Synopsis and Outline
“Hearing His Voice” is and invitation and a guide into a life of intimacy with God where His voice is no longer something foreign, but a deeply valued and often used gift. It consists of 14 weekly “chapters” which begin with a longer reflection (generally 700-900 words) followed by five shorter “daily thoughts” to encourage the reader to press deeper into the chapter as the week goes along.
I would describe my own style of writing as “personal and evocative.”
It is definitely “non-fiction” and it’s intended audience is probably the hungrier members of mainline churches. I don’t think that Francis Frangipane’s readers will find anything new or noteworthy here, but I hope that my story and position in a mainline denomination will open doors for folks starving for an intimacy no one is telling them they can have.
Hearing His Voice
I believe that God speaks. Sometimes audibly, sometimes in other equally discernible ways, but God speaks to His children today. But my experience is that not too many of us actually hear Him. Many read His Word faithfully, and in that they discern much about His will for us. But very few actually hear their Father in Heaven speak His restoration, His peace, His joy and His sorrow into their lives.
That is why I wrote this book.
I am not writing for Christians who live in the richness of the Father’s presence. I am writing for the huge majority of Christians, both mainline and evangelical, who hunger for something they can’t quite put into words, something “more.” And I am writing in the hopes that I’ll stir up a desire for “more” in some Christians who are satisfied with what they have, or who have despaired of finding anything else.
I was a “mainline” church person. I grew up in the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church, and I nearly drove myself and everyone close to me nuts looking in all the wrong places for the only thing that could satisfy my longing, intimacy with God. Finally, my spiritual crisis led me into a relationship with a Spiritual Director who simply refused to give up on “bringing Jesus into the room.” (My phrase for what she did.) Not just talking about Jesus. Not just looking to Jesus as example but declaring His presence and refusing to let me off the hook.
When I finally heard the Father’s “still small voice” its thunder shattered the very ground I stood upon. (I literally felt unsteady walking for a while.) It sundered the shackles that bound me and filled me with an unquenchable hope. I began to want that for my congregation, and I began to preach it. I guess now you’d call me an “evangelical Episcopalian,” but I don’t put a lot of stock in labels.
What I am is a Christian who has a burning desire to see all of his brothers and sisters enjoy the same kind of intimacy that he is still discovering.
This book began as a series of reflections I put into the bulletins at my parish over a period of weeks. Each piece is based on one of the series of weekly readings called the “Revised Common Lectionary.” I could have chosen different topics and then selected readings to fit each section, but I preferred to let this cycle of readings set my agenda. For the most part, the readings are from “Year C” and they tend to follow one another, but I’ve rearranged the order a little here and there, and skipped a week or two as well and because of this, I don’t indicate the “lectionary week.”
In addition to each weekly reflection, I’ve added five “daily thoughts” to help carry the theme through an entire week and give a different slant to each day.
Using this book
First thing: Ignore the “weekly” and “daily” designations when you need to. When I went back through this book and edited it, I realized that many of the daily and weekly subjects had taken me weeks and months to accept into my own relationship with the Father.
Second thing: Please don’t do any more than one piece in a day. These reflections are too intense to digest if you take them in big chunks.
Third thing: The readings, except for the first few, don’t really build on one another. If you find a chapter title that strikes your fancy or speaks to your current place in life, I don’t think the book will be harmed if you take things out of order.
Fourth thing: At the beginning of each week’s reflection, you’ll find a list of readings. That’s because each reflection is grounded in the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for the week in which I wrote it. When I began all this, I was sending out a weekly email to a few hundred readers, all of whom used that Lectionary in their weekly worship. I stuck to the Lectionary for inspiration because the use of that three year cycle of readings helps discipline me, keep me from running off on my own tangent. Reading the lessons at the beginning of the reflection will give context to what follows, and I recommend it.
I published the first edition of this book, the paperback version, back in 2011. It’s been a long journey since then. I didn’t publish an e-book of it at that time because I was exhausted with learning all about kerning and word spacing and avoiding “rivers” on the page and creating a Kindle version would have meant learning a whole new set of techniques for making a “flowable” book.
I’m retired now, and I have time to do that. Also, Amazon has made the process of publishing a Kindle book a lot easier than it used to be. But I’m also a lot older and a little sadder. I became disillusioned with the idea that I could make a difference with this book or the other things I wrote, and I gave up trying for a while. I also gave up listening for several years. It’s hard to touch that fire regularly and not see it catch in the lives of others. Looking back, that makes me sad.
But I’m in a new season in my life, it seems. I’m once again hungry to see others find what I once discovered, and what I’m rediscovering. So I’ve re-edited the book, changing bits here and there, and I’ve dug out lots of other things that I wrote back when I was burning (and some that are even older than that) and I’m putting them out there. Hearing His Voice is available online as well. I’m putting it onto my website, “The Vicar’s Keep” one chapter at a time, and you can read/use it for free. I’m only putting this onto Amazon for folks who’d like to be able to carry the book around on their phones or tablets.
I pray that learning to hear His voice will bless you the way that it has me.
If you’d like easier access to Hearing His Voice than looking it up on a webpage, it is now available as both paperback and Kindle book. (But it will always be free here.)