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The God Who Speaks

Lorraine, I have a word for you.

These seven words began a conversation that was to shatter my deeply
held convictions about God that I had believed since childhood. In an
instant, everything changed. Could God really engage with people by
speaking to them through dreams, as He did in the Bible? Did supernatural encounters still exist? And if they did, how could I be sure they
were from God?
My earliest childhood memory was formed at the age of three. The
living room in our small 1960s tract home is dimly lit, and I am kneeling next to our couch with my mom at my side. We have just finished
our nightly family Bible reading. I wait until my dad and older siblings
leave the room before asking my mom to stay with me, so I can pray
for Jesus to come into my heart. I felt the need for Jesus even then,
and nothing was going to hold me back from Him.
During my childhood and adolescent years, my parents encouraged
my growing faith, as did my extended family and church community.
The message I heard was the same from all of themGod loved me, and
I could trust the Bible as the infallible source for all truth. Although my
foundation of faith was strong, I did not know it was possible to hear
the voice of God and communicate with Him in encounters such as He
had time and again with people throughout the pages of the Bible. The
gifts of the Holy Spirit were for then, but what about now?
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After 35 years of my living with this limited understanding, my

older brother Steve disrupted my peaceful life with an innocuous email
sharing the good news that he had received his prayer language. I was
sure he was wrong about the gift of tongues, but I could not ignore his
raw enthusiasm and sheer joy.
My brothers email led me to my own journey of discovery. I bought
myself a new Bible, so I could read it with a fresh perspective. Before I
started I made a bargain with God. I told Him I would take everything I
had been taught and temporarily tuck that knowledge away in exchange
for His Holy Spirit leading and guiding me into His truth. I believed He
was more than capable of revealing what I needed to know, and I did
not want anything or anyone to prejudice my understanding.
Over the next week, I immersed myself in reading the Bible. From
the first page to the last, I saw conversations between man and God,
supernatural experiences and references to the work of the Holy Spirit
in a way I had never noticed before. The men and women I read about
were just like me, and I did not see why I should have to depend on
their experiences alone in my quest for a deeper relationship with God.
He had not changed! I wanted to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit,
even if they were unsettling and completely out of my comfort zone.
November 7, 2000, became the date in history I will never forget.
On that momentous night when our country was riveted on the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gorea night our
nation went to bed without a president-electI was alone in my room,
on my knees, asking God for the gift of tongues.
It was not easy to put years of misunderstanding the work of the Holy
Spirit behind me. I was afraid of losing control and losing my dignity,
even if no one else was around to watch. Most of all, I was afraid of the
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unknown. My fear ran so deep that I struck my second bargain with

God before things got out of hand.
I dont need a complete language, I reasoned with Him, so if its
okay with You, Id be happy with just one word.
One word I could handlethat way, I could retain control and still
have the satisfaction of knowing that I had achieved this desired experience with Him. After repeated attempts to make an unknown word
form on my lips without success, I went to bed feeling disappointed that
my prayer went unanswered, but also feeling a sense of relief.
Soon after I had drifted off to sleep, I was awakened by a commanding
shout that bolted me out of bed. It was one word: GO!
I knew immediately it was the voice of God. I was also confused.
Where am I supposed to go at two oclock in the morning? I wondered.
I did the only thing that seemed logical at the time; I went into another
room to turn on the television news coverage, convinced something
had happened in our nation regarding the election. I quickly realized
nothing was being reported during the middle of the night. I went back
to bed puzzled, but aware something significant had happened. In the
early morning hours, before the sun had risen, the voice of the Lord
awakened me for the second time.
Lorraine, I have a word for you. You are not familiar with this word,
so after I speak it, I want you to write it down so there is no confusion. The
word is duong. It is spelled d-u-o-n-g.
Wondering if my prayer for the gift of tongues had been answered,
I asked the Lord, Is this word from a heavenly language?
No, the Lord said, this word is in Vietnamese. I want you to take this
word to a woman named Tam, who does your nails. Give her this word,
and shell know what it means.
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I visited Tam as soon as the nail salon opened. Tam was a young
Vietnamese woman who had recently immigrated to the United States
and worked in the nail salon I had just started visiting. Tam did not
recognize duong as a Vietnamese word, which brought me into a new
state of confusion.
How could that be true? I thought. I know what I heard during the
night, and I was even given the exact spelling of the word, letter by letter.
At Tams prompting, I took a seat at her table to let her give me a
manicure, while I tried to make sense of what had just happened. Had
I heard from God? Yes! It was a conversation in a dream, just as I had
read about in my Bible. I sat quietly and listened as the radio began
playing the song Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. Soon these lyrics
came over the airwaves: Would you know my name, if I saw you in
heaven? In that moment, I heard the voice of God speak to my mind,
just as clearly as I had heard His voice during the night.
Lorraine, this is the message I have for Tam. Tell her I know her name.
I was completely captivated that God could speak to me while I
was awake.
Tam, God wants you to know that He knows your name.
Tams eyes grew wide. She pointed upward as she repeated, God
knows my name? My name?
It was very clear to me God knew her name, because I had forgotten
itbut He woke me up in the middle of the night to speak her name
to me. Yes, I thought, God knows your name. Tam and I were silent as
we considered the words that had just been spoken.
It was not long before I heard God speak to me again: Now tell her
Im concerned that she doesnt know My name.
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This was so easy! I was raised to believe sharing my faith meant handing someone a tract or telling them about The Four Spiritual Laws,
but I never thought it would be as simple as hearing Gods voice and
sharing His words with another person.
Looking at Tam, I said, God is concerned that you dont know His
name. Tam, what is the name of God?
Immediately Tam responded, The name of God is Buddha.
My heart sank when I heard her say this. It was not the right answer.
I was hesitant to tell Tam what I had known even as a three-year-old
childthat God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth carrying salvation in His
name. It was in His name alone Tam would find hope, meaning and
the way to life.
Instead I said, There is only one true God, and His name is not
Tell her that I love her. God spoke to me a third time as I sat across
from Tam. What an awesome revelationno condemnation, no judgmentjust pure love for the one He was seeking.
Tam, God has another message for you, I said. He wants you to
know that He loves you.
God loves me? she responded with intensity. I sensed the love of
God was beginning to touch her heart.
Yes, I said. God loves you, and He wants you to know Him.
Tam was having difficulty following parts of our conversation in
English, so she pointed to her cousin Christy, asking me to repeat what I
had shared so Christy could translate our conversation into Vietnamese.
I walked over to Christy with just one thought on my mind: What does
the word duong mean?
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To my surprise, Christy responded just as Tam had earlier that morning by saying that duong was not a Vietnamese word.
That cant be right! I thought. I looked around for a piece of paper and
wrote the word duong on a napkin. I turned it around to face Christy.
Slowly, an understanding crept over her face.
Oh, that word, Christy said, repeating it in her native tongue. The
way duong sounded in Vietnamese was very different from the way I had
been pronouncing it. No wonder there had been confusion.
That is a small and insignificant word, Christy explained. It doesnt
mean much of anything at all.
I now had confirmation God had spoken a Vietnamese word to me in
the night, but I still needed to know what it meant. Christy led me over
to the front of the nail salon, where we stood looking out the window
at the busy street that ran parallel to her business.
Do you see that street in front of us? Christy asked. Duong is like
that street. It is a very busy path many people travel on. Its like a way.
That is what duong means.
In that instant, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words Jesus
spoke to His disciples: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). Duong was not an
insignificant word, as Christy had implied. Duong means waythe
very same word Jesus used to describe Himself. It is perhaps the most
important word that was ever spoken, because that one little word sums
up the truth of who Jesus is and how we come to God. Amazing!
My connection with Tam has remained strong over the years, and I
continue to see her regularly. Tam confessed to me that she has reserved
a special place in her heart for God. I know that the God who speaks is
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the God who loves. He has not grown tired in His pursuit after Tams
heart, that one day it might become completely His.
Since that supernatural encounter, my journey with Jesus has never
been the same. Knowing I can hear His voice has led me to a continual
expectation that I will hear Him speak. As I open my Bible to read His
Word, I meditate on what I read and write down the thoughts He is
impressing on my heart. While the Bible is and always will be the only
inerrant Word of God, I find these messages He speaks to me are consistent with His written Word of truth, His desires and His very heart.
In the pages ahead, I will be sharing with you some of the messages
He has spoken to me during the times I have set aside to listen for His
voice. May they speak to your heart, too. May they also inspire your
faith, for this ability to hear Gods voice is not just for a select fewit is
available for all who believe in Him. As Jesus said, My sheep hear My
voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).

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