a favor. Then after the friend moved, she didn’t want the dog back. Zoey kept calling; the woman did not answer. Finally she left several messages saying she was selling the dog. After a month of no response from the owner, she posted the dog on Craigslist. Three hours later, I saw the post.
We agreed to meet. The dog was adorable – small, brown and lively. Very loving and well-behaved. We paid her a small re-homing fee. We had found our dog! Both my husband and I KNEW this was the dog we had been searching for.
It didn’t dawn on me until later – the timing factor. The insistent nudges I received that we needed to DO something were just about the same time that Zoey’s “friend” brought her the dog. However, we never would have found her at that time because she wasn’t in need of adoption yet. Then we got sick and our trip was delayed. After we returned, we went on several trips to shelters and adoption events. Finally, when I was ready to give up and began to think I was “crazy”, God sent me a confirmation that it really was HIM and not me. The next day, we found her through an unconventional path – something I never would have thought of to begin with. If we hadn’t gone through all those unsuccessful attempts to find the dog, I probably would have dismissed the idea of searching on Craigslist.
The Lord knows our thoughts and our path. He knows how to direct our steps even when they are not what we would normally do. He’s amazing, isn’t He? I love the adventure. We had so little to go on – a faint vision, an insistent nudge and a feeling that there was something we were supposed to do. A small brown dog needed to be rescued and the Lord cared enough to order our steps so we would find her. I am so glad He did! ❤
Today is a very special day to me. On October 8, 1980, I started my relationship with God.
I had heard of God and his Son, Jesus. But I didn’t really know much about them personally. I had heard some stories from the Bible and I had even memorized a few Scriptures. I attended a private Christian school and memorizing Bible verses was sometimes required for homework. I did it because it was homework, not because I had any interest in religion.
My family was not religious. We attended my grandmother’s small country church once or twice a year as part of a family tradition – usually just for Christmas and Easter. Most of my classmates at school were from religious homes where they attended church every week and went to Bible camp during the summers. But not me. I was different.
October 8 was a normal Wednesday. I got ready for school as usual. I made it to home room on time and went to my first two classes. Then we went to chapel, a weekly “class” that everyone attended. Our entire junior and senior high went to the same service – about 150 kids. The younger children in elementary school had a separate service, geared to their age group. I had attended this school since first grade and had been to many, many chapel services.
I sat in chapel that day with all the other 8th grade girls. Boys had “cooties” so we didn’t sit with them. I recall that we were seated near the back of the chapel, far from the front where the action was.
We sang some songs, among them “Onward Christian Soldiers”. A guest minister got up to speak. I don’t recall a word he said. Toward the end of the service, he started the altar call. That’s when a minister asks the listeners to respond to his message. I don’t know what he said, but it was effective. The last girl on our row began to cry. Her two best girlfriends were sitting next to her and they tried to comfort her. She got up and went to the front to pray with the minister, to respond to his invitation. Her friends went with her along with the girl sitting closest to them. There were only 3 of us left sitting on the pew. I turned to the girl next to me, we shrugged our shoulders and decided to follow the others. It seemed like “the right thing to do”.
By the time we got to the front of the chapel, we saw that the place for prayer (the altar) was really crowded – many other kids had also responded to the minister’s call. One of the girls saw an empty space behind the pulpit on the left side, so we all walked up the stairs to the platform and gathered in a circle on the dark red carpeted floor. I was hoping we weren’t going to get in trouble as normally no one was allowed up there but the adults.
I joined my friends, not really sure what to do. I was there for moral support. I had never been to an altar before – what was expected?
Soon the minister came to us and said, “Girls, would you like to give your lives to God?” Several of the “church girls” immediately nodded. They had all been to a youth retreat a few weeks prior where they all got “saved” again. It seemed that perhaps they had backslidden and needed to “fix” things with God. I didn’t really know what the man was asking, but I didn’t want to stand out – so I didn’t ask any questions. I remember that I glanced at the ceiling and thought, “Do I believe in God?” My heart answered, “Yes.” So I decided that meant I could pray with the minister.
He led us all in a prayer where we repeated some statements after him, as though we were talking to God. I had never prayed before – well, except that in elementary school we all recited a prayer before we went to the lunchroom each day. But that was different.
I don’t remember a word of what I said. I didn’t feel anything. No bright lights or a voice from heaven. I just “prayed the prayer” because someone asked me – and I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t do it. When I looked around the room after the prayer, I noticed that the entire student body was on their knees praying – except for 2 boys in the senior class. They were surrounded by a few teachers who were talking to them – the boys kept shaking their heads “No”. I was amazed that they refused to open their hearts to God that day as everyone else in the place definitely was. I remember seeing even the “tough” boys in our class lined up at a nearby pew, on their knees, praying with the minister. That’s how real God was in that place.
Later that night, I spoke to God on my own. I had heard a few weeks earlier that you should talk to God every day. I remember thinking, “Then He should talk back to me then.” I was kind of cynical, even at that age.
The next day, as I was walking into the girl’s locker room, I said a swear word. Immediately, I heard a voice in my heart say, “You’re a Christian now. Christians don’t talk like that.”
I stopped walking. I knew that wasn’t my voice talking to me because I would not have thought of that. I remembered being told that after you decide to give your life to God and ask Jesus into your heart – He actually sends His Spirit to live inside of you. Hearing this voice and feeling the conviction that went with it, I realized, “This must be the Holy Spirit. I better obey.” And from that day on, I stopped swearing.
It’s funny how, when looking back, I see how “non-eventful” this experience appeared to be at the time. It was a normal Wednesday morning. I was in chapel, as I had been hundreds of times before. Yet on this day, something changed. Someone asked me to open my heart and life to God’s love. And I did. Not because I understood it. Peer pressure “saved” me. I didn’t want to be left out.
Since that time, I can honestly say that it was the BEST DECISION I have ever made in my entire life. From that first day, I started talking to God every night before bed and I have never stopped. He is the air I breathe. He is my hope, my peace, my joy and my strength. My life is SO MUCH BETTER because I decided to open my heart to Him.
Thank You, Jesus, for saving me as a young girl when I didn’t even know what I was doing. Thank You for being there through everything – my parent’s divorce, my boyfriends and my break-ups, my high school and college years, my first marriage and divorce, my time away from home and my time returning to my roots … and all the other times when I needed a friend, a confidante, a savior to get me out of myself and learn how to love others, really love others.
I love what You’ve done with my life. It is so exciting to see where we are going next. I never know what You have up Your sleeve – like the wonderful surprise of my new husband and what a pleasure it is to be married to him. I never saw that coming! And the life You’ve given me, allowing me to help others by sharing the pain and challenges I’ve overcome.
I am so incredibly thankful today. Thank you, dear readers, for celebrating this day with me.
I hope that if you are reading this and you have not yet opened your heart to God, that perhaps you will. Would you like to? It’s not hard. It’s just a choice – to choose to follow Jesus and learn how to love others, to respond to God’s love for you as His child. And guess what? He DOES talk back when you talk to Him! 🙂
If you’d like to do that, you can pray this prayer or something similar. You can use your own words, if you prefer.
“God, I am willing – I open my heart to Your Love. I give You my life. Jesus, please come and save me. I need Your help. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done wrong. Please teach me how to receive Your love so I can love others. Thank you.”
If you’ve never prayed that kind of prayer, please do. It will open up a world of goodness you cannot even imagine. There is so much peace and joy and love just waiting to come to you, if you open yourself up to it. Words fail me how much better my life is because of God’s love. It does not prevent bad things from happening to you – instead it gives you an inner resilience and a peace that passes understanding.
If you prayed this for the first time just now – then please let me know. Either post something below or send me an email: kingdomwalker2 (at) gmail (dot) com. I would love to celebrate with YOU and help you in your new relationship with God just as others helped me when I first started out.
God bless you today! ♥
Hey, Movie Watchers, have you seen the new film “Holy Ghost”? It’s pretty “out there” for most people. It’s definitely challenging – most people don’t know how to describe the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) much less make a movie about Him. If this topic intrigues you, you might enjoy this film. It’s not a dry documentary. It’s one man’s passion to find God actually engaging with everyday people. It’s worth watching, in my opinion.
And the best part? It’s free to watch today and tomorrow if you go to this link: http://holyghost.wpfilm.com/
Offer expires Monday night, 9/8/2014 at 5pm PST or 8pm CST.
I just watched the movie Sons of God. Wow – it really makes you think. It’s very inspiring.
You can watch it for free – it’s 83 mins long. Here’s the link to watch it. http://www.dutchquest.com/watch-now/
Here’s the trailer to give you a taste of it.
I have been feeling drawn … closer. Closer to God, closer to an awareness of His nearness. I feel a greater need to “pay attention” to God’s Spirit, follow more closely, don’t get distracted.
It is SO easy to get distracted in this digital world – so much vies for our attention. There’s so much “mental noise” trying to drown out the still, small voice of the Lord.
However, I sense that there is coming a time when those who can follow closely will be dearly needed – and they will be few and far between. I remember hearing stories of the USSR when it was under communist rule. The Christians had to follow the Holy Spirit very closely. They were not allowed to meet in a church or in a public place to worship. They became the underground church. They would meet secretly in people’s homes to worship and pray together. They did not send out invitations – that would have been dangerous. Instead they listened to the Holy Spirit. I remember hearing the stories how people would individually feel drawn to a specific person’s house. When they arrived, they would find others who had been drawn. Throughout the evening, people would arrive one by one. No one had “called” a meeting – the Holy Spirit led them. This way the secret police could never discover their plans … because they HAD NO PLANS. It was too dangerous to plan a gathering. Once they arrived, they worshipped, prayed and enjoyed God’s presence together.
I hope things don’t get as bad as they once were in the USSR. But there may be other situations where being sensitive to His leading will be life saving. I want to be ready. Now is the time to be “practicing” so that when the time comes when you are dearly needed, you will be ready.