Monthly Archives: June 2013

How God Speaks (To Me) – The Prophetic Word

June 24, 2013

ticketBe sure to read parts 1-3 of this series:
How God Speaks (To Me) – The “Feeling”
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Mental Image
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Voice

On my computer I have a document called “What God Has Said.” In it are many, many pages of things God has spoken directly to me over the past five years or so, word for word, line by line. He has spoken encouragement, direction, wisdom, and correction. He has given me a glimpse of the man He wants me to become, and insight into the things that hinder me from becoming that man.

Each of these things were spoken through other people in the form of prophetic words. Prophetic words are probably the most misunderstood and least known of all the ways God speaks to His children in today’s world. Before I begin to explain what they are, what they are not, and how they work, let me tell you this:

Out of all the ways that God has spoken to me in life, some of the most encouraging, the most directing, the most absolutely impactful have been those which He spoke through others as prophetic words. Using other people to audibly speak into your life, He removes the possibility for doubt, the wondering whether or not you heard what you heard.

There is no evidence like experience. Let me share some with you now.

I doubt myself a lot. I hesitate. I see a chance to say something, do something, and I hold back, I ponder, question, think, analyze. I am content in most situations to sit back and enjoy the conversation, rather than pitching in. I don’t jump into uncomfortable situations quickly. In many ways I lack confidence in myself.

About three years ago God really started working on me in the area of self-doubt and confidence. He spoke the following words to me through two friends, one who knew me well, and one who did not.

January 16, 2010

I cut and break this self doubt that comes against Josh. It’s like he just starts to doubt himself and doubt whether he hears You. Lord, I just thank You that You are rising him up out of this place where he sees himself spiritually. You’ve given him wisdom beyond his years. He has so much to offer to so many people. And it’s like sometimes he feels like he has something on his heart to say, and he’s like, “Is that God, is it really God?” Lord I just cut and break this. He has so much to offer, and we just command this inside of him to come up out of hiding. This is a season of rising up. You’re a man of authority and strength.

The Lord is saying it’s time to quit playing it so safe, you’ve played everything so safe. It’s time to start taking risks. It’s time to jump knowing that I’m going to catch you. It’s time to start taking risks. You’re not going to realize who you are until you start stepping into who you are, and having the confidence and the faith to know what God’s placed inside of you. It’s time to stop playing it safe, no more of that. You’ve got goodness inside of you, you’re a good man, you’re a really good man. And you’ve got wonderful things to offer. Don’t fear falling. Don’t think if you fall off your bike you’re not gonna want to get back on cause your knees are gonna be all scraped up. It’s time to start taking risks.

Though only the second friend knew this was an area of struggle for me, God was able to speak through both to cut right to the heart of the issue, even revealing what was in my own mind.

This is part of another word I was given from a traveling preacher who visited our church later that same year, who did not know me at all.

November 7, 2010

The Lord said you are precious, and my son, I want you to really get that deep down in your spirit today. You are precious. You are a vessel of gold. There’s treasure inside of you. You underestimate yourself, sometimes, and don’t allow yourself to come to grips with the fact that there’s a man inside of you that is really able to do exceedingly abundantly above all things!

Over the past few years God has given me more confidence in the abilities He has given me and who He has made me, and though He is working on it still, I have grown. Even this blog is evidence of that. To open up, to share, to believe that maybe there’s someone out there who can learn something from what I have to say.

Prophecy is not a weird trance, it’s not doom-and-gloom, it’s not picking lottery tickets. It’s not always about the future, though it is sometimes. It’s nothing like psychic foolishness. It’s not something that only existed in Bible times.

Prophecy is a child of God, with His Spirit inside of them, simply asking God what He wants to say to you, and then saying it. Some are very gifted in it, while some God has given other areas of His work to focus on. It is usually encouraging, though it can be correctional. It can provide guidance and direction. It can give you insight into what God is up to – now, or in the future.

No matter what it is, it is always beneficial for becoming more of the person God has for you to become. And that is exciting.

This wraps up the series on how God speaks to me. No matter who you are, you can hear Him too. Just go someplace quiet, be still, and listen. He’s already waiting.

It’s time to start taking risks.

Photo by Patrick Talbert. Used under Creative Commons License.

How God Speaks (To Me) – The Voice

June 17, 2013

Coke Bottle

Be sure to read parts 1 & 2 of this series:
How God Speaks (To Me) – The “Feeling”
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Mental Image

Some of my favorite moments have been when I’ve heard God speak to me directly, in my mind, as if someone were speaking to me face-to-face. This happens less often than the others I’ve already mentioned, but when it does it is much more powerful, impactful. Typically it’s just a sentence or two, maybe only a few words, but they strike to the heart more than a thousand words spoken by anyone else. Sometimes with the previously mentioned “feeling” or mental imagery I could doubt whether it was really Him, especially after some time had passed, but when I hear Him speak in this way, there is no room for doubt.

A few years ago, I drank caffeinated drinks regularly. Daily. Multiple times a day, sometimes. It got to the point where if I didn’t have a Coke with lunch, I’d have a headache in the afternoon, consistently. My energy level would fluctuate throughout the day, dependent on that surge of caffeine, and I didn’t think much of it.

One day I had just picked up lunch at Chick-fil-A. I ordered my meal with a Coke, and they told me something was wrong with the fountain machines and they couldn’t serve Coke at that point. I asked for Sprite instead (a non-caffeinated drink), a bit disappointed and already thinking about the Advil I’d have to take later for the headache that would surely follow. I took my lunch and headed out to my car to leave. As I opened the door and slipped inside, I distinctly heard: “No caffeine,” and nothing more. The voice was stern, but not angry. A command, but gentle. A bit of instruction from a loving Father. Along with the statement came a form of understanding that this meant I was to abstain from all caffeinated drinks, which were essentially my only source of caffeine intake.

I do not understand the reason for this command. I enjoy the lack of frequent headaches and having more energy each day without being dependent on a beverage to give it to me. Perhaps there was some other reason, health or otherwise, that it came. But to this day no caffeine has touched my lips, and it’s been two and a half years as of this writing. I’m content without it, and do not know whether I will ever have any again. I await His voice, His command.

I’ll give one more example.

One autumn day during my college years, I was walking back from my last class of the day to my dorm, feeling a little depressed. I had just gotten back a test and was a bit disappointed with myself because I knew I could have done better. Also, financial stuff was kinda tight right then (though that holds true for most college students) and none of the jobs I had applied to at the time had worked out. Well, these things and several others were fresh on my mind and just weighing on me.

I was walking along a path, looking down at the sidewalk in front of me. I briefly raised my head and at that very moment a long, thin leaf fell right in front of my face, not a foot away. Just as the leaf crossed my vision I could hear the distinct voice of God speaking to me:

“See that leaf, Josh?”

Another single leaf of the same kind fell, close enough to snatch from the air.

“And that one?” He whispered.

A third leaf, same as the first two, fell just within arm’s reach.

“And that one, too? Do you see them, Josh?”

I nodded my head and the voice continued:

“Josh, I know exactly when those leaves fall and right where they land. Do you not think that I love you so much more?”

I lifted my face to the sky, laughing as a huge grin split across my face. I felt extremely encouraged.

Ever since then when I see leaves fall it reminds me of God’s endless love for me. When the wind blows hard and a million countless leaves dance all around, I can’t help but laugh from the joy of it. It’s as if for every single one of those leaves, the Father is saying it again and again: “I love you . . . I love you . . . I love you . . .”

Check out the rest of this series:
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Prophetic Word

Photo by Melanie Holtsman. Used under Creative Commons License.

How God Speaks (To Me) – The Mental Image

June 10, 2013

cabin

Be sure to read the intro to this series, How God Speaks (To Me) – The “Feeling”

Many times I’ll be praying about something specific, asking God for direction, and find my mind fixated on a particular thought or image. It is in this way that He has given me guidance in a great many areas of life.

As in the times when God has given me a “feeling” for direction, it has taken time to be able to discern between the thoughts that are mine and the ones that are from Him, and I still have quite a bit of learning to do. There are also times when I have to exercise my faith, and trust both that God gave me a particular thought, and that I am correct in my hearing.

Recently I was asking God what I should do during my times with Him in the morning. I am not a morning person and would feel myself drifting off to sleep if I just tried to pray, nor was I reading anything in particular in the Bible at that point. While I was praying, I kept imagining the cover of one certain book I have, but which I had not read. I own a few hundred books, but this one especially was fixed in my mind at that moment. After I was done praying, I went and got it off my bookshelf, and I’ve begun reading it. It is excellent and pertains directly to things I’m going through at this time.

Here’s another example. A little over a year ago I planned a retreat for a group of twenty-somethings in our church. We stayed in a few cabins for the weekend and had a great time together. Before the retreat I was asking God what He wanted the theme of the weekend to be, and the thought that came to my mind was “breaking things off.” The meaning that came along with it was that of a gardener pruning a vine so that it may grow further¹. This was the central idea we planned our worship and prayer around for the retreat.

Though a thought such as “breaking things off” came to my mind, it did not originate with me, it was not my own idea. This is a fine distinction that can be hard to understand without experiencing it yourself. God planted it in my mind, spoke it to me, and in that way directed me in response to my prayers.

(1) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener… Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” – John 15:1-2

Check out the rest of this series:
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Voice
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Prophetic Word

Photo by Dan Dickinson. Used under Creative Commons License.

How God Speaks (To Me) – The “Feeling”

June 4, 2013

cheesecake

There are many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who are unfamiliar with the idea of God “speaking” to people. I know individuals who believe it is sheer nonsense, and I know some who have heard the voice of God audibly.

God speaks to me frequently throughout my life, in various ways at different times of need. I have never heard Him speak audibly to me, but I know it is possible. How can He speak without “speaking”? The same way a friend can “speak” through a postcard, or share a thought with merely a glance. Communication is much more than just words.

In this short series, I’ll talk about ways that God has spoken to me, personally.

The “Feeling”

Most frequently, God will give me a hunch, a nudge in the right direction, through a “feeling” I’ll have. This is a strong impression to do or not do a certain thing. Just the other day Sarah and I were heading home from a meeting and I had a sudden urge to stop at a local cafe for dessert. Now, I am a fan of all things sweet, so for a moment I questioned whether this was God or simply a strong desire for peanut butter cheesecake. But the feeling was not hunger, or a physical desire for dessert, but rather a prompting inside myself to stop at this cafe. It would not subside, so we stopped by and ended up running into someone we know, and being a blessing to them. Obviously God wanted me to go there to encourage this person, but had He not prompted me to do so, it would not have happened.

Of course, it is much easier to follow an “urge” you think may be from God if you are getting cheesecake out of it, but there have been other times when the impression involved sacrifice on my part.

When I was in college I owned an Xbox gaming console, and during one particular Bible study I felt God prompting me to give it away to a certain friend. I loved playing games on my Xbox and did not want to part with it, battling with the idea for weeks. In the end I knew that if this was what God wanted me to do, it was for the best. Maybe I was spending too much time playing games. Maybe He knew this other person would get more enjoyment from it than I did. Maybe He just wanted to see if I would be obedient. It is not my responsibility to determine His reasoning. It is my responsibility to obey.

Sometimes there is sacrifice required. Sometimes there’s risk. Sometimes the path He points out goes far beyond the edges of your comfort zone. In these more challenging times, my experience has taught me an important lesson. If I want to continue hearing from God, I can’t repeatedly ignore Him when He does speak to me. If I do this too often or for too long, He stops “bothering me” with these impressions. After all, why would He keep asking you to do something if you’re just going to ignore it?

It takes time to become adept at knowing when a feeling is from God, and when it’s just the cheesecake talking.

Check out the rest of this series:
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Mental Image
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Voice
How God Speaks (To Me) – The Prophetic Word