These are ideas/concepts that, while in no particular order, have been extremely impactful during my time here. These have changed the way that I view both God and myself.
Feel free to disagree, and also feel free to test it - we are told here that whenever we recieve a word or a prophecy or anything of that nature, to test it against The Word. The Bible is the only infallible accordance of God - so if the word rings true in your own heart as well as the hearts of those around you, and the teachings are Biblical, then it is truth.
How that truth impacts your life, I leave to you.
(I figured that I would use bullet points for this blog entry whynot. Hooray for having page-formatting skills! Thanks, college!)
- When it comes to spiritual warfare, God and the devil are not equal in power. In fact, they are not even close in power.
-This was an atom bomb in my head when I first heard this - I had always figured that the enemy's army was mighty, but The Lord's army was also mighty. Mightier, actually. Not by much, but mighty all the same. What a horrible lie. (Oops - I'm back into lies again. All well - I'm just sort of going with the flow here). I realized that the enemy has only as much power as we give him - and far too often people (myself included) will gasp and tremble at the possibilities of what he could do to us. We focus on the 'power' of the enemy, and not the power of Jesus Christ. Worried about the economy? God does not have financial problems. Keep your eyes on Him and not on CNN, and your heart will be at rest. He guards the lives of His faithful.
- Condemnation vs. Conviction
The enemy condemns - Our Father convicts.
Conviction: "What you did was wrong" - Specific - desire for change
Condemnation: "YOU are wrong" - Generalized - directed at self, not action
Here is a second (and perhaps even more mind-blowing definition):
Conviction: "You are a son/daughter of The King. You are too awesome to be acting this way. Why deny yourself your inheritance?"
Condemnation: Action = Identity - "I lied. I am a liar." "I stole. I am a thief." "I sinned - I am a sinner."
In regards to this last definition of condemnation, one of my speakers here told us that the saying "I am a sinner saved by grace" is the biggest LIE in Christianity.
He believes that we WERE sinners - we are now saints. We drowned our old selves (those that were slaves to sin) when we were baptised. We were given a new spirit, and new flesh. Now, sin is no longer in our nature. We can sin, sure. But we must choose it. We cannot sin accidentally.
He said "If we believe ourselves to be sinners, we will sin by faith."
...does your brain hurt yet?
- We should not be comfort vampires to Makka Buns using a vacuum cleaner
OK Wow. This one takes some explanation.
One of our speakers (and my personal favorite actually) is named Steve Ahern, and he is from Australia. He told us that in Australia, they have an absolutely amazing dessert called a Makka Bun. He described it as 'the person who eats it ascends out of their mortal body, and their soul travels to the greater realms of Heaven'. Sounds pretty delicious.
Anyway, he told us that everyone encounters a Makka Bun every once in a while. These, he says, are the absolutely beautiful men and women that everyone just wants to be around. (Here in YWAM, there are Makka Buns everywhere, by the way. Just FYI for those who wanted to know.) He then spoke about how people sometimes gravitate towards hanging out with these Makka Buns to feel better about themselves. In fact, many people talk and flirt with these Makka Buns with absolutely no intention of actually starting a relationship with them. They draw comfort from hanging out with beautiful people.
He told us how he used to (metaphorically) take his vacuum cleaner, and stick it in the bellybutton of a Makka Bun (stay with me) when his comfort level was very low. He would look at her and smile and act very slightly flirtatious, when all he wanted from her was comfort. It was all take and no give.
(This one made me wince because I thought of how I would do that exact thing every once in a while - feel free to wince. It's OK - no one can see you. Well, no one who would judge you anyway.)
...if your brain doesn't hurt by this point, you have a very strong constitution.
- You can talk to God. Not in a vague, metaphysical sense - Not in a lucid, New Age sense - You can have a conversation with God. In real time. As in talking, and listening for His answer.
Mindblowing, huh? Before I went to this DTS, I would always ask God for help, in a very generalized sense. "God, please let me do well on this test." "God, please let my brother be alright." "God, please let me win the lottery."
I was talking AT Him, not TO Him.
And all I did was ask. Try praying to God for more than 5 minutes without asking Him for something. It is insanely hard for me to do. He loves to bless us with things, but it is pretty rediculous when you stop and think about it.
Ok. Onto 'How To Hear The Voice of God"
How to begin, then?
First, find a background noise of some kind - maybe its birds chirping outside, maybe its the sound of your furnace as you sit inside, maybe its a fan you have on - anything.
Now, close your eyes. Listen for this noise.
...take 2 minutes and do it. Really. It's fun, I promise. Relax, and take 2 minutes to do it.
...you can blame me if your boss walks by and sees you with your eyes closed. But please, try it.
...really. Do it.
How did you know it was the fan/furnace/birds/etc?
Because you could recognize it. It is the same thing with hearing God's voice. It is as easy as listening to the birds.
Now the most difficult thing about hearing God's voice is distinguishing it from your own voice in your head.
I learned that God largely speaks to us through our personalities, so if you are very visual, He may give you a picture instead of words.
For me personally, I have heard God's voice here, but it is not an audible voice. God, I've realized, doesn't like to boast or show-off.
Now I am fairly closeminded to things like this (I'm getting better) but to be honest, I would LOVE it if The Archangel Gabriel would appear in a swirling tempest of clouds and flame above my head, and descend in a pillar of light that is so bright that it burns a symbol of The Cross into the ground. If Gabriel could then appear out of the blinding light and walk towards me, each footstep cracking the ground and shaking the very foundations of the earth until finally he lays a gauntleted hand on my shoulder, and with a voice that speaks volumes to my tortured and thirsty soul, say in a booming cadence "Daniel - Our Mighty Father In Heaven Wishes You To Depart For Northern California At The Conclusion Of This DTS Wherein You Will Begin The Next Step Of Your Spiritual Journey" and then suddenly disappear in an eruption of rumbling and holy fire, leaving only the image of the holy Cross seared into the pavement under my feet, that would be great.
I would probably get the message if that happened.
Unfortunately, God doesn't work that way. (I, by the way, have a very active imagination. Obviously.)
Back to what I was saying - for me, God speaks in thoughts and ideas, that quite honestly, would be super easy to confuse for my own. I keep waiting to hear an actualy voice speak in my head, but God doesn't speak to me that way. He may for you - He speaks differently to everyone.
An awesome example of God speaking to me through thoughts/ideas was during the first few weeks of school. One morning, we all wrote everything that we felt was keeping us from God on a piece of paper - everything that we wanted to repent for, basically. With my filled page (and I do mean FILLED) we were to take it and burn it before The Cross so that our sins would die.
I walked up front, laid my paper in the flames, and watched intently as the pages crumpled and burned away. I turned to go back to my seat, and on the way back, I saw Debbie, an older woman who was standing alone with her head down. I had a flicker - an instantaneous idea to give her a hug, so I did. I thought of something, and decided to do it, spur of the moment. Basic, right?
As I put my arms around her and gave her a little hug, she let out a big sob and wrapped her arms around me tightly, burying her face in my chest. She was crying so hard that she was shaking. After a few minutes time, she pulled her head back and began to whisper to me through her tears. She told me how her son who was roughly my age had abandoned her, and she felt so alone in her life. She told me about how she had hurt her boy by not supporting him, and she was desperate to see him again.
She also told me that she had been praying with all her heart that she might hold her son again - that she was crying out to God for compassion and affection. When I hugged her, she told me I felt like her son, and she just broke down. She began thanking God through whispered tears, and she said "God really does love me."
...All this happened because I got an 'idea".
Needless to say, I have begun to follow these 'ideas' as best I can (and within reason, obviously). Especially in the area of tithing, I have begun to pay close attention. Even last night, actually, I had a small sort of idea to give all the money in my wallet to help students who are struggling to pay for their DTS, and I did. Sure it was only $4.00, but I thought that God can do better things with $4.00 than I can.
See, I could have sat in my chair when I had the idea, and I could have argued. I could have ..."stated the fact that I needed cash in order to do my laundry and without cash I would need to withdraw money from the ATM and the ATM has a fee that I would have to pay and having cash on hand is always useful and $4.00 isn't all that much and I really need this cash in order to have an easier time here"...I could have doubted - "Was that really God? Or was that the enemy? What if it was just my own idea? If it is my own idea, then does that mean I should follow through with it? Or would that be just self-serving? Is it still self-serving if I am donating something? Does God want me to be broke? Why would God want me to have to take money out of the ATM and pay the fee so that I can do laundry? Why would He ask me to give if He knows that I need this cash to do my laundry?"
...the opportunity would be lost by that point.
I am beginning to trust. Trust that it was God and just do it.
(Besides, would the enemy really want me donating money to a church?)
Wow I think too much.
Here is a way to talk to God. Ash Him these questions, and don't worry if you don't hear anything. Don't become frustrated - did you ride your bike perfectly the very first time you tried? Talking to God is a skill, and like everything else, it takes practice.
Try asking Him these questions:
"Jesus, what do You think about me?"
"What do You and I have in common?"
"What game would You like to play with me, and why?"
...bringing a pad of paper always helps, I've found. God speaks to me in massive amounts of words. As I said, He knows my personality.
Most importantly, if you do hear something, TEST IT.
Donna Jordan, our teacher, told us that many people have come to her saying that God told them that cheating on their spouse was permissable. Some have even said that God told them that they could divorce.
Here's how to test the word/picture/whatever it may be that you recieve:
1.Does it go according to God's Word? - Check The Bible - research it and see if it rings true from The Word.
2.Does it glorify Jesus and bring you closer to God? - If the message was condemning, how does that bring you closer to God?
3.Does it witness to your spirit? - Does it resonate with you? Does it speak to something in your heart?
4.Does it witness to the spirit of others? - Same as #3 but with outside imput - does it speak to othes as truth?
Here are some last tips: Most likely, God will speak in first person - "I adore you, I love you" etc. For me, God also stops talking quite suddenly when I argue in my head. I just write it down, then look at it later.
Finally and perhaps most importantly? Relax.
God wants to talk to you multitudes more than you want to listen to Him.
God desires you multitudes more than you desire Him.
Also, have fun.
You are talking to your Abba - He who delights in everything you are, and can't wait to speak of His love for you.
Crawl up into His lap, and listen.
...If your brain doesn't hurt now...well...you are a stronger person than I.
Until next time - there's more to come!
I Love you guys