||40days|| week four: listen in the other

One of the greatest challenges for any parent is trying to communicate with a child. With young children, there are times when you have to sit them down, make sure they have steady eye contact, and then slowly speak your points. After that, you may ask the question, “Do you understand what I am saying?” The parent can only hope the message has gotten through. (Of course, some children have the same concern with their parents!)

One of the ways we can hear from God is through the voice of another person. As we continue the ||40days|| journey through Lent with attention to listening for God, we look today at what it means to hear God in another person. Even as God speaks primarily through Scripture, what does it mean to hear from Him in another person. Let me suggest seven things to consider when evaluating whether a person is worth listening to as a representative of God, whether at a personal or corporate level:

  1. God speaks through people who love God’s words (2 Timothy 2:14-3:10). When Paul offers instruction to the young pastor, Timothy, he calls him to hold to the truth in contrast to those who lose focus through godless chatter and a departure from the truth.
  2. God speaks through people who bring His truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). What we hear from others is not God’s word if it is devoid of biblical truth or biblical love. If those elements are there, however, we do well to listen for God in another person’s words.
  3. God speaks through people who help us develop and grow (Proverbs 27:17). We read inRead More »

||40days|| week four: listen to interruptions

Have you ever tried to get something done but cannot seem to finish because of interruptions? Maybe it’s that paper for class that keeps calling your name, but friends or your job keep you from completing it. Maybe the ‘something’ is that magazine you are trying to read through but your kids keep interrupting you to say something or get your attention. Or maybe it’s the meal that’s simmering away in the midst of phone calls and people stopping at the door.

Interruptions can be such a pain. But what if the interruption are the ‘something’ that needs attention? And what if God is trying to speak to us more in the interruptions than in the things we think are so important? This week in the midst of the ||40days|| journey, we are trying to listen for God. But sometimes God speaks in unexpected ways.

This calls to mind the story of the Apostle Paul. With a sense of clear purpose and direction, Paul Read More »

||40days|| week four: listen in Creation

Our ||40days|| journey through Lent continues this fourth week with attention to our theme: ‘listen’. In previous weeks, we have looked at the journey of Lent, the need to acknowledge things in our lives, and then to turn from them.

Today, with the focus on listening to God, we look at listening to God in Creation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19:1:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

The psalmist tells us that skies actually speak of God’s glory. Look out the window right now, if you have the chance. Take a look at the endless blue that stretches over your head. If there are clouds, consider the intricacies of light and shadow that are merely a conglomeration of condensed moisture floating on the air currents. See the tops of trees that scratch the skies with their outstretched limbs. Each of these elements of nature speak forth God’s power and creativity. Read More »

||40days|| week four: listen to His words

When I do premarital counseling with couples, one exercise I always have them do is called the wish list. Each person must identify three things they wish happened more or less in their relationship, and then share that with one another. While one person is speaking, the other person has to listen without making a judgment on these statements. Then, they have to repeat back what the other person said to insure that they have really listened. It’s harder than you might think. It’s one thing to let the words make their way into your ears, but it’s another thing to truly listen to another person.

The way we listen to God is not altogether different. We must move beyond simply letting His words enter our ears or eyes, but we must be active listeners, who truly hear what He has to say. As we continue our ||40days|| journey through Lent, today we are focus on listening to God’s words. We draw near to the experience of the Old Testament prophets, whose experience is so often marked by this phrase:

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite. (1 Kings 21:17, NIV)

The word of the LORD came to me (Jeremiah 2:1, NIV)

As we acknowledge our difficulties and turn from them, we must first and foremost turn to the words of God. We do this because the words of God are life-giving. As Moses reflected on the manna God gave the people to satisfy their hunger on the way from Egypt to the Promised Land, he said: Read More »

||40days|| week four: listen

Our ||40days|| journey through Lent continues this fourth week with attention to the theme: ‘listen’. In previous weeks, we have looked at the journey of Lent, the need to acknowledge things in our lives, and then to turn from them. But what should we turn toward? If we are to turn away from sin, evil, distractions, and busyness, then we must turn toward something positive.

Hear Me, My people, and I will warn you – if you would only listen to me! (Psalm 81:8, NIV)

In the midst of our journey with Jesus, we must give our attention to the voice of the Lord. His voice is the one that we must harken to in the midst of so many other voices calling out for our attention. One of the greatest difficulties with the people of Israel that we see in the Old Testament, however, is Read More »

Listening? (re:listening 1)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about listening.  I’ve been asking myself: ‘Do I listen?’ To God, to my friends, to my wife, to my kids, to people around me, to my own life . . . am I really listening?

As someone who spends a lot of time speaking, whether in front of people or in response to individual’s questions, I can easily slip into an attitude of blabbing about in life. Some of you who are reading this, God forbid, may even have experienced this with me. I’m really sorry about it, if that’s the case.

There is so much noise and activity in our society that I think we are all listening impaired. We undoubtedly have a lot of sound running into our ears, but do we truly listen?  Try this out. Stop for a moment and listen to the sounds around you. What do you hear?

Okay. Now think about the last time you listened – I mean really listened without pushing your agenda – to a friend. How long ago was that?

To be cliché, I’d have to say that listening is an art. It takes hard work, training, thought, creativity, and a little stillness, quiet and reflection.

Think about God as a listener for a minute. He hears us when we call to Him. “I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears” (Psalm 18:6). “Does He who fashioned the ear not hear?” (Psalm 94:9).

He hears us. What a gift. Shouldn’t we be like Him in this? Shouldn’t we be open-eared to those around us? Shouldn’t we be listeners to others, at least for God’s sake, if not for our own?

So, I’ve been asking myself whether or not I am a listener. Do I know what it means to simply shut-up and listen to another?

How about you?

I’d like to hear from you about it, if you’re willing. It would be good for me. I’d love to listen (through print) to what you have to say.