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Hearing God's Voice

Margaret Feinberg is a new author to me in the world of Christian writing. I was glad to read this book by someone who had taken a long drink at the well of seeking and knowing God. I think her basic concept early on in the book is well worth repeating: "We're created with the capacity to know what brings God delight and to recognize his involvement in our lives" (24). Knowing God involves hearing his voice in this midst of a fast paced and shifting surrounding. Yet, Feinberg wants her readers to realize that bringing delight is not a magical experience or a over the top feeling, but can found in the everyday worship and rhythm of life. Part of the great journey for the Christian is learning to delight in God in the place in which we find ourselves. Feinberg writes, "When we start recogninzing and feasting on God's words in the everyday, life becomes grander" (30). I would add to this that when we rest in God's presence daily we gradually stop looking for direct 'I've got to have an answer right now' prayers.

I particularly thought that Margaret's words about discipline and conviction went straight to the heart of the matter concerning repentance. As God works in our hearts through the Spirit to bring to the surface our sin, we often want to wade in our failure and believe that all is lost. Yet, God is not at all leaving us to wallow away in the life of misery. Margaret says, "Conviction is like a tangy fruit God uses to nourish us. When we respond to conviction, spiritual transformation takes place in our lives" (54). We learn to be more focused on the needs of others as we realize our spiritual desperation, knowing that living like no else matters leads to a lifeless spirit. One thing that I hoped Margaret would have talked more about was the Spirit's role in conviction, repentance, and transformation. All three person's of the Trinity work together for the strengthening of the believer, yet the Spirit is the one working inside a person in conviction.

The beauty of the Christian faith is that questions are not off limits. Margaret does a good job at mentioning the kinds of questions we have in relationship to our head and heart. Questions of the heart refer to 'something intimate-quiet fears and reserved doubts' (85). Heart questions tend to be very specific also, at least in my life. Even in our grave doubts, Margaret encourages the believer to keep asking those tough questions, because God is able to hear our hearts and does not turn away a sincere follower. The only comment I would have to this is that we should be careful about making an either/or distinction between head and heart questions. In many cases, the head questions are not divorced from the heart questions, in some ways asking the head question is a way to get at what our heart really is trying to say. Yet, Margaret's insistence on bringing our doubts and fears before our close friends and God is a healthy and wonderful way for growth to begin.

Overall, I thought that this book had some good insights into the life of everyday believers. I was strengthened by her comments in seeking to use the Scripture to fuel our spiritual lives and seeing prayer more a conversationg with God that is unhindered. I was hoping that she would include some more connection between hearing God's voice and the church, a connection that is so vital to spiritual growth. Lastly, I hope that others will be encouraged by this book, not just as an idea but as a practical way of seeing God at work every day in our lives.

Thanks to Zondervan for the complimentary review copy.


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