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Monday, August 22, 2016

"Hearing God in Conversation" (Samuel C. Williamson)

TITLE: Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere
AUTHOR: Samuel C. Williamson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2016, (216 pages).

Is God still speaking to us today? What if we don't hear an audible voice? What if we try and try but keep hearing echoes of silence? Is it a problem with God not speaking or is it more a problem of us not hearing? According to author and founding director of "Beliefs of the Heart" ministry, Samuel Williamson, God is always speaking. We just need to learn how to listen, but learn to tune our spiritual ears to hear Him everywhere.  This book shows the way beyond mere rationalism or emotionalism. If God is always speaking, we need to learn as many ways as possible to connect with God. The key point in this book is that "conversation is the point." For if Christianity is indeed a relationship between God and us, we will know the key things that define a relationship. Vivid interaction is preferred to constant direction. Who wants to have a relationship with people always telling what to do? A relationship is a two-way street and not a one-directional highway. It allows us to be comfortably ourselves. It is more about each other rather than the things to be talked about. The amazing thing is that our God communicates with us in multiple ways. In conviction, we have God impressing on our hearts the things we did, whether it is good or not. In insight, we get sudden bursts of inspiration. In revelation, we hear clearly what God wanted to say to us. It can be from books or the Word of God. It can be from our daily devotions. It can also be from an impression that is unmistakably God's.

Throughout the book, Williamson maintains that the key to hearing God is to anticipate His speaking. When reading the Scriptures, even as we dig into the ancient contexts and the many background information of the texts, the Word in Jesus speaks intimately to us. Sometimes, we need the practice of Christian meditation to slow our pace so that our hearts resonate with God's Word. When we pray, we verbalize to God what is in the deepest recesses of our souls. Conversations include brainstorming where we see the world of possibilities to get a good idea of the options open to us. God speaks to us through others; through circumstances; through pointed questions; through our search; through knowledge of God as well as a holy experience with God. When God is a friend to us, we can hang out with God to be comfortable with God in speech or in silence. Even when things do not go according to our plans, God can still speak to us. In periods of silence, God can also communicate through what we see.

The last chapter on "The God who Guides" is an effective summary of the many ways how God communicates with us, plus more. The last five questions he pose is a great way to sense God's guide.
  1. Do you know God's calling?
  2. Do you sense God's purpose for you?
  3. Do you know why you are doing here?
  4. Do you hear his voice in conversation?
  5. Do you see God's presence daily?
Sometimes we hear a direct voice. Other times, we hear from God only when we get rid of the distractions happening around us. Whatever the situation, this book brings the focus to what our faith as a relationship means.

So What?
In the Bible, we hear stories of how Moses heard God's voice in the burning bush; how young Samuel heard God not once but twice while sleeping; and how God spoke so intimately with David. Even the Apostle Paul had encountered the Lord in a dramatic way on the road to Damascus. Sometimes, we may become skeptical and fall into two extremes. We may think that God only speaks to people in the Bible and not in our modern days. If that is so, then only the Bible has the valid explanation of God speaking. Unfortunately, such a view is too restrictive. Does it mean God cannot speak otherwise? The other extreme is to attribute everything to God, leading us to insert God's Name in whatever we say or do. Without adequate discernment, we can fall to either extremes of totally ignoring God or totally misusing God's Name.

By showing us the many ways we can hear God, we can each learn to begin with any or more of the listed ways. Once we get the hang of it, we can cultivate ways unique to ourselves and to hear God in very personal ways. Just like the different ways we communicate with one another, God listens and converses with us in ways unique between God and us. Williamson has given us a really helpful tool to show us the many varied ways that God uses to speak to us. Do not restrict ourselves to just the ways listed in the book. They are there to spur us on to communicate with God in many other ways, beginning with our willingness to listen, and to obey. Sometimes, we fail to hear because we do not have the willingness to obey. When that is the case, perhaps, God is deferring his speaking until a more appropriate time. God is patient. Are we?

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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