||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 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 »

||40days|| week three: turn from distraction

Recent studies show that we are more distracted than ever before. A documentary entitled Digital Nation, featured a study of multitasking MIT students who attempted to complete more work by simultaneously doing five or six tasks. The students assumed they were more efficient by doing this, yet the study revealed that they were actually slower and distracted more easily as they switched from one thing to another.

In another arena, there has been serious discussion about legislation to deal with road safety and distracted driving in the last two years. A 2008 study revealed that 16% of all traffic fatalities involved distracted driving. In raw lives, this means that six-thousand people died in 2008 from distracted driving accidents.

Distraction is a powerful thing. Even as I have been writing this blog post, I’ve switched tabs on my web browser multiple times, checked my email, adjusted the music I was listening to, and had a conversation with someone. Distractions are all around us.

Superficially, distraction really has nothing to do with the ||40days|| journey with Jesus we’re on right now. Distraction does not seem like a spiritual issue. But the truth is that the more we make a pattern of distraction in our lives, the less we are able to be truly present with God and others.

We need to turn from distraction in order to focus with God. In all of the things that call out for attention when we are at work, at home, or simply moving from place to place, we must be able to turn our attention to God. Many people will say that this means establishing a set apart time each day to read Scripture, pray, and be still. Regardless of the time we do that, it is probably a good idea. If we are willing to set apart specific times to eat meals, prepare for our work, or watch a favorite television show, why shouldn’t we have focused, un-distracted time with God?

Give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear Your name. (Psalm 86:11, NIV)

||40days|| week three: turn from evil

When I say the word ‘evil’ what comes to your mind: a scene from a horror movie, vile dictators, your boss? ‘Evil’ is not a word that’s bandied about very easily anymore and is considered by some to be an outmoded concept that doesn’t apply to life anymore.

Still, most people would recognize evil in the world around us when we encounter stories of mass graves in war-torn lands or children killed in their schools by rampaging psychopaths. It is hard to call those things by any other name.

If we look a bit closer at our own lives, however, we will see the impulse to evil within our own souls. Evil is not only such radical, mind-blowing acts. Evil is also the will to act in ways that are morally reprehensible or bring misfortune to others. In the biblical world, evil is personified by Satan, the devil who opposes God’s goodness in the world and the lives of individuals. The word ‘evil’ appears throughout Scripture to name actions and ways that reflect idolatry, sin, harm to others, and more. As with sin, evil can grab hold of our lives in dramatic ways that are hard to shake free. Read More »