We all know God deeply desires for us to hear His voice, but how do we do that? Part of it comes as a gift, and part of it is learned. Listen in as Sarah Bowling tells us about growing up in a household where learning to hear from the Holy Spirit became second nature. Sarah is the daughter of Marilyn Hickey and they have a show together on TBN. She also pastors a church with her husband in Colorado where they live with their teenage children. In the episode, Sarah mentions a book she wrote called Heavenly Help about her journey of hearing the Holy Spirit in her upbringing. Learn more about Sarah at https://sarahbowling.me/about/
0:44 Alexis: Hi, I’m Alexis Busetti and welcome to That Makes Total Sense! Today’s guest is amazing. Today and actually in our next episode as well, we will meet with Sarah Bowling. And if you have not heard of Sarah Bowling, I am just letting you know. Please buckle up your seatbelts because this is going to be an amazing ride. So Sarah is the daughter of Marilyn Hickey who you have probably heard of. Um, if you have been kind of in this, uh, charismatic Pentecostal space for any length of time. Um, she is, I just read, she’s 88 years young is what her bio says and Sarah is her daughter and they together have a television show on Daystar called Today with Marilyn and Sarah. And Sarah is a powerhouse in the ministry and in the kingdom of God in her own right. God has done some incredible things in and through Sarah and today she is going to tell us all about what it was like to grow up in a house with, with parents who were just known worldwide in the ministry.
And I kind of asked her these questions about what it was like to be not just a second generation believer but a second generation spirit-filled believer who learned from a young age how to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice and how that affected her in her ministry. So I cannot wait for you to hear today, but also stay tuned for the next episode for part two with Sarah where we are going to talk about what she’s currently doing in ministry, specifically with her organization called Saving Moses. You’ll hear all about that next time. I cannot wait for you to hear it. You definitely don’t want to miss episode two or today, episode one with Sarah Bowling. Enjoy.
I am so incredibly thrilled to bring you this guest today on That Makes Total Sense. This is Sarah Bowling and for you guys who may be thinking that name sounds familiar or where have I heard that or some of you guys maybe totally like I am. Sarah is, a pastor in Colorado with her husband and she is also the daughter of Marilyn Hickey who I think we have all heard of before and Sarah and her mom do ministry together still. They have a show together on TBN I think it is and Sarah is just a powerhouse for the kingdom of God and so I have asked her to come on and she has been so gracious. She’s going to do a couple of episodes with us where she’s just going to talk to us about hearing from God and what that, what that looks like. And um, also her organization that God has led her into and how she is serving women and their children in the, um, sex industry in Asia. So, Sarah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being with us today.
Sarah: So great, so great to join you. I appreciate the invitation. I’m really honored. Thank you.
Alexis: Oh my goodness. The pleasure and the privilege is all mine. So Sarah, we were talking just a little bit before and one of the places where I really felt like I started to understand your story a little bit was actually on another podcast. Um, I heard you interviewed by Shawn Bolz who is incredible. And um, one of the things that you guys were talking about is, is Shawn mentions a lot growing up as a second generation Christian or a second generation believer, which you are obviously. But I would like it if you would talk with us about what it looks like to grow up, not just in household, but also in a household where the prophetic and hearing from God and moves of the Holy Spirit were just, I mean, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but were they just like a part of your everyday life?
Sarah: Yeah, I am. It’s interesting because I think, you know, I have this weird like hesitation because, so I went, I started going to Lutheran schools when I was in sixth grade. Yeah. I’ll never forget. And I love, I love that experience. I love my Lutheran investment in me. I’m so massively grateful.
Alexis: Oh, that’s a good word. I love that they’re investment.
Sarah: I love that they invested in me, um, in so many magnificent ways and I, I really am 100% grateful, but I’ll never forget the first day I was in school in sixth grade there. Um, I’d gone to public schools before that and one of the girls, I, you know, I don’t know who these people are. Never met them in my life. And she leans over to me and she says, “I know who you are.” I’m like, yeah, well, whatever that means. You know, you’re in sixth grade, a 12 year old girl, you’re like, whatever. My eyes are as big as headlights ‘cause I’ve never been in a private school, I’ve only been in public school and my public school was rough. I mean hardcore rough. Yeah. And uh, so she says, I know, and she whispers next thing immediately she says, “I know you speak in tongues.” Well doesn’t everybody lik? Should I not hear it? She just was like, Oh my goodness. Yeah. So I always have that like trigger react to like, you know, you know, yeah, it’s a little, I, it’s a catch 22. I mean there’s good to it, but at the same time I also learned really fast, Holy buckets! This isn’t, this, isn’t that like the standard, you know, cut and dry regular stuff. I mean, so there’s a little bit of some, um, I’m careful cause I, I, you know, I was like, Whoa, I don’t want to be a mutant. You know, you want to kind of not be the freak freak on the, on the block or whatever, but
Alexis: especially at 12. I mean, as a, as a middle schooler, it’s like, yeah, that’s the last thing you want is to be that girl. Right?
Sarah: Exactly. Yeah. That girl, you’re already the odd man out. You never been there, you know, and they don’t know who you are from. And then, you know, like you quote, “speak in tongues.” I mean, now you’re really
Alexis: Oh yeah. You’re really out there. I mean, I honestly think when, when I say like I grew up in a believing home, but at 12 I didn’t even know what that was. Like, if someone would have said, if I would have overheard that conversation. Oh my goodness. “I know you speak in tongues.” I would, I would, it would have gone completely over my head. I mean, in fact, we were in college before. This is, this is funny. We were in college and um, I had grown up in a, in a Southern Baptist home. My husband, who was, um, we were just friends at the time and he had grown up like reformed Presbyterian and we had great upbringings. And then we went to college and we actually met at the university’s Assemblies of God campus ministry. Um, it’s called Chi alpha. And we met, we met there.
And the first meeting we went to, apparently people were praying in tongues all around me, but I didn’t hear it. And it’s because this is the wildest thing because one of my girlfriends, we went together and she said, she thought, oh my goodness, this is totally going to freak Alexis out. Like, and she started praying that I wouldn’t hear it. Can you imagine? She started praying that I wouldn’t hear it, but it was because she didn’t want me to be afraid of what was happening or anything like that. And so we left and she’s kind of asking me about it and I’m going, I, I don’t know. I loved it. I thought the worship was incredible and the teaching was good and you know, all of this stuff, she’s like, so you didn’t think anything was like weird. I’m like, uh, no, you know? And then later of course I did begin to experience that and it was so great.
And those are the people that we fellowship with for a really long time. Um, but it was that first time she just thought, I know this is going to be too much for her. So yeah. So there is that kind of kind of thing, like if you’re unfamiliar with it, I understand. Just kind of go, oh, I just got to want to be careful when we talk about that because not everybody understands. Um, not everybody understands it, but that’s part of the reason I wanted you to talk to us about it because I feel like you present this, um, lifestyle of hearing from the Holy Spirit and, and you know, all of that and just such an approachable way. Like why he said, yes, I speak in tongues, doesn’t everybody?
Sarah: Yes. Yeah. That was kind of an interesting, eye-opening conversation. But I think too, you know, too, one of the things you asked about is, you know, in your upbringing, what was that? What was that like, you know, having kind of Holy Spirit and, uh, some of that whole expression, what does that book called? Heavenly Help. And, uh, that’s a really good book because I document in there some of my upbringing and some of my experiences, um, in my childhood there were very, very much Holy Spirit led. Um, there’s one, I remember, I’ll never forget when I was in kindergarten and, uh, there was a mix up in communication. Somebody was supposed to collect me from the bus stop and they didn’t, nobody showed up. And, uh, you know, five years old and like, how do I get home? You know, it had to, but I felt, and I, and in the book I talk about this, I felt Holy Spirit guiding and directing me. There’s this real gentle nurturing, you know, let’s do this together and let’s walk. Listen, you don’t have to go far. Let’s just try a little bit. And so I just felt the Holy Spirit, like just in kind of that real gentle, I would even say maternal kind of nurturing, you know, a little bit of time encouraging and just real, real helpful and just kind of walking me a little bit at a step at a time on getting me home safely. We had a hide-a-key and I got on in the house and called and, and you know, so everybody’s like, Ooooooh,
Alexis: Right, right. Absolutely. The parents are freaking out. Yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. But so I, I saw that and the other thing too, growing up that I loved, I really loved this and I, I see it now in my life as an adult. We used to have this guy come to our church. He’s dead now, but his name was Dick mills. And uh, he used to give out Bible verses to people basically word of wisdom, word of knowledge with Bible verses. And I’ll never forget, I was four or five years old and he gave me a Bible verse. “Holy Spirit is giving me this verse for you, Sarah.” And I remember it just, I just thought that was like the well absolute coolest thing on the planet. Like, Oh my gosh, you know, and so I, that has stuck with me throughout my whole life and now I do that. I love and I sense Holy Spirit giving me very specific verses with very specific content, um, for people.
And not just like in a church service, but sometimes I’ll have that like as I’m in going in my daily living. Like a couple of weeks ago I was at Starbucks, was just drinking a coffee and I felt Holy Spirit say, “Give the barista this verse.” And I was like, Oh, okay. You know, and so, but I went over and she was busy, but I got a sticky note and I wrote out the Bible verse and I said, when she had a break, I said, you know, I just, would you mind if I gave you a Bible verse to encourage you? And she said, no, that’s fine. And you could, and I gave it to her. I told her what it was, and I handed her the little sticky note and she was, she said, “Wow, that’s so completely meaningful to me.” Thank you. She didn’t spend a lot of time to talk, you know, give me the backstory. I mean, she’s at work, right, right. Practical and not like intrusive or in inappropriate. Like, Hey, tell him, you know, our note is, I’m not going to do all that, but I just, so I could see these threads through my, my childhood. Um, you know, and in terms of, of Holy Spirit working in me through me, it wasn’t, it really wasn’t like in our church growing up, we had, we absolutely had people praying in tongues. We had prophecy, we had interpretation of tongues. We had, we had all those demonstrations. And so for me, that was quote-unquote “normal.” Um, but I think what I was hungry for it, particularly in my teen years, in my twenties was I didn’t, and some of the charismatic stuff at that time was a little bit, it was Bible-light. You know, I didn’t necessarily have lots of heavy Bible content.
And thankfully my mom is like, there’s hardcore Bible addicts, which was helpful, super helpful. But I think to the, my Lutheran upbringing, an investment in me helped pin that down for me. So it was this nice blend of Holy Spirit, life, vitality and supernatural, uh, and also intimacy, connecting me with God and also blending the deep, and like grounding, solidifying Bible, um, that was so massively helpful, massively helpful. So I think there’s a real good blend. And I like it because I think, you know, everybody says this, if you get too much Spirit and no Word, you blow up if you have no, no Spirit and all Word you dry up, you know?
Alexis: Right. In any of that. That reminds me of, I’m reading through Acts right now and I’m, and I’m like, it’s like every time something like there’s about to be a big move of the Spirit, I feel I’m maybe not every time, but I feel like as I’m going through this, I’m watching men, right? Like Peter and Stephen and they’re and they’re saying these giving these, you know, Peter called it a sermon and one of the, in one of the versions I’m reading, um, but it’s like they just going through and they’re just basically repeating those Bible stories, right? We’re going back to Moses or we’re going back to Abraham and they’re repeating all of these stories. And I think it was when I, when Peter was at Cornelius’s house, uh, the one I was just reading this week and, and the Spirit, you know, fell on the Gentiles.
He came in and just, uh, just overwhelmed them. And Peter said, I had barely gotten started with my sermon, but his sermon was quoting the Bible, like going back and basically telling all of the things that that had happened. And so I think that you see that even biblically in some of those places, right? Where like even in a very real time and place, you have both of those things or like the example that you just gave where it’s like, you can totally get a word of knowledge from Holy Spirit that is wild and off the wall. And not a verse by, you know, word for word quote of a verse, but to have that mingling that, that you had, that you kind of learned from Dick Mills to have that together is incredible. I think it’s a really, really good picture of exactly what you’re talking about.
Sarah: Yeah. And, and a rich experience just as a child, like looking and seeing the value and the importance and blending that. And I was, I’ll just never forget and I’ve watched, I watched him over the course of growing up and just watching him minister and other people too. But the other thing too, I think is, um, I had an appreciation for authentic and was very, Hmm, what’s the right word? Repelled. Um, by inauthentic, right. It was fake and, and synthetic. I was, I was very, um, dismissive.
Alexis: Can you, can you unpack that a little bit? Cause I feel like that’s an important, I feel like that’s an important part of this.
Sarah: Yeah. I think, and here’s why I think that’s so important. I would completely agree with you. You know, John Jesus says to us, and John, I think it’s 16, chapter 16, I always get my chapters mixed up, but he says, Holy spirit is a spirit of truth and will lead you into truth, So with that idea, with that premise, that training and coaching, whatever is truthful, um, whatever is authentic, his Holy Spirit, but whatever is synthetic and um, not a like a veneer, not and has a little bit of distortion or doesn’t ring true, there’s really important, that’s really important to be, be aware of that because I think the enemy, the enemy, um, lives in gray. And to me, what is, what does the devil do? The devil accuses the devil gems. The devil deceives is in John, that Jesus says this, the enemy’s natural native language is deception, right? So wherever there’s deception and Holy Spirit is, is the vaccination for that, right? Like wherever there’s deception, Holy Spirit is there to say, Hey, you know, warning signs here will Robyn, you know, like, Hey, this is, and I think that was really important for me because I did. And I do think, yeah, I mean, he looks for opportunities and looks for just a smidgen of, of distortion. Just a little tweak or it’s like fuel, right? There’s something not sincere. There’s something disingenuous here and the enemy looks and works and operates well in that opaque. And so that’s why I think the authenticity and as a little kid, I was real dialed into that and I think that was something, a gift from Holy Spirit. You know, this person is a little bit shady. Hey, this situation, this isn’t, this isn’t, since this isn’t authentic, it’s not truthful. There’s, there’s some smoke and mirrors going on here. That’s really important because, um, again, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and leads into truth. So where there’s an absence of truth, then there’s the abundance of deception.
Alexis: Wow. Yeah. That’s, that’s serious. That is serious. And it’s, and yeah, and you’re right, the enemy doesn’t need much. He doesn’t need much to bring that wedge of his in where he can open.
Sarah: Go back to Genesis 3.
Alexis: Right, right, right.
Sarah: Did God say? I mean, there’s just this little, a little hint, a little whisper, a little smoke, just not anything real explicit. It’s not like stood there with a pitch fork and with a sign, you know, his, his own little embossed shirt that said, “Hey, I’m, I’m the enemy,” and that’s not what happens. And so I think, I think we have to be conscious of, Hey, wherever there’s an, and again, wherever we tolerate deception, it ultimately leads to destruction.
Alexis: Wow. That’s a great quote. Yep. That’s a great quote, I think. And true. Absolutely. But I think that sometimes, I mean, I, I guess, I guess the question is for you, why do you think sometimes we tolerate deception?
Sarah: We like it.
Sarah: It feeds our flesh, right?
And it, it, it feels good. It looks good. It smells good. We like it. It, it accommodates our flesh, you know? I mean, and flesh is a lot of different things for different people. You know, flash can be fear. We’re so comfortable with fear that we make fear our friend. And so whatever ignites fear, like kind of sparks fear in us, we’re like, Oh yeah, yeah. And so we, we accommodate that or wherever there’s arrogance, right. If it, if it sparked arrogance, you know, like, Ooh, that feels good. Yeah, that’s right. I think, I just think that we, we tolerate. And I think too, I think the enemy gets in when we’re little [and] implants lies.
Sarah: Go back to your childhood, go back to teachers, go back to comments from a kid down the street. You’re playing. Little things. Right?
Sarah: I had a teacher say about me when I was in kindergarten. Well, no, she’s not very social. Well, so, you know what I mean? Those, those labels and stereotypes and all that stuff.
Alexis: Right. Because you’re, because it’s that deception.
Alexis: That leads to the destruction instead of understanding what does God say about me. Yes. Did God say Sarah is not social. Right. What does God say about us?
Sarah: Yup. Yup.
Alexis: That’s incredible. And I think that that’s part of what this, um, trying to live and engage with Holy spirit as we’re walking and, and not just for us, but for people like with this barista, you know, we get to with his help. I think we get to help close that gap for some people and you know, and give them encouragement because that’s, you know, one of the things that we’ve really learned in, um, when we were kind of growing up in the, in the kind of, in the pentecostal world when we were young adults was we, our campus pastor used to, if people were razzing or something, he would, he’d say, “Edify, Edify,” you know, but it was, it was a joke and we kind of, we kind of laughed at it, but it really is that I think you can see that when people are walking, um, walking with the Holy Spirit and, and trying to walk by him, that we’re going to be encouraging of each other. We’re going to, we’re going to speak truth, right? Speak the truth and speak that life into each other and we can help close that deception gap for each other.
Sarah: Yeah, and I think, you know, truth in love, right?
Alexis: Right. Always.
Sarah: I mean I’ve always thought that. They kiss each other and I think ultimately we think Holy Spirit’s all, all dialed in. Romans 5:5 the father pours his love into our hearts. True Holy spirit, right? Love is, I think the, the real key operative thing is that, and I love that about Shawn [Bolz]. I was looking at my little, my little wristband today. “What is love saying?”
Alexis: Yes, we have the same one. We went to it. Yes, yes! But it is because God wants to speak his love to us. That’s, that’s His goal. Right?
Sarah: And if you look at first Corinthians 12 that’s all the gifts of Holy Spirit, right?
Sarah: 1 Corinthians 14 is a lot of the gifts, prophecy, you know, interpretation tones and all that. That smack in the middle is chapter 13 which is, we know first Corinthians 13 is the quote unquote love chapter. Love has to be like smack in the middle of all that.
Alexis: Exactly. I mean, in the middle of all of it. And I’m wondering in these, in these couple of minutes that we have left in this episode, but I know you’re, you’re coming back and you’re going to talk about the way that, that you are loving God is loving people through you. And I’m so excited for everyone to hear about that. But if we’re not on the mission field, like you were talking about going to Starbucks, can you give us just some, some things to put in our tool belt? Like how can we let Holy Spirit love the people around us in those really, really cool, intimate, fun ways that He wants to because He wants to connect. He doesn’t want to just connect with us. He wants to connect with us, but He wants to connect with people around us, the like that barista. So can you give us some tools, like what does that look like on the front end? Um, when we’re trying to live that out in real life?
Sarah: Yeah, just kind of day to day living, right?
Sarah: Um, so here’s a couple of suggestions. Um, well my kids were in elementary school. Um, one of the things I did, I volunteered at their school and I can appreciate that we’re all busy. I know that. And I get, I understand being busy, uh, well, like probably better than, well, it probably equally as well as all of our listeners. But I was a volunteer at their school and I’ve volunteered, I look for ways that where people didn’t want to serve. So I was like, what’s the least? So one of the things was they didn’t have crossing guards. Well, I was like, “Hey, uh, I’ll do that,” you know, I look like a dork in the little orange vest. Right. You don’t talk. No I don’t, that’s a fine, that’s, I didn’t really care cause I’m not in the Miami.
I don’t, I really don’t care. Um, but, but that was a really cool opportunity. And what happened is I did that for, I dunno, for a couple of years. And, uh, I became known as like the crossing guard lady. And my kids went to a charter school. And so what happened was everybody, they, cause they saw me standing out in the street, you know, waving cars here and there and being nice and everything. But ultimately I was elected to the school board.
Sarah: I know because of people’s, and I didn’t, I didn’t start crossing guard with the idea to get on the school board at all, honestly traffic, right. And not get hit by a car. So that’s a really cool way. And seeing and what that played out and in terms of being on serving on the school board was, she was phenomenal. I think I was on it for like six years or something.
Sarah: And then here’s another example, I thought, I think it was really fun and just reason. So my husband and I were starting to get into pickleball. I don’t know, have you heard of pickleball?
Alexis: Never heard of that. No.
Sarah: I know it’s actually the fastest growing sport in North America.
Alexis: Wow. Okay. I’m going to have to look it up.
Sarah: Totally. Totally. The two it, and so it’s kind of a cross between tennis and, um, ping pong. So we’re out playing pickleball and uh, so I dunno, I just started a couple of months ago and there’s this lady, and I have this, I’ve just been like, and I’m not really, honestly, I’m not an extrovert, but I sent a text message out, I met all these people that are playing. So I have about 2030 people on my text message group. We, we hang out on Tuesday nights. And so there was this chick that was sitting in the, in the bleachers and I was like, Hey, what are you doing? She’s like, well, you know, I just stopped by. I said, why don’t you come join us? Well, I don’t have a paddle. I said, I got another one in the car. And so I just said, why don’t you join, we’ll hang out?
And Oh, I haven’t played too much. I was like, well, my husband’s here, he can help you and we’d be happy. Just, just hang out and you got nothing to lose. It’s really easy, low entry, you know, nobody’s real competitive, all beginners. It’s just fun. And so she, she said, “Sure, I’ll do that.” So she hung out and we got to to like Reese, my husband, he kind of gave her a little quick lesson and then she joined up with everybody started playing and by the end of the night, you know, I was like, “Hey, if you give me your phone number, I’ll put you in our text group and invite you back for pickleball next week. But I think, and so I think, you know, just having those really just real common everyday, “Hey, what are you doing?” And not for some long end game, Oh my gosh, heavy spiritual blog, but just being love, right?
Alexis: Yes. I mean I think that’s a huge, that’s both of those are really ministering to my heart right now. Just like going in and serving and doing those. Yeah. Like you saying those jobs that like nobody really wants to be doing this but it has to be done. Let’s take, let’s be the ones to take out the trash. Let’s be the ones to put on that, you know, that crossing guard best or whatever. But then also just like remembering and, and recognizing what it does to someone’s heart. Because God made us for connection. And so, you know, just being that person who can even just that reach out, even just that connect point is being love for, is being loved for that person. So that is so great. Thank you so much Sarah. So we will sign off on this one and Sarah will be back with us next week and we are going to talk to her about her organization where it’s Saving Moses encompasses all of that, right Sarah, that the nutrition and the water in the, in the night care. Um, but in the meantime, you know, go give yourself a spoiler alert, look up “Saving Moses,” Google it, um, and then come back with this where Sarah is going to tell us, um, a little bit about what she does in that arena. So we’ll talk to you in just a little bit. Sarah, thank you. Thank you again.
Sarah: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
Alexis: Okay, so thank you again so much for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. Share the link with your friends. You can visit us at thatmakestotalsense.com and until next time, this is Alexis Busetti, remembering to do well for ourselves so we can do good for others.
Mentioned in this episode:
Heavenly Help by Sarah Bowling