Bake The Cake

Bake The Cake

A cargo ship crossing the ocean came upon what seemed to be a deserted island. A line of smoke told otherwise. Maybe someone was stranded. The captain went ashore in a smaller boat and found three huts. A ragged-looking man appeared in the doorway of one.

Tropical island landscape“Are you and others stranded here?” asked the captain.

“Nope, it’s just me,” said the man. “I live here.”

“I see.” The captain scanned the other two huts. “And what’s this second hut for?”

“Oh, that’s my church,” the man said.

The captain eyes grew wide as he slowly nodded. “And the third one?”

The man shifted his feet in awkward silence. “Well,” he said in hushed tones, “that’s my former church.”

My father told me that joke. What a laugh we had! Often, our discontent with church has something to do with us!  Who knew! No fellowship of believers is ever going to be perfect.

Black and white grunge image of a teen girl cryingHere’s another take. A young man I know felt deeply frustrated with the dating scene. He’d gone out with several very nice girls. After the initial electricity of a new relationship, the girlfriend became too dependent, making the young man her entire world. Expectations felt suffocating. He didn’t have freedom to do things with friends without a pouty girl giving him the silent treatment. These girls weren’t bad partners—just undeveloped in their sense of personhood.

In the same way, we can put heavy expectations on the church and our pastors, priests, and ministers, creating a black hole that can never be filled. Many who serve in pastoral positions try hard to be all things and end up bone weary. Menschenmenge beim jubelnPeople with unmet needs shift from church to church, and some actually work the system.

It comes down to our own relationship with God.

Is it underdeveloped? Are we fledglings in our capacity to know God?

I’ve been asked to speak in many different denominations on my book, Closer Than Your Skin. My publisher calls it a spiritual memoir as I unpack my journey of learning to hear God’s voice.

I’d been a Christian for several decades, attending church, going to Bible studies, praying, serving, and giving to the poor—before I realized something was missing. I didn’t really know God! I did everything I knew to do and had several “former churches” by then. Yet somehow knowing God in any real way seemed mysterious, out there, and only available to special people.

Cake ingredientsYou can have all the ingredients, but that doesn’t make a cake. We can have all the trappings of our faith and still miss its substance.

When telling my simple stories of learning to hear God’s voice, countless people have asked me, “Why isn’t this being taught more?” or “Why doesn’t anybody talk about this?”

As the saying goes, we don’t know what we don’t know. And I would add—we’re afraid of what we don’t know. Historically, Holy Spirit movements in the Pentecostal and Charismatic streams of the church have brought a wealth of understanding.

But alongside anything authentic comes the counterfeit.

Sadly, there were and are incidents of abuse, presumption, manipulation, and demagoguery. So we play it safe. People believe that thinking you can hear God speak will lead to great error. What audacity! And so their Trinity becomes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Book.Bed in surreal peaceful landscape

The written Word of God is our foundation. Make no mistake—we must be thoroughly versed in Scripture. But the fresh words of God through the Holy Spirit are vastly needed in the church today for guidance, correction, encouragement, and strategy.

The written Word and fresh words go hand-in-hand, as God will not contradict Himself. That is one safeguard. Accountability in fellowship is another. Still, Christians are underdeveloped in their relationship with God.

Some might believe it is too subjective to say God speaks through dreams or visions, yet consider the numerous examples in Scripture.

Vineyard pastor James Ryle, a founding member of the Promise Keepers movement, taught me a lot about hearing God’s voice on a six-cassette tape teaching that is apparently no longer available. He spoke on dreams and visions and told amazing stories. I had hoped to interview him on the subject for an article. He flatly refused. Too much of a hot potato in evangelical circles. How sad.

Hand on sunset background success, peace,freedom conceptSome leaders vehemently resist the idea of God speaking to ordinary people except through the Bible. They actively oppose the idea. The word, dispensationalist, comes to mind. They don’t know what they don’t know and may have a fear of the unknown. I shudder inside for those teachers.

All I can say is that my entire life changed when I learned to hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit. You will have to decide for yourself.

In the meantime, consider that Jesus said…My sheep hear My Voice. (John 10)

Join me every other Sunday, as I begin a new season of sharing stories and ideas on hearing and knowing God. And join the conversation!


  1. It is unbelievable how blind Christians are when it comes to fear and people pleasing. Our refusal to accept personal responsibility for making a mistake if we get it wrong. But even more tragic, to trust HIM to sort it out! That is what faith and belief is. And more profoundly, that is what relationship is! He wants to TALK to us, not just see us read a book in front of Him and check, just in case we made a mistake in how we read its meaning or nuance! How rude!!

    How would we like it when each time we wanted to speak to our friends or family, they consulted a book, and used that to talk to us! They would get understandably upset! I can imagine it!
    Me “Well, hello, eh…..hold on, I’ll just check what I can call you so I get it right…..”
    You ” Ok……”
    half hour later,…….
    ” Well, so far I know you don’t answer to I AM, Yahweh, Jehovah, Samuel, Jacob, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac……Hold On! I have found another name you might be called……..”

    You: ” Ummmm come on, this is really silly! You KNOW my name! I do have to go and do lunch ….. I SO want to talk to you, but you have rung me everyday for the last few months and you are STILL going through your book trying to work out what my name is………………so that you don’t get it wrong, and get into trouble! And so again, today…………… I really wanted to talk to you, but so far, for the last hour, you are still trying to work out, from your book, what my name is, so… to quote your own words ” I don’t get it wrong”……………..Well, the thing is, I love you. I don’t actually care if you made a mistake,………………….We are in a relationship aren’t we? We trust each other don’t we? That is, I know I trust you, but you don’t seem able to trust me. I am really sad. Maybe we can talk again tomorrow.”

    God is LOVE. Not condemnation or fear. He HAS no fear! But many of us Christians not only refuse to be brave and take the risk to see out of the box, we uncomprehending and heartbreakingly, to Jesus, make others the same as we are! One of the kinds of people that Christianity has no shortage of whatsoever, much to the anger and pain of God are Pharisees. And a quote from Jesus ” You go half way around the world, to make a convert, and then you make him twice as bad as you are”

    We are all DIFFERENT. God MADE us that way. We are all facets of His diamond. How dare we presume that our facet is the only one, and that we must crush all other facets! As Gamaliel said, of the persecution of the Jewish Christians with Paul. ” If it is not of God it will burn out, and fade, but if it is of God, and you fight it, then you are fighting God Himself.” If God is for us, then Who CAN be against us? NO body!
    Not hell itself. And the key, is an honest, vulnerable relationship with God. And personal accountability and an honest openness about the agendas we have that drive us, the same as the Pharisees had, that blind out judgement unless we are honest before the Lord! HE is our salvation. Not crushing condemnation and judgement, because of what others might think, that doesn’t fit with their so call theology.

    Whipping the market sellers in the temple did NOT please the leaders of the day. Touching Lepers did NOT please the leaders of the day. Making the lame walk on the Shabbat, did NOT please the leaders of the day, so WHY DO WE THINK IT SHOULD BE ANY DIFFERENT NOW????

    If you are hungry and thirsty, come to me and drink. That’s what Jesus offers. But how many times do we prefer the stagnant water of our own ‘trusted’ rusty canteen?
    “OH well, they have a shiney canteen! How DARE they? Mines old.”
    ” Oy! You! Did GOD give you that canteen? Well, He can’t have! Here’s mine and it looks NOTHING like yours! So yours must have come from the evil one.”” Everyone, STOP liking that canteen! Its a false canteen!”

    Can we just stop and think? Some of us LOVE lime milkshake……..I have a passion for it! Some like prune juice…EW! Some like coffee, some tea. So God talks to us in our individuality. If somebody dared to tell me that I didn’t REALLY like lime milkshake, that actually, if I had read Judges and Joshua correctly, I would admit really my secret desire was for prune juice, I can tell you right now, they would find the pot of it all over their own head!

    I have had Christians do this to me. And sadly, done it to others, myself. God forgive me.

    God is Big enough! Jesus said, about the Holy spirit, “You feel the wind, and you do not know where it goes, well, so it is with those who are lead by the spirit.” We CANNOT control God. If we try to, we stop living and we demand that stop others living too. Remember the warning about the mill stone around the neck? Remember it well. Because that’s what happens to those who through fear and arrogance force God’s children to let go of their hope in Him and instead take up old dead traditions.

    Is it scary and hard? Of course! But unless we can choose to Trust God and step out of that box, the one we feel is the ONLY way to heaven, then we are so boxed in, we will not be able to get out, and we become smaller over time rather than bigger.
    The saying that sent an earth tremor through my life as a warning about refusing to change was a quote by Robert Anthony. It is so simple and profound, and absolutely SHOCKING in its truth ” We neither get better or worse as we get older, only more like ourselves.” SO who is looking out at me, when I look in the mirror? Who Am I becoming more like?

    Who does Jesus see when He looks at me? Is it me, or is it who I think He wants me to see? The difference is so vast, it is actually a question of life and death. When I get to Heaven, will He be found in me, or will what is found in me be nothing, but a dogged believe that my principles were more important than our relationship? To put it more crudely, but aptly, Will I be found to have His substance in me, or will I just be a piece of passing wind?

    I want more than a book. I want to SHOUT it! I want my God. I NEED my God NOW! I don’t have time to tick the right answers! I don’t have time to try and get it right, just in case! I want My LIVING Papa! NOW NOW NOW. Not a written prayer in a book, that makes Him so remote, there is no point trying. If He is Alive., then, blow it……I’m out on that damn water walking! Come Hell or high water………………………………
    I have to believe God is Big enough. I am to tired, too blinded and to bloodied to do anything else. Either He is the Good Shepherd who can come after me, His lost and broken sheep, if I get lost and make a mistake, or He’s not. And that, believe it or not, is exactly where the beginning point of our relationship with Him starts………………REALLY starts.

  2. MISTAKE TYP ERROR: Who does Jesus see when He looks at me? Is it me, or is it who I think He wants me to see? Should actually read: Who does Jesus see when He looks at me? Is it me, or is it who I think He wants me to BE!” Sorry!

  3. All the time, dear Susan, you are handing out the incredibly not just GOOD but BETTER news about hearing from God on a personal basis. Like a conversation in the now. Like you and I have face to face when we can. Once it happens, then you definitely are changed, knowing that you know that you know. That has been my experience. And it’s really real. Everyone can have it! Oooooo, when you wrote “And so their Trinity becomes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Book.”, it stung my spirit, my soul, and landed a punch in my gut. Thank you for continuing to allow God to use you to pass out the BETTER news!!!
    suzee B

    • Thank you Suzee…Hearing God IS for everyone. It is my passion to bring this to the body of Christ and those who are honest seekers.