A Cone of Silence?

Even Amazon cannot sell me a cone of silence.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with the concept. You can get a quick explanation here.

Suffice it to say that the idea is a device that would create a soundproof barrier between you and everyone else around you. If you don’t understand why anyone would desire such a device… I don’t really know what to tell you except that many of us have a hard time finding moments without noise.

It seems that, even for a guy like myself that has a great appetite for quiet, it can sometimes be very difficult to shut out all of the noise and truly listen. And I don’t think I’m unique.

I’ve observed that many of us are actually addicted to some kind of noise. For some it’s their go-to binge on Netflix or default playlist on Spotify, for others it may be Fox News or a podcast that clogs the air. For some it may just be the inner recitation of the to-do list that rattles on in an unending directive of productivity.

But, whatever the noise, it’s something that appears to be epidemic in our society. And it keeps many of us from hearing the voice we most desperately need to hear.

As followers of Jesus, there is no greater need than to be attuned to the Spirit of God. It’s the voice we need to recognize, respond to, follow.
When God was teaching Elijah some hard truths in 1 Kings 19, He spoke in a low whisper. When Isaiah was describing the way God would lead his people, he wrote:

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or to the left.” (Isa 30.20)

Through the New Testament we’re instructed to walk in the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit, and yield to the Spirit. But it seems that, as a voice within us, it can easily get confused for our own voice, but they are not the same. And discerning one from the other becomes so very much easier when we simply spend some time focusing our hearts and minds—or more our spiritual ears—on God.

This is why I so would like to find some functional cone of silence—to block out everything else and tune my spiritual ears to the voice of the Spirit. But this is not the way the world works. Even Jesus stepped away from all of the crowds and busyness to spend time alone with the Father. So we know we need it as well.

But maybe it’s not as complicated as we make it.

Maybe it’s as simple as the psalm instructs:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Maybe I don’t need a cone of silence. Maybe all I need is to switch off all of the voices I can and listen for the One that I most desperately need. Maybe I can trust Him enough to just be still.

Well… of course I can.

Father, teach me to sit down, shut up, and be still… and know that You are God.

Love Does Not…

Rulings and responses and rants and such aside…

I find myself frustrated with the swirl of conversations going on around me as social media is ablaze with so many perspectives. I am blessed to be friends with people who see the world very differently than I. I am blessed to be friends with people who see the world much as I tend to see it. I am blessed with friends with the wisdom to keep their thoughts to themselves and friends with the passion to say what they believe and how they see things.

I love all of them. And I want them all to be free. I want them all to have the same freedom to live according to their convictions that I want to have for my family. So, whatever side or angle of the issues you may stand, please know that I love you and I want nothing but the best for you.

But I find myself wondering…as the debates of what love is or is not go swirling on…as the accusations fly in every possible direction…as I struggle with what to say and how to say it…

What does love do? If I love people – no matter their lifestyle or creed or whether their flaws are the same as or different than mine – what must I do?

Continue reading Love Does Not…

Any Old… Donkey Will Do

I have a number of heroic figures in my life. One of them is my dad. I think there are a number of folks that would put him on their hero list, but the biggest reasons I do are ones that most of you would never know.

There was a man I knew to be a contradiction that my dad had the dubious honor to pastor. He claimed to have a ministry on the weekends at the fishing docks of a popular lake. He was almost never actually in church. He was a stubborn, difficult…

Well, he reminded me a lot of the story of Balaam (Numbers 22). He was a prophet that had been solicited by an enemy of God’s people for the purpose of cursing the people of Israel. He just couldn’t do it because God wouldn’t let him. But there was an interesting exchange when he was going along to attempt to help this enemy. Balaam’s donkey was spooked by the presence of an angel – which Balaam could not see. After a couple of serious beatings, the donkey spoke to Balaam.

What the donkey said is not particularly important. Balaam listened because she spoke truth. There is a powerful point to this simple but marvelous account: when God has something to say to us, any old… donkey will do.

This man that reminded me of Balaam’s story was a lot like that donkey. He confronted my dad about the horrible shortcomings of his ministry and proclaimed that he would never set foot in that church again as long as my dad was the pastor. He was right. He never set foot again. But he did roll in once.

Continue reading Any Old… Donkey Will Do