I started doing these things and was amazed at what God did

Oak Tree

Sometimes in our fast paced world it is easy to miss things that are not happening at the same pace as we are going. A while back I skimmed a book called the Jesuit Guide To Almost Everything where the author talked about the danger of missing the slow work of God in our lives. The irony that I skimmed a book talking about the slow work of God is not lost on me.

We forget that sometimes God works fast and sometimes His work takes time. Sometimes there is a miracle healing that happens in an instant. Sometimes Jesus spoke a word and demons left. Moses put his rod in the Red Sea and the waters parted. Our breath is taken away by a field of flowers that seemed to bloom overnight.

Other times God’s work happens over time. Jesus worked with His disciples over the process of years and it seemed at times that they were hardly making any progress. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea and God worked with them for 40 years to get them ready to take the promise land. Like a field of flowers that seems to grow up overnight it is also amazing when you look at an oak tree that takes decades to grow.

Personally it is easier for me to notice the fast work of God. When I see someone get up out of a wheelchair those types of things are hard to forget. What is easy to forget is a simple impression I get when reading my Bible. It is easy for me to remember protection in a car accident. It is harder to see the slow gradual growth He is making in the ministry that I lead.

Since I realize this, I have created simple systems to try and get better at the long game of God’s activity in my life. They are helping me to notice and be encouraged. You may come up with different systems than I use, but I hope that you think about how you are seeing God’s slow work in your life.

Capture and review impressions from God

When I have an impression of God speaking something to me that is more than just for that moment I log that in Evernote. It can come from all the different avenues that God speaks to us but if it doesn’t make sense yet or seems not just for today I type it up. I then tag that note as “word from God” or “word to me”. I then have an email sent to me once a month from www.followupthen.com to take 10 minutes that day and look through all of those notes over time. Kind of nerdy, but it has helped me a lot.

Set aside time for reflection

Two times a year I take some time to look over my Google Calendar for the last 6 months. This helps me better see events and patterns in my life. I do this at the same time as I am preparing for our Christ Connection board meeting so I see patterns for the ministry as well.

Keep track of the simple things 

Finally I have two things recently that has helped me with when I read my Bible and pray. For my prayer life adding a list of 100 things that I am praying helps me see work that God is doing in situations that I would otherwise miss. On the Bible front for my 40th birthday I bought myself a Bible with wide margins. Adding dates to my notes when reading helps me see how God is speaking themes to me over time.

Again you may use very different methods than I use, but let me encourage you to make an effort to notice the grace and mercy of God following your life. With some simple practices you may appreciate more of the oak trees of God’s work in your life.

3 encouragements when you accept the life changing invitation to listen to the voice of God


I have spoken elsewhere about the amazing prayer of Hannah that brought Samuel into the world. But even with a Godly heritage we still need to journey for ourselves into our relationship with God. J I Packer in his great book, Knowing God, warns about the danger of only learning things second hand about God. Even though I have Christians in my family tree going back at least into the 1800s I still need to personally build my friendship with Jesus.

I love the story of when Samuel begins to hear the voice of God. It can be a great encouragement for me you and I as we learn to hear from God. Here are 3 things to get you started.

There is an invitation of God for us to listen.

God thinks that it is very important for us to have the opportunity to listen to him. God could have made it very hard to hear from Him. But His heart is to be close to us. Actually the Gospel of John say, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (1:14) God went to great length to invite us into conversation. Samuel heard that invitation from God.

God was persistent in His speaking while Samuel is figuring it out.

What a scene it must have been as Samuel ran back and forth to see if Eli was the one that was  calling him. I love God’s patience and persistence in this situation. God did not say, “Samuel” once and then say, “I guess he missed it. Time to move on.” He didn’t give up on Samuel in his season of learning and He won’t give up on you if you keep trying.

We don’t have to understand everything for God to speak to us.

It is easy in the process of learning God’s voice to get frustrated and give up because everything doesn’t make sense. 1 Peter reminds us that even the prophets didn’t understand all that God was saying because it was those later that would understand (1:10-12) So if God speaks to you and it takes a while to understand you are in good company. Samuel just started the process and grew in his relationship over time.

A key take away for me from the story of Samuel is how much God will work with us if we are willing to listen. It is His desire for us to hear His voice. It is His desire for that conversation to grow and develop over time. He is just looking for people like Samuel who will say, “Here I am.” Will you be one of those people?

How many people does it take to start a revival?


Maybe it is the nerd in me but the math of this question is interesting for me to think about. The other part to the nerd in me is that I have probably read more than my share of church history and looked at the story of revival. I even updated Charles Finney’s Lectures on Revival for today’s reader. But I don’t want to just read about revival, I want to see the church experience it at whole new levels.

For part of my teenage years I went to a youth group with a motto of: We don’t want to be the youth group know for the largest ice cream sundae, but as the youth group that goes after God. With that attitude even as a teenager we experienced some amazing things and saw people far away from God come to Him. It put an imprint on my mind that Christians no matter the age can make an impact if they seek the Lord.

But how many people does it take to start something new for God? Let me challenge you with a thought. It is probably less than you think. I have written elsewhere about how people can make an impact on line for God in this day and age. God even taught us in the story of Gideon that it is important to Him that there is not too many people when God starts to save.

In the story of the Bible and the story of history it often starts with a small number. It is Gideon’s soldiers that I mentioned but also the 12 that Jesus called to be his disciples. It was 24 men and 24 woman that started the Moravian 24/7 prayer meeting that lasted for 100 years. It was a small group of people that met in a home that started the Azusa Street revival. It was a small group of writers and preachers that 500 years ago started the Protestant Reformation.

All of this should encourage us. You and your friends may be the spark of the next movement that God has for his church. Your love of your neighbor may bring about the awakening that your neighborhood needs. God is just looking for people like Moses, Samuel and Isaiah who say, “Here I am.” Will you be one of those people?