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An Everyday Wonder!

Recently we were driving Highway 21, the road that skirts the eastern shoreline of Lake Huron. As we drove along, we passed dozens and dozens of wind turbines.

The questions of whether these things produce energy efficiently or  destroy the beauty of the countryside, as many contend, didn’t occupy my mental landscape. I’ll leave such considerations to the experts and to those who must live with them. No, it was not the controversy they’ve created, but their wonder that caught my imagination–the mystery that when you simply rotate copper coils in a magnetic field, out comes electricity–magic extraordinaire!

Copper coil rotating in magnetic field produces electricity

Everyday is filled with magic and to encounter it would be to live in wonder and be primed for worship!

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Desire and the Spirit-Led Life (Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT)

Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT–Copyright © 2008 Andrew T. Hawkins

Passion must at times animate our prayer and if we do not get our hearts’ longings into our prayer closet, our devotional life is finished. Fenelon claims that to pray is to desire. Without it, he says, we do not really pray, but merely go through mental exercises.  We will dabble at prayer and find it tedious if we never drill down to the desire level of our soul. When our prayer life deals in the currency of desire, our inner being begins to vibrate with expectancy. In the forum of prayer we cultivate spiritual longing and if we have tuned in to our innate, God-given desire, we may now look to him to satisfy it.

Meditating upon the Bible’s message about the believer’s relationship to the mysterious third Person of the Trinity encourages pure spiritual desire. At a gut level we all ache intensely to connect with the deep from whence we were drawn. By nature we long for supernatural contact. We crave an infilling of the divine. Rather than dampen this spark, God pours gasoline on it with an astounding promise. Actually, scripture talks about it, not as “a” promise, but “the” promise (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4 NKJ), the supreme gift of God to humanity. He claims he will fill us with his own essence, the Holy Spirit, the Christ of God. . . .

Jesus painted a compelling picture of the Spirit-endued individual. The thought of being “free as the wind” has always exercised a powerful pull on the human imagination and he said those born of the Spirit have entered into that kind of liberty (John 3:8). Jesus illustrates this freedom when he walks on the water and thereby teaches us that the Spirit-graced life raises us above many of our human struggles. Mark notes a fascinating, somewhat comical detail in his account when he says that as the disciples strained at the oars against a contrary wind, Jesus walked toward their boat and “intended to pass them by”(Mark 6:47-52).

The Greek word translated straining is a strong word, most often translated torment. It sometimes describes the pain of a woman in childbirth. With the disciples near the breaking point, Jesus strolls by them on the water. We know he would not show off, so what could his motive possibly be? The fact that in Matthew’s account of the incident he invited Peter to join him on the water and then rebuked him for a lack of faith when Peter started to sink, suggests that an easier way of living is available to all who believe. We often strive and strain when simple, child-like trust would instantly relieve our burdens and lift us to a higher realm and a more carefree life. Of course, we will have opposition from negative forces, whether human or spiritual, as well as from our own selfish nature, but as we learn to overcome these opponents, the Spirit-led life becomes easy.

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Love, a Simple Secret for Hearing God (Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT)

Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT–Copyright © 2008 Andrew T. Hawkins

Hearing that God can speak directly to us can feel intimidating because of our seeming inability to tune into his voice. I certainly do not hear him so plainly in everyday experience. However, I find that most of the time my problem comes from not slowing down long enough to listen. As I run through life, my hurried footsteps harden the soil of my heart so that the word cannot penetrate. When we come to scripture with a quiet and receptive heart, and feel the love of God, we easily sense some directive from him. For example, if we are meditating on the story of the four friends bringing the paralytic to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12), we sense that we should go to greater lengths to help one of our friends. When we hear Jesus say to the paralysed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven”, we could feel challenged to receive more completely the forgiveness for a troubling fault. Or, knowing his desire to do good to us, we may sense that we ought to believe God for some difficult situation in our lives as the paralytic believed to be healed.
Speaking of this explicit guidance from God, Carlo Caretto says it arises from our abandonment to God’s love. “Live love, let love invade you. It will never fail to teach you what you must do. Charity, which is God in us, will point to the way ahead. It will say to you ‘Now kneel,’ or ‘Now leave’ . . . . Don’t interrogate heaven repeatedly and uselessly saying, ‘What course of action should I pursue?’ Concentrate on loving instead. And by loving you will find out what is for you. Loving, you will listen to the Voice.”  Love is a Person, not just a lifestyle. Like so many others before him, Caretto puts great confidence in God’s willingness to intervene in history and speak guiding words to us. He infers that we can reach a state of spiritual maturity where, at any given moment, we could be directed by God to know exactly what to do. However, this does not happen by fretful worrying about God’s will, but by simply giving ourselves to love which, it turns out, is God himself (1 John 4:7,8).

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Primal Yearning and Prayer (Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT)

Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT–Copyright © 2008 Andrew T. Hawkins

Sometimes we think we must obliterate all other desires and somehow progress to a state of wanting nothing but God. However, things do not normally work that way. We cannot just cut the principle of desire out of our lives nor instantly do away with the lusts we seek to overcome. Walter Hilton states that, “Prayer is nothing else but an ascending or getting up of the desire of the heart into God by withdrawing it from earthly thoughts.” To get the longings of our heart “up into” God, we must start where we are. We do that by allowing ourselves to feel our inner life and bring whatever desires we find into the light. If the desire for companionship overwhelms us, we acknowledge that to God. If we are dominated by a longing to climb the corporate ladder or get the lead part in the play, we present this to God. If the overeating/dieting cycle ensnares us, we try to feel the force of this obsession, conscious that we are in his presence. As in deep massage where the masseuse gets below the surface muscles to those supporting them underneath, so in the stillness of prayer we seek to get below the desire for status, pleasure, or goods to our root need for God. As Goethe says, all human longing is really longing for God.

When we understand God does not want to condemn us nor annihilate our deepest passion, but rather fulfill it, we have courage to lay ourselves open honestly. In addition to sharing our wholesome wants with him, we may freely open the secret places where deep, hidden things lie—raw cravings, inappropriate sexual desires, fantasies of greatness, lust for money and power. We let all our hopes, needs, or lusts rise from our depths like water pumped up from a deep well. They originate ultimately in God though some may be so distorted we can hardly recognize their connection to him. Revenge, for example, though clearly not of God, is a misguided desire for justice. Longing for the world’s praise is quintessentially the God-given desire for glory. Wanting to simply feel good, the basis of so many sinful activities, is the desire for joy which God longs to fulfill in a healthy way. Vanity may be a warped desire for beauty, and greed, a twisted longing for security. Bringing our desires into prayer means bringing in this primordial force, whatever disfigured shape it has taken.

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Confession–Relief from Deafening Pain (Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT)

Excerpt from WHISPERS THAT DELIGHT–Copyright © 2008 Andrew T. Hawkins

After lifting our minds in praise to our Heavenly Father, self-examination and confession flow rather naturally. Having glanced toward his beauty and grace, our thoughts inevitably drift back to how unfortunately different we are. Two frightening consequences of the Fall make this attention shift unavoidable, namely, guilt and shame. Their painful weight upon our heart demands our attention, making it impossible to tune into God. Nothing does more to deafen us to his voice than these two debilitating emotions and the anxiety they generate. Confession freshens the inner life by dispelling these dark clouds and preparing us to hear our Lord once again. . . .

Confession opens the inner life the way the surgeon’s knife opens the body. However, just being cut open heals no one. When the doctor finishes his repair work and closes the incision, the body’s natural healing processes take over and recovery occurs. Similarly, although a necessary first step, merely examining ourselves to see what we have done wrong brings no relief. Down through church history Christians have not been helped by incessantly hashing and rehashing the past, but by taking their burdens to the Lord and leaving them there, as the old song says. When Brother Lawrence did something to let God down, he simply said to him, “I shall never do otherwise if You leave me to myself; it is You who must hinder my falling and mend what is amiss.” After this he gave himself no further uneasiness about it—and went back to placing his mind on God.
In summary, a time of confession brightens the inner life and prepares us to listen to God by dispelling the oppressive weight of guilt and shame which inevitably attracts our attention and thus prevents us from attending to our Heavenly Father.

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A Lesson When God Spoke Peace to Me

Recently in prayer I imagined that God was saying something like the following:

“Whatever you do, do in peace. In a peaceful state of mind you will have the opportunity to look to God for confirmation that you’re on the right track. A hurried, hectic spirit is distracted by the pressures. It cannot hear. The lions will roar. Inner voices will urge hurry and worry, but ignore them. Yours is the path of peace. “The Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psa. 29:11). In that peace you may be in constant communion.  There you may hear. There you may pray without ceasing.”

The deep peace that I entered into for the next day or two confirmed to me that indeed God was speaking. God will speak peace to his people (Ps. 85:8).

Herein is a lesson. Don’t worry too much about whether the impressions you get as you meditate on the Bible are actually God or not. Realize that we are on a journey where we’re learning. Let’s face it, we don’t hear God very well at all. But that’s all right. He knows that and yet he loves us still. Therefore, feel free to experiment. Feel free to fail. Imagine what God might be saying. Let there be a lightness in your spirit. Be open and receptive. Time often helps us clarify whether an impression, thought or feeling was God speaking to us or not.

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Does Our Worldview Allow Us to Hear from Beyond?

Our basic understanding of reality (worldview) either opens the door to communication with God or slams it tightly shut.

In the first instance, we must obviously believe that God exists if we are to connect with him. Fortunately, this foundation block is in place for the vast majority of people. We simply don’t have enough faith to believe this marvelous universe popped into existence by itself no matter how many years we give it to do so.

Other questions are more pertinent. What kind of a universe was created? Is it merely physical or does it also include the realm of spirit? Are humans spiritual or simply matter with a blob of consciousness? In other words, do we possess the hardware for communication with God?

Even more importantly, what sort of a God do we have? Is God good, worthy of my trust? If I believe he’s indifferent or even evil, I won’t be much interested in what he has to say. I certainly won’t go out of my way to hear him.

Conclusion: If a supreme being exists and has created us with the capacity of spirit and if this supreme being is good, it is eminently logical that we can receive communication from him or her. Not only that, we crave it–because our very essence resonates with this divine frequency from which it was created.