The “Bad Ear”

Listening isn’t always something we want to do. I’ve become fascinated by our capacity for hearing in recent years. Now in my 60s, I am losing capacity to hear in one ear. It comes in handy when I’m being told something I really don’t want to hear. It’s convenient when I need a good excuse to miss a deadline or just prefer not to have definite instructions for something I might not want to do. It doesn’t mean I can’t hear at all in the “bad ear,” I just sometimes can’t tell you what the words are. I might hear sounds, muffled words and intonations. To hear the words, I must turn my face and my good ear to the speaking voice. That makes it, for me, a metaphor for spirituality – we turn our face so we can hear again. We turn our face in a new direction so the words have meaning and are not merely sounds.

This is a quote from a book I just started reading entitled A Spirituality of Listening.

I appreciate the metaphor. If I’m going to hear what God is saying to me, it’s vital that my face and my ears are turned in his direction. What might keep my face and ears turned away?

  • Inconvenience
  • Resistance
  • Stubbornness
  • Pride
  • Comfort
  • All sorts of fears and lies that the enemy would rather I choose to listen to

So in order to listen, I have to turn my face and ears by choosing humility, surrendering control, trusting truth, embracing discomfort, and recalling God’s ways are indeed best.

Here’s to better and deeper listening!

Difficulty in Submission

(Day 19 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)

We often find it difficult to pray. Many times we feel praying is next to impossible. If you really think about it, the very act of true praying is getting over ourselves and coming to the end of our stubborn sinful ways. When we pray, we die to self and engage in a warfare against the flesh that so often wants and seeks its own way.

Many times we find it difficult to pray because we focus on praying itself and not on the God who answers those prayers. We set our own rituals and habits in place when and how we pray and that sometimes keeps us from Him. By God’s grace alone, we know Him, and we know He is there and not only hears us but listens. He is not silent. He always answers our prayers and acts in accord with His perfect will for our good and His glory.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14–15 (ESV)

It is not by prayer pattern or method that we reach God, it is by our submission. When we recognize God’s sovereignty in our prayer life, we are also reminded of His love, grace, holiness, and righteousness, and we are thereby faced with the harsh reality of our own sinfulness in the light of His glory and grace.

People have often said “I believe in the power of prayer” and there is merit to that statement. However, it may be more accurate to say that we believe in the power of God…so we pray. When we pray, we are reminded of our own insufficiency and lack of control. It is through prayer that we daily submit that insufficiency to someone greater than ourselves. God is able!

Think of it this way… God is omniscient (knows all things) and omnipotent (all powerful), and because He has our ultimate good and His glory in mind, we can trust Him with everything. You and I, however, are sinful. We don’t know everything, and can’t control everything. Our submission is a work that should be primary and given daily attention. It is difficult at times but critical to our relationship with God.

We will always to some degree find it difficult to let go and submit, but, nevertheless, we must always desperately seek God. We must also pray for God to help us pray, treating prayer less like a grocery list and more like a relationship.

Lord, help me swallow my pride and submit to your will. I recognize my own sinfulness and ask that you lead me, through your wonderful grace, to a more complete submissive prayer relationship with you.

By Doug Hull

Proud vs. Plain

(Three brief thoughts from I Peter 5:1-11, The Message)

  • Keep a cool head…proud people get bent out of shape; plain people live carefree.
  • Keep your guard up…proud people believe they’re untouchable; plain people know they’re vulnerable.
  • Keep a firm grip on the faith…proud people are tempted to go it alone; plain people believe that two is better than one.

4 Good Don’ts

“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor GOD with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent GOD ’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that GOD corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Reading this passage this morning from the Message, I see some good don’ts that I can always use to have in the memory bank.

  • Don’t try to figure everything out on your own – the opposite issues from arrogance and pride
  • Don’t assume that you know it all – the opposite fosters independence that leaves God out of the story
  • Don’t resent God’s discipline – the opposite undermines His authority and character of compassion
  • Don’t sulk under his loving correction – the opposite reveals immaturity and selfishness

To keep these dont’s in check, do trust, do listen, do honor, do give the best and the first, and do run to God.

You Might Be Proud

If you get aggravated that there are too many handicapped parking spots at WalMart, you might be proud.

If you turn your nose up at the mom with the buggy-caged, screaming child at Publix, you might be proud.

If you believe, out loud or silently, that your education level determines your worth, you might be proud.

If you smile and nod while hearing advice but are only listening to the advice in your own head, you might be proud.

If you insist the TV channel is always determined by your mood or preference only, you might be proud.

If you ignore your aging parents because they only talk about things in their world, you might be proud.

If you are disgusted by humans who look/worship/talk/dress/pray/eat/do life differently than you, you might be proud.

If you write a blog pointing out other’s pride issues, you might be proud.