How’s your hearing?
I’ve been told that I have selective hearing. My wife gives detailed instructions. I barely remember the conversation. She swears she told me three times to remember to be home by 4:15. I suggest to her that if she wants me to remember something, she really should have pinned a note to my shirt.
Listening is hard work. It takes concentration. It requires more than just a set of ears. It requires your complete attention.
When significant things are being said, it is important that you listen.
Here are four sets of ears:
“Hey, preacher, let me just tell you up front: Not you, not that Baptist preacher down the street, not my mother, not even Billy Graham himself are gonna make me change my ways. I don’t need God. I am a good man. Go preach the Bible to those liberals––those Bible-hating sinners. But don’t expect me to listen to your sermons. I don’t need to change. My heart is just fine the way it is. I hope I’ve made myself perfectly clear!”
Two sons from the same parents: one loves and one hates. Raised in the same home; loved in same manner––each given an equal portion from the same table. Yet, as tender and open one is; the other is stiff and shut.
“Pastor, I thought I was ready to turn my life over to God. I was ready to follow him. It’s just that my life has not been easy. Things have been really rocky at home. My life is a mess and I just don’t feel God anymore. That’s why I haven’t been coming to church. I’m too messed up. Everything’s just a mess. I wish that “God thing” could have helped me through my hard times.”
You got to have roots to survive. No roots––nothing to hold you when you face the storms of life.
“Pastor, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve been to church. We love the church and all. We really want to go. Well, you know, we bought a cabin and . . . well . . . we’ve just had to spend our weekends fixing it up. I know we should be in church, but this cabin has always been our dream. It is what we’ve always wanted. But, hey, keep up the good work you’re doing. I know a lot of people who need to hear what you’re saying.”
They would rather be choked by the grip of corporate advancement, listen to the deceptive lie of dauntless reputation, taste the fat of an overstocked pantry, smell the spoils of pleasure, and never notice that the company they keep is slithering in for the kill.
“Pastor, I want to thank you for your message today. I know you couldn’t have known about my week, but it was as if you were talking directly to me. God has really convicted me today. I know it is time for me to change the way I operate. That scripture you talked about today is exactly what God wanted me to hear. Please pray for me because I’ve made a commitment to start obeying God from this day on.“
Their ears are open to hear the truth. They seek after God and he keeps re-shelving their sacred inventory with the product that leads to peace and comfort.
When significant things are being said, it is important that you listen.
However, when significant things are being said and your life is on the line, it is imperative that you listen.
God has spoken through His Word. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.by Pastor Doug
Would you like to hear from God?
There is an old proverb that says, “All those who open their mouth, close their ears.” I know this is true––it describes my struggle.
Conversely, the good news is that “all those who close their mouths, open their ears.”
This is the beauty of listening, especially when it comes to a conversation with God. Prayer is, after all, supposed to be a dialogue, not a monologue.
Imagine what it must be like to be God. We act as if He is supposed to do all the listening while we do all the talking. What kind of a conversation is that?
While we have access to the wisdom of the universe through Him, we ask but do not pay attention; we seek but do not look––we act, through our patterns of prayer, as if we couldn’t care less about hearing back from God.
I’ve always used words to my advantage––a verbal advantage. With words, I can motivate, guide, direct, inspire, and even, dispense the truth. Then again, I can just as easily manipulate, control others, accomplish my selfish agenda, and constantly adjust my image.
Without words, I feel helpless, out of control and unable to adjust a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding––even when I’m talking with God!
The book of Ecclesiastes gives some practical advice regarding prayer. It says, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.”
However, holding my words and listening is very difficult, especially when it comes to God. We like to talk, often babbling foolishly.
The tongue has been compared to a small rudder on a large ship. It is a great indicator of our spiritual health. It operates like a thermometer, in that it gives our spiritual temperature. What you hear come out is what you’ll find inside.
On the other hand, it also operates as a thermostat, in that it regulates our spiritual temperature.
Thus, it is only through listening that you will learn to control your need to talk––your need to constantly spin your reputation. Try it for yourself:
• Find a place of silence/solitude. Get away from the phone and the need to be needed. Experience the mysterious joy of being alone with your Creator.
• Learn to listen for God’s voice. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Sound like a challenge? Take it with open ears.
• Hit the “enter” button on your heart’s computer. Soak in the presence of God. Allow his wisdom to guide your life.
Listening to God will change you.
• Listening will control your need to constantly talk. Shutting up is really opening up. Resting your tongue is actually strengthening your tongue. Rather than living under its control, you will learn to control it.
• Listening invites the whispers of God. Although he is more than able, God doesn’t seem to shout. God tends to talk when you are listening. God shouldn’t have to talk over everything else. He should always be your priority.
• Listening helps you recognize God’s voice from the world’s noise. Perhaps, God has been whispering to you all along, but you just haven’t heard him because your life has been too busy––too frantic, too noisy and too hurried. Slow down long enough to hear his voice. It’ll be worth the adjustment to your schedule.
• Listening completes the daily dialogue that prayer is intended to be. You talk and God listens. God talks and you listen.
Would you like to hear from God? Listen.by Pastor Doug
Would you like to have sweet dreams?
Recently, I read about a sleeping disorder that causes folks to grind their teeth while they dream. With clenched jaw, their teeth wear against each other causing all sorts of dental problems.
These dreams don’t sound very peaceful. In fact, research has shown that this kind of behavior is a direct result of stress––a direct opposite to peace.
For hundreds of dollars, you can buy a mouth guard––a devise that will shield your teeth from the damage of a stressful night of sleep.
I am not a medical doctor but I am interested in saving you some money, let alone the quality of your slumber. So, I would like to offer you a different type of safeguard. It is always free of charge and, best of all, it has been known to calm the worst nightmares.
It’s the mind guard.
Rather than dealing only with the mouth, the mind guard protects the entire body. While you purchase a mouth guard at a store, you can simply request a mind guard from God.
Rather than being anxious about everything, through prayer, you can look to God for anything and he will guard your mind, bringing you peace. Every night, giving God all the stuff from your day that has heightened your anxiety is a whole lot better than taking it to bed.
You’ll be able to trade the stressful circumstances, which are always beyond your control, for a peace that nobody has ever fully understood––God’s peace goes beyond our human comprehension. You’ll be able to trade the worry about tomorrow for a mind that is fortified by the power of God.
That’s guaranteed safety. That’s a good night’s sleep.
Neglected worry leads to all types of destructive behavior, some much worse than teeth-grinding. The anger toward an arrogant co-worker, the fear of failing health, the bitterness over not having enough money to pay the bills this month all cause anxiety.
Peace is always God’s alternative. He dishes it out freely and lovingly. It is the by-product of spending time with him.
A general principle in our world is what I will call the “law of capacity”––what you put into something is what you’ll find in something. For example, if you spend your day filling your mind with garbage, you’ll spend your nights dreaming about that same garbage. Consequently, before you go to bed each night, you might want to consider doing the following:
• Minimize the garbage intake. Spend your daylight hours collecting that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Fill your mind with this. Think about these things. They have a way of dissolving the toxic aspects of your mind.
• Take out the trash nightly. Release your daily grind before you lay down your head. Get on your knees beside your bed and unleash your day to God. Allow him to melt the hardness of your heart with his love and peace. Your mind will be transformed. You do not need to take your problems to the pillow.
• Experience peace. Imagine the magnitude of God in comparison to your day’s struggles. Understand that he is more than able to meet your needs, solve your impossibilities. Be aware that anxiety is not an attribute of God. He never worries. He doesn’t need to fret for he already knows the outcome. Imagine how knowing that can lead you to experiencing serenity.
And the God of peace will be with you. He will guard your mind as well as your mouth.
And when he shows up, your dreams are always sweet.by Pastor Doug
Noise comes in two varieties.
There are irritating noises and there are beautiful noises. Opinion varies depending upon the set of ears.
Irritating noises are the ones you cannot turn off. They are the sounds that invade a deep sleep––like a willful dog barking at midnight shadows. Horns, blaring stereos and domestic anger can be disturbing, especially if its source couldn’t care less about what you are hearing, painfully so.
Even a peaceful, romantic dinner can be upset by the sound of another’s body––popping joints, gurgling throats or chewing jaws. We exist in a world where noise is not always agreeable.
However, the good news is that we also live in a world filled with beautiful and pleasing sounds. I will never grow weary hearing a child speak. I love the sound of a bubbling brook. I love the sound of cheerful birds.
Most of all, I love the sound of singing. I am partial to the splendor of a well-guided boy’s choir. I love to sing at church––it’s my favorite part of the service. I love it when people lift their voices, lower their pride and sing.
Singing has a beautiful ring. There is nothing like it. From the cathedrals in Europe to the truck cab being driven across the hills of Arkansas, there is nothing more pleasing than people who are willing to sing. My wife owns a plaque that reads, “She who sings prays twice.” God loves it when we sing.
This is what I believe heaven is like. This is what I believe is missing in hell.
Hell, among other things, is an eternity of painful noises––the irritating and cruel sounds of death. The Bible tells us that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. As the fingernail is to the chalkboard so is the grinding of the upper to the lower teeth. It is not a pleasing sound. Hell is separation from God. There is no song.
Heaven, however, is a place where everyone sings. God, the author and composer of all harmony, loves the sound of joyful melody. I believe that a heart filled with songs of praise is a heart filled with God.
Would you like to experience heaven and drive out hell? Sing. Sing to God with all you’ve got. The Psalmist instructs us to “worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
Any place can be turned into a sanctuary when you sing for God. Any place can experience a slice of heaven when you sing to God. Consequently, singing can transform the moments when your car is stuck in traffic or your sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. Singing to God will give those moments eternal value.
Do you want to draw closer to God? Sing. Sing songs you know about Him. Sing songs that celebrate who He is. Sing songs about what He has done. Sing a new song––one that comes from inside, being sung for the first time.
Sing softly. Sing triumphantly. Most importantly, sing sincerely.
Do you want to bring pleasure to the ear of God? Sing. Sing your best even if it’s not as good as another. Sing from your heart and your voice will never matter. Like a child who is trying his best to sing for his parents is the sound you will make before God. He will never score your voice and always hear your heart. What might be unpleasing to man is always beautiful to God.
Sing. Because to God’s ears, it’s always a beautiful noise!by Pastor Doug