The Language God Longs for Us to Speak


Larry Crabb

Integrity, 2003, 264 pp.   ISBN

Dr. Crabb explores our conversations as Christians and how we can help each other grow in our passion for God, how to avoid “SelfTalk” and engage in “SoulTalk.”  While it is easy to describe how our conversations are often superficial and self-centered, it is difficult to describe how to move with the Spirit to go deeper.  As with his other books, Crabb spends a great deal of effort in trying to see clearly and clarify for us what he sees.


The question this book is meant to answer: “How can conversations between followers of Jesus become a stage on which the supernatural power of God is unmistakably displayed, where souls come alive,...where love is released and souls connect?” (26)


“And the central point of SoulTalk is to awaken and nourish the first-thing desire until the passion for God becomes consuming, the ruling passion of the soul, stronger than every other desire.” (84)


The steps described in the book are

·        Think beneath to see the battle.

·        Think vision to see what could happen.

·        Think passion to see what’s in you that will get in the way.

·        Think story to see inside the people you love.

·        Think movement to enter the mystery of the Spirit’s movement.” (256)


“A full search into our own soul causes life to begin, not end.”  “And joy comes into sight.  But not right away.”


“Life is all about knowing God!” (7)


“Every hard thing we endure can put us in touch with our desire for God, and every trial can strengthen that desire until it becomes the consuming passion of our life,...the source of our deepest joy, the real point of living.” (8)


“We can bring that miracle into each other’s lives.  We can learn to talk with each other in ways that arouse our passion for God until it becomes the most powerful desire in our soul.” (9)


“Most people go through their entire life never speaking words to another human being that come out of what is deepest within them....” (13)


“We cannot experience the love and joy of real life until we’re connected to another at the level of our soul.” (17)


“SoulTalk is the language of Soul Care.”  “It is language with supernatural passion and wisdom in the service of a supernatural purpose.” (29)


Start with an honest awareness of your inadequacy. (37)


“Whatever I can do without the Spirit is SelfTalk; whatever I can do only with the Spirit is SoulTalk.” (39)


When someone shares a struggle resist the urge to run, help, or refer.  Instead, think beneath the surface to discern the real battle.  (42-3)


“Whatever comes out of our mouth when our heart is ruled by our passion for God is SoulTalk.” (49)


“People in record numbers are living the tragedy of an unobserved life.  For people desperate to be noticed, forgiven, and wanted, there is no greater tragedy.” (53) Most of us are never known by a safe friend. (56)


When we pursue good things as first things, we turn to God only for cooperation.  “Our first order of business is not to pursue satisfaction, but to identify what’s getting in the way of deepest satisfaction....” (65)


Beneath every shattered dream there is a battle being fought.  (66)


SoulTalk requires not professional precision but an authentic encounter.  It happens when your heart is right.  It waits.  It is patient.  Pray hard and long.  Keep your eyes open (Eph 6:13,18) (67-72)


“When life is hard, the most natural thing in the world is to want relief...” “The most supernatural thing we can do is to want to know God better....”  “And that’s the battle of competing desires.” (73)


Religion is making life better for yourself, and for others if you can, a self-absorbed search to be in control of your own wellbeing.  It’s a disease.  And it’s killing us.  It’s responsible for everything we call nonorganic psychological disorder.  It robs us of joy. (76) 


But as God’s child, I know that no pleasure can match the joy of knowing God.  I want to trust him, no matter what else happens.  (78)  Life is all about knowing God better, no matter the cost, clinging to him when everything goes wrong, doing all we can to create space for the Spirit to work. (81) “The core longing of our soul is the desire to know God....” (83)


“The central battle in the souls of Jesus followers is the battle to keep the first-thing desire in first place and second-thing desires in second place.” (83) 


“Religion encourages us to be preoccupied with the fruits of knowing God, not with the reality....” (93)  “My vision is to see...the desire to see a passion for God rule in the human soul.” (114)


We must learn to lead with our ears. (115)


“Brokenness, inspired by spiritual vision, is the key to releasing holy passion.” (116)  “Brokenness precedes revival.  Revival reanimates the dormant life of God within us...”  “When we set a vision that we simply cannot achieve, we’re humbled.” (119)


True brokenness depends on seeing not only our visible selfishness, but also our disguised self-centeredness.” (121)  “The bottom layer of ice is melted only by the heat of brokenness...when we see our self-centeredness and hate it.” (126)


Think vision: where a person could be if the Spirit has his way. (134)  What would it take to move someone toward that vision, to awaken that person’s appetite for God?  (135)


We have no power to move people.  Brokenness lets us abandon ourselves to God.  Out of our despair we cry to Him.  And we relax.  The pressure’s off. (136-37)


“People will not move as far as they could on their journey into God’s presence of experience the power of the Spirit as fully as they could without telling their story to another person.” (138)  “Keeping secrets is lethal.”  “Deep change requires community, and community is always mutual.” (138)


We must lead with our ears into the story of someone’s life.  Our purpose is to discern what the forces of darkness have been deceitfully saying to our friend and to recognize the Spirit’s whispers of truth.  That’s transcendent curiosity. (139)


“We’ve shrunk the gospel down to the promise of recovery.” (142)  “In our culture, and especially in postmodern spirituality, the gospel has been reduced to a ‘much better plan’ for experiencing good feelings about our life that every self-aware soul longs to feel.”  “The switch has been made.  Our enjoyment of the life we’ve always wanted has become the priority.  God’s pleasure is not even taken into account.” (144-45)


“Whenever people spoke, Jesus looked to see which kingdom was being advanced in that moment.” (157)


“Good listeners are lonely.  They long to be listened to in the same way they listen to others.” (161)


“Every person’s life is a transcendent drama, whether he or she sees it that way or not.  There is a battle going on beneath the surface of every story.”  “First, realize there is always a hidden story beneath every shared story.  Second, the hidden story always includes shaping events that taught the person wrong definitions of life and gave shape to how he lives his life.” (185)  We tend to deny our deepest longings and our deepest guilt. (186)


Religion says you can have the life you want!  Nothing matters more.  “Religion makes a nasty habit of putting second things first.” (204)  We must shift to the spiritual journey of “desiring God more than the good life or we will continue in the mists of self-deception, walking a way that seems right....” (206-7)


Jesus can lead us into the freedom of God-obsession.  ”When we discern the Spirit’s movement, we can follow along.  We can speak words that highlight and energize and release his movement.” (217-18)


“We are a blessing-obsessed culture.  We live for blessings....”  “The weakness of modern Christianity, with its shallow worship and rootless excitement and crowd-friendly relevance, can be traced to one assumption: We think God’s Spirit was sent to earth to give us the happiness that blessings bring.” (220)


“But if we put first things first, we will come to know him.  That is the first thing.” (221)


“When our appetite for God is the strongest desire in our soul, then certain courses of action we would have never before considered begin to seem right.”  Think vision: What would selfless, God-obsessed living look like in their particular fights and tensions?  “My job is to follow the Spirit’s movement.”  “I am to cooperate with this process I cannot control.” (240-42)


SoulTalk is a privilege.  It has the power to change lives.  It’s the language God longs for us to speak.  Think beneath to see the battle.  Think vision to see what could happen.  Think passion to see what’s in you that will get in the way.  Think story to see inside the people you love.  Think movement to enter the mystery of the Spirit’s movement.” (256)


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