The Voice

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“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27, NLT

Do you hear him? He is always speaking to his own; with many things, some pertaining to guidance, and other issues. He delights in teaching us– through words of wisdom that encourage us to follow, or how to really love your neighbor.

He desires to point out things as we encounter them; your curiosity in the natural is meant to be spiritual as well. His soul is that of a teaching shepherd, and he delights in his ministry to us. And we need his instruction.

Regular time with him can not be separated from our daily routine. I have learned that he accommodates himself to us, the ‘grist’ of life is his blackboard. The events that I encounter are his ‘lessons.’ As I move through my life I ‘hear’ his voice. I begin to sense the need of those who I encounter.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

I have learned the joy of praying in the moment with 10 second prayers. Praying continually as I see the needs. I pray for the man who bags my groceries; and lift up the young mother pushing a stroller. I believe his voice prompts me to lift each need I encounter. When the Bible tells us to ‘pray continually’ this is what Paul has in mind.

He becomes my teacher– compassionate and kind to those I meet.

He ‘tunes me’ to see people from his viewpoint. He shows me of their struggles, hopes, and aspirations. I try to never judge what I’m shown; actually the opposite is true– I’m learning to love like he loves. I’m seeing what he sees.

I’m a work in progress. Very often my cares, sins, and disobedience nullify the voice of Jesus, Sometimes my personal issues hijack me and I swirl down into depression or paranoia. I am intensely flawed, but the Holy Spirit is gracious. He always meets me where I am. Slowly, I’m learning to hear his voice.

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All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Prayer

“Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.” 

Isaiah 65:24

In my thinking, there has to be terribly cataclysmic going on if you see me resort to prayer.  Praying not an automatic response for me.  It seems like it is the final, last thing I will do, just before the walls crumble and the enemy threatens annihilation.  Only then I start praying.  At that moment, it will seem I am very devout.  But that is a lie, I am not.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergartenby Robert Fulghum. (That is a great title, and the book was pretty good too.)  Making that connection at that age implies a lot of native ability.  There is so much, so very much we are expected to learn at such a young age.  But I have to tell you this, and it’s a well-guarded secret of sorts.  Christians need to learn how to pray when they are in their spiritual kindergarten.

The curriculum is basic.  There needs to be a reality and a definite sense of effectiveness in our prayer.  Prayer seems to require an awareness of something substantial, as if it were really making a difference after all.  And to make matters more intense, it’s all to be done on completely by faith.  When fighter pilots start flying for real their F-16s, the instructors will block off their vision, forcing the students to fly by instruments only–that is all they can see.  Now that seems very scary to me.

By faith we fly “…not by sight.”  And this process is quite intimidating, many wash-up and can’t continue.   It really is a trust issue, and at times it’s all we can do to muddle through it.  The basics of prayer are given at a young age, but there seems an exponential growth in our spirits over the things we accomplish through him.  It seems to me (the ultimate 98 lb. spiritual weakling, mind you) is that it is not so much as duration but in frequency.  Pray short! But pray a lot.  Pray about everything.  Ten second prayers should be a regular part of your life.

Prayer is a class we must attend to get our wings.  I don’t think that it can be done poorly.  (It is just done!)  It seems the best kind of prayer is the desperate kind.  People learn to pray when things are very, very bad.  When they fall into a deep well, or when they find out their young daughter is pregnant.  People who have terrible illnesses (physical or mental) are often the best prayer warriors. The Father has given them a precious gift.

Pray short! But pray a lot.  Pray about everything.

Learning prayer is a basic 101 course.  But if we take good notes we will keep coming back to our basic lessons.  It seems that things are received but never obtained.  We are his students, and we must truly believe he loves to teach us.  Praying seems to be a way of giving him joy.  And if I can do that, I want to.

“All the troubles of life come upon us because we refuse to sit quietly for a while each day in our rooms.”

Blaise Pascal

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Fire or Blackberries?

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In some odd way, our lives seem to be always getting interrupted by God. And it can happen a lot. We need to see the invisible. When we can, it can be quite amazing. Our night sky here in Alaska is wonderful. (And I’m a “sky guy”, it means I’m always looking up.) But the most phenomenal night skies were in Mexico, while camping on the beach. As I laid there I looked and the Milky Way was on full display. It really was as good as it could be. It seemed there was 10x more stars than ever before.

Once as I gazed up, a weird sort of fear gripped me, it was almost a panic. I started to tremble and shake. I got up and ran to our tent. I just couldn’t handle the incredible universe with no buffer. I was completely undone, and reduced a quivering speck of dust. I tried to tell my wife Lynn what had just happened to me, but I couldn’t. I was too scrambled. I couldn’t speak.

Reflecting on this, I realize now what I had experienced was “awe.” It was something much more common a few generations ago. There is a kind of existential crisis which we side-step in these more modern times. We rarely contemplate the night sky. We seldom, if ever, have seen fire in a bush.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It seems we have traded our awareness of an Almighty God, and in turn we get to pick all blackberries we can haul. We reason it out, and we feel that we have made a better bargain. But when we extricate this from our souls, don’t be surprised if we suddenly find that we have become spiritual paupers.

Maybe we should learn to see through things; each of us have the opportunity now to see the spiritual world that swirls around us. Why wait for heaven? Ask our Father to reveal His glory now in this present moment. Learn to see that which can’t be seen, but by faith.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made.”

Psalms 19:1, NCV