Posted in chip gaines, direct revelation, discernment, fixer upper, hearing God, joanna gaines

Looking at HGTV’s Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines’ testimony: Christianity, or Prosperity Gospel?

Part 2 here: The hypocrisy of Chip and Joanna Gaines

Several years ago a Waco business developer/realty/design/construction company generally named Magnolia run by Chip and Joanna Gaines were contacted to star in a HGTV fixer upper show. The first episode aired in April 2014 and has become an instant hit for the network. Ratings in the first season were through the roof. This phenomenon was largely attributed to the couple’s likability and charisma, good looks, and business savvy.

Source

It is also attributed to the couples’ Christian faith. This World Magazine article lays it out, even stating that the reception to the couple in the form of ratings has “launched a Christian revolution at HGTV”:

The difference, at least in all the conversations I’ve had, is that while doing stunning work, the Gaineses consistently reflect an unassuming, recognizable Christianity. … But even these obvious clues don’t quite capture the subtle loving-kindness the Gaineses exemplify in their interactions with each other and their children. When the first episode of Fixer Upper debuted in April 2014, after watching for only a few minutes, with no clear evidence, I had a strong presentiment I was seeing fellow members of the body. A little web searching confirmed it.

The couple seemed genuinely in love. The pair seemed like dependable, loving parents. In its first season the show was just nice.

So why am I writing about them?

One reason is because the show has taken on massive proportions, huge ratings, and as World Mag says, the husband and wife team are the catalyst for more ‘Christian’ programming at HGTV. Since the Gaines’s have a national platform in which to showcase their Christianity, we look at their testimony.

Also, because of hypocrisy. No matter the celebrity, or perhaps because of celebrity status, we want to make sure of who we are touting and promoting. What brand of Christianity do they adhere to? Do they live what they say they live? The Bereans said they would listen to Paul but then go back and examine what Paul taught (Acts 17:11). Paul welcomed transparency to examine his doctrine, and he was the biggest Christian celebrity of his time. Later when Paul’s integrity was attacked, he defended his lifestyle, because integrity in life mattered as much as the doctrine he taught. (2 Corinthians 5:11–15).

Therefore, my examination of the Gaines phenomenon will be two parts. This part 1 will examine Mrs Gaines’ testimony, the doctrine portion. The next part will look at their lifestyle.

I mean them no harm and I’m truly happy the couple who has worked very hard for a long time on their business goals and ambitions, are seeing them come to fruition today. I am glad that they have opportunity in interviews to share about their faith and their church. Their long-term and more recent financial bounty has afforded them opportunities to give and support others in a blessed way, as Chip hinted in one interview. I am grateful that they love each other and are raising their children with good values, from at least what we can see through the lens of what is shown to us on camera. They are attributed with almost single-handedly revitalizing the Waco downtown with business, art, and tourism, something that every small town or city hopes for. Because of the Gaines’ an entire cable channel is looking for more Christians to produce a show around. These are all good things.

That’s what makes raising these issues even harder.

Recently Mrs Gaines’ alma mater, Baylor University in Waco, produced a video which has since gone viral with over 4.5 million views on Youtube alone, in which Mrs Gaines is given over four minutes to testify to the glory of Jesus Christ and her gracious salvation. And here is where it gets troubling. Mrs Gaines used the time to speak not of sin, grace, redemption, and Jesus, though she mentioned Him once at the end. But instead the video is a testimonial to Mrs Gaines’ ambitions, Mrs Gaines’ dreams, Mrs Gaines’ plans, and how God was going to fulfill them by giving her what she wants.

Source

And she knows this because He personally told her so.

We learn in the video that Mrs Gaines always knew God was going to fulfill her business dreams because He directly told her, specifically and clearly. She mentions 4 times in the 4 minute video that God spoke to her. Her story, which remains consistent in interviews as well as the testimony video, is that when her two children were young God spoke to her and said she had to close her store which had been open for two years. In the first two quotes below, in order to salve her disappointment at having her dreams of running a business shattered just so she could perform her biblical function as a mother, God comforted her thus-

“I heard Him specifically say, ‘Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.'”

I remember hearing God say, ‘Joanna, there’s going to come a time when I’m going to say for you to go, and I’m going to need for you to step out and go.'”

I really felt like God was saying, ‘Hey, I want you home, I want you raising these babies at home at this age.'”

I heard God say very clearly, ‘If you trust me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia further than you even dreamed. Just trust me.’ And I remember hearing that and feeling completely peaceful about it, and I walked away.”

First, God does not personally and audibly speak to us today in the way Mrs Gaines relates. Whatever Mrs Gaines thought she heard is not God. Here is a post by Michael Horton to answer the question “Does God Talk to Us?

Second, God is not a dream-fulfilling machine. God is not speaking to Joanna Gaines. There is no need to hear the voice of God personally direct a mother to stay home and raise her children when the Bible indicates that her entire orientation should already mainly be to stay home and raise the children anyway. (Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 5:14). God places a priority on the woman’s direct involvement at home.

In addition, though economic necessity sometimes force a couple to make a tough decision for the mom to work outside the home, and the Bible does leave some room for couples to make their decisions, in the Gaines’ case working such long hours outside the home was not necessary. Chip has always been good at making money. He made $30,000 the first year he was out of college, after having started and sold two businesses already while in college. Joanna’s store was also doing well at the time. But more on their lifestyle in the next part.

Source

But please note that Joanna’s dream in the video that God was going to fulfill was the business, not the children. I’m not saying she isn’t a good mother, I don’t know that she is or isn’t. I do know that on the show there is frequent mention of passing the children for child care to an extended family member or a babysitter. I do know that they incessantly showcase the children on the show. I am saying that when you’ve been given 4 minutes to testify to the important things about your salvation, the items one would expect to hear are absent. She chose to focus entirely on God fulfilling her business dream.

After the store closure in 2005, Chip and Joanna Gaines had two more children. They now have four kids, Drake (age 11), Ella (9), Duke (7) and Emmie (6) all as of this coming May. Mrs Gaines continues from the testimony video saying that after a few years at home with the children, working her design business from home too, she says ‘God said’ in 2014 it was OK to re-open her store.

And I felt like God said, ‘Jo, it’s time.’ And I was like, ‘Time for what?’ he said, ‘It’s time to reopen your store.’ I said, I don’t think I can do that.’ And just cool and calm, ‘No, it’s time.’

I find it curious that God told her to stay home with her first two babies when they were young but that it was OK to become a business woman while the second two were young.

From various interviews within the last year or so, Joanna is quoted as saying,

I really felt like God said, ‘You’re gonna have a platform one day with women.’ (source)

I kind of felt like God just kept saying, ‘This is gonna be something that I’m going to take to another level,’ (source)

But I felt like God said, ‘Hey, this is the season to be home, and you need to trust me.’ (source)

But I felt like God said, ‘If you trust me with your dreams, I’m gonna make Magnolia bigger and better than you could have ever dreamed.’ (source)

So God is great because He gave her a big store. That’s her testimony. Not so much about raising her babies, nor about the blessing of marriage and a husband. Her dream, her store, her things.

The ‘key‘ as Joanna said in the video’s conclusion, is to let God speak to you and “let his father heart say this is what I have for you.” Again, an emphasis on self and the things God will give her, not the blessing of knowing Jesus, of being redeemed from sin’s curse, for escaping wrath, of being made holy in sanctification, for the promise of heaven, for the pleasure of enjoying God forever. Nothing of the sort. Just gratitude that He will “take the store further than she ever imagined.”

Source

On a lengthy thread discussing the show Fixer Upper and the Gaines’, two comments caught my attention. Here they are, speaking about the close, intimate, audible relationship Mrs Gaines says she has with God.

But apparently Mrs. Gaines has been giving interviews, especially this past fall, attributing their success to Christian faith. She says specifically that God spoke to her directly and promised earthly riches if she was faithful. Which is interesting because that makes her just one more proponent of the self-serving “prosperity gospel” movement.
(I’m episcopalian and many of us regard God speaking directly to an individual as both unlikely and a sign of possible mental health issues or blind ambition.)

Another commenter:

I googled Joanna’s testimony on youtube today. I’ve never had God talk so fluently and directly to me like He does with her. I wish He’d provide me with such specific instructions and reassurances. That’s really something.

They nailed it.

When Jesus spoke to Saul He knocked him flat on the road to Damascus, rebuked him for persecuting Jesus, struck Saul blind and told him he must suffer. When God spoke to John on Patmos it was to have John pen letters of rebuke, condemnation, and warning to several churches in Asia. When God spoke to Jeremiah it was to tell him do not marry or have children because the times are going to get rough, then spent 40 years prophesying so through the weeping prophet. Not that He isn’t tender, he is. (Genesis 16:7-13).  But not once did God say to anyone He talked with in the Bible “I am going to fulfill your dreams.” Even to Moses who God said was a friend, in the end God banned Moses from entering the Promised Land because Moses had disobeyed God.

After the Apostolic era, nothing is ever said that indicates God interposes Himself audibly to specifically instruct or reassure people in life. This is because the completed Bible does that. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Revelation 22:18, Hebrews 1:2).

God wants His people to be people of obedience, honor, integrity, repentance, bearing fruit of the Spirit, making disciples, witnessing to the Gospel, and persevering. Nothing is said about someone’s dreams, platforms, or levels. Self-serving prosperity gospel on display, for sure.

The other problem with Ms Gaines’ testimony is that it normalizes audible conversations when they are not normal at all, nor are they even from God.

Beth Moore, Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture, Christine Caine, Sarah Young of Jesus Calling, and many other women “with a platform” claim to have nearly daily conversations with God, visions, strong impressions of the heart, and other messages that speak of fulfilling their dreams and hopes or otherwise give specific instruction. These are not from God. The kind of Christianity Mrs Gaines puts forth in her testimony video and in interviews is the kind that diminishes God in holiness and stature and exalts the recipient of these messages to an undeserved status. As in, “Wow, she must be special because God talks directly to her just like He did with Moses and Abraham!”

Millions of women who see Mrs Gaines’ seemingly vibrant and healthy relationship with God as expressed frequently and audibly presents itself as the norm – when it is not. And this is a problem when the network goes searching for another person or couple that displays this “recognizable Christianity.” It might be recognizable to the world, but it is not recognizable to God.

Part 2 here: The hypocrisy of Chip and Joanna Gaines

 

Posted in bible, direct revelation, hearing God, listening to the Lord, rick warren

"Learn How To Recognize God’s Voice with Rick Warren"

The video below is one hour nine minutes long, but you only need to listen to the first 30 seconds to see that it is a farce.

HT No Compromise Radio

Here is a transcript of the first 30 seconds. Below the video I’ll show how and why this just isn’t biblical, and worse, instills fear. The wrong kind of fear.

Last week we began an new mini-series in understanding how to hear the voice of God. Very few things are more important than this, because you can’t have a relationship with God if you can’t hear God. If all you do is ever talk to Him in prayer, and you never hear God speak to you, that’s a one-way relationship. That isn’t much of a relationship. God wants to speak to you.

We go to the most obvious bible verse, Hebrews 1:1-2, which says,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

W.P. Zubar w/eartrumpet Library of Congress

God spoke to us through His Son, who is the Word. He Spirit-energized writers to put to paper the things His Son said. That word was finalized with the completion of Revelation, and to seal the final word, the final speaking of God at this point in time, Revelation 22:18-19 states,

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

God spoke through His Son.

Now, the Spirit does illuminate the Word to us, making it clear and understandable. But the Spirit is not saying new things. He is simply testifying of Christ, when He points us to His word and illuminates it for us. Here is an essay on illumination. For example, the essay states,

Psalm 119, which is the longest chapter in the Bible, is a song about God’s Word. In verse 130, it says “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” This verse establishes the basic method of God’s illumination. When God’s Word enters the heart of a person, it gives light and understanding to them. For this reason, we are repeatedly told to study the Word of God.

God spoke final words, they are through His Son, and those speakings are contained in the closed canon of the bible.

What Warren is saying is that the canon is not closed and we can hear special and personal things in addition to the bible. This violates Revelation 22:18.

Secondly, in the Hebrews verse it states, ‘in these last days’. The last days are the days of grace, between which Jesus incarnated and when He will come back. We are in the last days. We have been since He first came and we will be until He returns again.

However what was most troubling is that Warren made an absolute statement and it is completely unbiblical. He said,

“you can’t have a relationship with God if you can’t hear God”

Woe to the false shepherds who strike the sheep!

When Rick Warren makes an absolute statement like “you CAN’T have a relationship with God UNLESS you hear His voice, he is adding qualifiers to the standards for a relationship that God has already set. Nowhere in the bible is there a condition for faith that includes hearing from God. We know we are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

How to have a closer relationship with God

How to have a relationship with Jesus

We can do a quick keyword search in the NT for the word unless in the context of salvation conditions. One cannot have a relationship with God unless one is saved. So let’s see what it takes to be saved and have this relationship Warren is talking about. Remember, we’re looking in the Bible for a condition placed on our faith as Warren said, ‘unless you hear God speaking to you, you cannot have a relationship with Him.’

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven“. (Matthew 18:3).

OK, so that is a biblical condition attached to our faith. Pulpit Commentary explains:

Christ points to little children as the model to which the members of his kingdom must assimilate themselves. The special attributes of children which he would recommend are humility, unworldliness, simplicity, teachableness, – the direct contraries of self-seeking, worldliness, distrust, conceit.

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Another faith condition. Still not finding “unless you hear God you can’t have a relationship with Him.” Let’s keep looking.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44).

OK, so unless God draws a person, they will not be in a relationship with Him.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53).

Gill’s Exposition explains the John 6 verse:

But the words design a spiritual eating of Christ by faith. To eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, is to believe that Christ is come in the flesh, and is truly and really man; that his flesh is given for the life of his people, and his blood is shed for their sins

I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24).

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

We need to repent in order to have a relationship with God. We must abide in Him. Still not finding having to hear Him to have a relationship with Him.

We could go on, but Christians know what it takes to enter into a relationship with God.

As for maintaining a relationship with Him, nothing in the bible says either that if one doesn’t hear Him one CANNOT have a relationship. We already discussed what it takes to have a relationship, and once the Lord delivers grace unto a repentant person, they are now and forever a believer in a relationship with the Father. There is nothing that says hearing Him is a requirement for a relationship, neither entering into one nor maintaining one.

Warren’s attitude toward prayer was sadly dismissive. He said “If all you’re doing is praying to God…” What a scornful attitude toward communication with the Creator of the Universe! The Ancient of Days! The Holy One of Israel! That He entertains prayer, encourages prayer, listens to prayer, answers prayer, is an astounding feature of our relationship with Him!

If “all” we’re doing is praying to God?!?! It’s everything! I am so sorry that it isn’t enough for Warren. He wants more. He wants to HEAR back. It’s not enough to have faith that God listens and answers, He has promised to do so. (Mark 11:24).

It is not a one-way relationship. Here are just a few f the things God does for us: God created the world for us to inhabit. (Isaiah 45:18). Jesus died for us. (Romans 5:8). We have the gift of the Spirit is in us. (2 Corinthians 1:22). He illuminates the scriptures for us. (John 16:13-16). Jesus intercedes for us in heaven. (Hebrews 7:25). He provides for us. (2 Corinthians 9:8 ). He gives us grace and help. (Hebrews 4:16). He sends angels to minister to us. (Hebrews 1:14). And so much more. One-way? Hardly. It is a lopsided relationship, one where He gives so much more to us than we give to Him

The fallacy that in order for our faith to be real, that we must hear God, is very detrimental to the believer. We’re not supposed to hear God, but when people listen to Warren making an absolute statement like he did, they worry they’re not in the faith because they are not hearing from Him. They begin to contrive all sorts of things as Godly utterances, some of which may be satan, others will hear their own inner voice but attribute it to God. Others will simply fear they’re not saved, and begin a fruitless search for ways to ‘hear’ Him. Discouraged, some will lose heart, or be burdened with needless doubt.

Seeking to hear a voice sets aside the sufficiency of the bible as guide for all things. This is the most important point of all. Warren adds to the conditions for faith, dismisses prayer as insufficiently communicative, encourages congregants to pursue a fruitless path of voices and promptings, and worst of all, sets aside the bible for our guide for all things. Whisperings, promptings, voices,all bunk. Read the bible, pray, and watch as God works out Providential things in your life.

Oh, and watch out for wolves like Rick Warren.

Posted in false, hearing God, jesus calling, sarah young

Amazon’s best sellers of the year: Even Slate gets it about Sarah Young…

Slate presents “Amazon’s Best-Selling Books of 2013, and What They Tell Us About America

Even Slate gets it about Sarah Young’s #5 seller, Jesus Calling

We’re desperate for guidance from Jesus, 
even if it’s just an author named Sarah Young pretending to be Jesus.

And yes, Jesus Calling IS Amazon’s number five best selling book of the year. Not in Christian Books. All books. Now I will go off to a corner somewhere and cry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Sarah Young, was it really Jesus Calling, or someone else?

Jesus Calling review, and why ‘hearing’ God is a bad thing

Reaction to the book “A Christian Rebuttal to Sarah Young’s ‘Jesus Calling'”

Posted in hearing God, still small voice, whisper

What is the ‘still, small voice’?

This was an answer to a question posed to me on a comment stream. I am expanding it to a blog entry.

The Still Small Voice is not a voice of God nor is it a personal experience, intuition, or a word from the Lord (or word of knowledge). Revelation has ceased, the canon of the bible is closed. In these last days He spoke to us by His son. (Hebrews 1:2).

People who believe they have heard or seek after a voice, through prayer, or a labyrinth or contemplative practices or whatever are actually rebelling against the authority of God’s word. People who wait on a whisper from God are actually elevating themselves to a position equal to the throne.

Do you not think that God can orchestrate events He desires to come to fruition whether we ‘hear’ His voice or not?

What if you’re doing voice-listening and it said “Kill your children”? What then? Or “Leave your wife”? Or worse, “Is the bible really true? Hath God said?” We cannot trust the voice, the whisper, the process of osmosis whereupon God plops truth to your brain via voices.

GotQuestions.org discusses the still, small voice
The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.”

The still, small voice misuse has thus been ripped from its context as a demonstration of a narrow point to Elijah about Israel, to apply to all New Testament believers as expecting personal words from God. Not so.

That said, one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to reveal scripture to us. He brings these things to mind. (John 14:26). He develops fruit in us for the name of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23).

And this:

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

He is our teacher. Does He teach us scriptural truths via an audible or an inner voice? No. But He does clarify scripture for us. Here we have MacArthur explaining the difference between a voice from God about scripture and the Holy Spirit clarifying scripture:

The line between clarifying Scripture and adding to it is indeed a thin one. But Scripture is not clarified by listening to someone who thinks he has the gift of prophecy. Scripture is clarified as it is carefully and diligently studied. There are no shortcuts to interpreting God’s word accurately (cf. Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15).”

That was from a 4-part article series called “Does God give personal direction through a still, small voice?

Does God clarify scripture by delivering a whisper to your brain, or by reading His word, where He said he revealed Himself? The ‘voice’ is the Word, given to us via scripture (John 1:1-5). Look at this comment about when John received his vision in Revelation,

And John hears this voice and it sounds like the smashing surf in the midst of a storm. And it indicates to us that the Lord is not only interceding in His church, He’s not only purifying His church, but He’s commanding His church. He moves in His church with authority and He brings to bear commands in His church. He’s not making quiet suggestions. He’s not any longer speaking in a still, small voice. He is speaking commandingly in His church. And the commands that He speaks come through His Word, which is Scripture. He is bringing His people under the authority of His word.” (Christ’s role in the church today)

Any word we hear that is outside His word is outside His authority.

Scripture teaches us, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

The WORD trains us in righteousness and equips us, not a small voice. For training and equipping, one has to study.

As for me personally, the practicalities of the situation are that I approach the bible in various ways. Sometimes I just read it, like a book. I might read a chapter with nothing else in mind but to simply read. During sermons I have the bible open and read along with the pastor. Other times when I prepare to study deeply, I pray first. I also repent. I spend some quiet time. When I get ready to study, I have a notebook and a pen handy. I use my study bible. Then, I read it, stopping frequently (like every verse or even within a verse) to ponder. I check cross references. I might look at parallel verses to see how it is said in other translations. As you can imagine, it’s painstaking.

But when I study, and all is quiet and I’ve prepared my mind, then the Spirit brings to mind connections to other verses I have read. Or He deepens my understanding of the one I am reading now and perhaps have read before. THAT is the voice, not something audible but the Spirit working in me to knit together an understanding of a passage that I had not had before. It is called illumination and it is a work of the Spirit. it is how He transforms my mind. But I have to work at it by cracking open the bible myself, first.

As for this “still, small voice” it is from 1 Kings 19:12. Barnes Notes explains, “A still small voice – literally, “a sound of soft stillness.” The teaching is a condemnation of that “zeal” which Elijah had gloried in, a zeal exhibiting itself in fierce and terrible vengeances, and an exaltation and recommendation of that mild and gentle temper, which “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (Barnes Notes)

Obviously, the verse from 1 Kings is not about dwelling quietly and tuning out the world’s noise. It is not akin to another verse that is ripped out of context, “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10) which doesn’t mean ‘be still to hear from God’. It is not listening for a voice in the quiet to speak personal direction to you.

Then how does God guide us? Well, in the ways above via the Spirit, and through Providence.

He works all things together for the good.

Also we know that all things work together for the best unto them that love God, even to them that are called of his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

What you do is submit to God, turning your life over to Him. You diligently study His statutes and learn what He expects. And you go forth and live your life. I’ll give two examples.

First, I have read in the past of a missionary who was converted and after a while of training and study, decided that he had felt God’s call upon his life to be a missionary. The man was convinced he was to minister to the French. He had a history in Paris, he knew French, he had a love for the French.

So he trained up in missionary school or whatever, and the time came when he was waiting for his orders. He didn’t get Paris. No France. No Europe. Initially the man was crestfallen, thinking that this whole time he had missed what he felt God was putting into him. But when his orders did come, it all made sense. He was to be a missionary in French Canadian Quebec. The man had it right, but just the details wrong.

In another example that is not even so dramatic and more properly applies to us regular folk living a non-radical life, John MacArthur was answering a question in one of his Bible Q&A sessions about the voice of God and how to know what to do in life. He said that he just lives his life, not waiting for voices or bells or dramatic circumstances to direct him. He gave the example of when presented with a list of speaking engagements he is invited to. There are always more engagements than he can attend. So he simply goes down the list in matter-of-fact form, checking off the ones he can do or not do. He looks at what is doable and God exalting and goes from there.

Later, he said, he sees the magnificent Hand of God’s Providence in his life. At a conference he met a man, and that man was just the man he needed to collaborate on a book. Or the speech led to another event which cemented a certain thing. Later he can see how all things were working to the good, but often we cannot see it at the time. But later, we can.

Actually, waiting for a still, small voice means we may miss the Providence of God in our lives. Or we become dependent on the voice and when we do not hear it we wait and do nothing.

Providence is how it worked with me. I was saved in Maine, but my career in journalism was concluded, having sold the newspaper I’d started. I wondered what to do next. I was tired of the harsh winters and longed for a gentler climate. I had done a lot of traveling in the decade previously and I liked Florida. But when it came time to move, FL was too expensive for me. So I chose Georgia. The cost of living was lower, the climate was better, and I could make the fresh start I’d wanted.

Later I realized that the hills and pastures in this rural area were just the wonderful balm I had needed for my quaking soul, but had not known it. That the Godly people here were also the strength this new Christian required if I was to thrive. That the Lord would bring me around to working in the educational system again, with children, the lack of which in my life was slowly draining it of professional joy (I see now, but not then). He knew all that and more. His providence worked to the good in my life and to those around me whom I fellowship with. He nestled me into a berth that is perfect.

Could He have done that if I’d moved to Tuscon, or Houston? Sure. But he worked it out providentially here in GA and I am so grateful. I trust Him to work in me. Trust. I pick up my cross every day, and follow Him. Picking up the cross involves trust to be led whether I hear a voice or not.

How do we know that ‘voice’ we think we hear isn’t our flesh? An unconfessed desire? Or satan’s voice? I often hear a voice inside my head. It says “Eat cake!” but I don’t follow it. (OK, I do). If it says “Eat broccoli” I tend to trust it more. LOL.

The point is, did I pray contemplatively and walk a labyrinth and do centering prayer and wait for a whisper? No. I just live my life in submission to Him and amid the practicalities of my every day life.

So that’s the still, small voice. Now go eat some broccoli.

Posted in hearing God, jesus calling, thomas manton

Jesus Calling review, and why ‘hearing’ God is a bad thing

Here is a review of the book Jesus Calling by Michael Horton. I liked the review and liked just as much the clarification comment Mr Horton made at the comment section, which I excised and placed after the link to his review. Jesus Calling is another book which calls for your discernment because of the casual way the author ‘hears’ God and uses His word to legitimize what is beyond scripture. This blog entry is also an overall caution about hearing audible or inner ‘voices’ in either yourself or from other teachers.

FYI, here is the link to a very thoughtful and biblical review of this book.

Review of Jesus Calling
By Mike Horton

Excerpt: “In terms of method, then, Jesus Calling is a “something more” book. At the very least, I believe that it encourages believers to see God’s Word as hum-drum and to ascend into the heavens or descend to the depths to discover a word that will make Jesus more present in our daily lives. According to the Reformation stream of evangelicalism, God speaks to us in his Word (the arrow pointing down from God to us) and we speak to him in prayer (the arrow directed up to God). However, Jesus Calling confuses the direction of these arrows, blurring the distinction between God’s speech and our response.”

In the ensuing discussion of the book review in the comment section, there was a growing outcry from the commenters who began vehemently disagreeing with Mr Horton’s stance that God does not speak audibly today, in this era. Mr Horton made the following response in clarifying his stance and responding to the objections–

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for the interaction.

A number of responses have objected to restricting the Spirit’s communication to his Word. We don’t seem to disagree over whether Scripture is the infallible rule, but whether it’s sufficient: that is, whether we need or should expect other avenues of divine communication today. Let me first clarify the point and then defend it briefly.

It’s not a question of what God can do, but what he’s promised to do. Tomorrow morning, Jesus could speak to me in audible words outside of Scripture, but why to me and not to someone else? Scripture is a public book that may be accessed anytime. Jesus, who rose again publicly in history, certified the Old Testament and commissioned his apostles to speak his words in his name. Preaching is a public event. This public character of the gospel distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. I’ll leave it to others to discern whether Sarah Young tends to treat Scripture and preaching as “humdrum,” given her clear statement in the introduction that she was seeking more communication—something more personal—from Jesus than she had found in reading the Bible. (She doesn’t even mention preaching, as I recall.)

Now to the defense. To be sure, there are myriad examples of God speaking directly to people in the Old and New Testaments. After all, that’s how we got Scripture in the first place. However, Jesus equated the words of the prophets with the very word of God and submitted himself to the Scriptures (Mt 4:4, 7, 10; 5:17-20; 19:4-6; 26:31, 52-54; Lk 4:16-21; 16:17; 18:31-33; 22:37; 24:25-27, 45-47; Jn 10:35-38). He also drew a qualitative distinction between “word of God” and “the tradition of the elders” (Mt 15:2, 6). The one is God’s infallible word and the other is a fallible interpretation of God’s word. Yet the words of Christ and his apostles in Scripture are also the very word of God for the new covenant era: “God-breathed” and therefore sufficient (2 Tim 3:16). The Old and New Testaments form the biblical canon—like a constitution—that cannot be altered (Dt 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19).

Like the era of the prophets, the era of the apostles is unique. Paul distinguishes between the foundation-laying era of the apostles and the ordinary ministers who follow (1 Cor 3:11-12). The scriptures are inspired by the Spirit; we are illumined by the same Spirit to understand them. Just as the prophetic era was followed by the teachers (rabbis) who interpreted their inspired writing, the apostolic era was followed by pastors and teachers. The apostles said and did things that the Spirit did not deem necessary for us to know, as did those who prophesied in the Book of Acts. However, Paul warns, “Do not go beyond what is written,” since appeals to private revelation breed factions (1 Cor 4:6).

Churches of the Reformation hold that when this Word is faithfully preached, Christ himself speaks. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). It is through the preaching of the gospel that the Spirit creates and sustains our faith in Christ (Is 55:10-11; Ezek 37; Acts 2:14-36; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 4:3, 6; 1 Pet 1:23-25).

In short, as Luther and Calvin both said, to look for another path, another means of communication from our Lord, is to “seek him outside the way.” The only safe place to find a holy God in mercy, clothed in his gospel, is where he has promised to meet us in peace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I thought his review (linked to his blog, above) and the clarification of the audible or inner hearing of God as a voice was extremely well-articulated. I have great concern when I hear and see the elders of our faith going forward with audible voices and lengthy, specific conversations with Jesus. Beth Moore is one of those. Pastor Mike Abendroth addressed her penchant for conversations with God in his 90-second video here. Basing doctrine, decisions, writings, teachings, or theology on supposed audible or inner hearings of God denies the sufficiency of God. Puritan Thomas Manton wrote in the mid-1600s of apostasy,

“The apostasy from the Lord will be determined chiefly by these two things: — (1.) By undermining his authority; (2.) Or destroying the interests of his kingdom. By these two we may understand the falling away, which is to come first.”

By claiming that God speaks to you personally it destroys the interests of the kingdom by making private the word of God (since as Mr Horton reminds us, appeals to private revelation breed factions, 1 Cor 4:6), and undermining His authority, by which God spoke through His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2.)