Talking and Listening to God

  When we use the silent treatment in a relationship typically it’s a manipulative technique that’s abusive and counter-productive.   But that’s not to say that using silence even in discipline can’t be effective.   God uses silence as discipline (Amos 8:11-12).   Employing silence can work for a leader in group situations.   I’ve coached youth basketball for many years.   There have been times when our team has walked into the locker room at halftime every player jabbering away, often pooling ignorance.   They have their opinions about what’s worked and what hasn’t.   When they sit and should be listening, they’re often still talking even when I start to give my input.   The room is filled with voices.   Some needing to be silenced.   One needing to be heard.   With everyone talking no one is really listening.   At this point I could and often have screamed to get their attention.   It’s worked.   But often a better way is to simply stop talking, arms folded with a bit of a glare.  

Why We Meet

            I never thought we’d ever have a discussion at Church as to whether we should meet or not.   And honestly, over the years I haven’t given much consideration as to how we meet.   It’s never mattered much whether we meet in a cathedral or a barn.   To some it matters a lot.   Your opinion has weight with me.   I respect your thoughts, but what’s always been critical to me is what we do when we meet and why we do what we do.               Over the last several weeks as I’ve studied Ephesians and prepared messages from these texts, I’ve been reminded of the crucial part the Church plays in God’s plan.   God saved us to be joined to a body.   To be part of a family.   To be living stones in a building He’s constructing.    We’re organized locally to proclaim the excellencies of His grace lavished upon us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.   We come together bonded by the love we’ve received and we worship through the energy that the Spirit supplies.   We come to encourage ou

No More Hate

Except in extreme cases (Nazi Germany) we really don’t have to develop a curriculum for hate.   We teach it by example.   We start by creating a toxic culture.   In this climate we breathe in hostility while breathing out anger.   We fixate on distinctions among people and these become glaring differences that separate.   We tend to be tribal.   We organize into groups and then draw lines and circles.   We include some.   We exclude others.   All based on these differences that seem all-important. I learned to hate by listening and watching.   What I heard and what I witnessed shaped my identity.   My tribe became white, Protestant and south side.   I vividly remember a white, Protestant friend from the south side running down the stairs of his home where I was playing that day shouting with a disgusting joy and applauding enthusiastically that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed.   I remember conversations between my parents about Catholic privilege in our small town.

Loving by Sacrificing

I began a recent sermon with this admission.   I listen to “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” in the car and even in the church office, occasionally.   That’s my present practice at age 61 at my current level of maturity in Christ.   And, thanks be to God because of His faithful activity in my life, I think I’ve grown much toward Christlikeness over the years of my walk with God. Now, I want you to note that I deliberately used the word admission rather than confession because I don’t regard these listening choices as a stubborn act of rebellion against God, or secret sin I’m trying to hide from the world. My conscience is clear when I put on the headphones, turn up the volume and risk damaging my eardrums.   This is my “jam” like we used to say.   I do the same with Beethoven’s Fifth by the way. The journey (I listen to them too) I’ve traveled to get to this place where I enjoy every second in the “Free Bird” guitar and drum marathon, has been one of extremes.    On the one

The Church and Now

Think with me of the ways our culture could benefit from the Church’s insight and input.   We know a little about justice and fairness from the Bible.   God makes it clear that we should treat everyone equally.   Even foreigners were welcome in Israel.   The weak and the vulnerable were to be protected.   Jesus’ treatment of the Woman at the Well and his parable about the Good Samaritan address the manner in which we treat people who are different than we are.    There is no room for racism, systemic or otherwise, in the kingdom of God.   The right use of authority .   Time and again God takes me to Mark 10:45 when I think about leadership and exercising authority.   Servant leadership is what God demands.   Political maneuvering and manipulation sadden the heart of the One who teaches us humility by His example.   Even to the point of expressing His love by dying in our place.   The way we use people to make our point or advance our cause is abhorrent to God.   Philippi


Some thoughts on time… There are certain lines from popular songs that are in my head and probably will be until all my memories are erased, if that ever happens.   There are two that relate to time.   One is from the Steve Miller band and the line is likely familiar to some of you.   “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin, slippin’’ into the future.   Sorry if I have you remembering a song you’d rather forget.   Personally, I really liked that song when it came out, and even today I’ll listen to it occasionally.      Another more recent line comes from a song called, “Breathe” by an artist named Anna Nalick.   That line goes like this: “cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on the cable, and life’s like an hourglass glued to the table, no one can find the rewind…” Images of San Francisco with its fabled cable cars comes to mind and provides an accurate image of the inevitability of time moving forward.   And an hourglass glued to the table is an effective word picture for a r


“She didn’t make it.”   “He never got here.”   “We came up short.”    The gut-wrenching words of a surgeon uttered somberly in a hospital waiting room to frantic parents.    The words of a friend reporting the progress of his buddy’s journey.   Words disclosing the disappointing results of a fund raiser.   Sad words.   Difficult words.   Life-altering words.   Think about these words from 1 Timothy, 18  This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,   19  holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,   20  among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. Or these words from 2 Timothy 4:10, 10  For  Demas,  in love with  this present world,  has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.   Crescens has gone to Galatia,   Titus to Dalmatia. Shipwreck and desert