Lately, I have been getting startled with increasing frequency. There is one simple reason for this; I am slowly losing my hearing. Yes, along with my failing eyesight I have hearing issues. The result is that quite often I do not hear people when they are trying to talk to me. After a few moments of speaking, they begin to move closer to get my attention and meanwhile I never hear them coming. Suddenly they tap me on the shoulder or shout something to get my attention and I jump like I had seen a ghost.
I was wondering recently how many times we have grown deaf to God and he is desperately trying to get our attention. I think there are a few ways that God tries to get our attention.
1. Sometimes He Speaks in Our Circumstances.
Some events in life are simply beyond explanation. A job opens up that you did not expect. An opportunity appears from out of nowhere. I believe that sometimes God opens a door of blessing that should cause us to pause and thank him for all he has done. When great things happen in our lives that we did not plan or prepare for, it might be God trying to show himself to you.
2. Sometimes He Underlines Himself with Repetition.
I know this happens to me. In one week I hear a song on the radio, I read an article on the internet, I listen to someone on TV and each one seems to be saying the same thing. I have audibly said, “God, are you trying to tell me something?” I think God is trying to grab our attention by repeatedly showing us the same information over and over.
3. Sometimes He Shouts in Our Pain.
It was CS Lewis who is reported as saying, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” When everything is going well we have little need for God. Thrown into the midst of difficulty and suddenly we realize we are not in control and cry out for help. Maybe in those dark hours of our lives, God is reaching out to us to get our attention.
4. Sometimes He Speaks through Other People.
I have a minister friend who used to always say, “I cannot tell you the color of my own eyes.” Then he would draw this conclusion, “There are some things in my life I need other people to see and tell me about.” He’s right. That person who questions my behaviors. That voice of someone challenging me to live differently. Those people might be the word of God being spoken into my life.
In a world filled with noise, it is easy to not hear the voice of God. We can get wrapped up in just making through each day that we lose sight of God in our lives. He is speaking to us. He is warning us to change. He is challenging us to grow. He is leading us toward a better tomorrow. If we do not stop to listen, he may try to startle us awake. Even then we need to pay attention to what is going on around us. Maybe you will find that God is trying to get your attention this week.
Here are some of the best articles I have read in the past month or so. Enjoy.
4 Types of People Leaders Must Not Listen To – simply excellent
Yes Christian, You Need the Church – I had not thought much about his last point. Good thoughts.
Jesus Never Worried About Politics – reminds me of my sermon a month ago.
10 CHURCH MEMBERS WHO DRIVE ME CRAZY
How VBS Saved My Life – good story with great reminder.
7 Words of Encouragement for Sending a Child to College – I found this article helpful to me
THE 14 KIDS YOU FIND IN EVERY YOUTH GROUP – I found this humorous … and true.
The boundaries have been ever expanding. When he was born I didn’t want to let him out of my sight. When he was a toddler, I couldn’t let him out of my sight. When he began to ride a bike and venture out on his own, we would say, “Stay where I can see you.” Frequently we had to add in the phrase, “If you can’t see me, then I can’t see you.”
With every passing phase the boundaries expanded a little more. I didn’t sleep the first night he was out late in his car. I have lied in the bed quietly listening for the texts to come or the door to open. And to this point it has always arrived. Almost every night he has slept under my roof and I knew he was safe.
Today, all of that changes. As I drop my oldest son off at college I know a pain I have never felt before. No longer will he play where I can see him. He will be off on his own adventures far away from the comforts of home.
I really am okay with this but the separation is hard. I have prayed, planned and prepared for this day. It still feels like I am loosing a part of myself. The pain will linger as I wait for every text, call or visit. I don’t want to let him out of my sight but I know he must go.
I am proud of my son. He is a big man with a soft heart. He loves and feels deeply. He will touch people and be a great adult. Today as I drop him off. I ask the God of heaven to guide, guard and direct his life until I see him again.
It is hard to embrace good things in life when you are holding onto bad.
Let go of your guilt and shame
All of us have failed. Some of us have failed in big ways. It was public enough that other people know about it. It is embarrassing. You feel shame. You know you were wrong and you feel guilty. Run to grace and let it go.
Let go of your pride and arrogance
You might find yourself on the opposite side of the issue. You have no real guilt or shame and you are happy to let others know it. You feel self-confident and would never allow yourself to be less than perfect. Your pride is also your downfall. You can’t sympathize with weakness. You are demanding. You are self-centered. Your quest for perfection has left you feeling smug… and alone. Face the truth and let it go.
Let go of your anger and hurt
Your struggle is not just about you. Someone said something. Someone did something. And in their words and actions you were hurt. How could they have done that? It hurts. The natural response to being hurt is to go one of two possible directions. You can be crushed spiritually or you could get angry. Most people let their hurt simmer long enough that anger is the main byproduct. You have all these open wounds that whenever someone gets close you lash out for fear of being hurt again. Fill your mind with forgiveness and let it go.
Let go of whatever is holding you back. Empty your heart, mind and soul of the evil that keeps pulling you down. Let it go. Open up your mind. Say you are sorry. Offer forgiveness. Embrace grace. Put away your selfish pride. Let it go. Let go so that you can grab ahold of something better. The only person you are hurting is yourself.
Frequently people come into my office because they “need to talk”. Whenever someone schedules a meeting like that I know it will not be good news. Often their marriage is falling apart. Occasionally they are having problems with their children or grandchildren. There are a few other varied possibilities, but it is extremely rare that anything good is happening. For most people the relationships in their life are not going as planned and they are looking for help.
Quite often I have several suggestions that will turn their lives around. I can make suggestions for both parties that will get things started the right direction.
Unfortunately I have found two common beliefs that stand in the way of better relationships. First, most people believe that their problems are really the result of the other person. They accept little responsibility and place lots of blame. Second, if they were to admit they needed to change then that change should be easy. People want a quick fix from a few rehearsed lines or activities.
It is very rare in my experience that things get better until I admit my share of the blame. Then once admitting I made mistakes there is a need to change the damaging behavior. This change is never easy. We get into trouble with one set of behaviors and we stay in trouble by continuing those behaviors. Improvement takes deep systemic changes in my thoughts and actions. All of that is unbelievably difficult. It does not come easy. There is always a price.
So if you are struggling in some arena of your life, the solution will not come through repeating what comes naturally. It only comes by doing the difficult thing. Changing your miserable situation will not be easy.
The good news is that you have that power to change. Plan a different course of action and follow the difficult path. It is hard, but it leads to a better tomorrow.
In a few days we will load up my oldest boy and drive him off to Southwest Baptist University. So this Sunday will be the first time he attends Church without his family. He is off on his new adventure which will include a preacher other than his father and a Church other than the one I am leading. That has me thinking about his 18 years as a preacher’s son.
1. He spent every Sunday in the nursery
From the first Sunday after he was born until he was old enough to move to the next class he was in the Church nursery. We learned to trust the care of the workers. When we found problems in the nursery we took steps to fix them and not give up. He was never a distraction to anyone, including us.
2. Children’s Church was never an option
We never asked him if he wanted to go to Children’s Church. We just took him and he loved it. I won’t lie, not every Sunday was a great experience that made him excited about God. But with every passing year he learned more and grew in his faith.
3. Church programs were mandatory
Whenever the Church was hosting some sort of program from VBS to candlelight at Christmas we were going to be there. We don’t make plans late Saturday night and never on Sunday morning. We don’t skip youth group or Sunday School. The programs are created to help you grow and missing them seems like an unproductive thing to do.
4. Serving started young
When my kids were old enough to help, they started setting up at Church. At the time I was working in a new Church and we had to set up everything on a college campus each week. My son started by setting out toys or wiping them down after Church. He moved on to setup and tear down of everything starting at 6:00 am on Sunday morning. As he got older we moved him into worship ministry where he sang or ran Powerpoint and sound. Every week there was something he could do for God.
5. We never sheltered our children from some Church people
Some things in Church can be ugly. Some people in Church can be unchristian. We talk openly about it in our home. Some ministers shelter their kids from negative experiences but I wanted them to be fully aware of the people in the Church. We all need grace and some people desperately need to change. I did not want him to grow up and be shocked by people as an adult.
6. We strove to underline everything at home.
It has been a struggle to do this as he got older, but for most of his life we had daily devotions. We have also talked about spiritual issues on a regular basis. My wife and I have tried to model faith in our lives. Faith was not just something for Sunday morning. Church is an extension of a families faith and not the only part of it.
7. Our biggest regret was other Christians
I have frequently had to have the same conversation. Why are my boys expected to attend and serve when the adults don’t do it? That is a hard question to answer. I can’t always explain why other people refuse to participate when they claim to be Christians. It is a hard lesson for a 14 or 15-year-old boy when he realizes how little other people live out their faith.
After all of the years and all of the experiences both good and bad I am proud of the adult Christian my son has become. I am excited to see where God takes him next and how he will bless God’s kingdom where he lives. I pray God will use him, teach him and grow him into a wonderful man of faith.
We want our Church to be a place of prayer. It is one of the biggest things we do. If you are in need of prayer we can handle it several different ways –
1.Prayer before worship – Each week a group of 2-4 men gather before worship with me to pray about the program and any special pressing needs.
2. Prayer during our worship – Every week, except special Sundays, we stop during our worship program to pray. You can give us your requests and they will be listed on the back of the program or you can turn them in before worship. We want to share the needs people have and take time to pray.
3. Prayer after worship – Our elders would love to step over to the side or into a room and talk to you and pray with you. If God has laid something on your heart this is a great time to stop and talk to him in prayer.
4. Prayer over email – If you send an email to email@example.com we will send your request out to a group of people who are committed to prayer. This is better than Facebook for making sure your needs are addressed by other believers in prayer.
5. Prayer on our own – Most of our leadership has a daily time of prayer. I know that for me, if I have a special request, I put it on my own personal prayer list.
6. Prayer in private meetings – One or two of our leadership are always willing to come to your house and pray with you. I have also had people schedule special appointments just so that we can meet and pray in my office.
7. Prayer in elder’s meeting – Our elders meet regularly (at least twice a month) for the specific purpose of prayer.
8. Prayer in Hospitals – If you are headed to the hospital and would like prayer before a big event like surgery, then just let someone know. You can email the office, tell the elders or write it on a prayer card. Communicate it with us somehow. Some people don’t want prayer, some don’t want us to know they went to the hospital and some do not know they are headed to the hospital beforehand. These are some of the toughest for us to know about.
Our Church is full of people who pray and they want to pray for you. There are a lot of ways we can pray for you. Just let us know.