The Sound of God’s Voice

Image from yesofcorsa.com

“For the past seven months,” reported CNN Religion Editor, Daniel Burke, “Nick Cave, the Australian musician and songwriter, has been answering letters from fans and posting them to his website, The Red Hand Files.”

“The letters are profound and personal, even intimate. They ask about loneliness, about grief, about the voice of God. But what’s most unusual about the questions is their recipient. He’s not a pastor, psychiatrist, or even an advice columnist. He’s a rock star.

In his punk rock days, Nick Cave says, he was obsessed with the Gothic drama and wrathful God of the Old Testament, channeling His energy to hiss and spit at the world.

“I was a conduit for a God that spoke in a language written in bile and puke,” Cave said. “And for a while, that suited me fine.”

But then, Cave says, he took up the Gospels:

“I slowly reacquainted myself with the Jesus of my childhood, that eerie figure that moves through the Gospels, the man of sorrows, and it was through him that I was given a chance to redefine my relationship with the world,” Cave wrote in 1996.

Raised Anglican, Cave said he has all but given up on organized religion, yet still longs for a world infused with magic and awe.

Like a lot of artists, his spirituality is idiosyncratic and undogmatic. He believes humans are hard-wired for transcendence, which can be accessed through creativity and imagination.”

The Sound of God’s Voice

A few months ago, a fan asked Cave what the voice of God sounds like.

“Does God even have a voice, or does divinity make itself heard in other ways? Perhaps God might sound a bit like Nick Cave” the fan suggested.

The musician offered his own take on God’s voice:

“Perhaps, God would have the combined voice of all the untold billions of collected souls, an assembly of the departed speaking as one — without rancour, domination or division, a great, many-layered calling forth that rings from the heavens in the small, determined voice of a child, maybe; sexless, pure and uncomplicated — that says,

‘Look for me, I am here.'”


How have you heard the voice of God?

The Experiencing God study puts it like this:

God speaks to us by His Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

Or

“Look for me, I am here.”

“Listen for me through all the ways I speak… I am here.”


The Invitation to Seek

Jesus invites, “come to me… learn from me… find rest for your souls.” He promises, “seek and you will find… for everyone who seeks will find…”  Jeremiah uttered prophetically some 600 years before Christ, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

or

“Look for me, I am here.”

“Listen for me to speak into your life… I am here.”


For more, see Daniel Burke’s full article:  “A rock star was asked what God’s voice sounds like. His answer is beautiful.”  I take this story to be another example of the prophetic echo spoken into our day.

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Childhood Interview: Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Image from daveburchett.com

Earlier this year I posted “Childhood Interview” as an expression of curiosity and guidance with your children. I wrote:

Since I had not had a chance to do this with either of my parents I was eager to start a conversation of things left unsaid, of topics not spoken.

Recently I re-read “Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints” (essays edited by John Piper & Justin Taylor). In an interview at the end of the book Piper refers to the questions his friend Pastor Rick Gamache uses to draw out his child’s heart.  With a little editing here are some other questions you can ask your own children:

  • How are your devotions/quiet times; describe your devotional life?
  • What is God teaching you/saying to you?
  • In your own words, what is the gospel? Who is Jesus as you know Him?
  • Is there an area of your life or a sin that you need help to overcome?
  • Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
  • What do you think your Dad/Mom is most passionate about?
  • Do I act the same at church as I do when I am at home?
  • Are you aware of my love for you?
  • Is there any way I’ve sinned against/harmed you that I have not admitted/confessed and restored/repented?
  • What observations of me would you like to share?
  • How am I doing as your Dad/Mom?
  • How has Sunday school/sermons impacted you?
  • Does my relationship with Mom/Dad make you excited to be married?

“On top of this”, says Gamache, “I’m always inquiring about their relationships with their friends…”


The image above comes from “daveburchett.com” – for more check out his post on “ways Dads can leave a legacy.”


As we enter the summer months while you will likely have more family time, why not take an opportunity to interview your children?

Let me know how it goes and let me know if you came up with some other/better questions.

Grace to you as you continue to relate to your children over the ages.

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Surely Christ will not Despise

Edward Ahenakew Cree Anglican Priest, 1885 – 1961

Why should we take the path they tread
And leave our own approach to God
Exchanging our own humble way,
For that along with bloody sod?

Oh! Surely Christ will not despise
The winding trail our fathers trod
With simple steps and faithful hearts
With loyal minds to reach their God?

Can we not then in “heathen” rites,
As ritual, serve the Crucified?
Mayn’t He in dances, reverent, pure,
As truly then, be glorified?

Why ape the race whose stated creed
Seems not to lie plumb with their deeds,
Why follow that which is not ours,
Nor which doth satisfy our needs?

Ah! Spirit that o’er Indian lands
Would’st fain reclaim thine olden sway,
Thy children are up herded sheep
Pushed north by those who pray!

A portion of Reverend Ahenakew’s untitled poem.


There are more questions about spiritual “first contact” and the subsequent years when First Nations suffered at the hands of those charged with ministering the love and care of Christ. Here Reverend Ahenakew speaks to the incongruity of western Christianity and the native approach to God – both needing redemption/reformation.

We have an opportunity now to share freely and without power, the grace and character of God in Christ. “Oh surely Christ will not despise…”

Today as National Aboriginal Day, let us pray for our First Nations, and for truth & reconciliation.


“Edward Ahenakew, Anglican clergyman of Cree ancestry (born 11 June 1885 at Sandy Lake Indian Reserve [now the Ahtahkakoop First Nation] in central Saskatchewan; died 12 July 1961 in Dauphin, Manitoba). Edward Ahenakew, Anglican clergyman of Cree ancestry (born 11 June 1885 at Sandy Lake Indian Reserve [now the Ahtahkakoop First Nation] in central Saskatchewan; died 12 July 1961 in Dauphin, Manitoba).

Proud of his heritage and a firm believer in the Christian faith, Ahenakew dedicated his life to missionary work on reserves, promoting the Cree language and bettering education on reserves.”

For a good summary of Ahenakew’s life and influence, see page 35ff of “Dispossessed Indigeneity“, by Natalie Knight.

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Listening to Understand

David Augsburger writes a wonderful little book titled, “Caring Enough to Confront.”  We don’t always put these two words together, but Augsburger recognizes the paradox of love: it is caring and it is confronting.

Augsburger offers this simple poem to illustrates the “both-and” quality needed in listening to understand:

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Digital Sabbatical

We are beginning to recognize the effects of the intrusive and unending pings from our electronic devices. It is as if the emotional and spiritual ecosystem has been supplanted by an invasive species.  Perhaps more than ever we need to hear Jesus’ words over the digital din,

Come to me all you are weary and you will find rest for your souls.”

Thus there has been more reflection on what we can do – indeed – what we must do. Klaus Crow of “simplifyyourday.com” observes,

“You wake up on the alarm of your mobile phone, you walk downstairs and while your having breakfast you’re checking your emails on either your phone, iPad or computer.

Then you start checking Facebook and look for other ways to connect online, allowing you to ignore the real life in the present moment.

A lot of hours during the day you will work online in front of a screen. After work you will check your phone again for more emails, texting, news, Facebook, Youtube and other types of entertainment. And in the evening you’ll relax in front of another (TV) screen.

It goes on and on and on and it adds up tremendously. It has become so normal for us, most people don’t even realize the insanity of it anymore. And if they do, they ignore it and tell themselves, “It just the way things are nowadays. It’s progress”.

But is it really?”

He goes on write about “The Huge Benefits of the Digital Sabbatical.

What is a digital sabbatical?

Tammy Strobel, author & photographer, answers:

“Dedicating one day a week or even a whole month away from the internet, email, twitter, and other online activities.

Taking an extended sabbatical is appealing to me. It would be one way to solely focus on writing my next ebook and to recharge my creative juices. Until I can take an extended break from the web, I’m planning on unplugging every weekend.

So that means my weekend plans will not include:

    • Surfing the web.
    • Checking email.
    • Updating twitter or facebook.
    • Moderating blog comments.

My weekend retreat plans include:

Being online less and outside more. A few of my top priorities include taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather, spending time with friends and family, focusing on writing amazing content, and reducing insecurity work.

So consider this guide as a reminder to go outside and enjoy the summer.

As you go through the tips below remember to:

    • Choose activities that look interesting.
    • Experiment and have fun.That’s the whole point right? Taking time off from the internet and social networks should free up plenty of time to engage in creative pursuits.
    • And don’t do everything at once!

She goes on to identify 21 Digital Sabbatical Ideas in “Everything you need to know about a Digital Sabbatical.”


Let me know how you’re doing with digital boundaries and sabbaticals.

For more on Sabbath rest see, “The Soul Needs Rest“, or “In Praise of the Sabbath.”

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Somewhere at the edges of night

I

Somewhere, out at the edges, the night

is turning and the waves of darkness

Begin to brighten the shore of dawn.

The heavy dark falls back to earth

And the freed air goes wild with light,

The heart fills with fresh, bright breath

And thoughts stir to give birth to colour.

 

II

I arise today

 

In the name of Silence

Womb of the Word,

In the name of Stillness

Home of Belonging,

In the name of Solitude

Of the Soul and the Earth.

 

I arise today

 

Blessed by all things

Wings of breath,

Delight of eyes,

Wonder of whisper,

Intimacy of touch,

Eternity of soul,

Urgency of thought,

Miracle of health,

Embrace of God.

 

May I live this day

 

Compassionate of heart,

Gentle in word,

Gracious in awareness,

Courageous in thought,

Generous in love.


“Matins” written by John O’Donohue in “Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to be Belong.” (Matins is the service of morning prayer).

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More on the Story of your Life

This excerpt from John O’Donohues book, “Eternal Echoes” is meant to be a companion to the “Practicum of a Soul Friend.”  It is meant as a deeper contemplation on the story of your life:

Regardless of how you look back on your life, you cannot force it out of the order in which it has unfolded. You cannot de-sequence your life. The structure of your life holds together. That is the unnoticed miracle of memory; it is the intimate mirror of the continuity of your experience.

Even the severest and most shocking change insists on its belonging to the moments that preceded it… we attempt to understand the parts of the sequence in a clear and linear way. The difficulty here is our tendency to jump to conclusions about how one theme or thing grows out of another in our lives. When we make the connections too easy for ourselves, we let the mystery, like sand, slip through the openings…

Many of the places in our lives at which our growth has arrested are places where we have carried out negative baptisms. We have put wrong names on many of our most important experiences… We have kept some of our most beautiful longings as prisoners in our hearts, falsely imprisoned simply because of mistaken identity…

Reawaken respect for your inner life

A first step towards reawakening respect for your inner life may be to become aware of the private collage of dead names you have for your inner life… let yourself just slip back into the rhythms of your intimate wildness. You will be surprised at the lost terrains, territories, wells, and mountains that you will rediscover, territories which have been buried under well-meant but dead names. To go beyond confinement is to rediscover yourself…

The Place of Failure in our Story

There is a tendency now in revisionist history to explain the past in terms of movements and trends of the contemporary time. This is inevitably reductionist. The suffering of people is forgotten; they become faceless, mere ciphers of a trend or dynamic of history. To sanitize [your] history is to blaspheme against memory. Equally, to become obsessed with the past is to paralyze the future…

Failure is often the place were suffering has left the most special gifts… [a friend] was surprised and excited on looking back at his life to discover that much of what he had understood as the successes in his life did not hold their substance under more critical reflection… his failures now began to seem ever more interesting and substantial. The places of failure had been real points of change and growth.

Wonder: key to compassion

Wonder never rests on the surface of a fact or situation. It voyages inwards to discover why something is the way it is… if you begin to wonder what made a person become like [they are] you may be more open to the hidden story that has shaped [him].  Wonder can often be the key to compassion.

The sense of wonder can also help you recognize and appreciate the mystery of your own life.

A key to the temple of your life

When you really tell how and who you are, you offer your listener a key to the temple of your life. You allow that person a huge voice in your conversation with yourself. Listening is such an underrated activity. In fact it is hugely subversive. Because when we listen deeply, we take in the voice of the other. The inner world is so tender and personal, and the voices that really enter assume great power.


Thus with great power comes great responsibility – the great trust of listening well – of listening like an auditory mirror of the soul.

For more, go to “Practicum of a Soul Friend.”

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