How to Hear God’s Voice and Not Your Own (or Others’)

i hear voicesHow do I know it’s GOD speaking, and not ME speaking? How do I know it’s the voice of GOD, and not the voice of the enemy? These are valid questions because 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light…” which means it will sometimes be difficult to discern between the voice of God and the voice of Satan.

In John 10:4 & 5, Jesus says His sheep know His voice, and they follow Him, but they also do NOT follow the stranger and run away from him because they do NOT know the stranger’s voice. That means, it’s not enough just to know the Shepherd’s voice, but we must also be unacquainted with the voice of the enemy!

Adam and Eve spent time hearing God’s voice in face-to-face encounters, but it wasn’t enough just knowing what God said. Adam and Eve knew God’s words, but they entertained the enemy! Likewise, our Bible helps us to know what God said! But it’s NOT enough to just know your Word. You have to defamiliarize yourself with the voice of the enemy!

2min 30 second VIDEO with brief story: https://www.facebook.com/DrDeeKnight/posts/10154856340226492

Finding Peace When Life Throws a Punch and Your Emotions Take a Hit

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer

P E A C E does NOT mean your emotions won’t take a hit when life throws a punch. It just means you don’t have to come out of character when you’re hurt, angry, etc., and that if you do, you rest knowing you have an Advocate with the Father {1 John 2:1}. Getting to know the Word (Jesus) is so integral to this kind of peace. Getting to know your Word (the bible) is so integral to getting to know Jesus. The Word anchors us. I have quite a hold on a peace beyond my understanding, or perhaps that peace has quite a hold on me.

After the gut punch life threw me a couple weeks ago, I realized I’m deeply entrenched in a season of my life where I know my enemy has already done the worst he could do, and he failed. I know he failed because I’m still here, and you’re still standing, and hallelujah, the grave is still empty! Crucifixion Friday was literally the worst our enemy could do, and he failed! We serve a Risen Savior!

Our Risen Savior is now our great High Priest, the one who is able to feel with us. He knows when life hits you, your emotions will sway up and down some. It’s okay for your emotions to be flexible to your life experiences, to be disappointed, sad, lonely, or angry. But the peace of God, which surpasses our understanding {Philippians 4:7}, meets you at the place where you decide your faith will NOT follow your feelings, so that if your feelings are wavering, your faith is still secure because it’s anchored in God’s faithfulness, not your feelings. The only way to anchor your faith, is to plant it firmly in the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God {Romans 10:17}.

2-Minute Video on this: https://www.facebook.com/DrDeeKnight/posts/10154838368521492

What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

black-girl-flower

“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

Leaving God Margins in a Double-Spaced Life

Submit all work with 1” margins, double-spaced. As a professor, I hold fast to these two formatting rules so I have enough room to make corrections and provide substantive feedback. It made me wonder if we leave God enough room between the lines of our stories, if we leave enough space in the margins for God to bring our dreams in line with His divine plans. Are you slowing down enough to live the double-spaced life? He knows your story better than you. Are you leaving God margins so He can write it on your heart?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {Jer. 29:11, NIV}

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {Psa. 139:16, NLT}

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A Box Full of Darkness

box full of darkness

There’s a gift in the box.

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
~Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow

I hate having to admit how long I tightly clutched my box, opening it several times, somehow wishing its contents would change. Are you stuck? Are you still peering deeply into your box, wishing the past were different, unable to make progress because you refuse to accept what life has sent your way? The writer of Jimmy Needham’s “Clear the Stage” said, “Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.” Pain, too, can be an idol; the darkness can consume you if you let it. Have you given the box its own pedestal in your life, allowing yourself to act and react out of anger, hatred, or fear? Will you wrestle with God in the dark? Will you praise Him in it? Will you place your hope in Him despite the darkness? Will you so deeply desire He change your box that you miss God changing you? Have you let God open the box with you? Have you immersed yourself more with the contents of the box than you have with Him? Have you passed the darkness on to others because you’ve failed to let God in, to let Him handle your darkness, or let Him handle you? For years I handed out boxes of my own unresolved trauma, boxes of rage, of unrepentant disdain, of bitter criticism that crushed, and scorched, and scathed. To whom have you dealt your unresolved darkness? Have you discarded it, never learning the gifts that it held? What have you done with your box? [Click Here to READ MORE]

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God Wants to Break Your Heart

broken heart

Once God breaks your heart, nobody else can!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~(Psalm 51:17)

If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever suffered loss, ever felt vulnerable and unprotected, ever felt you were sinking, drowning, crumbling at your core, then you’ve probably also wondered what I have, “Where are You, God?” or simply asked God, “Why?” If you’ve prayed to feel His presence and instead felt absence, prayed to hear His voice and heard deafening silence, prayed for a restored marriage then numbly watched the divorce finalized, prayed for healing and watched loved ones die, if you’ve placed your trust in Him and still felt that burning sting of disappointment, then you’ve encountered the God of which I speak, the God who wants to break your heart.

Of course I’m not suggesting God is some aloof, or worse, sadistic being, deriving pleasure from our pain. However, I am saying that if we’ll ever fulfill our God-ordained purpose, we’ll have to be broken to fit the God-shaped mold for our lives. In “Finding My Way Home,” Henri Nouwen asserts that when Christ cried out, “It is finished,” He didn’t only mean what He’d done, but also what others had done to Him – that He stayed on the cross until all that needed to be done to Him could be done in order to fulfill His purpose. If we’re committed to God and truly passionate about adopting His desires, His thoughts, His ways, then we’ll welcome His process, His breaking, His remaking. We’ll allow His breaking to fulfill our life’s purpose.

I believe God breathes on us in a gentle way to bend our will into submission to His, but much like Jacob, we wrestle. In our striving, though, we encounter the God who loves us enough to break what will not bend. Pastor Howard-John Wesley said, “God knows that life outside of His will is not in your best interest, and He loves you too much not to use everything in His sovereign omnipotence to get you to surrender to His will…we serve a God who, if blessing you doesn’t change your life, [He] has enough love to break you in the right place.” I believe the “right place” for God to break us is our hearts, the wellspring of our inconsistent desires and stubborn wills.

The admonishment in Joel 2:12-13 is to “rend your hearts, not your garments” and return to the Lord with your whole hearts. The message is that the outward appearance of repentance, contrition, and obedience mean nothing if our sinful hearts remain unbroken and turned away from God. The good news is that God waits on us. He waits to be gracious toward us and show us mercy (Isaiah 30:18). My mentor shared her belief that God sometimes withholds His provision until we seek His presence. Perhaps what we’ve thought was God’s silence was His megaphone to help us diligently seek Him. Perhaps what felt like God’s absence was His patience. Perhaps God knows that only desperate, broken hearts can receive His transforming love.

Shannon Alder said, “Blessed are those with cracks in their broken heart because that is how the light gets in.” God wants in, and a broken heart provides a blessed route.I believe God is determined to do a new thing in and through us, and the old places won’t facilitate new growth. In a recent sermon, Pastor MyRon Edmonds said that unless we learn to get vulnerable with God and get broken, our old ways will keep taking us down the same road. But the blessing of God’s breaking is that “once GOD breaks you, nobody else can!” Heart Check: Do you trust God to break those parts of you that won’t bend in submission to His sovereignty? Do you believe the breaking He’s sending is better than the blessing you’re seeking? God wants to break your heart. Will you let Him?

I originally posted this on The Haystack.

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For the Love of God

5. For the Love of GodDo you desire to meet those who’ve pierced you deepest with an embrace that yearns for their restoration? We can’t love the best in people until we can forgive the worst in them. Love covers a multitude of sins. HEART CHECK: Who’s sinned against you, and how are you covering them? If we’ll ever love the way God loves, we’ll have to forgive the way God forgives.  God loves the people you can’t stand… ((READ THE REST HERE)). See the video below for the demonstration of a 30-second forgiveness exercise.

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How I Almost Quit Christianity

HOW I ALMOST QUIT CHRISTIANITY

“If my only reference was the comments or actions of professed Christians, heaven is not a place I’d want to be….What started with my disdain for others’ bad behavior ended with repentance for my own…as Pastor Tullian Tchividjian stated, “A preacher who doesn’t believe he’s that bad will attract people who don’t think they’re that bad. And that’s bad…” Taking lightly the depths of my own depravity takes lightly the depths of God’s abundant grace…I’m a Christian. I have thorns. I need grace!” READ THE REST HERE…

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When I Don’t Want God to Be God

1. fear is misplaced faith

Likewise, anxiety is misplaced divinity – something else is God.

4 a.m. – I still hadn’t gotten any good sleep, a daunting reality when I reminded myself the day’s alarm would be blaring in less than 2 hours.

5 a.m. – I jolted awake, somewhat confused because it’d been more than a year since a wave of panic had washed over me like it did in that one sweeping moment. Yet, also somewhat aware of where those overwhelming anxieties were stemming from.

I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way.

Having survived years of abuse and working with a number of trauma survivors, I’m well aware of the brokenness life can bring. What heightened my awareness this week was sending all four of our children off to school where they’re no longer under my watchful care. I whispered, “God, please help me to trust You’ll protect my children.” Then, it hit me: what if God protects them the way He protected me? Tears spilled down my face as I realized I didn’t want God to be God in HIS way, I wanted Him to be God in MY way. I don’t want God to allow a fraction of the pain in their lives that He allowed in mine. I want His protection to look like mine would. I want Him to prevent our pain, but He’s determined to purpose our pain.

When I’m honest with myself, I have to admit there are times that I don’t want God to be God. That’s what the heavy dose of panic coursing through my veins was really about. It was really about whether or not I am willing to embrace God’s allowance of affliction over my preference of protection. Do I desire my Savior to also be sovereign? Quite often, at the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God, a difficulty in relinquishing all illusions of control to an all-consuming God who won’t reveal all of His plans to us. Notice I mentioned we seek to retain “illusions of control” because our striving with God says nothing of His enduring omnipotence. He’s still in control. He’s still God.

At the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God.

Our enemy uses the truth about our experiences to speak lies about our God. His native language is deceitfulness; he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). And, he is still feeding us the same lie he fed Adam and Eve all those years ago: we’d be better gods than God himself.

I’d have to agree with the saying that “fear is misplaced faith,” and I’ll add that much of our anxiety is misplaced divinity. We’ve made something or someone else God – usually ourselves. When we allow our emotions to escalate unchecked, when we listen to the lies about God’s goodness, lies about His character, about His steadfast mercy and love somehow not being what’s best for us, we’re choosing to exalt potential problems over the Prince of Peace. God foresaw that we would experience anxiety, but He calls us to submit those worries to Him because if we don’t we are essentially making a God of whatever or whomever we trust more (1 Peter 5:7). If I trust myself to handle my situation, protect my children, etcetera, more than I trust God, then I’m essentially saying I don’t want God to be God; I want to be God. If God isn’t God, then someone else will be. Quite often, that someone else is self, evidenced when we would rather be the person in control than let God be God. But even the most terrific person will make a terrible God.

If God isn’t God, then someone else will be.

If you are struggling with anxiety, first, know that you are not alone. Know that the God of the universe looked ahead in time, knew you would be burdened with this struggle, and specifically called you to cast all of those anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Second, know that help is available through Christ-centered counseling and medical interventions. You weren’t meant to bear this cross alone. I’ve already prayed for those reading and wanting more help; I believe God for you. Below is a list of resources for anxiety management and finding a skilled therapist in your area.

Click HERE: Anxiety Relaxation Techniques

Click HERE: Find a Psychotherapist (U.S.A. or Canada)

Click HERE: Therapist Locator (outside U.S. or Canada)

 

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The Pain to Push

godly sorrowI’m not a fan of pain. It’s not even that I’m unable to manage the pain, so much as I’ve nurtured a fear of experiencing pain more than I’ve nurtured the fact that I’ve overcome pain. In a brief lapse of judgment, I attempted to birth my oldest son without pain medications. Please note this is not at all to divide those who opt for pain meds and those who do not, but considering my fear of experiencing  such intense pain, it wasn’t wise for me. In fact, for our next child, I asked when the epidural would arrive, and I wasn’t even in labor yet! I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.

The most refreshing aspect for me was that I could actually fall asleep and not have to worry about contractions or, you guessed it, pain. The nurses asked me not to push, and I gladly took a nap until the doctor arrived. On the other hand, I’ve heard many women share their “natural” birth stories, and once the baby is in position and that pain to push hits, there IS no holding back! You see, while I was numb, while the pain had been taken away, I could make the choice not to give birth to the child I’d dreamed about holding in my arms. Oh, but when there’s pain there’s a persistent pressure to give birth to your dreams! Thank God for the pain!

As noted in the scripture above, Godly sorrow produces something. God’s pathway to peace often goes through a valley of pain. Make a commitment to stop looking for the easy way out, stop looking for the smooth, easy road where you can be lulled to sleep instead of birthing your dream. Your path will be filled with pain, but once you’re in position, the pain will get you to push! The pain will actually lead to your deliverance, it’ll lead to you birthing the dream! As the enemy sends fire your way, let it cause your purpose to burn within you even more. Below, I’ll share a relevant vlog on exactly that. Also, visit and follow the uplifting new blog of my friend ((You Can Shout Now)) who inspired this post by reminding me that some things are so pressing you just have to get it out!

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