Citizens Corner

Hearing God’s Voice

With so many things, electronics, sports, video games, social media, dating, (shall I continue?) vying for a teenager’s attention, it’s easy to understand why a teen, or anyone for that matter, might have trouble listening to God’s voice.  We live in a fast-paced society where if it isn’t nuked, delivered right to your door, or 3D printable then it’s deemed not worth it.  This is exactly why teenagers need to learn the voice of God, learn how He speaks, and how they can tune in to hear Him better.

           So, that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about this last month in RISE Youth.  Most people think that one of the few ways that God speaks is through the still small voice.  While it’s true, He definitely speaks that way, He also speaks in a plethora of other ways, and they’re all right there in the bible. 

           We started our series with learning about Jonah and how God spoke to him through circumstances.  Now this was after He spoke to him more directly, perhaps through the still small voice, we don’t know exactly, but Jonah had ignored Him.  So, God chose to speak to Jonah again in another way, through the circumstance of 1st, a storm, and not just any storm, but one that nearly tore the ship he boarded in half! If that wasn’t enough, God spoke to Jonah again through circumstance, when He directed a giant fish to swallow him whole saving him from certain death.

            There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this story, like how the sailors had asked Jonah to pray to his God and ask for mercy, but Jonah didn’t…he told them instead to throw him overboard.  He had either hardened his heart so much toward the Ninevites, God, or both, that he would rather be thrown overboard than to repent.  He was going to die, yet God in His grace sent a huge fish to save him.  It was here that Jonah finally prayed.

            I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God to speak to me through the circumstance of a giant fish swallowing me, but I have often experienced His “Godwinks”… you know, those crazy, beyond probability coincidental-coincidences that you know that you know had to have been God.  God’s spoken to me in this way many times.  In fact, I once had to wait over the weekend for a score on a college exam (I know, a whole weekend, such a long time right???) but really wanted to know if I had passed the test.  I asked God if I had passed it, opened my bible for an answer (hoping for one through what I would read) and my eyes immediately landed on, “And it came to pass.”  Yeah, that’s right, not only does God speak through circumstances and/or Godwinks, but He has a great sense of humor too. 

           Next we talked about how God speaks through wise counsel and that this isn’t to replace what you are hearing from God yourself but should be used to confirm it.  It’s important to note that however God speaks to you it will not go against His nature or scripture.  We also talked about how God speaks through His peace …sometimes it feels like God hugs, and how when His peace reigns in you it can help you decide right from wrong. 

           We discussed how God speaks through His Word…but that only happens if you READ it!  God also speaks through thoughts, but not all thoughts are from God!  Then, we talked about how God speaks through dreams and visions, both open and closed visions (closed visions being when your eyes are closed whether you are awake or within a dream or dreamlike state, and open when your eyes are open and all you see is what God is showing you).  Dreams are pretty easy, they are mostly like parables and God uses things that are familiar to You in them.

           We also talked about how God speaks through nature, through His still small voice, through the Supernatural, and even Out loud.  I can personally attest to the fact that God has spoken to me in all these ways.  With so many ways to hear God, how can we NOT hear Him?  I didn’t even mention yet how He also speaks through prophets and angels

           The bible tells us to pray without ceasing…this doesn’t mean we do all the talking and none of the listening.  To Pray without ceasing is to live your life in a constant state of conversation with God, you talk, He talks, you talk, He talks, etc.

THIS MEANS THAT WHEN YOU AREN’T TALKING TO GOD, YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING.

           So, as I explained to the teens, YES, it is GOOD to find a quiet place to sit and be still and know Him, BUT, you can also hear God as you go about your daily life with your other senses too.  He talks to us more than we think.  DON’T BOX GOD IN!  Open your spiritual eyes and see Him in the beauty and nature around you.  Allow Him to open your senses, your eyes, your ears, even smell to be able to sense His presence, to feel Him, to know He is there and talking to you.

           Finally, we discussed how Satan likes to counterfeit God, but that God can do anything Satan can, only right and good.  In the garden of Eden Satan used the Supernatural to speak to Eve; he spoke through a serpent.  Yet, God spoke to Balaam through a donkey.  So, my question is, “If something supernatural like that happens to you, how are you going to know if it is GOD speaking to you?”  In other words, “How will you be able to discern the difference between a snake and a donkey?”  The answer is simple really…READ the WORD, MEDITATE on the WORD, MEMORIZE the WORD, for in it, and in Him is the way, the truth, and the life, and sometimes, take time out of your busy, fast lane schedule to just be still and know that HE IS GOD. 



Blog Revival

Blog Revival

 

I cannot think of a better day to “Revive” our blog then on our two-year anniversary of our church being officially organized.

So, what better way to celebrate than to remember what all God has done in the last year at Citizens Church.

      This time last year, God opened the doors for us to move to a more permanent location. The first year and half, we stored all our stuff in trailers and houses and set up our equipment every Sunday and every special event. We had to do some construction to make it our own, but it was really a great place, location and size, and in our budget. We were fortunate enough to have volunteers from our mother church, friends and volunteers from within our church help us build the walls, and the stage. Our volunteers built the background, wired the TV’s, Computer, setup sound and helped put together the chairs. From there we have continued to see God move in leading people to us in our new location and look forward to what year three brings.

      At the beginning of last year and even after the move. We used a thing called tracks. Basically, they were musical recordings without vocals. At the time we only had a drummer and our worship leader. So we did worship with tracks accompanying them. A few months later, God gave us a great guitar player. Then a couple months later God gave us a fantastic piano player. Then again a few months later, God led a bass player/Pastor to our church. Our worship band in the last year went from 2 people, to 5. Went from limited to tracks, to whatever God leads them to play. They have grown tremendously and have great chemistry together.

      Last September we were able to launch our Wednesday night youth. As a former youth pastor, I know that Youth are the future, but they are also the right now. They need direct involvement, direct attention and encouragement. The things they face in school, in social circles and event sports is changing so rapidly. Our hope is to be a safe place for them to be Real people, and show them God’s spirit and how to follow God’s plan for their lives.

      Also in September, we started having Sunday School. I know, I know, Sunday School is old and antiquated and no one wants it. Well, here’s the deal. We talked to our congregation, which ranges in age from our 5 week old son to people in their 70s. We literally have every 10-year gap included. You know what people in their 20s and 30s said they wanted? Sunday School. It is really convenient to be able to have a Bible Study before the service. It’s easier for the kids, it’s easier for the parents. As of January and February, we have Sunday School involvement around 80%-90%. Our Adults have learned about prayer, evangelism and right now are learning finances. Our Children are learning Children’s quizzing with hopes to turn into a quiz team next year. Young and Old both wanted Sunday School and it works, and it works well.

     In November, God led a pastor and his wife to our church. They had spent some time away from the Nazarene Church and time in much needed rest. They felt called to come to Citizens Church, and I felt just with short conversation with them that they were called to plant a church. In the next couple years, Citizens Church will be sponsoring a church plant in the neighboring community of Blue Eye/Lampe.

     Right now, our interim children’s leader is preparing to go to get her Master’s degree and higher education in Kansas City, so we have begun the search for the right person. We know that children and teens ministries are among the most important thing a church can do. Pray for us to find the right person, or people to fill those roles.

Pray with us through the next year. We are praying to see more people come to know Jesus. We are praying and planning to make an impact on those around us in a positive way. We want to see Revival break out in Branson and see our mission and vision come to light. Our Mission of REACHING people with the love of God, leading them to REDEMPTION by the grace of Jesus and seeing their lives REVIVED through the power of the Holy Spirit is just as important and urgent each and every day. Do that we must be fulfill our vision of being real people, who are outward focused, loving everyone to lead the world to Jesus.