How To Hear God: A Conversation with John Brown, Pt. 1

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This week I sat down with my father in the faith and asked him about hearing God’s voice for ourselves. As per usual, John was insightful, humble and quotable. I’m honored to share with you, in these series of podcasts, my friend and mentor, John Brown.

This first episode looks at the foundation of our hearing. Is there scriptural precedent for the hearing of faith in contemporary, post-apostolic, times? I appreciate so much what John said in keeping balance with – and providing the safeguard against – the tendency of some to “hear” spurious words and count them as divine.

“The truth is, we cannot know whether or not it is God speaking  – that is, His speaking ‘in the now’ – without the guidance of what has been written in His Word.”

Does God speak today? Can we know Him intimately with such intimate dialogue as saints of old enjoyed? Thank you for listening to this edition of The Pasture’s Podcast: I pray some of your own questions will be answered on the subject!

(Parts 2 and 3 will be posted on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, and you DO NOT want to miss them!)

Music Credit: Máire Brennan, Follow the Word

A Prayer For Chill People

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So love this “Prayer For Grace When Things Are Going Well” by Scotty Ward Smith. It’s posted over on the TGC blog but I thought it was too good to make you find it on your own.

So, to my ‘chill’ readers on this wet Friday (where I am anyway), here ya go. Enjoy!




 

Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Prov. 30:7-9 (NIV)

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Dear heavenly Father, this portion of your Word carries a warning that’s both well founded and timely. Of late, things, for the most part, have been going really well. I’ve been in a steady stretch of encouragement, joy, and hope. It’s not that I’m doing anything differently, or that I’ve deserved a break; it just seems like I’ve been enjoying a little more of the “already” than the “not yet” of our life in Christ. And I hasten to say, thank you, Lord! It’s been great.

But this “stretch” of oasis-like ease has underscored the sanity of a prayer like this one offered by Agur: “Lord, don’t give me riches, lest I have too much, disown you, or live as though I don’t need you.” Father, that prayer can only be prayed by somebody really secure in your love—somebody that’s probably learned the hard way about the destructively-seductive, soul-desensitizing, heart-deceiving power of money and stuff.

Father, by your providence, I happen to live in a culture and community of abundance—one in which you can easily become a spiritual add-on—an important add-on, but not as essential or vital as to your most of your children in the world who don’t just say the Lord’s Prayer; they actually pray for daily bread.

So by your Holy Spirit, please keep me humble, stunned with gratitude, and increasing in generosity. May the gospel continue to change and re-set the price tags in my life, Father. Grant me quick repentances from every expression of entitlement and presumption, spoiled-ness or an unhealthy dependence on creature comforts. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ exalted and treasure-worthy name.

 

The ‘300’…and 18

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This is some overflow material I couldn’t fit into my last podcast but too good to leave off. 

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I’m around a bunch of twenty-something guys who love their high-octane, testosterone-soaked, full-bore, action-packed movies. I get it. I like ‘em too, though explosions, car chases and violence are losing their appeal on me the older I get. 

Guys love movies where the odds are stacked against the hero. Dude walks into an alley of toughs and goes all Jet Li on them and the only one left standing is the hero. Die Hard is the quintessential film in this genre and absolutely required viewing for every young man. Yippy-ki-yay! (and I’ll stop right there) 

That’s why ‘300‘ gets high marks. Yeah, the gallons of blood splashed at the camera lens, the severed limbs and morbid creatures; the 12-pack abs and handsome warriors with Scottish accents…sure. But the real heart-pumping appeal is the heroism of ‘300’ – the finest of Sparta – who face-off with Xerxes’ vast armies (200,000) at Thermopylae – and give them a jolly good row and a good run for their money. Spoiler alert: Before being slaughtered, that is.

The opening book of the canon – Genesis, to the uninitiated – has its own ‘300′ story…Long about chapter 14 – only two chapters in from first meeting our hero – we find several kings from Mesopotamia amassing their armies against the cosmopolitan city of Sodom. Sodom’s King Bera (‘son of evil’) conscripts the aid of four buddy-kings along with their armies and a magnificent battle ensues.

The casualties of war include Lot, the surly nephew of Abram, which, it turneth out, was a no-no. Seems one of the POW’s escapes and finds Abram sitting by the Oaks of Mamre and proceeds to breathlessly give the old guy the blow-by-blow and tattle on Chedorlaomer et al.

Abram springs to action. Being a rich landowner by now with a generous supply of servants, he militarizes his staff and servants, arms them, then they – 318 strong – ride like a holy hellfire posse for 120 miles to meet and engage the opposing army.

Three hundred.

And eighteen.

I’m fairly certain they were more clothed than the dudes from Sparta, but their mission was no less heroic. Abram and his retinue may not hae faced a quarter of a million but they most certainly put a whooping on thousands.

Rest of the story: the team from Mamre recovered Lot, all the spoils taken and the rest of the prisoners of war and returned them safely to King Bera. Cool.

All this got me thinking about that number.

300.

And 18.

As I’ve come to believe nothing is arbitrary my interest in that exact number was piqued to say the least. I discovered (as I thought I might) something beautifully redemptive in those precise digits.

Heres what I found: and I’ll take great care to avoid being so technical as to foment narcolepsy: 

The ancient theologians – a number of the church fathers – also saw something of the Old Testament τύπος in the number, and this is how they broke it down:

300 = the numeric value ascribed to the letter ‘Tau’ in the Greek alphabet (400 in Hebrew alphabet); it is signed as a capital ‘T’ and representative of the Cross.

10 and 8 correlate with 1st two letters of Ιησους (Jesus), Iota and Eta respectively, in Jesus’ Greek name – which are the shortened version of

YAH.

Thus, broken down – or Gospeled-up – that seemingly incidental number we find in Genesis 14:14 shows us the BIGGER PICTURE of

Jesus Christ rescuing captured humanity on the cross!!!

Your mind adequately blown?

Yeah, mine too.

Now, about those 153 fish Jesus cooked for breakfast…