knowing God intimately: an interview with Kris Camealy

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”KNOWING GOD INTIMATELY: AN INTERVIEW WITH KRIS CAMEALY (AND A GIVEAWAY!)” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:40|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”70″ background_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#002360″]S[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1512082667485{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]he doesn’t mess around, in the best way. As a sequin-wearing, homeschooling mother of four–a woman who adores Jesus, people, and words–Kris Camealy loves to go deep. In relationships. In the pursuit of Christ. In leading women to be raw and vulnerable and open to God changing their hearts. She’s beautiful in her authenticity, her willingness to surrender and trust God in making us brand new.

I have known Kris for years through our writing circles, admiring her gifts of communication, hospitality, and community building in the pursuit of deeper relationship with Christ. I was delighted when Kris was willing to join us here for our Voices series, where we talk about worship, imagination, and listening for God.

After the interview, just in time for Advent, join in the conversation with Kris to win a copy of Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, Kris’s beautiful Advent devotional.

Here is my interview with Kris:

  • Kris, what are some of your very favorite things to do with God? How do you fit these things into your week, your day?

I love to spend time with God. By this I mean, simply sitting in His presence during prayer, reading His Word, and practicing being fully present—which is rarely an easy thing. Time with God is critical for me. I make time for this usually early in the morning, or sometimes in the afternoons, depending on my schedule. More than anything, I try to simply be conscious of God’s presence in my whole day.

  • What personal cherished experience—or story you know—reminds you of God’s ability to surprise us, uniquely, with his love? Or, what personal experience helps you remember the truth of who God is?

God has generously surprised me numerous times so far in my life. One time that comes to mind is when I hosted the first Refine retreat. The whole idea sprung out of a conversation I was having with God, and though I had never done anything like that before, God generously and graciously met me in every detail of planning and executing the event. As every detail came together in a series of small miracles, I felt God’s overwhelming love for me. Every prayer He answered felt like an “I love you” from Him. Walking through that with God reminded me of who He is. It seemed as if God took every opportunity to demonstrate for me, His faithfulness, His generosity, His mercy and patience, His grace and kindness—in a season of stepping out in what felt like wild obedience, God held me steady. He is my rock.

  • What is a specific obstacle that often distracts you from getting into—or staying in—God’s presence? And what is your favorite way to pull yourself back?

The biggest obstacles that distract me from remaining in God’s presence are social media and an ever-creeping feeling of overwhelm. Nothing sideswipes me like these two things. I have to constantly on guard. Fasting is my favorite way to refocus my heart. I have been deeply impacted numerous times by fasting and focused prayer, and this always brings me back to a place of longing for more of God and less of everything else.

  • How would you define God’s “voice”? How do you most readily experience his communicating to you?

The best way I can describe what hearing God’s voice looks like for me is that I get a feeling in my spirit. It’s like an invisible nudge towards or away from something. Reading the Bible is key to hearing God’s voice. When I read His Word, and pray, I “hear” His whispers in my heart. It’s not an easy thing to articulate, but through His Word and through the confirming words of others, God speaks to me.

  • How do you discern God’s voice over all the other noise in your life? What are some practical ways to figure out if it is His voice you are hearing—or something else?

I think I am continually learning to discern God’s voice. Some seasons, it is easier than others. One of the most typical ways I discern is through confirmation. If I am praying about something, and I think I hear God speak on it, often times He seems to confirm His words to me through the voice of a trusted friend. They might speak directly to my situation, or share a relevant scripture that points me right back to what I “heard” God saying. I believe that discernment comes through prayer, and through spending enough time with God that you know Him intimately. This is a continual place of learning and growth for me.

  • What role does imagination play—if any—in having a conversation with God? Describe your state of mind—or your heart—when listening for God’s voice.

I think imagination is a wonderful asset to prayer. When I pray, I often get visual images in my mind. I’m a dreamer, and so prayer for me so often involves visual metaphors. When I pray, and when I listen, I pay attention to what images come to mind, and pray about them as they do. I ask God to help me understand. Using my imagination in prayer helps me to feel connected to God who sometimes feels too abstract to grasp. If I imagine myself closer, in His physical presence, sometimes, it helps.

  • What are words or images that most resonate with you and represent for you life or hope or joy?

I like hard words. I tend to gravitate towards biblical language like sacrifice, surrender, refine, altar, obedience, submission, mercy or ebeneezer. These words don’t resonate much in our current culture, and for some, they may not seem very hopeful or joyful, but I love them because they are where hope and joy begins. Life comes through surrender, sacrifice and obedience. When I place things on altars, or erect an ebeneezer of remembrance, I find joy and hope in the refining process of God’s love. Of course, with these words, specific corresponding images come to mind as well—a metalsmith refining silver, a table for an offering, I see bowed heads and bent knees, hands raised and palms open. These are hopeful images for me, signs of glory unfolding through the work of discipleship.

  • What are some favorite resources—music, books, media—that you treasure and can’t help recommending to friends?

Oh man. I love to listen to podcasts—Mike Cosper’s Cultivated
Podcast, Emily Freeman’s Next Right Thing Podcast, The Rabbit Room Podcast, Ann Kroeker’s Writing Coach Podcast…Right now, I’m also listening to a lot of Audrey Assad, Josh Garrels, Lauren Daigle, and Death Cab For Cutie.

As far as books go, I love pretty much everything Eugene Peterson has written. And anything by Brennan Manning and Bonhoeffer’s Cost Of Discipleship are worthwhile reads. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow, as well as The Spirit of Food, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields. And my brand new favorite book is Every Moment Holy, by Doug McKelvey. It’s a book of liturgies for everyday and it is deeply beautiful. Every home should have a copy of this book on the kitchen table where you can read it daily.

Thank you so much, Kris!

Friends, be sure to follow Kris on her blog or on Instagram. And check out how to  WIN her gorgeous book for Advent, Come, Lord Jesus. (See below!)[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1512071604272{background-color: #f9f9f9 !important;}”][vc_column_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”Win A copy of Come, Lord Jesus” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1512452818455{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Want to win a free copy of Kris’s beautiful book for Advent: Come, Lord Jesus? Leave a comment below, sharing what encouraged you most about Kris’s words today. Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for this book. I will email the winner–and announce the winner here, on this post–on Monday, Dec. 4.

So, tell us . . . what inspired you, what made you think, what did you appreciate about Kris’s interview? Or, what was one of your favorite things that she said?

And if you share this post with a friend, on social media, let me know! It will give you an extra entry in the giveaway!

  • Read other Voices interviews here.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Eva-Marie! You won the Giveaway! I know you are going to love Kris’s book. Thank you to everyone for entering! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”5628″ img_size=”500 x 700″ alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1512069713777{padding-left: 85px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”5625″ img_size=”450 x 450″ alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1512069877155{margin-top: -400px !important;margin-left: -200px !important;padding-left: 60px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”5590″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5627″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5637″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5644″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5641″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5648″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://smile.amazon.com/Come-Lord-Jesus-Weight-Waiting/dp/1536951285/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512070914&sr=8-1&keywords=come+lord+jesus”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1485823148009{margin-right: 50px !important;margin-left: 50px !important;}”][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

tuning into God, an interview with Kristen Kludt

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”TUNING INTO GOD: AN INTERVIEW WITH KRISTEN KLUDT (AND A GIVEAWAY!)” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:35|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”100″ background_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#ededaa”]S[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1507698977649{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]he texts me before her trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains, a grove of beauty and respite where she’ll lead women in hearing the voice of God.

I am going right through your town on Friday! Do you have time for coffee?

I adore her heart, her quiet boldness in leaning with Holy Spirit, the exquisite vulnerability and strength she offers when she paints and teaches and writes.

Yes! Absolutely! I can’t wait!

It is the first time we meet in person, after reading each other’s books and texting and chatting on the phone. And ever since, I’ve wanted you to meet her too.

For our Voices series, where we share our thoughts on worship, imagination, and listening for God, here is my interview with author of A Good Way Through: My Journey with God from Disappointment into Hope, Kristen Kludt.

At the end of the interview, join in the conversation by leaving a blog comment for Kristen, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her beautiful new book, A Good Way Through.

Here is my interview with Kristen:

  • Kristen, what are some of your very favorite things to do with God? How do you fit these things into your week, your day?

My favorite thing to do with God daily is to sit on my front porch with a book, my Bible, my journal, some art supplies and a cup of tea. The ritual of drinking tea calms me and grounds me—it gives me something warm to hold in my hands as I center myself. I read a few verses and a page or two from a book. Then, I respond in some way through art. Usually I’ll write out a word or phrase from something I’ve read, then use markers or watercolors to doodle around it as a kind of meditative prayer.

The only way I can fit this into my day is by committing to spend the first 15 minutes of my sons’ afternoon nap/rest time with God. (I am a full-time stay-at-home parent.) While my one year old sleeps and my four year old plays quietly in his room, I do this first—in spite of waiting emails and dirty dishes. Otherwise I miss the chance.

About once a week, I write a letter to one of a couple of friends who live far away. I find that doing so helps me to reflect more deeply on the ways God is moving in my life. It’s become a deeply spiritual practice.

And there are the margins of my day. How can I turn my heart toward God in the in-between moments? I have a few verses that I pray throughout the day at different times. They began as a discipline and have become a habit, especially when I wake in the middle of the night.

  • What obstacles distract you from getting into God’s presence—and what is your favorite way to pull yourself back?

Technology definitely distracts me. It’s easy for me to pull out my phone and scroll through social media posts in the margin moments of my days. I do it without thinking. So, I’ve set some boundaries on my phone. I keep it in the kitchen, not in my pocket. I take one day off of social media and email every week. I put away my phone by 9pm.

  • How would you define God’s “voice”? Do you think it is possible for everyone to hear Him?

I do think it’s possible for everyone to hear God. I suspect that God’s “voice” sounds a little bit different to everyone. God speaks to me most often in the language of metaphor—a perfect language for a poet like me. Sometimes when I pray an image comes to my mind, and oftentimes its meaning will grow and shift over the course of weeks as I meditate on it.

I think God also speaks in convergence. Sometimes I’ll hear a similar message in multiple places: a conversation with a friend, a blog post somewhere, a verse I read, a song I hear. When I notice a repeated theme, I pay attention.

  • How do you discern God’s voice over all the other noise in your life? What are some practical ways to figure out if it is His voice you are hearing—or something else?

One important piece is to regularly turn down the noise. I hear God best when I regularly take time in silence to tune my ears to the frequency at which God speaks. Interestingly, I don’t always hear God in this time of silence—sometimes it’s later in my day, in the middle of a task or a conversation, but I would have missed it if I hadn’t already turned my attention toward God.

It’s also important to take what you hear and hold it to the truths you know about God. If what you hear is unkind, unloving, or cruel (as my own self-talk too often is), it probably isn’t God talking. If what you hear is kind, loving, and full of grace, and if it aligns with what you know to be true about God from scripture, chances are it’s God’s voice. And perhaps it doesn’t always matter if good, true, loving words are “really from God” as opposed to out of my own mind—telling the voice of the Spirit from the mind of the Spirit-filled Jesus-follower is, perhaps, an unnecessary distinction. God can be subtle and speaks in many ways.

  • What role does imagination play—if any—in having a conversation with God? Describe your state of mind—or your heart—when listening for God’s voice.

My imagination certainly plays a role in listening. I try to still my heart and mind, and sometimes it’s hard to do so. One of the best ways I’ve found is to imagine myself in a place with God: sitting in a meadow or by a stream. Imagining the details of such a place—the kind of place I naturally feel God’s presence—helps the distracting thoughts fall aside. I think my own imagination and God’s voice begin to intermingle in a lovely sort of communion.

What are some favorite resources—music, books, media—that you treasure and can’t help recommending to friends?

Right now The Listening Day by Paul J. Pastor is my front porch companion and Burn This As a Light, an album by Tom Wuest, is my soundtrack—simple melodies and words that riff on a Bible verse or two. Other favorites are The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner and Night Visions (an Advent devotional) by Jan Richardson. Poems by Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Rainer Maria Rilke all also shape my own writing and reflection.

Thank you so much, Kristen.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator style=”dotted”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1507693430140{margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-top: 7px !important;padding-bottom: 7px !important;background-color: #f2f2f2 !important;}”]Kristen Leigh Kludt is a contemplative Christian writer and spiritual guide. Her first book, A Good Way Through: My Journey with God from Disappointment into Hope, released in February. Mother to two boys, she lives, works, and plays in San Francisco’s East Bay, where her husband is a pastor. She is growing daily toward a life of integrity and love and invites others to do likewise. Read more or say hello at KristenLeighKludt.com[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1508214087485{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-top-width: 5px !important;border-right-width: 5px !important;border-bottom-width: 5px !important;border-left-width: 5px !important;padding-top: 5px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 5px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;border-left-color: #1288a0 !important;border-left-style: solid !important;border-right-color: #1288a0 !important;border-right-style: solid !important;border-top-color: #1288a0 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;border-bottom-color: #1288a0 !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;border-radius: 2px !important;}”]

WIN A COPY OF A GOOD WAY THROUGH!

Enter to win a copy of Kristen’s beautiful book, A Good Way Through. To enter, simply leave a blog comment, sharing one thing Kristen said that resonated with you or influenced how you think about worshipping God. The winner (by random drawing) will be notified on Monday, October 16,

  • Unfortunately, due to shipping cost restrictions, the contest is open to only U.S. residents.

UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS TO MARIAN HINDALL FOR WINNING THE GIVEAWAY! THANK YOU SO MUCH, EVERYONE, FOR ENTERING!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”5477″ img_size=”500 x 700″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5459″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1507595808826{margin-top: -400px !important;margin-left: -200px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”5474″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5475″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5486″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5472″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5494″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”5496″ img_size=”600 x 900″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1507596868379{margin-right: 50px !important;margin-left: 50px !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

the beauty of more to be: an interview with Elisa Pulliam

[vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”THE BEAUTY OF MORE TO BE: AN INTERVIEW WITH ELISA PULLIAM” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:40|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][mk_dropcaps style=”fancy-style” size=”100″]S[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1505540296562{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]he’s the wise, indefatigable friend you wished lived right next door. The friend who loves God. The friend who mentors and creates and serves. The friend whose favorite thing to do is work alongside Jesus. The friend who does all she can to equip you to be the person God made you to be.

As a life coach, speaker, teacher, and author, Elisa Pulliam works to equip women, and the generation to come, to live lives of authenticity and courage. Through writing and speaking, Elisa communicates the message of Christ in 2 Corinthians–wanting women and girls to know the beauty and brightness of a life fully surrendered and awake to God.

Since meeting Elisa years ago–sharing with one another the vulnerable stories that have made us who we are–I have wanted you to hear her voice–particularly her thoughts about imagination, faith, and listening to the voice of God.

Here is my interview with Elisa Pulliam:

  • Elisa, what are some of your very favorite things to do with God? How do you fit these things into your week, your day?

Hands down, my most favorite thing to do with God is to spend time in His Word. In the last few months, He’s grown my appetite for Scripture in such a way that I want to read the Word, un-rushed and without commentary or a Bible study. I’m in awe at how the Lord speaks to our hearts and gives us fresh understanding of familiar Scripture, simply through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fitting in this time is something I count as a privilege in this season and stage of life. As soon as the kiddos leave for school, I head straight for my time with the Lord before I start my work day. It’s a luxury to work from home! On the days I don’t have client appointments right away, I can linger long and spend extra time in prayer, journaling my longings and listening to the Lord, too.

  • What obstacles distract you from getting into God’s presence—and what is your favorite way to pull yourself back?

The greatest obstacle is my desire to meet everyone’s needs and “getting everything done.” I’ll break my own boundaries, allowing appointments and deadlines to crowd out the un-rushed time with the Lord that I know I need. If my mission is to live from the overflow of God in my marriage, motherhood, and missional work, then I need to make time for the necessary “in-flow” from God. When I realize I’m caught in a cycle of over-commitment with no margin space, I look ahead at the calendar and block off time to reconnect with God and re-assess my boundaries.

  • How would you define God’s “voice”? Do you think it is possible for everyone to hear Him?

I do believe we can all hear from God, if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and have received the Holy Spirit as promised in the Word. But I also think that hearing from God requires being in the Word consistently, under Godly teaching, and in biblically accountable relationships. And I believe we have to guard ourselves from the noise of the world, which will drown out the voice of God.

  • What role does imagination play—if any—in having a conversation with God? Describe your state of mind—or your heart—when listening for God’s voice.

I am a super creative and visually-bent kind of gal, so my time with the Lord, and hearing Him throughout the day, tends to come in waves of metaphors and imagery. I see His lessons in the ordinary moments that take on some dual meaning and spiritual lesson.

  • What are some favorite resources—music, books, media—that you treasure and can’t help recommending to friends?

My favorite two resources are quite dated, but timeless. Henry Blackaby wrote the Bible study, Experiencing God, which radically shaped how I see my purpose in joining God in His work daily. Anne Ortlund wrote Disciplines of A Beautiful Woman, which influenced my understanding of intentional discipleship and forged my concept of Biblical mentoring. That book also inspired a desire to create a plan for today’s woman to be as intentional and purposefully as Anne, which culminated in my book, Meet the New You: A 21-Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change.

Elisa, thank you.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1505509537415{background-color: #a7dde2 !important;}”][vc_column_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”WIN A COPY OF MEET THE NEW YOU!” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:30|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1505510347177{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Want to win a free copy of Elisa’s book: Meet the New You? Leave a comment below, sharing what encouraged you most about Elisa’s words today. Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for this book. I will email the winner–and announce the winner here, on this post–on Wednesday, September 20.

So, go ahead, tell us in the comments . . . what resonated with you when you read Elisa’s interview with us here? [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1505926668773{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

UPDATE: Sally, in a random drawing, won a copy of Meet the New You! Thank you so much, everyone, for entering!

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the listening day, an interview with Paul Pastor on hearing God’s voice, plus a giveaway

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row column_padding=”3″][vc_column width=”1/3″][mk_fancy_title size=”20″ font_family=”none”]THE LISTENING DAY, AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL PASTOR- PLUS A GIVEAWAY![/mk_fancy_title][mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]

“You do not know the value of my words until you have known true hunger for them” (from The Listening Day, by Paul Pastor).

[/mk_blockquote][mk_dropcaps]T[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text]The book looks worn already. And I’ve had it just a few weeks. Pages dog-eared and stuck with post-its. Sentences penciled under, words I want to keep close and not forget.

Paul Pastor is an editor and a writer. He is an artist, and a listener. His first book, The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit, reawakens me to the role of the Holy Spirit in my life. And his latest book, The Listening Way: Meditations on the Way, Vol 1, published in April, inspires me to lean in close to God. Come on in. Listen. Come on in.

What can be better than that?

I love how Paul Pastor listens for God’s voice as he edits and writes (fun fact: Paul was my most-amazing editor for Breathing Eden). He is thoughtful and kind, witty and wise. He is a person you want to hang out with and ask the good stuff. And I wanted you to meet him.

I wanted to ask him how he hears God–how he listens for him, how he spends time with Him, how he hears His voice. And I also wanted to give you a chance to win a copy of his newest book, which I know you’ll love.

So, go and grab yourself something delicious to drink. . . . and then come back to read my interview with Paul. After the post, I’ll give you all the details about how to enter the giveaway to win your own copy of The Listening Day! (Paul is being super generous and giving away five copies!)

Here we go:

  • Paul, what are some of your very favorite things to do with God? How do you fit these things into your week, your day?

What a great question. I work to “practice the presence” of God in the middle of my daily life and routine. This means being aware that God is always present with me, and that he invites me to be present with him, here and now. While I love to set time aside specifically for prayer or other connection, I honestly find that my richest times with God are usually the ones where my hands are busy—washing dishes, weeding our rambling garden, driving, chopping firewood—but my mind and heart are at rest.

I’m slowly getting better about this kind of awareness. Living in God’s presence in all of life gets more natural the more I do it, but I can’t say it’s easy for me yet. It’s not.

  • What obstacles distract you from getting into God’s presence–and what is your favorite way to pull yourself back?

There are two categories of obstacles for me: external and internal. The external ones are what we typically think of as distractions: the buzzing phone, details about work or money, stress, frustrating events, and so on. Those are the things that can pull my “eye” away from God because something right up in my face is demanding my attention.

But the internal distractions are much more subtle, and harder to fight. They are distractions that I often don’t recognize as distractions—things like personal insecurity, fears about the worth or value of my work or ministry, pride, patterns of sin or unhealthy thinking, routine exhaustion, and so on. Those are what threaten to pull my “heart” away from God. Those are the deep distractors.

 How do I pull myself back? I don’t, mostly. He does. Practicing his presence means that he joins me in those places, or perhaps I join him, or perhaps a bit of both. Every so often I snap out of whatever cycle of distraction I’m in to recognize that I am missing an opportunity to be fully with him. But that “snapping out” is usually his work, I just catch up with him eventually, and say “ok.”

I am learning though, that I am much more likely to “snap out” when I am living a life that is trying to bring together my body, mind, and soul into the same time, place, and project. When I live as a unified person, a unified Christian.

 Man, we get so scattered and distracted. We dilute our attention, often on purpose. It keeps us from being people of intention, focus, power, and originality. It saps us. Unifying ourselves under Jesus’s blood and the Father’s will is life-changing.

  • How would you define God’s “voice”? Do you think it is possible for everyone to hear Him?

God’s voice is the personal communication of his Spirit to his people. It’s mostly (but not always) a metaphor.

We “hear” his Spirit in four main ways: through the holy writings in the Bible, through the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, through nature (what one old theologian called God’s “eternal law” expressed in the created world), and through the words and actions of other people. Those avenues all complement one another and work together to be avenues for God to speak—really personally speak—to us.

 Anyone can hear the voice of God, and I think everyone does, at some point, though most of us are “educated” and trained to ignore it, and have to re-learn what it sounds like.

To simply live in the world the Creator has made is to hear and understand so much of his heart and mind. Each one of us is made in his image—so the voice of God, in one sense, speaks in the native tongue of our souls. But we have forgotten it, and have forgotten that we have forgotten it.

God loves each of his children, has blessed and redeemed us in his son Jesus, and speaks to us constantly. What is hard for us is discerning that we have heard his voice, and then (harder yet) believing and acting upon what we have heard. Often his voice is simpler and more surprising than we would expect. Just read the stories of the Bible—God’s people are usually expecting him to speak in more obvious ways, to say more obvious things, and do all the work of faith for them. But he calls them to trust, relationship, justice, and belief. 

Since God’s goal is to grow us in wisdom, love, and maturity in Jesus, he puts the ball in our court, again and again. “I’ve done it all for you,” he seems to say. “Now work out what you are learning. Show me the life of love. Walk like Jesus.”

  • How do you discern God’s voice over all the other noise in your life? What are some practical ways to figure out if it is His voice you are hearing–or something else?

One marker of a mature and growing person in our generation is self-control. Self-control is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit Paul writes about in Galatians. That means God himself is self-controlled, and he wants us to imitate him in it.

At its root, self-control is the ability to say “enough” to oneself. Not easy to learn in a culture of excess and runaway consumption! Living a self-controlled, upright, and godly life with a background of “reality” tv, the slow-drip drug of comparison via social media, and all the appetites of American consumers is … hard.

I’m pondering these words from Paul these days: “I refuse to be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). I want to live that, so I am trying to master the “noise.” There is no law that states our phones need to be always beside us. There is no law that says we need a phone, or any devices that beep. There is no rule that says the Internet gets to determine how you think, feel, sleep, consume, and behave. We need to live as people in charge of ourselves, not simply reacting to the constant stimulus of our culture.

Christian faith says that anything that exercises control over us must be put in its place so that we may give our lives fully to Christ. I try to do that through giving myself permission to be a bit out of touch with things that do not, in the large picture, matter. I find myself happier, more creative, and more productive when I am self-controlled. And much more able to hear God.

 Regarding discerning his voice: anything God says to us will encourage the life of love and the fruit of the Spirit. As well, it will not go against properly-read scripture or God’s moral law. Furthermore—and this is vital—if he speaks to you, he will give you the resources and wisdom to interpret and follow what he said. He might not give you everything all at once, but he won’t leave you more distressed or confused than you were before.

If there is confusion, unhealthy fear, contradiction, or just an “ickiness” about “something ‘God said,’” then I become concerned that the “voice” heard wasn’t God’s, but an unhealthy one to be listening to.

  • What role does imagination play–if any– in having a conversation with God? Describe your state of mind–or your heart–when listening for God’s voice while writing The Listening Day. What was fun? What was a challenge?

Whew! That’s a big question. God clearly works and speaks through art and imagination—just read the story of Bezalel in Exodus for one example. My craft, profession, and creative calling is writing. It creates a space in which I am not only able to process thoughts and emotions, but communicate them theologically, in relationship to the biblical text.

I wrote The Listening Day  committed to and practicing authenticity. I did this for myself first—not the reader. I listened, I prayed, I spent time in the study of scripture and crafting the best words I could find to represent what God is saying to me in and around those texts.

This was deeply enjoyable and satisfying. Also deeply challenging. It is easier to be inauthentic and postured in faith and creativity than it is to be real. Reality doesn’t box with gloves on, and it will take you down. I feel like I spent as much time on my back in the ring, seeing stars, and laughing uproariously through a mouthful of blood as I did actually throwing many artistic punches. (Just read “Unjustification” or “The Bonesetter” in the book for an example.)

When you write that way, you’re not just making stuff up. You’re interpreting it, through the cracked lens of yourself, and it’s rough and raw, and doesn’t promise not to mess you up as a person or an artist. But the drive and call are there, and what else can you do? You write, and pray, and spit a little blood.

But that feeling of fighting lets me know that what I am doing, creatively and spiritually, is starting to be real.

  • What are some favorite resources–music, books, media–that you treasure and can’t help recommending to friends?

Music: I’ll just give one recent-ish release, from fellow Portlander and friend-by-extension Liz Vice: There Will Be a Light. It’s theological, gorgeously written, and sounds like soul straight from the 70s. Love it.

Books: Good grief. Where to start? Breathing Eden is a must. Seriously. As is Justin’s new book, Invention. So good. Older books I enjoy? They are nigh infinite. Let’s just go with The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Oh, and all of Jorge Borges’ nonfiction essays, in Collected Nonfictions. Oh again—and Robert Lax’s later minimalist poetry, like Poems, (1962-1997).

Media:  Plough Quarterly and Image Journal—two outstanding places where faith and art and deep Christian thought get all mixed up into something beautiful. Also, I am a HUGE fan of  The Bible Project—some good friends from Portland doing brilliant, culture-changing work to animate excellent biblical scholarship and help people fall in love with the Bible.

Fast questions:

  • Music that has inspired you lately?

The Lark Ascending” – a pastoral orchestral piece by Vaughn Williams

Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. (That opening vocal…)

Jesus for the Jugular,” by The Veils

  • Favorite place of beauty this day?

The creek below our kitchen garden—rioting buttercups flowing up from the banks.

  • Favorite place to listen for God’s voice?

In my pickup, windows down, driving home along the Columbia River on a spring evening.

  • Favorite way to write or read (a posture, a place . . . )?

My little studio, “the Fawn Chapel,” in back of our house, looking out on the woods.

Favorite  smell?

Fresh hop flowers on a hot day.

  • Favorite word?

“But.”

  • What captures your imagination?

The idea that I have thoughtlessly walked past Jesus countless times, every day of my life, present in every person I have ever met, and that I have hardly ever recognized him.

Thank you, Paul.

            Thank you![/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title size=”20″ font_family=”none” align=”center”]ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FIVE COPIES OF THE LISTENING WAY! ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BELOW. YOU HAVE UNTIL FRIDAY TO ENTER![/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text]a Rafflecopter giveaway
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”4616″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://amzn.to/2rPp16X”][vc_single_image image=”4617″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4620″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4618″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4622″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4621″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4629″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4615″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4628″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4634″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_single_image image=”4639″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Invention: the new book for men that will change everything

[mk_page_section bg_image=”http://jenniferjcamp.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/blue-brick-wall-2.jpg” attachment=”fixed” bg_position=”center bottom” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” enable_3d=”true” full_height=”true” padding_top=”0″ padding_bottom=”0″ sidebar=”sidebar-2″][vc_column blend_mode=”lighten”][/vc_column][mk_fancy_title color=”#ffffff” size=”50″ force_font_size=”true” size_tablet=”30″ size_phone=”22″ line_height=”150″ font_weight=”600″ margin_top=”10″ font_family=”Lora” font_type=”google” align=”center”]We’re designed to be confident in who we are, where we are, and why we are.[/mk_fancy_title][mk_fancy_title color=”#ffffff” size=”20″ line_height=”150″ font_weight=”600″ txt_transform=”uppercase” letter_spacing=”4″ font_family=”Lora” font_type=”google” align=”center”]Justin Camp[/mk_fancy_title][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_padding_divider][mk_dropcaps]J[/mk_dropcaps][vc_column_text]ustin Camp is a guy I want you to meet. I kind of like him. I kind of like listening to what he has to say.

Okay, I am totally biased. This is the guy I married. And I like him. . . a lot. But, I promise, even if we weren’t married, and we didn’t work together, and we didn’t love cheering one another on . .  I would still want to profile him here. And it’s because his new book can be the gift you absolutely need.

Invention is the resource that will change how you live, and how you experience God.

Justin’s new book, Invention: Think Different; Break Free from the Culture Hell-Bent on Holding You Back, is not just your normal “Christian guy” book. Invention is the much-needed guide for men who want the practical, real-life scoop on how to dig deep with God on who they are, how they’re made, what God has for them to do, and why it matters.

It is a book written for men–and you should absolutely grab a copy for every guy you know. But, as a woman who has read each word of this book–and all of its drafts over the years .  . . many times, I have to tell you, it is special. And you just might want to read it, too.

Each chapter begins with a story of an innovator–a regular guy, with not-so-regular dreams, who made choices to do the hard work of paying attention to what he loves to do. That desire, combined with this man’s natural talent and spiritual gifts, resulted in societal changes that have forever impacted the world. And then it’s the reader’s turn.

We are each designed to make that kind of difference–in our lives, and in the lives of others, too. And the book, Invention, shows you why and how.

Early readers have echoed, over and over, these three things about Invention:

  1. Invention allows them to better understand God and how much He loves them.

  2. Invention breathes energy and direction back into their lives.

  3. Invention speaks right to the hearts of men and what men are going through.

An opportunity for true life change? This is too good of an opportunity to miss.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”4496″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right”][vc_single_image image=”4535″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1945449209/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1945449209&linkCode=as2&tag=gatherministr-20&linkId=ece9c8ca80415a5d0dda131c0e4309d4″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_image=”http://jenniferjcamp.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/zach-woolf-201319.jpg” attachment=”fixed” bg_position=”center center” bg_stretch=”true” enable_3d=”true” full_width=”true” sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider size=”400″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”4/6″][mk_fancy_title color=”#000000″ size=”20″ line_height=”150″ font_weight=”600″ txt_transform=”uppercase” letter_spacing=”4″ font_family=”Lora” font_type=”google” align=”center”]Q & A with Justin (from the publisher)[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text]

Q) Invention seems to target a particular type of man. Who is that man? What’s he going through?

A) I think most men, believers or not, fall big-time for the lie that checking life’s boxes—a great job with a great title, a great big house and a great big bank account—will bring purpose and significance, peace and joy. But the truth is, only the Giver of Life can give us those precious things. Only our God and King can bring to our lives that kind of fullness—which we’re all made for, by the way.

Q) The book is full of stories about entrepreneurs and innovators from the great age of invention of the industrial revolution. Why did you decide to feature these in your book?

A) The idea was to use short, relevant “nano-histories” to captivate and engage Christian men—while, at the same time, teaching some really fundamental stuff about God and our identities in Him. I chose these particular men because I found their stories timely, given the current age in which we find ourselves, but also very applicable to the notion of identity. In them we find suffering and success, failure and grit, selfishness and sacrificial love. They’re human, and they are massively fascinating.

Q) Tell me about your story. What got you to where you are now and led to writing this book?

A) Well, I’m a guy who has spent a lot of time in the marketplace. I’ve been out there. I know firsthand what it feels like to push ahead not knowing where to go or what to do, in order to answer these momentous kinds of questions. But God gave me a “Jerry Maguire” moment and began to teach me about His intent for my life—mine specifically. And, I believe His intent involves me writing and being a catalyst for those kinds of moments in the lives of other men.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_image=”http://jenniferjcamp.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/jennifer-justin-on-couch-1920px.jpg” attachment=”fixed” bg_position=”center center” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” enable_3d=”true” full_width=”true” padding_top=”200″ padding_bottom=”20″ sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider size=”800″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section attachment=”fixed” bg_position=”center center” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” enable_3d=”true” full_width=”true” padding_top=”200″ padding_bottom=”200″ sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”4/6″][mk_fancy_title color=”#000000″ size=”20″ line_height=”150″ font_weight=”600″ txt_transform=”uppercase” letter_spacing=”4″ font_family=”Lora” font_type=”google” align=”center”]What folks have been saying about Invention:[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”false”]

“a life changing experience”


“Amazing Book”


“Thank you for this!!”


“Invention has revitalized my heart and mind”


“incredible book”


“blows the roof off of all the lies we’ve been made to swallow”


“Love this book”


“This book will spark many flames”

“an amazing read”

“I can see this book helping a ton of Christian men out there who, like me, seem to have lost their sense of direction”

Invention is, at last, a clear blueprint for men to discover their God-given identity—their spiritual gifts, calling, and much more. New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas called the book “a super, startling, step-by-step guide for Christian men.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][mk_page_section bg_image=”http://jenniferjcamp.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/justin-walking-1920px.jpg” attachment=”fixed” bg_position=”center center” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” enable_3d=”true” full_width=”true” padding_top=”150″ padding_bottom=”150″ sidebar=”sidebar-1″][vc_column][mk_padding_divider size=”400″][/vc_column][/mk_page_section][vc_row][vc_column][mk_padding_divider size=”80″][vc_column_text]

Here’s the big news:

You can find Invention at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, and many other bookstores.

But the publisher, Elevate, has decided to offer the best launch week deal around: 30% Off + Free Shipping. To get this deal, just grab your promo code below, click over to Elevate Publishing (click here), and simply paste the code into the ‘Apply Promo Code’ field when you checkout. But don’t wait.

The code expires on Monday May 22 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

PROMO CODE:  FREESHIP30

 

What do you think? Does this sound like a book to get excited about?

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Looking for God, an Interview with Nancy Ortberg, plus a Giveaway

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Looking for God, an interview with Nancy OrtbergIt was a simple comment, spoken in Fellowship Hall during one of our church’s Mother’s Together mornings—a truth that helped change how I think about God:

You don’t have to journal to have a relationship with God. Jesus didn’t journal, did He?

For most of my life I believed God was someone I could chase down. He was a God whose love I could attempt to buy through reading the Bible, praying, being nice and loving people well. I thought my relationship with God depended on me doing things right.

And that was a problem when I kept failing at being good. That was a problem when the past mess-ups seemed too big, too horrible for Him to truly forgive.

God, how you can you love me, really, like this?

When Nancy said these words, I exhaled. I wanted to believe her. I wanted to believe my relationship with God is founded on accepting His love for me, right now, without me having to do a thing.

If I want to journal and write out my prayers to God everyday, fine. If I want to run a homeless shelter or become a missionary, fine. If I want to raise children and stay home or be a mom and pursue a career, fine. It’s not what I do that counts, it’s with Whom I am doing this life.

Over the years, as I’ve listened to Nancy’s teaching and her writing, I have loved her candor, her vulnerability, her willingness to not hide and be real.

I need women in my life who champion women and men to be unafraid to live lives with courage, despite falling short, knowing they are loved, no matter what.

I’m thrilled to be able to ask Nancy Ortberg―amazing writer, leader, teacher, and speaker a few questions about worship and listening and looking for God. I love Nancy’s book, Looking for God: Slightly Unorthodox, Highly Unconventional, and Entirely Unexpected Thoughts about Faith. This is why I’m excited to be giving away two copies today! . . . See details below. And right now, you can pre-order Nancy’s brand new book coming out in July: Seeing in the Dark: Finding God’s Light in the Most Unexpected Places.  Don’t wait. Get it here.

***

Here is the interview with Nancy:

Jennifer: When you hear the word “worship” what’s the first image that comes to mind? How do you define worship? What are some common misunderstandings you’ve observed about what worship is and what it means to do it?

Nancy: Worship is a ‘whole life response to God.’ So worship is this back and forth rhythm of knowing God and responding to that. The more we know God, the more authentic and meaningful our lives will be as they respond to that knowledge.

You can’t rush that…it happens, over time, as we have experiences all along the continuum, from suffering to joy and everything in between. We live in those experiences, we wrestle and fight with God, we talk to others, we are quiet, we eventually find bedrock and discover that God is there, and that he is, above all, good.

Our response to the ongoing journey in our lives of knowing God’s goodness, is worship. Our response is gratitude, perseverance, joy, patience, love, among others.

And maybe we sing.

Worship is not primarily about singing…

Jennifer: What are some of your very favorite things to do with God? How do you fit these things into your week, your day?

My favorite thing . . . that would be to increase my awareness that God is already present in everything I do. I forget that a lot.

So that when I exercise, I can be overflowing with joy about how good it is to have a body that can move and ‘take in’ the beauty around it.

When I am at work, I can ask God to be with me in an upcoming meeting, or give me insight that I lack, or treat someone well, or find the courage to apologize if I didn’t…

So more than ‘fitting them in’ it is realizing that he is already there and I’m invited in to that.

When I read, whether that is the Bible, a book about God, or a novel that isn’t obviously spiritual…this too becomes a possible moment when a thought or idea can tug me back to God and his truth.

Having great conversations about all of the above with friends who love to have spiritual conversations, is another way to solidify all of this.

Nancy Ortberg on Looking for God

Jennifer: How would you define God’s “voice”? Do you think it is possible for everyone to hear Him? How does hearing God relate to the experience of worshipping Him?

Absolutely. I think it is possible for everyone to hear him. But what that is like is different for everyone. For me it has most often been a quite whisper, a “sense” of direction or presence.

Much like, as a parent, I often have to find different ways of talking to each of my kids, our relationship with God has that one-of-a-kind, unique communication.

The connection to worship, is that this hearing is another part of my whole life response to God.

Jennifer: How do you discern God’s voice over all the other noise in your life? What are some practical ways to figure out if it is His voice you are hearing–or something else?

Nancy: That’s the trick isn’t it? Anytime there are multiple points of noise, you need to take the time to separate the sounds and determine which one to turn up the volume on.

In discerning God’s voice, time and space become paramount. Figuring out ways to put those in to my calendar when I am experiencing competing and loud noises, is important.

Time is the hardest for me…being patient to let the clarity come over time. I often wish God was faster 🙂

We all know, looking in the rear view mirror, that God does some of his deepest work in us when we are waiting.

Jennifer: How does your experience of doing what you’re made to do, with God, relate to worship?

Nancy: DEEPLY. God has wired each of us uniquely, and when any of us find that place and live out of it, we are most alive and full of joy, purpose and meaning.

That God would create us that way, AND that that would create such joy in us…okay, we are now back to learning more and more about the goodness of God.

On Worship and Looking for God, an interview with leader, author, and teacher Nancy Ortberg.

Jennifer: Any favorite resources?

Nancy: My God and Iby Lewis Smedes

My Bright Abyss, by Christian Wiman

A River Runs Through Itby Norman Maclean

Brene Brown’s first TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability

Les Miserablesby Victor Hugo, OR the stage production

Serial podcast

Jennifer: And, just for fun, here are the super-deep questions: What is your favorite music to listen to when you’re happy?

Nancy: Music from the 70’s

Jennifer: When you’re sad?

Nancy: Anything with a cello in it

Jennifer: Favorite smell?

Nancy: Outdoors…sage, orange, eucalyptus colliding.

Jennifer: Favorite sound in your house?

Nancy: My kids or husband walking through the door yelling “I’m here!”

Jennifer: Best compliment you’ve received?

Nancy: “You delight me.”

Jennifer: Favorite word?

Nancy: ADVENTURE

Jennifer: Favorite place you visited in the last year?

Nancy: The Great Wall of China.

Jennifer: The quote (silly or serious) you can’t get out of your head?

Nancy: “I Poke Badgers with Spoons.”

Jennifer: Thank you so much, Nancy. I am so grateful for you and your sharing here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nancy Ortberg

Nancy Ortberg served as a teaching pastor for eight years at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.  During that time she lead Network, a ministry that helps people identify their spiritual gifts and find a place of service in the church, and Axis, a weekly gathering for the eighteen- to twenty-something generation.

She is a founding partner of Teamworx2, a business and leadership consulting firm that provides fast-paced, practical, and compelling sessions to leaders and their teams.  Teamworx2 works with businesses, schools, nonprofits, and churches to address issues of organizational effectiveness and teamwork.

Nancy is a gifted communicator who is passionate about helping people connect what they believe with their everyday lives. She is currently the CEO of Transforming the Bay with Christ, a non-profit organization working to catalyze a holistic gospel movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nancy is the author of Looking for God: Slightly Unorthodox, Highly Unconventional, and Entirely Unexpected Thoughts about Faith  and Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership.

She and her husband, John, live in the Bay Area and have three children: Laura, Mallory, and Johnny.

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Voices // Living Art and Worship: an interview with Dolly Lee

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”4/6″][vc_single_image image=”102″ img_size=”800 x 600″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]I’ve known Dolly Lee for almost nine years, since our kids were in preschool together. Dolly is the friend who sees you, who pursues you, who asks you to go on a walk and then asks you the tough questions that you needed to be asked. And she does this because she loves you, because she knows that pursuing God is worth it, even if it means going into the hard places. She is a writer and a teacher, a Bible study leader and a prayer warrior. I am honored that she is spending time with us here.

I wanted to interview Dolly, as I’m exploring what it means for women to listen for God in their lives. Specifically, I am curious about how the way each one of us hears Him relates to how we worship, how we uniquely experience God’s presence.

What does it mean to live a life of art and worship, with God?

Jennifer: Dolly, when we hear the word “worship” it is so easy to think of church, to think of praise music, to think of being in a sanctuary full of people and being led by a defined worship leader as we sing songs about God. When you hear the word “worship” what’s the first image that comes to mind?

Dolly: First image: kneeling before God. Surrendering all of me to God— my desires, thoughts, dreams, and body because I know God is worthy of my all. I confess I fail to worship God as He deserves most of the time because my old sin nature wants to worship other false idols, which are more visible.

But on those occasions when my will has been fully surrendered (which is a work of God’s grace), I have felt God’s presence, love and power in ways words cannot describe.

Jennifer: How would you define worship?

Dolly: Worship is a huge topic. Here is my short answer: worship is a heart surrendered to God because one sees God’s worthiness, love, grace, mercy, greatness, goodness, majesty and sovereignty.

True worship is a surrendered heart toward God. One can worship God at church, at home, at work…anywhere because God is everywhere and it is a heart attitude. So one can sing songs at church and worship God but one can also sing those same songs without worshipping God depending on one’s heart attitude toward God.

Choosing to praise God for who He is using Scripture or songs often helps remind me of who God is and helps me to develop more of a heart of worship.

Jennifer: How has your regard for worship evolved and what has shaped that?

Dolly: In late 1998 or early 1999, I read and prayed through the book, 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers. She speaks from her own experience of losing her first husband to cancer and becoming a single mom (if I recall correctly).

Ruth learned how to praise or worship God in the depths of her and her husband’s suffering. Ruth writes a prayer (one prayer for each of the 31 days) with endnotes on the Scriptures she used to craft her prayers. She also includes teaching on why one praises God. Praying those prayers even when I didn’t feel like it changed me slowly from the inside-out as I went through the book more than once on and off for at least two years.

Ruth Myers showed me I can worship God regardless of my feelings or circumstances and as I do, I also begin to grow in my trust relationship with God.

To clarify, worship doesn’t mean my painful feelings disappear right away, it simply means I’ve invited God and the truth of who He has revealed Himself to be into my situation.

Even though I have experienced the beauty and benefits of worship, I still struggle to worship sometimes. To worship God, I begin by first being open to His Presence and love.

Jennifer J Camp post image on interview with Dolly Lee on worship

Jennifer: What are some of your very favorite things to do with God?

Dolly: In 2011, I was introduced to prayer labyrinths. I was skeptical but now I really enjoy walking and praying through one when I can. I also love walking outside. I also enjoy digging deep into God’s Word, such as looking up the Greek for a New Testament word or Hebrew for an Old Testament word because it makes a passage so much richer. Oh, I love to journal because it helps me to sort out my thoughts and feelings so I can bring all of me to God.

Jennifer: How do you love experiencing God’s presence?

Dolly: Similar to the previous question and I would add, I experience God’s presence in solitude as well as in community. I always learn so much from being with other sisters and brothers in Christ because they will see a different facet of Christ’s person and/or a truth than I would because of their unique personalities.

Jennifer: How would you define God’s “voice”?

Dolly: God’s “voice” to me is consistent with what He has revealed about Himself in Scripture. God is love, so His voice is never harsh even when God corrects me. His voice would not be inconsistent with what is taught in the Ten Commandments or with how Jesus lived His life, which was one of courageous love.

I’m struck with how Jesus didn’t meet everyone’s expectations of what God’s Messiah would look or act like. Certainly, many of his first followers were expecting Him to overthrow Roman oppression and not die on the Cross like the suffering servant predicted in Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah 53.

Jennifer J Camp post image on interview with Dolly Lee on art and worship

Jennifer: Do you think it is possible for everyone to hear God’s voice?

Dolly: Yes. God speaks (through the Bible, creation and other believers) but are we listening? And I don’t mean God’s voice is necessarily audible. For me it is more a sense of the Spirit nudging me to do something or away from something or when I read a Bible passage, such as I Cor. 13: 4-7 and I become painfully aware of how I fail to love as God calls me to love. But at the same time, I know God doesn’t condemn me (Rom. 8:1) and that as I am in God’s Presence (2 Cor. 3:18), God changes me from the inside-out.

God (through prophets) in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament both talk about people who are “deaf” because they choose not to listen.

Lately, I’ve been struck anew with the truth of Psalm 46:10. We need to be still or in some translations, “cease striving,” to know God.

We can’t really know God if we’re busy with our preconceived notions of God. From personal experience and from talking to friends, sometimes our preconceived and false images (or idols) of God are unconscious. Then a crisis hits and your false image of God is revealed. It can be painful. And from reading other people share their journeys, if they’ve walked for God for a while, they talk about how a crisis revealed their false perception of God. I’ve experienced the painful wrenching of false idols and I’m glad for God’s severe mercy as it has increased my intimacy with God. Yet in my humanity, I’d rather not go through it again.

If one can eventually worship God in the midst of the crisis, one can grow in intimacy with God. It sounds counterintuitive but I’ve experienced it and so have many others. I wonder if that is what worship is.

Jennifer: How does hearing God relate to the experience of worshipping Him?

Dolly: When one truly worships God, one is not doing so because one is hoping or trying to get God to give you something, however good it may be. True worship is when one recognizes who God truly is and who one is in relationship to God.

Apart from the Holy Spirit giving us the eyes to see our own need of Christ as Savior because of our sin/brokenness, we can’t see truly our own condition. When we become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we begin to see more and more God’s goodness and greatness. The more I worship God, the more I am open or receptive to hearing God because I know He has the answers to my deepest longings.

Jennifer: How do you discern God’s voice over all the other noise in your life? What are some practical ways to figure out if it is His voice you are hearing–or something else?

Dolly: This is a very hard one and an ongoing process in my life. But let me try to list some practical things I try to do:

How to know if it is God’s voice you are hearing: by Dolly Lee

  • Always compare with Scripture . . . God is not going to ask you to do something contrary to His teachings, such as commit adultery, cheat, etc.
  • Check with trusted Christian leaders and/or friends.They may have insights you don’t have about yourself or a situation.
  • Study God’s Word for yourself.
  • Pray . . . be willing to go out of your comfort zone.
  • Read and listen to solid Bible teachers like Timothy Keller, Charles Swindoll, Ray Stedman and Beth Moore, to name a few.
  • Pray and mean it when you tell God, “Thy will be done.” It can be very hard to surrender to God’s will when it doesn’t look like what you wanted. I speak from experience.
  • Don’t make any major decisions when you’ve suffered a huge loss or are in crisis or when you’re HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired). A wiser friend taught me the HALT acronym.

Jennifer: I so appreciate your sharing this, Dolly. . . On another note, I know it was no small thing for you to beginning writing, specifically blogging. Before you began writing on your blog you already had years of experience teaching and leading women’s ministry. How does your experience of creating art, with God, relate to worship? What can we learn from your experience of listening for God’s voice in your life?

Dolly: You can learn to be a better listener for God’s voice. Sometimes you will get it wrong but you can always repent/ change your mind and actions. Learn from it.

After being married to my husband for 23 years, I know his voice and what he will say and do sometimes before he does. I’ve studied him, learned what he likes and dislikes so I can better understand him.

I’ve known God longer than I’ve known my husband. Likewise, when I’ve actively studied God through His Word, through being with Him in solitude, through being in community with other Christ-followers, I become better able to discern God’s voice.

Jennifer: Dolly, thank you so much, my dear friend.

Question for you, dear reader: What is one way you discern God’s voice in your life? 

Dolly profile photoDolly Lee is a beautiful writer, encourager, and prayer warrior. Connect with her at her blog, SoulStops.

Also follow her on Twitter and on Facebook, where she shares encouraging quotes and posts throughout the week.

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