Maturing the Eyes of the Heart
God still talks to people. Do you believe that is true? Contrary to what some theologians might be teaching in seminaries and churches across the world, there is no evidence to support the claim that God went silent when the creation of the Bible was completed. In fact, I can testify that God, in fact, does speak directly to us today. The passage in Ephesians 1:18 is a key to understanding the role of the “soul”, the “eyes of our heart” when it comes to confidently hearing from God through His Holy Spirit. Without it, the mind takes over to hear what God is saying, and to interpret his Word. That is a recipe for disaster trying to understand our Heavenly Father, His ways and His purpose, with something as feeble and open to temptation as our mind. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,…”
Paul’s word to the church was a plea to mature the discernment of the soul, the “eyes of the heart” when it comes to hearing from God, or seeing what He sees.
I have a very confident belief that the Holy Spirit is continually, passionately speaking to us 24 hours a day. His communication and presence never stops. Some often comment that the experience of speaking to God occurs only in that “secret place,” in a “prayer closet”, or when we are reading His Word only. My experience is that God never stops encouraging, never stops directing, never discontinues his open communication with us. He is in constant contact with those who are listening for Him.
If God is truly a friend to us, there is a sense that He desires to guide us, to lead us through the Holy Spirit’s presence in our soul, in our life daily. Most Christian people would say they agree with that statement. Regardless of how you might believe this idea, a tremendous assumption by pastors and leaders has unraveled more than its share of leaders and churches throughout history. That assumption is that “if someone attends church and identifies themselves as a Believer, a Christian or a Pastor, they know and recognize the voice of God.” That assumption also includes the idea that “once a belief in God has been professed, we fully understand where to find and access the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.” This is why, I believe, our churches are often populated with frustrated church goers rather than mature, aligned, passionate followers of Jesus – we may have never been taught how to hear from God and recognize His voice. In addition, we may have never been taught about identifying ourselves based on God’s vision for us rather than the accomplishments or failures of today or yesterday.
Identifying God’s Leading
Hearing the voice of God and sensing his vision for me as a person is the result of understanding 5 vision gifts offered to those who profess a surrendered life to Christ.
These 5 gifts include:
- Eyesight to grasp the magnificence of God
- The Eyes of the Heart
- God’s picture of His image in us
Ephesians 1:18 is an attempt to gather a church together to equip the modern day Believer with the tools needed for the following:
- Knowing when the voice we are following is from God, and when it is not.
- Realizing a confidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in our soul more than our head.
- Knowing exactly where to go to hear from God, specifically hearing from within our soul.
- Seeing and understanding the vision God holds for us as a person, as a leader.
Modeling the teaching mindset of Jesus, this is an experience highly motivated and presented through strong visuals and experiences rather than lecture. As God led Ezekiel to envision the valley of the dry bones, this experience is offered in a way to challenge the Spirit and imagination of the listener rather than simply spew information and the typical “5 easy steps.” This is not a new program to instigate, but rather a realigning of the beliefs and passionate soul of those in attendance.
Following are a few comments from some who have attended this experience
Todd, you are anointed by God. This revelation that God has given you is oozing out of you! May God find favor in you!
“Todd, Thank you! I leave here today a changed man, I can’t wait to begin this journey with my wife. You are doing an amazing work of the Lord so well.” Brenin Richardson, Detroit Lakes, MN
I learned the most about “How I keep trying to add God’s Word to the person I already am. I need to step back and humble myself in a position to hear from God.” Pastor Nick Rupert, River of Life Church, Shoreview, MN
This topic reinforces what our men’s group has been doing for discipleship, but takes it to the next level as far as moving to a man after God’s own heart. Jeremy Buch, Waconia, MN
We arrived late on the opening night and I was struck by the eternal impact on so many people so early in the retreat. Paul Fletcher, New Hope, MN
The most significant “ah ha” from this retreat was “I am defined by who I am to become. Developing a “journey mindset” rather than defining my identity from my past. Rich McKusick, Norwood, MN
You’ve made a great discovery in my relationship with God – how to really connect and allow Him in. Jerry Eischens, Park Rapids, MN
My most significant “ah ha” from this retreat was “A stationary, satisfied person is a person stepping away from God’s leadership in their life. Alex Wineger, Wadena, MN
The portion of this retreat having the greatest impact on me personally was carrying the guilt of anger that keeps me from hearing His Word. After a decade, I finally found forgiveness in my heart, and bridged a gap in my relationship with my father. Zachary Stevens, Wadena, MN
Thank you for your perspective on these topics which are not taught anywhere else – love ya brother! Todd Hassell Nashwauk, MN
After this retreat I feel challenged to step back and look at what my life would look like if God would have his way with me. Mark Roberts, Wagner, SD
After this retreat, I feel like a new person. Jim Hennes, Hilman, MN
After this retreat, I feel changed, renewed back to where I was meant to be. Thank you for the beyond awesome weekend. Honestly, this is the first time I have ever heard you speak and I was blown away. I had never expected this. Joshua Krier, Hastings, MN
Revived! I needed this experience for my life because now I feel more confident in talking and hearing from God. Haley Sharp, Clayton, LA (teenager)
God’s perception of me (palms forward) and who I am in the Lord (nature of God.) Learning to be led by my soul. Holy Spirit over my emotions. Micah Nelson, Clayton, LA (young mother)
Differentiating between the mind and the soul, and where God resides in us. Satan has access to our mind, but does not dwell where God dwells in us…our soul. Jason Richardson, Detroit Lakes, MN
This experience can be presented in the following timeframe:
6:00pm Light Sandwiches (dinner)
6:30pm Opening worship (Led by a local leader)
6:45pm Session I – Intentional Alignment to Hear from God
8:15pm Session 2 – A Pliable Perspective (Allowing God Transforming Word to Actually Transform)
9:15pm Closing Worship
8:30am Opening Worship
8:45am Session 3 – Intro to 5 Vision Gifts
10:15am Session 4 – 5 Vision Gifts (continued)
12:15pm Opening Worship
12:30pm Session 5 – 5 Vision Gifts
Pastor Jerry Sharp
Sunnyside Church of God