Listening

Listening has become a lost art. 

We are to busy to slow down and make eye contact with the person who is speaking.

We glance at our phone while they are speaking afraid we are going to miss something. 

We are trying to think about what we are going to say in response before they finish speaking. 

Then we are surprised that there is conflict due to miscommunication. 

Turn your phone off.  Make eye contact.  Repeat some of what was said to you so they know you are listening. 

Can you hear what I’m trying to say?

Advertisements

Leaders Aren’t Perfect

What kind of people does God use in leadership?

The book of Judges has some interesting characters that God uses to deliver His people.

In Judges 3:15, there is a left handed man named Ehud who God uses. Ehud goes to meet the opposition leader and they check him for weapons. Not realizing he is left handed they do a sloppy weapons check and the next thing you know their leader is dead.

God used Ehud’s unique abilities and skills to accomplish his purpose. He was an ordinary man. He was not a spiritual giant.

In Judges 4:4-5, there is a woman named Deborah who leads the nation of Israel. She is familiar with God’s law and people come to her to settle disputes.

At a time when women are treated as property God raises up Deborah to lead the nation. She was an ordinary woman who God used to do extraordinary things.

In Judges 6, there is man named Gideon who God uses to deliver Israel. He is a man who lacked confidence in himself (6:15). He is a man who doubts God so much that he repeatedly is asking God for a signs and wonders to confirm that he is to lead Israel (6:36-40 – Gideon’s Fleece).

Despite Gideon’s doubt in himself and God, he is used to deliver Israel.

In Judges 11:1, we are told of Jephthah. Despite the fact that his mother was a prostitute God uses him to deliver Israel from their enemies. Due to his parentage he was an outcast. But he was a great warrior and the sought him out due to his kill in battle.

We learn from him the danger of making foolish vows and promises to God and others. He tells God that when he returns home that the first thing he sees he will offer as a burnt sacrifice to God. He sees his daughter in 11:34. This foolish vow resulted in the death of his daughter. Killing his daughter was in direct conflict with God’s opposition to human sacrifice.

God would not have required Jephthah to keep this vow. But to save face with his friends  had his daughter killed. God does not need us to make promises we can not keep.

In Judges 13:3-5, God raises us a man named Samson to deliver the nation of Israel. He is to let his hair grow long and never to drink wine. Basically he is to be in the world but drastically different from the world. He has great physical strength. Unfortunately he has questionable moral character and lives like the devil himself. He is a lady’s man. Ultimately he is betrayed, his hair is cut off, signaling to the world that he has broken his vows to God. He is blinded and led away into slavery. He prays to God for strength one last time and brings the building down on the heads of his oppressors and himself.  His great strength was almost undone by his lack of moral courage. 

None of these 5 people fit the expected image of being the deliverer of Israel.

None of them were spiritually or morally perfect. Most of them were common every day people and yet God used them.

Like Ehud, God can use our uniqueness for his glory. There is something you can do with God’s help that no one else can do.

Like Deborah, God would remind you that in Christ, there is neither male nor female. He can use a man or a woman to accomplish his purpose.

Like Gideon, God would remind you that your lack of confidence and even doubt in him would not rule you out for service.

Like Jephthah, God reminds us that he does not care what your family heritage was, or where you came from. He can and will use you for his glory.

Like Samson, God reminds us that we do not have to be spiritual giants or morally perfect for him to use us. I am sure God would prefer we pursue moral and spiritually purity but it does not necessarily rule out God using us.

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He can use you and me.

Choices

It is clear that whether you believe in predestination or free will, that the Bible clearly teaches that God holds us accountable for the choices we make.

Sometimes the right choice in following God is obvious. Some choices are black and white.

Sometimes the right choice in following God is not so obvious.

Some choices are are a matter of personal preference. What food we eat.  What clothes we wear. Where we choose to work.

However,  our choices in the area of personal preferences can affect others.
I Corinthians 8:9, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak”.

Choice can be between good things.

Sometimes we get overcommitted to do too many things because they are all good. Sometimes we have to say no to good things.

Indecision is a decision not to act. It too is a choice.

Sometimes the right choice in following God involves sacrifice and possibly great risk.

Sometimes we make the wrong choice and suffer the consequences.

Thankfully,  we serve a God who will give us the grace to deal with the consequences,  if we truly turn to Him.   

God is still interested in our welfare, even when we make bad choices.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose”.

And we know – not that we hope, but we know.

In all things – including even our bad choices.

God works   – when God works, it gets done

For the good – he can make something beautiful of my mess

Of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose – his children, who have entered into a relationship with him through his son,  Jesus Christ.

Mentors

I miss my mentors. 

I had several Godly men who built into my life. 

They spent countless hours investing in my emotional and spiritual growth. 

There are phrases in my everday speech that constantly remind me of them. 

“Don’t try and fix God’s fix.”
“Now,  that will preach. ”

But they are gone. 

Now I am constantly mentoring others for the same reasons that others mentored me. 

If your mentor is available reach out to them to thank them. 

If you are mentoring thank God for the opportunity.

If you do have a mentor be sensitive to God’s speaking through others to show you your blindspots. 

Stumble

How do you relate to people who stumble and fall?

The book of Hosea is about a prophet to the nation of Israel whose wife was involved in a very public sin. Gomer, Hosea’s wife left him to become a prostitute.

In Hosea chapter 3, God tells Hosea to go find his wife, to restore her and to love her, and he does.

Hosea continues his public ministry with her as his wife.

Hosea through God’s grace was able to forgive his wife and ultimately to love her again.

The Bible does not tell us how the nation of Israel responded to Hosea’s wife.

I wonder when Hosea’s wife returned if anyone forgave and comforted her so that she would not be overwhelmed by her guilt and shame.

I wonder if anyone did anything to show her their love or did they just gossip about her as she passed by?

I wonder if people were embarrassed by how her actions reflected on them.

Did they love Hosea and Gomer though this painful situation or did they avoid them?

I am sure that there were some who fell away from God because of her actions.

I am certain there were others who saw her restorations as a living example of hope and grace. 

Suffering

Thank you, Lord for the trials and suffering of the last 18 months. 

Without these external and internal stresses and pressures I would be complacent and stagnant. 

I would have  approached life on automatic pilot. 

I would have remained isolated and insulated from others. 

Without these experiences I would not known your hand of comfort or the ability to extend that comfort to others.

Forgive me,  Lord for not recognizing your redemptive purposes in the midst of this season. 

James 1:2-4 NIV

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

self righteousness .

I have a masters degree in self righteousness. A doctorate in self pity and the stunning ability to replicate others like myself.

This is not a skill set I would put on a resume.

Sadly, for many years I didn’t even recognize my own self righteousness.

But I was very skilled in recognizing this attitude in others.

It was a humbling experience to realize my own guilt in this area.

I have found that self righteousness and self pity are very resilient.

Without God’s grace and constant intervention they can, and will, dominate my life.

God save me from me.

Galatians 3:3 NLT
How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?