Listen

I am back from Singapore and still processing what God did during the trip. The two weeks in Asia were a mountain top experience for me. God increased my understanding of how he is at work in my life personally and in the body of Christ worldwide. God refreshed and renewed my relationship with him through a clearer understanding of the love of the Father. I made many connections with godly men and women. It was hard to leave. Now, I struggle to communicate what God did there, and what God is doing in my life and ministry now.

To put this in context, it is helpful to remember the process God has taken me through over the past few years. If you follow my writing online, you’ve read about the times of waiting and testing God has taken me through over the last five years. It was some of the most difficult yet rewarding seasons in my life. It appears those seasons are behind me. Now it seems God is doing a new work in my life and ministry. I suspect my future ministry will not look anything like the ministry I’ve done in the past. I am reordering my life to follow where he leads. I may close down my home rental business. I may sell my home. I may sell the boat. Everything is on the table. I don’t know how God may lead. I want to free my schedule so God can use me anywhere and anytime he may direct.

For those of you who are not aware of the Singapore trip, here is the backstory. In July, I spoke at a conference in New Hampshire. While there, I met Barry Chua from Singapore. We spoke at length about what God was doing in Singapore and across Asia. I was intrigued. Much of what he shared was similar to what God has lead me to do, especially in the area of our prayer gatherings. After I returned home, we stayed in contact. As a result, in August, I flew to Singapore for a two-week visit, including attending a conference there. It was one of the few times in my life I’ve traveled to a place without a clear understanding of why I was going. I just felt I was supposed to go. It was a pivotal decision for my life and ministry.

When I arrived in Singapore, my goal was to listen. I wasn’t there to teach or share. I was there to learn what God wanted me to learn. Countless times, the Holy Spirit spoke through others to me. Every conversation was an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak. When I met total strangers in the hall between sessions at the conference, I intently listened in case God was speaking through them. Prayer gatherings with brothers and sisters in Christ became megaphones for the Holy Spirit to shout truth into my life. Conversations late into the night with new friends from Cambodia and Thailand further stirred the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Over and over again, I marveled at the moving of the Spirit. It felt like there was barely a gauze between heaven and earth.

Most of the conversations were about God and what he was doing in our lives. Several times God orchestrated conversations to speak to me about questions I had in my life and ministry. One of the key questions I had was in regards to my area of focus. For many years, my passion for the Church in North America has dominated my focus. Recently God opened a door in Bolivia to share the prayer gathering and house church models there. I’m going there at the end of this month. During my time in Singapore, I received invitations to minister in Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. This is far outside of my normal area of focus. What do I do? I had a conversation with one of the leaders there and shared my heart and questions with him. He shared from his own experience and encouraged me to see God doing a new thing in my life and ministry. I came away from the conversation encouraged in my relationship with God and committed to following the Holy Spirit wherever he may lead. My heart and passion are still for North America, but I’m committed to saying, “Yes,” to God without needing to know why he is leading where he leads. My sole concern is to hear him speak. I’m learning to listen.

Not only did the Holy Spirit speak to me, but there were also times I witnessed the Holy Spirit speaking through me.

For as long as I can remember, in my relationship with God, I’ve heard God speaking to my spirit simple truths, words of comfort, and sometimes words of conviction or warning. Sometimes it happens while I’m reading Scripture. Sometimes it happens when I am praying. Sometimes it happens in the most mundane moments like driving down the road, taking a walk, or even when I’m dreaming. I’ve shared many of these moments with you through my writing, speaking, and even in the lyrics of songs I’ve written. Sometimes these moments are for me personally, and I share them only with my closest friends. Sometimes he speaks truths I later share with the Church. Only recently have I learned to listen for times when the Holy Spirit may speak to me something for a specific individual instead of the body at large. In Singapore, I saw this happen several times. In each situation, I did not treat it as if I had a word from the Lord. Instead, I approached it with humility saying, “I feel like the Holy Spirit said this. I may not apply to you, so if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it.” Then I would share with my friend what I felt the Holy Spirit was saying. There were a few specific incidents when this happened, and it was clear the Holy Spirit was, in fact, moving. It was a great encouragement to me to see how the Holy Spirit worked through me for their benefit in their relationship with him. The Holy Spirit used those experiences to encourage me to listen closely to him as I grow in relationship with him.

While there, I stayed in the ACS Oldham Hall boarding house with seven men from Cambodia and two from Thailand. These men were in Singapore for the conference. This was an important aspect of the trip. We spent a great deal of time together, sharing stories of what God has done. I grew to love these guys. Lord willing I will travel to Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka early next year to minister with them in the ministries God has given them. For now, I’m grateful we remain connected with technology.

What I found in Singapore is that it is not necessary to know in advance why God wants me to go somewhere. I need only to listen carefully for the voice of the Father. When he leads, then follow. When I follow this way, I get the privilege of joining God in what He is already doing. Let him orchestrate what he wants to do. The key is to find where God is at work and join him.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing” (John 5:18-20, ESV). Here we understand that even Jesus did not come up with his own agenda for what he wanted to do for God. He looked to see what the Father was doing and then joined him. When God shows us where he is at work, this is his invitation for us to join him in what he is already doing.

When I returned home, I was anxious to share with my friends in our house church how the Holy Spirit moved. We’ve seen God clearly moving in our little gathering. Now we are seeing God moving in similar ways in other countries. We are seeing others praying like we are. We are seeing others reach out for help in planting prayer gatherings in their homes. It feels like we are in the midst of a move of God. I suspect it is because we have learned to listen to him when we pray. It is the heartbeat of our gathering.

My take away in this is to listen better no matter where I am. What if I made a point to listen to God here at home as I did in Singapore? What if we approached every moment as a moment the Holy Spirit might speak to us, or even through us? What if we expected to hear from God today? What if we viewed every conversation as a possible divine appointment? What if we actually expected he would move?

Imagine what could happen if we could learn to listen.

I enjoy reading your comments. Feel free to post your thoughts below.

If you need more information on how to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you or learning how to follow the Father, I highly recommend the Bible Study “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby. You can order it here: blackaby.org/experiencing-god