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Strong beliefs, loosely held.

I sit at my desk and put off writing this article because I don’t know what to write about. But I wonder today if any of us will actually listen to the other. If we will open our minds to the possibility that we may not have all for information and we could actually be misinformed.

I read an article today titled Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s what does. It can be found here: https://heleo.com/facts-dont-change-peoples-minds-heres/16242/

It is a short article and worth the read. I read it and thought, “Wow that is spot on.” How many of us go looking for opinions on topics that are different than ours? How many of us will listen to/read an article that is opposite to our viewpoint?

We have friends that are the same thought process as us. We find people on Facebook that think the same as us. We follow people on Twitter that think the same as us. As I scroll through my Facebook feed today I am met with the opinions of everyone on the kneeling/sitting/standing for the National Anthem. And all of the articles and pictures and sound bites are just feeding the hysteria over this. We all have our opinions on what is the proper thing to do. But how many of us will change our mind because it is thrown in our face time and time again?

None of us will change our mind because someone is telling us we are wrong. We will shut down and not allow any fact to persuade us to change our minds. Until we can hear the other without trying to change their mind, and actually see things from their point of view with the possibility we might need to change we will not move out of where we are.

As followers of Christ, we are called to love all and seek justice for the least of these. We cannot do this by saying we are always right and everyone else is wrong. We are called to see things from the other point of view, not to lose our beliefs, but to be the hands and feet of Christ. The article says it this way:

Marc Andreessen has a saying that I love: “Strong beliefs, loosely held.” Strongly believe in an idea, but be willing to change your opinion if the facts show otherwise.

Can we be open-minded and show the world the love that Christ has for it?

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listen

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:1-8, NRSV)

Make your ear attentive to the wisdom of God and incline your heart to follow what you receive.

God is storing up wisdom for those who seek after His commands and hears His direction and follows where He leads.

So listen to God and store His words in your heart and follow where He leads.

 

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shake off the dust…

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 9:35-10:23, NRSV)

Jesus called the disciples to go and to share His message. And the instructions were clear. Take nothing with you, receive without payment and give without payment. Only wear what you need nothing more. When you enter a town find one place and dwell there while you are in that town. Give your peace to that place and if it will not accept your peace, take it back. And if they will not listen, shake the dust off your feet so you take none of that place with you and go on to those who will listen.

Seems a little harsh, but Jesus was trying to help the disciples I think. And He was saying if people won’t listen, it is ok, and it is there lose not yours. Do not get hung up on people not being perceptive to the message of grace, just move on to those who will be.

So when you encounter those who don’t want to hear the good news, just shake off the dust and move on…

 

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abundent

160630That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.  Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” “Hear then the parable of the sower.  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.  But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, NRSV)

Abundent is the crop from the seed that finds good soil.

You see there are so many things in our lives that keep us from thriving in the life God has for us.

What is keeping His word from being abundent in your life?

Work?

Family?

Worldly commitments?

God wants to be a part of your life, walking with you through everything you are going through.

He has gifted you to be an intrigal part of His plan in the world.

Allow His word to take root in your life. Cling to His life as your life, and allow Him to work in and through you.

Let your heart be good soil!

 

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Did he really just say that?

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God. (Luke 9:28-43, NRSV)

I always love the transfiguration stories of Jesus. I mean Moses and Elijah show up and, of course, Jesus knows who they are, He was there when they were created, before they were formed in their mother’s wombs. But how do Peter James and John know them? There weren’t any photos floating around. Moses and Elijah never had a selfie!

But Peter says that James and John and he will make for the 3 of them tents, so we could stay here for a long time. But since he was drowsy and probably dreaming. Did you catch that in Luke’s rendition of the story, “Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep.” Did they dream the whole thing? I don’t believe it was a dream. Because when Peter started his funny talk about tents, God the father broke in and said, “Jesus is my chosen one, my son, listen to Him.”

Jesus is made whiter than any white there ever was, cleaner than any of us would ever be. And He is God’s chosen, His Son, and so we should listen to Him.

Put away our funny words, and thoughts, and listen to what He is telling us and follow Him where He leads!

 

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Listen…

listen-with-heart-275x182“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them”-Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Life together

How many of us listen to each other?  Really listen.  We might hear what someone else is saying to us, but do we hear them, or do we think we know what they said?

Most of us will hear 3 – 4 words of someone speaking to us and then start formulating what we are going to say.  We will hear where a sentence starts and then begin working on our come back, what we will respond with. In doing this, you are no longer listening, but are paying attention to yourself.  This is one of the first things I work on with couples that I am working through premarital counseling with.  Communication is the basis for every relationship, and if you are not communicating there is no basis for that relationship. This is why we pray, to communicate with God.  Part of this should be silence to listen for what God has to say to us.  We need to listen not only to get to know the other person, but we need to listen, because that is what we have to do in order to communicate.  In order to know how we need to respond we have to listen, and hear what is said to us. Then and only then can we respond with a response that is one that will build the relationship. It may not always be what the other person wants to hear, but it will build the relationship if it is spoken in truth and love after listening and hearing what was said. If we listen and hear, then we will get to know more about the person and grow deeper in relation to them.

That is what Bonhoeffer tells us in the quote above.  We owe it to others to listen to them. We need to hear them and to love them by being quiet and not formulating a response while they are talking.  To hear them as we hear His word.

So the next time you are listening, listen and hear. Grow in relation to others.

 

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Listened to me

When a moderate south wind began to blow, they thought they could achieve their purpose; so they weighed anchor and began to sail past Crete, close to the shore. But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster, rushed down from Crete. Since the ship was caught and could not be turned head-on into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven. By running under the lee of a small island called Cauda we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. After hoisting it up they took measures to undergird the ship; then, fearing that they would run on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and so were driven. We were being pounded by the storm so violently that on the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard, and on the third day with their own hands they threw the ship’s tackle overboard. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.” When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took soundings and found twenty fathoms; a little farther on they took soundings again and found fifteen fathoms. Fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. But when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and had lowered the boat into the sea, on the pretext of putting out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the boat and set it adrift. Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.” After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea. (Acts 27:13-38, NRSV)

I told you not to…

Have you ever heard those words before. If you are a guy the answer is probably a resounding yes!

Paul told them not to sail, but they did it any way. And now they are in a really bad storm, and are afraid they will lose it all.

But Paul comforts them, “Only the ship will be lost!”

Well that’s nice what will we do then?

We won’t have our transportation, but we will all be alive. It could be worse, right, we could all die, but that won’t happen so just keep heart and follow through.

Sometimes we go down a path, that we probably shouldn’t have, but God is always with us, and sometimes there might be collateral damage.

If we only but listen…

Sometimes easier said than done!

 
 

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