In this unit on sound, I have covered three different gifts in the category of “gifts of tongues” , how God can use different languages to deliver prophetic words to nations and people groups, and being in tune with the sound of God’s emotions.
While it is a given that Jesus’ sheep hear his voice, how should they respond?
Unlike sheep, the Father has not made all people the same.
Just like each person’s singing voice, God gives each believer their own sound and their own way of releasing it. Before the Lord, we each become an instrument.
Like instruments of various sizes (appearance), pitch (sound), and material (function), God has created each believer in his body uniquely so we can collectively mirror Christ. We must know how God has created us to sound (identity) and respond to him out of identity in order to play our part.
Unlike conventional vocal talent or skill, a believer’s capacity to mirror the sound of Jesus’ voice in their song is a function of dependence on Christ. Jesus, who teaches us to speak, who is intimately acquainted with our design, whose voice the nations respond to, transforms the tone quality of our voices and tunes us.
When we let Christ transform us, it isn’t just Jesus’ love, but the full range of his character that echoes through us to the world. Jesus’ authority, Jesus’ wisdom, Jesus’ lovingkindness, Jesus’ mercy, Jesus’ emotional range, Jesus’ endurance. If all the aspects of Jesus’ character could be written down, along with each of his actions, “I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
We have Jesus’s character written down through the bible. But for those of us who long for the fullness of God and long for even more of his story, we are in luck! Through our love for him, each believer’s life becomes a story of the beauty of Jesus.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.Psalm 139:16
Ultimately, the world will not be able to contain all of these stories, and he will make a new dwelling place where his people will still be singing in worship. In this place, we will learn a new song of worship.
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 [full measure of people] who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 [full measure] who had been redeemed from the earth.Revelation 14:1-4
In that place, the collective sound of our worship will sound like “the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder”.
Heavenly host will praise him. Angels will praise him. The Sun and Moon will praise him. The shining stars will praise him. Sea creatures and ocean depths will praise him. Lighting, hail, snow, clouds, and stormy winds will praise him. Landforms, trees, and all animals will praise him. All ages of people and authorities will praise him.
I personally believe that this sound will comprehensively demonstrate God’s fullness, deafeningly declaring God’s glory at all octaves and all frequencies.
As We Rehearse for that Day, We Must Know Who We Are: Understanding Spiritual Gifts
In his Kingdom, every instrument makes a unique sound. Without there being a distinction each instruments’ sound, the world will not be able to intelligibly hear Christ.
As you learn God’s design for your voice and walk in your gifts, he will make it a well tuned instrument. The mixture of gifts and different attributes God gives each of us in an inheritance designed to give him glory. As we are faithful to God’s investment in us, we earn him a greater return on his inheritance.
Through his people, Jesus’ voice sounds in various accents and dialects, through the speakers own phrasing, styles, and pitches. As his vessels, we do not need to erase our identities so that Christ can express himself through us. Jesus came in the flesh, and he isn’t afraid of being fully human. He can express God’s nature through our humanity just as he expressed God’s nature perfectly through his own. Somehow, even Jesus had a personality! The fullness of God was reflected in just one man, and this same man can teach us how to express God’s fullness in the sound we carry.
Jesus knows how he has made each of us, and he has given each of us a good measure, more than enough to reap him a harvest. He will give us more if we are trustworthy. He has crafted us in complexity to carry specific gifts,
Sadly, individuals trap themselves on several snares when it comes to knowing their gifts and function in the Kingdom of God.
Pitfalls to Walking in Your Design
One common barrier to walking closely with God in your design is to assume that you fully understand God’s design for yourself or others, or that you know how God will respond to your eagerness.
The Kingdom of God starts in a hidden place, and eventually becomes externally visible.
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”Matthew 13:33
In the same way as yeast growing in secret to form bread, God often begins stirs our hunger for more of him in secret.
There are many people who have yet to come to know God and serve him in amazing ways that do not currently know him. There are many people who will be strong voices in the Church who are currently in hiding. We do not always know just by looking at someone how God will move in their lives.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.1 Corinthians 13:9
How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?1 Corinthians 7:16
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”John 7:24
While this principle is somewhat intuitive, it takes time to train yourself to expect more for yourself and others than you can initially see. Training your expectations becomes a continuous process as God renews your mind.
Often, God begins to draw someone to himself through their sense of longing. Due to God’s own great longing, he uses our desires to connect us to himself. He draws us by longing both when we come to salvation initially, or giving us the longing to learn a new spiritual gift. Seemingly without reason, we are curious and have an intense desire to learn more. Like children with a safe parent, God gives us the freedom to explore as he takes us on a journey of finding our right place and roles. He isn’t offended by our questions, and desires to know us more deeply.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!Matthew 7:11
God is comfortable with us exploring. As you explore, it is easiest to start in a place that seems most accessible. Ask God to show you which of your hidden interests are from him.
As you go through the searching process, he will give you endurance to grow in your gifts until you come to maturity.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”Matthew 7:7
As you develop more maturity, you will naturally begin to gravitate towards the areas of calling God has for you.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.Ephesians 4:11, 14-15
As long as your intentions aren’t to please other people or promote yourself, God put favor (tangible blessing) on your ministry in areas where you are called.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.Colossians 3:23
…Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Phillipians 2:4
But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.1 Corinthians 7:7
We do not always get to choose what gifts God gives us…
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.1 Corinthians 12:11
Which is good, because envying others gifts (jealousy) will only separate us from our own design.
You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:2-3
Ultimately, spiritual jealousy disrespects God and shows contempt for how he made you (self-cursing).
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?1 Corinthians 12:17
God has designed each of us in specific ways. We are genuinely happiest when we are at the center of his will for our lives, as designed.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.Isaiah 30:21
There are no superhuman, extra-enlightened people. There are only people who are further along in their specific process of understanding their calling/design. It does not make sense to be jealous of them, but to mutually love and learn from each other. Formation is a process.
Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.1 Corinthians 12:31
All gifts are necessary, but specific gifts (like prophesy) are more desirable because they are extremely useful to the body. If your desire is to serve the Church, you will inevitably desire greater gifts.
Another common pitfall is waiting until you have perfect circumstances to explore God’s design for you.
Realistically, there will never be perfect circumstances. Growth is a process than is life-giving, but can be costly.
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.Mark 12:44
During the entirety of Jesus’s ministry, he never had comfortable circumstances. Jesus brought the Kingdom of God while constantly traveling, often away from his family, during a time of military occupation, and with the full acceptance that others would likely not understand. Instead of waiting for comfortable timing and what made sense in man’s wisdom, Jesus acted within God’s timing and brought the Kingdom to earth in the midst of difficult circumstances. While many of our circumstances may not be quite as difficult now, the Kingdom of God comes into our lives in the same way: when there is no other way forward but to trust in God.
When God sees our level of sacrifice, he honors it and gives us increasing authority.
Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.Matthew 6:4
Again, our actions must be defined by what God says and the appearance of our circumstances.
“For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.”1 Corinthians 7:22
A Brief Call to Repentance
Lord, forgive us for undervaluing the ways we see and hear you. We are grateful that our ears hear your voice, and that our eyes see you. We recognize that there are many things that we have been given, both revelation about Jesus and spiritual gifts, that other people have longed to receive throughout the ages.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.Matthew 13:16-17
We are grateful for the many gifts that you have given us, and grateful to be included in your story. Help us recognize and celebrate the inheritances you have given to each of us through our own specific design. Help us to encourage and celebrate others as they serve you and your Church. Give us the grace to walk in the fullness of our designs so that we can win you an even greater inheritance.
God Reveals Our Design
Through knowing your design, your voice will ultimately be able to carry more of the fullness of Christ and be an extremely useful instrument to the Kingdom of God.
For the remainder of this post, I’m going to be talking about some specific ways that individuals can partner with God to understand their design. These are a collection of different activations that I have lately absorbed from teachers at the Global Prophetic Alliance, Wildback Ministry Seeing in the Spirit, and Awaken Generation Singapore. Each of them connects to understanding the specific audience, geography, and gifts assigned to your ministry. I will likely continue to add to this list as I find impactful activations.
I am sharing these activations with the hope that it will prompt a series of conversations between you and God that ultimately draws you into your right place. Beyond the capacity of any individual prophet or prophetic ministry to hear and reveal God’s design for your life, be your own biggest listener. When you are your own biggest listener, you can more easily test other people’s words and teach others, so that the ENTIRE body of Christ comes into maturity.
This is not a thinking exercise. These are a series of devotional conversation starters, between you and the Lord. As you discuss these things with God, remember to check what you are hearing against the healthy precepts of the bible. While you may have a sense of some aspects of your design, as you go on this process, God will likely surprise you.
How our Speaking and/or Singing Voices Point to God
Early in April, I was very concerned that as God brought me to increased visibility in ministry, I would lose my voice. I was not afraid of lacking the capacity to speak, as teaching in front of children and working with groups of adults has mostly broken that anxiety off me. However, I was still afraid that in being in front of more people, I would lose my distinctiveness, the aspects of my personality and values that allow me to remain myself.
For the record, there are times when we identify ourselves wrongly, and to lose those wrong self-definitions is a gift. When I came to Christ and had to die to the part of me that started fluently cursing in third grade, or the part of me whose sense of humor was more defined by social media that God, those things certainly had to die. But there are specific aspects of our characters, our values, and even our cultures that absolutely are useful to God. As long as we develop range in relating to people and do not let our own personality aspects limit how we are called to love others, retaining our distinctiveness allows us to produce a clear sound that carries Jesus’ voice.
Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?1 Corinthians 14:7
As I navigated this time of anxiety, God showed me that even through our normal speaking voices, he has given clues about the type of people we are meant to become for the Kingdom.
Do not let read religion (formula) or people-reading (inferring things solely on appearance) into what I am about to say. Not every person with a deep loud voice is meant for platform. My meaning is much more subtle than that, and has to start with your values.
When I consider my values, I have definitely been formed by Midwestern (USA) culture. My two greatest values are probably clarity and community. I also value humor, warmth, strength, and simplicity.
For years, I had some difficulty accepting my normal speaking voice, because I felt insecure about its pitch. While my voice isn’t extremely low, its pitch is somewhere in the middle range of speaking voices for women. When it comes to singing, my voice is relatively clear. My lower and upper ranges are probably the most developed. Through years of choir and some gospel choir experience, I can develop harmonies by ear, and am relatively passionate about singing in tune across volumes and vowel types. It’s something I’ve worked at over the years, and something that allows me to worship Jesus clearly today. Even so, I used to feel uncomfortable with my voice because it was easier not to stand out.
When I was at Awaken Generation Singapore in May, one of their leaders, Alarice led the group in an activation. She commented on the specific vocal range and resonance of one of the students and asked her how she believed her voice pointed to God’s character. Through this activation, I realized that the warmth, fluidity, range, and clarity that he has given me in singing and speaking are a reflection of Jesus’s voice in me.
How does the specific pitch, resonance, range, and clarity of your voice image God? Your voice can demonstrate elements of the design he has for you..
How our Bodies Point to God
Similarly, our bodies can point to God! The bible says in Psalm 139:14 that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In making you, God designed you to reflect a specific element of his character. One of the best teachings I have heard on this topic is from the Global Prophetic Alliance. The specific biblical example they give is dark skin, and how in the bible, it represents richness and luxury.
Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon.Song of Solomon 1:5
While Western nations may be hesitant to talk about bodies because of effects that racism has had on the topic, to not celebrate God for the diversity of our bodies OR seek his thoughts our own own specific designs is to withhold just praise.
Furthermore, if we do not recognize the unique ways our bodies are meant to image God, we will be tossed back and forth by body image issues. Media and culture are chaotic; they create and change beauty ideals constantly, and true confidence must come from a different source. We must know how our bodies image God so that we don’t put our value in misplaced demonic structures and can walk in the confidence he intended for us.
Recently, having completed this exercise helped me be more confident at a hair appointment. I normally feel uncomfortable at hair appointments because people’s comments about my hair, eyes, or skin can carry weird idolatry of specific physical features. Even when I gently push back on their comments by talking about their own natural beauty or the beauty of other complexions, it can be draining. I don’t like feeling like a doll, and it grieves me when people make subtle comparison comments in a way that seems to leave them deflated (buying into Western beauty standards that I don’t personally endorse). After I completed this exercise, I started to be less uncomfortable, even when others’ comments still carried insecurity. I was able to just quietly remember what these traits reflected about God, and that his lens is the most meaningful.
As you ask God what your specific physical features reflect about your design, expect him to set you free of unnecessary weight, insecurity, and comparisons. Ultimately, this sense of liberty will allow you to focus on what matters most: him.
Personality and Geography
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to various nations. In traveling to Scotland, England, Germany, Singapore, and Brazil, the Lord drew my attention to specific attributes of each nation, embodied through its people.
There are things to love about each nation:
- Scot’s reverential respect for nature and beauty
- The pastoral heart of the English
- German’s intensity and holy directness
- Singaporean’s servant-heartedness and diversity
- Brazilian’s mestiçagem (specific kind of ethnic diversity), freedom, and generosity
In November 2021, I received a prophetic word from Emma Stark about returning to Latin America for ministry, due to my internal alignment matching the disposition of the people. I will be transparent, at first I struggled to hear her statement without a filter, because my North American mindset focuses so greatly on the individual that I was hesitant to generalize traits to a culture.
However, the more I’ve traveled, the more I realize that the concept of each nation carrying specific anointings is relatively true. While these anointings can change based on the season a nation is in, they do tend to model Jesus in particular ways for a set time period. We need the full family of nations to model the full range of Jesus’ character. This is what it means to be a family of nations.
God can put us in particular cultures based on the way our personalities, values, and internal alignments resonate with the land. I can tell you that in the 2 weeks I’ve been back in Latin America, I am more effective in ministry to individuals and groups, I have a greater sense of protection and how God is moving, and there is a lot of genuine, mutual affection between me and the people. Calling really does relate to ease.
While this particular piece can take a while to unscramble (especially if you haven’t travelled a ton), God will meet us where we are at. If you want to learn more about my process of discernment, some strategies for discerning a call to nations, and stories of how God drew me to specific regions, check out this post.
Sphere of Influence
Over the last 2 years, I’ve had the enormous privilege to get to know many prophets and prophetic people relatively well. I’ve met prophets who are called to business, to arts and media, to education, to just about every sphere of influence.
I’ve also met prophets whose audience and lives are for a particular people group. I’ve met prophets who are called to be advocates for disability rights, for individuals living in poverty in specific regions, for youth and children (me).
In a recent closed group training with Robin, the leader of Wildback Ministry, Robin taught us to focus on the difference between passion and complaint to understand our specific calling as leaders.
Robin defined complaint as an area of frustration that keeps you up at night. Instead of interests that come and ago, complaints are more fundamental to our personalities and more likely to deeply move us to sorrow, passion, or anger. Another way to think about the concept of complaint is, “What is one issue that if you died before you were able to address it, your life would be incomplete?”
Often charismatics will talk about the concept of complaint within the idea of God’s design for our lives being written in advance. The idea is that by living our your design, you will fulfill the words written in the book (or scroll, depending on your imagery) that God wrote for your life.
Hearing Robin teach on this topic gave me permission to focus on my biggest complaint: the robbery of children’s inheritances in Christ by both the Church and the world. I have other complaints that relate to other life callings/mantles, but overall, the frustration about robbery of children is the one that leads and burns most intensely. Knowing my areas of complaint and even the hierarchy of intensity between them has helped me spend my time more wisely and has given me more permission to press in for details when getting a word.
Even More Available: Seeing in the Spirit
Realistically, there is always more revelation and more capacity available with God. Some questions I’ve heard prophets use to analyze people’s calling are heavily focused on the supernatural. As God grows an individual’s capacity to see the supernatural through the Holy Spirit, they may end up investigating questions like:
- What angels are assigned to me (and others)?
- What do I look like in the Spirit? What clothes am I wearing?
- What weapons are assigned to me/my angels?
Through being centered on a biblical understanding of the supernatural, from relationship with the Holy Trinity, and in community with other prophetic people, these questions can help us understand our specific design and function in it.
For example, if God is expanding your capacity to see or perceive holy angels, you may be able to watch how those angels move in a room to understand what the Holy Spirit is doing or specific people to minister to. As God draws you closer to him, some of these concepts become increasingly accessible. It’s not something you can force, but something God conversationally, thoughtfully opens up over time. For individuals who have seen angels and other supernatural elements since they were young, learning to see in the Spirit through relationship with the Holy Spirit is ultimately a much more satisfying, safe, relational experience than just to notice things or pursue the supernatural via another spirit. There is a purity to it that no other spirit (ie, demon) can provide, and individuals can minister much more effectively to others through partnership with the angelic.
A Blessing to Perceive and Walk in Your Design
May the Lord help you perceive the fullness of his design and plans for your life,
May you delight in Jesus and carry the resonance of his voice in all that you do,
May God guide your steps so that you are confronted by your complaint(s) and become a solution,
May he weaponize you to be a deliverer for people who are trapped in cords of bondage,
May the Holy Spirit empower you with spiritual gifts that are an answer to the people’s prayers,
May you rise in maturity, into the full stature of Christ, providing timely fruit and wisdom from the Holy Spirit over the entire remit of your call,
May God delight in your faithfulness and service to him, and may you see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.