The First Time I Heard God’s Voice

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I grew up on thirty acres of Eden in rural Mississippi. In another word, paradise.

Our days consisted of running around the woods playing war with sticks, building makeshift bridges over any puddle of water we could find, pushing toy cars along scratched-up dirt roads, and fishing in drainage ditches.

I had two brothers who always made sure that I was included, a dad who worked extremely hard to provide for our family, cousins who lived just through the woods, and a mother who cared for everyone she met, like most good southern mothers. My grandparents lived up one hill, and my uncle and aunt lived up the other side of that same hill.

It was heaven.

Mom made sure to keep us in church as much as possible, even when we didn’t want to go, so we grew up with not only our parents to raise us, but a host of women who took it upon themselves to see that every kid in their Sunday School class knew both the stories of the bible and the love of Jesus.

Mrs. Shirley often kept us in the nursery (this memory is fuzzy), Mrs. Brenda helped in the kids department (and she played the piano), Mrs. Debbie led my youth class, as did my parents for a time. It was a good ole Southern Baptist church with lots of wonderful people, but back in those days, there was also a pretty ridiculous group of good ole boy deacons who made sure to keep the pastors fresh every few years. So throughout my years at this little church, we saw preachers come and go, we even had subs in between the pastors. It was almost like a basketball team.

“Hey you! Sub out for this one – we didn’t like the way you preached that sermon. In fact, we’re trading you. Give us the keys to the parsonage!”

The first pastor I remember was Bro. Archie. Every service we had an altar call for anyone who wanted to give their heart to Jesus, and mostly every Sunday we sang three stanza’s of Just as I Am and went home, but one day my cousin Marriah wanted to go down and accept Jesus.

“Go with me, Cuz,” she whispered. “I don’t wanna go by myself.”

So I went, of course.

A few days later, Bro. Archie came to the house and explained everything in detail, making sure I understood what I was doing. Then, after a  few weeks more, Mariah and I stood on concrete blocks set in the middle of the aged blue baptistry (we were too short to see over the baptistry walls). That day, we were baptized, and the tiny little congregation amened just loud enough to be heard but not so loud as to be considered a closet charismatic.

We both swam out I think. It was a big baptistry.

The most pronounced memory I have of Brother Archie happened one Sunday not too long after we got dunked. I was minding my own business, sound asleep in church, like every week, when something happened that changed my life.

I heard a voice. Yes, a voice. This voice was so different from any other voice I’d ever heard that I still remember it vividly. It spoke one simple sentence.

“You are going to be a preacher.”

And that was it. I don’t know if it was audible or a dream, because I was asleep (I’ve never heard the audible voice of the Lord since), but to me it still seems like it was audible. Even at six, I somehow knew the Lord had spoken to me.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is not that the Lord spoke to me, but that He woke me. I’ve been told that I inherited my dad’s spiritual gift of snoring.

I don’t believe it for a second.

I woke up, sat up in the pew, and looked at Mom.

“Momma, I’m going to be a preacher!”

She looked down at me with those dove eyes of her’s and smiled. Having raised three sons, I’m sure she’d heard this type of sudden exclamation concerning our life’s calling a hundred times – probably ranging from astronauts to kung fu grandmasters – but she still looked at me like she fully believed what I said. At that moment, I knew mom believed I would indeed be a preacher.

That’s my mother. If there’s one line of wisdom I learned from Mom, it’s this: “With God, you can do all things. Even if no one else believes in it, if God is leading you, keep going.” Dad has always rounded out that advice with something that I belie matters just as much.

“Dusty (that’s what the family calls me), working hard matters. Not just for money, work hard because it is the right thing to do. Never lie, and work hard.”

Gold. Faith and diligence together.

“Will you tell Brother Achie?” I asked Mom.

“You tell him.”

And so, with trembling little hands, I shook Brother Achie’s hand and told him that I was going to be a preacher just like him. He looked at me with just as much belief as Mom and told me how good that was. He believed that I could do it, and since Mom and Bro. Archie believed, so did I!

Today, I am a preacher, to thousands on television and thousands in person all over the world. Over the years, I’ve had the same experiences with children, and each time I do my best to emulate my mother and Bro. Archie, but I can’t help but wonder if Bro. Archie’s private thoughts weren’t something along the lines of… That’s great. Step one, stop snoring during my sermons.

Years later, before Bro Archie passed, he and his wife, Mrs. Bernice got to see that I had indeed become a preacher just as I said I would. Not much makes me more happy than that.

Undefeatable (One for the Weary Soul)

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Have you ever felt exhausted? I don’t mean just exhausted after a long hike but tired in your soul – tired of climbing uphill, tired of swimming upstream?

If you’re like me, you have. You have set your mind to do things right, to not compromise your morals for success, and now, after years of trudging, you’ve found out why people give in. It is exhausting.
Lately, I’ve felt that way. But, like you, I refuse to quit. So let’s you and I take a moment and encourage ourselves. We are Bravehearts. We do not sell our souls to gain the world. We do not have a price.

Story is the Language of Mankind

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A story is the Language of Mankind. Across all cultures worldwide, the story has always been and is still the #1 way to communicate.

In fact, we ourselves are walking, talking, stories.

How Indiana Jones Helped me Stop being a Perfectionist

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Do you have a great idea brewing in your heart? Have you started multiple projects but never felt they were good enough to release to the world? Are your projects, like many of mine, never… ever… finished?

If so, this post is for you. Today, I’d like to share how one scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade changed my mind for good about being a perfectionist.

The Real Reason We Don’t Surrender to God

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“Freeze! Put your hands up. Now!”

When you read that sentence, what image popped into your mind? If you’re from a western country (or a fan of blockbuster American movies), then you probably pictured a police officer with his gun aimed at someone’s forehead.

If your mental image had a caption, it would most likely read:

SURRENDER

Sadly, this is how many picture God’s call on their life: a drawn pistol wielded by an angry authority. Even our imagination seems to lean toward a distrust of God. This distrust is a ripple flowing from the fall of man. It is a lingering doubt deep in our flesh, a symptom of the poison Satan injected into Adam and Eve.

It is the age-old question of the goodness of God.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:4-5

Ever since Satan planted that lie, we’ve wondered if God is holding something out from us. More than not, when we hear The Lord’s footsteps behind us, we run for our lives without looking back.

We carry that same fear into our daily lives. To avoid surprises, we work overtime to ensure the path stays predictable. We minimize every risk. We map our way meticulously, routing every decision away from the road less taken.

But then we complain about our boring life. We whine about the predictability of the worn path we’re sleepwalking along.

Oh, I cannot tell you how many people I’ve met, sixty and over, who have told me of their regrets. Years ago, Jesus came and offered them a grand adventure in His Kingdom, but they refused. Now, even though it is not too late for them (I’ve also met many who in their older age have struck out on new adventures with God and succeeded!), they feel like it is. Now, they wonder what they were so afraid of when they were young.

“Where was the adventure? Where was the purpose? We chased the dollar until our knees gave out and now we feel too tired to try the race again!”

No. I repeat: NO! That is no way to live.

[bctt tweet=”‘Where was the adventure? Where was the purpose? We chased the dollar until our knees gave out and now we feel too tired to try the race again!’ NO! That is no way to live! – @DustanStanley” username=””]

Having made the choices we’ve made, this way of thinking is something I don’t understand, nor do I want to. To absolutely no credit of my own, I’ve never been able to grasp that way of thinking. Yes, I’ve always wanted to have deep roots – to have family traditions and grand-children that grow up before my eyes, but God made me wanting wings, to go and be and do all for that which the Lord has designed me. I don’t want to live afraid. I don’t want the spirit of fear to plan my future. I don’t want to run every time I hear a door slam or a footstep behind me. More than anything, I want to live His dreams for my life. I want to fulfill His plans! I want to know Him!

And I believe (with all my heart), that if you are reading this, you want that too.

So, let me ask you a question. What if those footsteps we hear are not the footsteps of an enemy, but rather the footsteps of the Savior? What if the life we are holding onto so very tightly is bland at best, full of false video-game adventure and predictable, safe endings. What if the life we’ve scripted for ourselves is, in fact, the enemy of the abundant one God has for us.

What if our good plans are the opposition to God’s great plans?

God has a plan for your life. Is that true or just a false cliche`?

Yes, God has a life He wants you to have. A good one. An abundant one!

The #1 Key to Finding YOUR Abundant Life

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Before you start reading, let me begin by stressing how important I feel this post is.

I am convinced that if the one basic truth in the following post was taken to heart and followed, the rest of your life would become more fulfilled, purposeful, and exciting than you can imagine. More, I feel that your life would grow to become immensely useful to this world. In this issues’ podcast, I touched on this subject, but I really wanted to put in in print because I feel it is vital!

Please take a moment read these scriptures.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high; I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

– Psalms 139:1-18 –

Now, I want to tell you something that will really help you as you seek after the abundant life Jesus died to give you. Are you ready?

God knows you more than you know you! He even loves you more than you love you. He knows what will make you joyful, happy, and thrilled with life. After all, he designed you.

[bctt tweet=”God knows you more than you know you! He even loves you more than you love you. He knows what will make you joyful, happy, and thrilled with life. After all, he designed you. – @DustanStanley” via=”no”]

More still, God knows how you will be best used to make this world a better place. The scripture says He saw your substance before it was yet formed. That means He imagined you! He’s thrilled in you! He knows you better than you know yourself.

Now read this next scripture:

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. – Psalms 37:4

Now, let me tell you a secret about this scripture. In the original language, the word DELIGHT means to BE SOFT OR PLIABLE. Did you get that? Don’t believe me, stop now and go look it up. It means to be soft or pliable! In other words, be like CLAY– like Play-Doh. It means to be movable. Delicate in God’s master fingers! It means to be changeable.

In other words, when we joyfully surrender to God’s molding fingers, He (in His great knowledge of who He designed us to be) will form the desires in our hearts to match His desire for us!

When we are submitted to God’s leading, committed to change all He asks us to change, then what thrills God will begin to thrill us. Soon, our plans will match, and they will make us come truly alive because He knows us better than we know us!

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
– Isaiah 64:8 –

The way to find true, abundant, Revolutionary Life, is not to push our way through the crowd. Abundant life comes when we give ourselves fully into God’s hands. God wants to lead you down YOUR path, not drive you forward like cattle with a whip. God molds us through the shaping and molding of our hearts, and He does so with the intimate knowledge of who we really are underneath it all.

That’s why the first step to finding the will of God for your life is surrender.

Surrender. That’s where our adventure truly begins. When we decide to follow the will of the Writer, to relinquish control; to allow God’s spirit and His word to shape the way we think, that’s when God starts guiding us, making us, promoting us, and repairing us.

My friend, the beginning of abundant life is surrender. It is the tough secret. Like eating healthy and exercise, it is easy to know but hard to do.

But we must DO IT if we want to become all we are destined to be.

A Bus Crash and God’s Supernatural Protection During an Uphill Climb

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During one of our recent missions in Nepal, God gave us supernatural protection and mercy during a treacherous uphill trek in the Himalayas.

Where to Get a Great Cup of Coffee in Pokhara, Nepal

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I don’t know about you, but I love coffee. So naturally, when we travel, we keep our eyes open for really good coffee shops. Once we find one, we put a ring on it, and stay committed. Then, we tell everyone how much in love we are. So today…

I want to introduce you to my favorite coffee shops in one of my favorite cities: am/pm organic cafe in Pokhara, Nepal.

Dustan Stanley – A Dream from God about a Wild Plane Landing (Podcast)

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Dustan Stanley shares about a dream he recently had about a very wild airplane landing. The meaning of the dream will encourage you!

Why You Don’t Want To Write (or Do Other Things that You Once Loved)

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One night, a while back, as I was getting ready to wind down for the night, I had this sudden rush of mild panic. My heart fluttered, and I took a quick breath in as the wiry electric sensations of anxiety spread from my hollow feeling chest to my limbs. A demanding voice in the back of my mind pushed forward and screamed at me.
“You need to write!”

Now, for most people, this is not the screaming you hear before bed, but for me as a minister/writer/blogger that voice pops up every once in a while. Blogging is a part of what I do. It is writing. It is inputting into people’s lives. I even have a few testimonials about how one of my blogs helped the reader in some way or another. To me, it is ministry.

But the other night, when the voice began to nag me, I wasn’t in the mood. I opened my laptop, paused for a moment, and slapped it shut.

“I don’t want to,” I said. So I went and got a glass of ice water, plopped down on the bed, and began reading. That’s when a thought came:

Why don’t I want to? I asked myself.

“Good question,” said I.