Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The God Who Speaks

Written by: on April 23, 2015

In my devotions this morning I was reading the opening chapters of Genesis – where it records how God made man in His likeness. I read how God walked in the garden at the cool of the day, and spoke to Adam and Eve like a friend. At the very beginning, it appears that God created this world and mankind in it with the intention of conversing and having a relationship with His people.

This idea that God communicates with His people did not end in the Garden of Eden. Indeed it is an idea that continues throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, using dreams, visions, Scriptures, circumstances and so on, to engage with His creation to provide encouragement, instruction, guidance and promise. To think that God no longer communes with His creation would imply He has changed how He relates to man in our twenty first century.

For Luhrmann, the fact that God still speaks to His people is the theme of When God Talks Back. She explains in great detail numerous examples of God speaking to Christians who belong to the Vineyard denomination. She writes, “In a church like the Vineyard, God participates in your mind, and you ‘hear’ what he says as if it were external speech… God wants to be your friend; you develop that relationship through prayer; prayer is hard work and requires effort and training; and when you develop that relationship, God will answer back, through thoughts and mental images he places in your mind, and through sensations he causes in your body.” [1]

Without a doubt, it is hearing from God that has led me to where I live and work today. Through Scripture, dreams, words of knowledge, and impressions, I believe God has spoken to me and as a result, I have made many of the major decisions of my life based on those revelations. Decisions include moving to Wales, starting a church, writing books, marrying my choice of partner and many more. If God hadn’t spoken and revealed His will to me when I sought Him, I certainly would be in a very different place. Hearing God and obeying His voice changes your life. It changed mine.

Reading the text of When God Hears Back was a very familiar experience to me. I believe in the importance of spiritual gifts and hearing from God. However, I must admit, I did feel a little uncomfortable on the amount of emphasis on feelings and the comparative lack of emphasis on learning to hear God speak to you through Scripture. For me, hearing from God must begin with Scripture, and should He also speak through more supernatural means, then it’s a blessing. But first and foremost, every morning, I put myself under the voice of God’s Word.

Whatever our comfort zone when it comes to hearing from God, it’s a joy to know that God still does speak to His creation. He still desires to guide us, and reveal His will and purposes to us. May God give us the wisdom and discernment we need to hear from Him, and the wisdom and faith to obey!

[1] T. M. Luhrmann: When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2012), 41

About the Author

Liz Linssen

7 responses to “The God Who Speaks”

  1. John Woodward says:

    Liz, you have such a gift of devotional writing. Thanks for your encouraging words this morning (it is 8:30 am at the coffee shop). Yes, it is so good that God still speaks to us, and that He is communicating all the time. Isn’t it sad that we are too busy to slow down and take time to listen? You have put me in the right frame of mind for this coming busy weekend (finishing essays and updating leadership plans). You’ve given me reason to thank God for this new day rather than be stressed about my life. Thanks Liz. I hope God speaks clearly to you this weekend as well!

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Dear John
      Your feedback is always so encouraging. I don’t even realise I’m writing ‘devotionally’ 🙂 Certainly you have the gift of encouragement John. You are such a blessing to so many!
      Indeed, may God give us the strength and ‘pushes’ we need this weekend to climb our assignment mountains 🙂 He is faithful indeed to help us all.

  2. rhbaker275 says:

    Thanks, insightful post … I like your comments on scripture and listening.

    You note “hearing from God must begin with Scripture…” St. Paul writes to the church in Rome that both seeking God and believing in God begins with “hearing” and hearing comes by preaching (speaking) the gospel (Romans 10:14). Your post and this passage of scripture makes me consider, “How do we come to know God?” The title of our text is not “God looks back…” rather, “God talks back…’ Perhaps the best way , if not the only way, to know God is to “hear” God. The writer to the Hebrews acknowledges, “God spoke … many times and in various ways …” I think it is a reasonable summary of “God Talks Back” is to say that all of the practices and all of the skills that Luhrmann suggests as essential, are ultimately designed to help one “hear” God. How important is listening? God “speaks” and the only way to not know/experience God is to be not listening.

    • Liz Linssen says:

      Dear Ron
      Thank you so much for your feedback. You made some great points. Indeed, as you say, it’s so important that we listen to God. I love your reference to Hebrews and how you highlight our faith rests on hearing God’s Word. Thank you so much Ron. Every blessing on you this weekend with the assignments. 🙂

  3. Ashley Goad says:

    Preach it, Sister! Have you ever thought of writing a devotional book? 🙂 And while I’m on that track, have you read through the devotional book Jesus Calling? It is written in the first-person, as if Jesus is speaking directly to you. It’s beautiful, and as I read, I imagine Jesus sitting with me to speak conversationally to me, as any friend would. God speaks through all sorts of avenues, and to each of us, it is different. He can connect with each of us differently, which is why it may be so hard for some to understand — there is no uniform way of hearing or connecting to God. How do you counsel those you meet when giving out tea on the street or in church when they ask “how do you know God is real?”

    Thank you, sweet Liz! Happy writing to you!

  4. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Ashley
    Thank you so much for your kind feedback. No, I hadn’t heard of Jesus Calling, but I just took a look. It sounds great! I’ll definitely get a copy of that. Thanks!
    I guess when people ask how I know God is real, I point to my own experience of Him in my life. How He has led me, spoken to me, and provided for me. Basically, the miracles He has done. Everyone believes miracles are possible; it’s nice to tell people God is still in that business 🙂
    Well my dear, every blessing with your assignments!! We can do it……..!

  5. Julie Dodge says:

    Great post, Liz.

    Did you find it interesting when Luhrman was discussing the history of tongues that nobody spoke in tongues for perhaps nearly 1800 or 1900 years? It was almost like the early Pentecostals and Holiness people had stumbled onto some lost art. But I have to believe ( maybe this is just me creating a history) that people still heard God’s heart throughout the history of the church. The mystics. The still small voice. The warming heart. But I do wonder when Christians stopped teaching about the more miraculous gifts. Was it just the westerners who became too reliant on self and not God? Many questions.

    But I will hold to what you wrote about. I believe that Christians throughout the ages have heard God speak, just as you have, because they sought His presence.

    Thank you for your encouragement.

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