Listen Up!

Posted on July 22, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When I was in elementary school, I got pegged to train in ‘Peer Mediation.’ It was a program where students who were having an argument of some type could settle their disputes by attending (usually by adult threat of force) a mediation session counseled by two unbiased (in theory) students. If it sounds nerdy, that’s because it was from the same teachers that thought DARE would keep kids from trying drugs. But one thing they hammered in training was this: listen. Conversations will naturally produce talking, but you have to actively listen to the other party if you want a relationship.

I’d say most of us want a relationship with God, but how many of us actively listen to Him? Probably not many, but why is that?

John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” One reason we don’t listen to God might be because we don’t know what God ‘sounds’ like. When we think of God talking, I think most of us return to the story of Moses talking with the bush that was on fire but did not burn. I also think about Jacob wrestling with God – I would imagine it’s pretty easy to listen to God when he’s putting you in an arm bar. But I came across this verse this week that really spoke to me:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Too often I think we’re focused on dodging falling boulders, putting out fires, or as my husband would say, playing whack-a-mole with the alligator closest to the boat. As a result, we never tune out life’s cacophony to hear what we claim we want to hear and certainly what we need to hear.

The other reason I think we don’t hear God: we’re too busy talking to Him. My pastor recently said that he spends 95% of his prayer time just listening…Obviously, he’s a man. I think it’s difficult for anyone to just listen, but extra hard for a woman. I read once that men on average use 7,000 words a day while women use 21,000. Sounds about right.

It’s easy to become too focused on telling God all about my needs, desires, even thanking Him for what He has provided me. As a result, I forget there’s someone else I need to yield the conversation to. I actually wondered, would God ever try to interrupt me if He had something He needed to say? Then it occurred me, it’s more likely that I’ve interrupted Him when there was something He wanted to say. There’s a sobering thought for how I’ve treated the creator of the universe.

So, who would have thought after all this time that my Peer Mediation training would turn out to be useful and remind me I need to focus a little more on listening in order to grow my relationship with God. I may not get to the 95% point, but at least I’ll be more successful than DARE – will you?

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Springing Back Into the Future

Posted on March 17, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , |

If you were like me for the first part of the week, everything was just off. It seems there are never enough hours in the day, but losing one, especially one usually spent sleeping, throws you for a few days. Though I posted on Friday, I meant to still write another blog on Sunday but I ran out of time – or did I?

I once heard someone say that God gives us enough time to do His will, but we usually spend our time fulfilling our will instead of His. I confess that I find myself cramming the day full of errands and chores that ‘need’ to get done, while neglecting the other things that ‘can wait’: taking time to play with my son, complimenting my husband, calling up an old friend, spending time with my Savior. Too often these more important tasks get my left-overs. And we all know the only thing good left over is Chinese food. Suddenly, it’s 10 pm and I get a moment to myself: I should read the Bible, but I’m so tired. After all, God doesn’t want me spending time with Him out of obligation. I’ll do it tomorrow. 

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Prov 25:28). If we can’t control ourselves and how we spend our time, we invite self-destruction. Those who put too much on their plates are just as guilty as those who don’t put enough on them: both lack self-control.

But, what’s the key to time management? Driving at 88 miles an hour? Thankfully, there are alternatives. A few months ago I read Craig Groeschel’s “Weird.” While the whole book is worth reading, his perspective on time struck me as particularly insightful. He said that instead of asking ourselves if we want to do something, we should be asking if it is wise to do it. Scripture seems to back this up:

“So be careful how you live. Live as men who are wise and not foolish. Make the best use of your time. These are sinful days. Do not be foolish. Understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Eph 5:15-17).

“Teach us to understand how many days we have. Then we will have a heart of wisdom to give You” (Psalms 90:12)

Simply shifting from want to wise can really free up your schedule. I always wished I had more time to read, but gave myself the excuse that I had a small child to look after, which prohibited me from expanding my knowledge. Realizing 2-3 hours of television scattered throughout the day wasn’t ‘wise’ time management provided me with that time I needed to read a book or two a month. How much time could you free up if you limited checking your email and Facebook once a day? What about limiting Internet surfing time to 20 minutes? What if you spent half as much time playing video games as you do now?

I know I’m knocking the “brain candy,” but only because we’re all guilty of wasting too much time on it. Yet, as I said earlier, spending too much time on a good/noble thing isn’t so wise either (Prov 25:16). Is work consuming so much of your time and focus that your relationships or health are suffering? I think Christian women in particular fall into the trap of ‘helping’ others so much that they wear themselves down to the point of having nothing left of offer (if you’re in 8 small groups, volunteer at the soup kitchen, and are president of the PTA, it may not ‘wise’ to sign up as a soccer coach.)

Instead waiting for the DeLorean to finally prove it’s worth or wishing you lived in Arizona or Hawaii , knock out some of the time-fluff currently occupying your days. Re-evaluate if the important tasks are draining too much out of you. Dedicate some time gaining wisdom on what God’s will for  you is rather than what you wish it was.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Debt Crisis

Posted on August 1, 2011. Filed under: Economics, Government, In the News, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The national debt clock outside the IRS office...

Image via Wikipedia

Given the constant barrage of “debt crisis” coverage, I wondered if God had anything to say about national debt.  Solomon warned, “The borrower is slave to the lender,” (Prov 22:7) and “whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe” (Prov 11:15). Clearly, the Bible warns that debt is folly (as any Dave Ramsey follower could tell you). Obviously, God never said $14.3 trillion was okay but not $16.4 trillion. I didn’t see that one in Leviticus.  But God created a nation in every sense of the word, so surely there had to be something.

In chapter 15 of Deuteronomy, the Lord tells Israel how His new nation will keep its fiscal house in order: “you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” What? Borrow from none? What about in case of emergency? What about all those wars for the Promised Land?  Unfunded social liabilities? Surely being God’s chosen people means you are entitled to healthcare, and when Moses lived to 120, that could get expensive. But, as with everything God commands, it comes with a reason: “You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you” (Deut 15:6). Apparently, debt at any level creates a system of rulers and slaves. It probably wouldn’t have been such a good idea if Israel borrowed from the Egyptians or the Philistines just as it probably isn’t such a good idea for us to borrow from the Chinese or any other nation. Indebting yourself to others means you have to play by the lender’s rules. Considering no other nation completely shares America’s values, we should not be too keen on being beholden to other nations.

But wait, various American lenders such as the Fed, public households, state and local governments own most of our debt. So, that’s probably okay right? It seems the Lord is saying not to borrow from other nations. If the borrower is slave to the lender, wouldn’t that mean the government is slave to the people?

Not quite. When debt becomes so large that it has to be paid out over an extended period of time, the people become slaves to the government.  Government can only raise money by confiscating it from the people. But the kicker is that government has created so much debt that it can’t be paid off by the current set of taxpayers; it will be paid by our kids and grandkids. Something told me the Lord probably wouldn’t approve of that.

Interestingly, God created a system of canceling debts every 7 years (also in Chapter 15 of Deuteronomy). Translated into contemporary vernacular, I take that to mean long-term debt is bad. While we might from time to time lend to one another, it is hard to maintain a healthy relationship with someone to whom you are indebted or with someone who owes you. God wants his people have a relationship based on love, not wondering when the brother-in-law is going to return that $1,000.

Maybe it is time for politicians to liberate this country from the influence of tyrannical governments and its children from overwhelming bureaucratic budgets. After all, good men leave an inheritance, not debt, for their children’s children (Prov 13:2).

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 32 other followers

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...