Listen Up!

Another key component of clarity is listening to God.  As Michele said in a previous post, sometimes it is easy to get so busy doing things for God that we are too distracted to listen to God.  Our Lord is a God who constantly communicates with His people.  He spoke creation into existence and continues to speak to us through His world.  He sent the prophets to tell the people His what He wanted them to hear.  We have His written word, the Holy Scripture and finally He sent Jesus, the Living Word.

The Bible has a lot to say about listening and hearing.  I’ll give you a few examples:

“This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased:  listen to Him.”  Matthew 17:5 (God’s words about Jesus)

 

“Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  John 18:37 (Jesus speaking to Pilate)

 

“So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:17 (the apostle Paul writing to the Christians in Rome)

We are instructed to listen, and to listen particularly to the words of Jesus.  In order to do this we must of course, study the Scripture;  but in addition, we must read the Scriptures prayerfully.  We must hear not only what the God’s Word said to the people at the time it was written, we must hear what it is saying to US and what it is saying TODAY.

Of course, there are many ways to listen.  One simple way is prayer.  To do this, our prayer life should not always be words and asking;  we need to make time for silence and waiting.  This is often when God speaks.

We can listen to the advice of others we know to be godly, those who are more experienced in the faith:  this could be your Pastor, a mentor, a spiritual director, or even the members of your small group. The Quakers actually have a tradition called a “clearness committee”– a group that assembles to help a member listen for God’s will by meeting, praying and asking questions.

Certainly every one of us should be listening in our church services every week — the Word of God as spoken in the readings, the sermon or even the hymns may be God’s special Word to you.  Don’t miss it!

If you’re seeking clarity, keep listening.  Not in a vacuum.  Pray, study, worship.  Test your answers against Scripture and in the company of others.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”   Matthew 11:15

 

Is this Spiritual Direction?

I found this quote which led me to wonder, “Is the Lutheran Ladies blog actually a form of spiritual direction?”  In sharing our experiences, insights, reading and more are we becoming to spiritual directors to our readers and to one another? I certainly think sharing my feelings in my posts has led me to confront my own sin, and the frequent lack of purity in my motives.  It makes me think and read deeply about each month’s theme. Hopefully,  this means it has led to some changes as well.  I would love to hear what others (authors and followers) have to say on this subject.

“When we speak with others about our experience in Christ, it sharpens our attentiveness to the voice and will of the Father. Sharing our stories helps us clarify the intentions of our hearts toward the fulfillment of his divine will. A small circle of friends also reminds us of the presence, power and protection of the Holy Spirit. Confiding in one another instills a sense of hope for the future as children who are dearly loved by their Father.”
Stephen A. Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way

When God Says Stop

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

As I write this,  I’m sitting here watching it snow for the second day in a row.  There will be no Lenten Service tonight;  I can’t go to the grocery store or the library;  I can’t visit a friend. I’ve finished all my usual household chores.  I’m stuck at home and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes God, through our circumstances, just makes us stop?  It may come in the form of weather, but it may also be an injury or illness.  It may be that, as my friend Rob says, “all the wheels fall off the cart.”  Things happen that are out of our control, and we can’t keep going in our usual direction. We get a big dose of humility.  We have to stop.

Times like this are good opportunities to be still and listen.  Maybe we’re trying too hard.  Maybe God has another plan.  Maybe He just wants us to make time for Him– for prayer, for meditation, to give thanks, to consider our blessings.  It’s a time to remember that we’re not really in control, even when we’re racing around acting like we are.

Sometimes we just need to stop.  I guess I should consider doing that on my own, instead of waiting for God to do it for me.  What about you?  Do you need to stop for a day, an hour or even ten minutes and listen to God?

Loving by Listening

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them. —Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Stewardship of Our Roles #2

As I was looking for a filler to finish off our church newsletter this morning (yes, I am the editor), I came across this poem I wrote years and years ago.  I thought I’d share it as it speaks to our many roles in life and how to handle them.

A Modern Day Psalm

Dear Lord,

Does life really have to be this hard?

I just want to be myself for a change instead of someone else’s

Wife or

Mother or

Daughter or

Employee or

Boss or

Whatever it is I spend most of my time being.

Sometimes my relationships seem to be strangling me instead of fulfilling me …

I want to be free

I want to please myself.

The trouble is I’m not really sure who I am or what pleases me

I’m to accustomed to being all of those other people instead.

Maybe I can find myself and You, too, if I really pray.

Maybe there’s a place for me in Your plan.  Me the wife, and mother and daughter and sister and all the other Mes.

Maybe You’ll tell me if I listen.

 

Bonhoeffer on Learning to Listen

listenLearning to listen is an important part of all relationships; every Christian should listen to others and to God.

PacificPilgrim

Photo Credit: B Rosen via Compfight cc (https://www.flickr.com/photos/82763263@N00/4255321476/)

The following quote is from the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his essay, Life Together.

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.

So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.

Many people are looking for an ear that…

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Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Yesterday I got out a DVD I’ve had for a long time called “Be Still.”  It’s about contemplative prayer and features some well-known Christian authors like Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard.  A major point in the discussion was that even when we pray we often don’t listen to God because we’re so busy talking to Him. We’ll never know God’s will for our lives if we don’t allow some space for silence, waiting and listening for His voice.

Of course the society we live in doesn’t exactly encourage quietness and rest.  “Multi-tasking” seems to be regarded as a virtue (what happened to focus or concentration on an important job?).  We live with what the DVD called “weapons of mass distraction”–smart phones, computers, ipods, net flicks.  We often don’t pay attention to one another or our surroundings, much less God.  We’re too consumed with our technology, our ability to get the answer we want, or the contact we need instantly.

I’m no better than anyone else at this.  I’m not as technologically connected as some, but I grew up in a family where working hard was expected and the biggest sin was being “lazy” (in other words, doing nothing).  I tend to fill up my days with one chore after another.  Prayer becomes just one of those chores to rush through on my way to the next thing on my list. Keeping my mind from racing is even harder than stopping my body.  I can be quiet, but I can’t be still.

God, however, invites us to rest in His presence, to be attentive to His voice.  How do you do this, ladies and readers?  I want to hear your suggestions.

 

Listening to God before We Speak for Him

I think this is a great point. We need to listen in prayer before we speak.

The Road

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This is from the Life is Worship blog:

“Holy men of soberer and quieter times than ours knew well the power of silence. David said, I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. There is a tip here for God’s modern prophets. The heart seldom gets hot while the mouth is open. A closed mouth before God and a silent heart are indispensable for the reception of certain kinds of truth. No man is qualified to speak who has not first listened. It might well be a wonderful revelation to some Christians if they were to get completely quiet for a short time, long enough, let us say, to get acquainted with their own souls, and to listen in the silence for…

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Peanut Butter & Jelly?

Prayer and study: they’re like peanut butter and jelly.

A friend of mine once gave a talk on a Via de Cristo weekend about study, and she used this analogy.  At first glance, it seems a little silly;  but the more you think about it, the wiser it becomes. Prayer and study complement each other.  They go together.  We’ve talked about how prayer is a conversation:  we speak and we also listen.  Well, for me at least, when I pray, I talk to God and when I study, God talks to me.  Maybe that’s because I love to read and study.  I do think God gets our attention through the things that come naturally to us, the things we easily relate to. Beth Ann would probably say God speaks to her through music;  a very sociable person might say God speaks to them through others, and so on.

Of course, the Bible is God’s Word and our primary source of information about Him.  However, we can read the Bible simply as history and facts, or we can read it prayerfully.  Here’s a suggestion for doing that:

  1.  Select a story, a Psalm, or a section of Scripture.
  2. Read the Scripture through quickly, as you normally would.
  3. Now read it again, slowly.  Notice what word or phrase or idea jumps out at you.
  4. Read it one more time, meditating on the verse of phrase that caught your mind before.  What is God saying to you through it?  How does it speak to your current situation or state of mind?

This is not the only way study speaks to us.  When I am thinking about a particular topic, it turns up everywhere!  In the sermon, the hymns, the readings, other books I am reading, the people I am talking to.  All of these things can be study and if study is God speaking to us, all of these things can be part of our prayer life.

So, how does God speak to you?  Through art, nature, books, people?  Pay attention and listen to what He has to say. Make all of that part of your prayer.