LORD, Bless My Plans…

Spiritual Blog - Pray and Plan

Proverbs 16:1-3 – “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. 3 Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.”  NASU

 

During my years serving as a pastor and traveling in itinerant ministry I cannot count the times I’ve heard someone declare their plans and then asked me to pray for the Lord’s Blessings upon their plans.  They did not come and ask me to pray for the LORD’s guidance in formulating those plans but for the LORD’s Blessing as they did what they wanted to do.  That can be good or it can be bad depending on the motives of the heart. The tragedy is too often we “Plan then Pray rather than Pray then Plan.” 

This passage is easily interpreted to accommodate both views and most assuredly indicates God’s deep interest in our motives and reveals the danger of “being right in our own eyes.”  We are instructed in Proverbs 27:1 not to boast about tomorrow because we do not know what tomorrow holds.  James gives us clear guidance in James 4:13, “Come now, you who say, today or tomorrow we will go to such and such city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”  In the next verse, we read, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.”  In verse 15, he reinforces the directive or Proverbs and the message of our LORD in Matthew to “seek first the kingdom of God…”  

I am not a proponent of people spending all their lives trying to discover the will of God and never actually doing anything for the kingdom.  I am also not a proponent of making plans without the counsel and guidance of the LORD and then asking God to “Bless our plans.”  First and foremost I believe that we should COMMIT TO THE LORD – EVERYTHING!  We first commit our hearts to Him and receive His forgiveness and grace.  Why do we want to do what we want to do?  What is the motive behind our plan(s)?

This passage reminds us of how often we see what we want to do as right.  Verse two, “all the ways of a man are clean in his own sight…”  I have had people insist that what they wanted to do was moral and virtuous therefore it must have God’s approval and blessing.  In some of those cases, it was evident that the motive was not purely pious but driven by a need or desire for recognition and approval.  They ways were clean in their eyes, but the motives were less than pure.  Unfortunately, man sometimes seeks to earn acceptance and having observed others doing exploits for the kingdom allow themselves to believe that “if only” they did something great they would be accepted, appreciated, respected, and even praised.  They have forgotten the heart that John the Baptist expressed, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  Our motive and reason for our plans are more important than the plan(s).

When we commit our works to the LORD and allow Him to give the answer and directive, THEN our plans will be established because we are not simply pursuing our own devices but His purposes.  The MOTIVE will be firmly rooted in the Heart of God.  My prayer and plea are that we SEEK FIRST the heart and mind of God BEFORE we develop our plans.  We should earnestly examine our motives before we launch out in our plan(s).  I believe in launching out and getting out of the boat rather than being confined in our limitations and reaching out in faith for his limitlessness.  I believe in daring to go where we have never gone and do what we have never done, but I strongly caution that we ALWAYS examine our motives and SEEK FIRST the mind of God.  I do not suggest that we become hesitant and timid but that we listen and once we have listened LAUNCH OUT in what He has directed knowing that once we COMMIT our works to Him, He will ESTABLISH our plans.

            God bless you as you launch out today in that which God has put in your heart! 

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DO WE REALLY BELIEVE THE BIBLE?

Spiritual Blog - Believe

Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.”  NASU

 

I am quite serious in asking the question and the reason I ask it is the apparent disregard we have for the reality of this and related passages in the Bible.  If we KNOW that God sees everything and is watching how can we justify some of the things we say and do?  I stand guilty as charged and confess there are times I have acted as though God were both deaf and blind or of very short memory.  He is none of those and we know it in our heads but do we truly believe it in our hearts?

I am reminded of a story from WWII where a Chaplain in England was talking to some of the troops trying to encourage them.  I do not know what he was saying but one young soldier who had been through several life-threatening battles asked, “Chaplain, do you really believe in hell?”  The Chaplain was shocked and responded with stammering saying, “Well of course I do, I am a chaplain.”  The young soldier was not impressed with his answer and said, “Chaplain, you do not for you don’t talk about it.  If I believed in hell, though England was covered with glass I’d crawl on my hands and knees to warn people of it.  You are not warning anyone.”  That got my attention.  I recall in my own experience after I came to Christ and no matter who I talked to or where I was I told people about God’s saving power and grace.  I was at a softball game and a Chaplain of one of the Prisons was present.  I was sharing my newfound joy with him and he became incredibly nervous and said in anguish, “Why are you telling me all this, I’m a Chaplain.”  Then, you should be rejoicing with me in my new found freedom from the bondages of sin.

But, back to the question.  In Psalm 139:7-12 the Psalmist addresses the issue of God being everywhere, knowing and seeing everything and what that should mean.  The Psalmist recognized that no matter where he went God’s presence was there.  It didn’t matter if he could see the evidence or even feel the presence HE KNEW.  He even said, “If somehow I could ascend to heaven or lie down in hell, YOU ARE THERE.”  No matter where we go or what we do GOD IS THERE and HE SEES.  In 2 Chronicles 16:9 we find the prophet Hanani telling King Asa of Judah, “…the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”  He conveyed to the King that Asa had acted foolishly and forgotten this truth and as a result, the nation would suffer.

If we were to keep in our conscious thought the reality that GOD SEES EVERYTHING I am quite convinced we would act differently frequently.  The question is, “Do we really believe the Bible?”  If I believe that God is declaration of Hebrews 12:29 that “God is a consuming fire” and Hebrews 10:31 that it is a “…dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and believe that God is Holy and accepts nothing but holiness we would tremble at some of the thoughts, words, and deeds we engage in.  At least, so it would seem.  For example, if you know for certain that just over the next hill there is a traffic cop and if you continue to exceed the speed limit you will be stopped and ticketed would you continue to speed?  NO, you’d slow down because you believe.  How is it that we would react so with a traffic cop but not with the Creator God?  That brings conviction to my heart as I write and I now feel the need to find my prayer closet and repent.

I pray that God will help each of us to be conscious continually of His Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence.  He is Love and incredibly longsuffering and merciful but He is also holy and we dare not forget any of those realities. His Grace is sufficient for us but He will not wink at sin and to sin willfully is a very dangerous condition and not one that any of us should be willing to enter.  So, my prayer for each one is that we are keenly aware of the truth that GOD IS, GOD SEES, and GOD HEARS.

            Blessings as you continue your faithful journey toward that Eternal Prize.

LAUGHING ON THE OUTSIDE BUT…

Spiritual Blog - Laugh

Proverbs 14:13 – “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief.”  NASU

 

In the late 40’s the song “Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)” was a popular number and conveys an idea that has long been with people and I have preached using it in a two-fold manner.  One was to talk about “wearing masks” and the other was that “what you see is not always what you get.”  I have learned that a smile on a face does not necessarily mean joy in the heart and some people are quite adept at hiding what is really going on inside.

The lyrics of the song written by Ben Raleigh, published in 1946 are:

“The crowd sees me out dancing carefree and romancing. HHappy with my, someone new.  I’m laughing on the outside, crying on the inside ’cause I’m still in love with you.  They see me night and daytime having such a gay time.  They don’t know what I go through.  I’m laughing on the outside, crying on the inside ’cause I’m still in love with you.  No one knows it’s just a pose, pretending I’m glad we’re apart.  And when I cry, my eyes are dry the tears are in my heart.  My darling, can’t we make up?  Ever since our breakup make believe is all I do.  I’m laughing on the outside, crying on the inside ’cause I’m still in love with you.  I am still in love with you.”

             Sadly that is a picture of many people possibly millions every day where they pretend and put on a happy face when inside their world is falling apart.  That’s what the writer of Proverbs is talking about.  The sound of laughter may only be a front and what appears to be joy and gladness is really hiding their deep pain.  Although many people are not very good at hiding their feelings, some are.  However, if we are attentive to moods and words as well as the nudging of the Holy Spirit we can detect when something is a front.

I saw a report from a Psychologist that 10% of Americans suffer from depression daily.  I sometimes wonder if that figure is low considering what is happening in our world today.  One of the key characteristics of depression is sadness and that external smile is nothing more than a defense mechanism and an attempt to keep everyone at arms, length.  It is truly a mask because in the state of depression the depressed does not want anyone to know the true condition of their heart or life.  They feel exposed if someone gets too near and fear further rejection as a result.  If that condition continues long-term it could end up with thoughts of suicide out of a sense of hopelessness.

An Evangelist came to a local congregation and in the time of ministering to personal needs at the conclusion of the service, a woman came forward who was clearly depressed.  She had a smile on her face but you could tell it was a façade and her heart was breaking.  The Evangelist tuned into that and as she began to break down and tell us what was happening in her life, he suddenly said, “You just need to resist the devil and handle it,” then turned and walked away.  That, in my view, is shocking.  This woman was already feeling incredible rejection and condemnation and telling her to just “buck it up” and “deal with it” was like pouring gasoline on a fire, in my view.  It was easy to see by the look in her eyes she was near the point of no return and the outcome was not going to be positive unless dealt with in love and with the power of God.  A loving and understanding lady came to her, put her arms around her and began to pray softly and gently with this crushed soul.  After a time, she related her own battle with depression and in sharing a light came on inside the depressed lady and she began to weep.  As she wept she was able to remove the mask and receive the love and healing of the LORD and able to forgive those who had shattered her life.  She walked out of that service in victory because someone took the time to listen, love, and pray.  There are some things in our Christian walk that we cannot just “buck it up”, “get a stiff upper lip” and “deal with” we need someone to love us, not sympathize with us and guide us to the ONLY ONE who can remove the pain and sorrow.  As I reflect on that I think, “But for the grace of God…” 

            God bless you as you embark on today’s journey and I pray He will use you as instruments of healing on this day!

GRACE AND GIVING…

Spiritual Blog - Giving

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us — see that you abound in this grace also.”  NKJV

  

The question that should come to mind, at least for me, is – “How can we know when we are practicing Grace Giving?”  Is there any clear evidence that will alert us to our condition, situation or progress in this Grace?  Examine them briefly with me.  How do we know we are practicing Grace Giving?

  • When We Give in Spite of Circumstances – – 2 Corinthians 8:1-2

The churches of Paul’s example, Macedonia, had not only suffered affliction but experienced a “great trial of affliction.”  They were in DEEP POVERTY. Economically they were at rock bottom and the term used for their condition is the same as is used for a beggar who has nothing and no hope of getting anything.  YET, they gave not out of compulsion but out of JOY.  They gave generously and liberally above and beyond their means or what could have been expected of them.  Consider their situation.  They were in great affliction and poverty but gave joyfully and liberally with great joy.  THAT’S GRACE!   I have learned that when anyone experiences the Grace of God in their life they never use circumstances as an excuse.  God is God and He will always be God.  He either owns the cattle on a thousand hills or He does not.  He will either supply all our need or He will not.  Grace says I BELIEVE!

  • When We Give We Give Enthusiastically – – 2 Corinthians 8:3-4

Let me ask a penetrating question.  Is it possible to give generously and not do so enthusiastically?  I remember hearing the account of a miserly church member who said, “The preacher says I should give until it hurts, but for me, it hurts just to think about giving.”   Another said, “The preacher says it is better to give than receive but getting is so good I’m not sure I could stand anything better, so I’ll stick to getting.”  The Macedonians needed no prompting they gave spontaneously and generously with joy and as we see in verse 4 they begged to participate.  Their giving was GRACE, not PRESSURE.  Grace not only frees us from Sin it frees us from Ourselves.

  • When We Give As Jesus Gave – – 2 Corinthians 8:5-9

Jesus is and will always be the preeminent example for us in service, suffering, and sacrifice.  The Macedonians gave themselves to others like Jesus [v.5].  If we give ourselves to God we will have no problem giving our substance or material possessions to Him as well.  If we give ourselves to God it will be easy to give ourselves to others.  It is, I contend, impossible to love God and ignore the needs of your neighbor.

The Macedonians giving was motivated by love [vv.7-8].  They gave out of their lack materially but through their abundance in Grace and Love.  Their giving was sacrificial [v.9].  Before we came to Christ we were bankrupt in many ways but once we come to Him we are rich in everything that truly matters.

  • When We Give Willingly – – 2 Corinthians 8:10-22

There is a significant difference between Promise and Performance.  The Corinthians boasted about what they would do but failed to keep their promise.  In verses 10-12 we see that WILLINGNESS is the emphasis.  Grace giving must come from the heart.  God truly does love a cheerful giver.  I personally detest what I have called “auction offerings” where the one receiving the offering goes on and on and on until they get the desired amount.  Sometimes, I have witnessed people giving just to get past that portion of the service or gathering.  I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened as they attempted to coerce me into giving and I confess, there have been times I gave less than planned because of this approach.  If our giving is motivated by GRACE we will give WILLINGLY and not out of obligation.  God truly looks at the HEART, not just the HAND.

I heard about a man who was leaving for a business trip and his wife reminded him before church that she needed some extra money for household expenses.  Just before church, he slipped some money in her hand and she thought it was their weekly offering so she put it in the offering plate.  Afterward, they realized what had transpired and as they talked to the pastor the man said, “Oh well, we gave it all to the Lord and He keeps good records.”  The pastor paused and said, “How much did you intend to give?”  The man told him and the pastor said, “That’s what God recorded the intent because He saw the heart.”  It is not the portion but the proportion that is important.

  • When We Give By Faith – – 2 Corinthians 8:13-24

The Grace of Giving is an exciting journey.  When we learn to give By Grace through Faith we will find a new world opening up to us.  As a Christian, we learn to no longer measure life or other people on the basis of money or material possessions.  If money is the best test of success then Jesus is an abject failure, because He gave all His away.  Grace giving enriches us as we enrich others.  Grace giving enables us to become more like Jesus in every way.

The question remains, “Have you or will you discover the thrill of GRACE GIVING?”  May God bless you richly as you embark on a new dimension in your life!

 

TOUCHING THE TABOO…

Spiritual Blog - Taboo

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us — see that you abound in this grace also.”  NKJV

 

As I have traveled from church to church and preached, I have, at times, felt compelled of the Holy Spirit to “Touch the Taboo” and preach on giving.  When I was a pastor I had an evangelist tell me once, that he never preached on giving because that was the pastor’s job not his and he didn’t want to upset anyone.  I won’t say what I thought about portions of that statement but it was not totally complimentary.  As a preacher, I have always believed that I am to preach WHATEVER the Holy Spirit directs wherever and whenever and not be overly concerned about people being upset.  My assignment is not “ticking ears” but communicating the “thus saith the Lord” the Holy Spirit directs me to speak.

So, today I ask you to join me as we embark on a journey that I believe most pastors will thank me for and all who truly want to follow the Lord completely will give a resounding AMEN.  I want to broach the subject of Giving but beyond simply giving and enter the realm of GRACE GIVING.  I believe that it is impossible to study the Bible without being confronted with the subject of giving time and again.  In fact, one of the major thrusts of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey was comprised of receiving a special relief offering for the poor believers in Judea.  He had done that before in Acts 11:27-30, and now the Holy Spirit directs him to do it again.  I find it very interesting that Paul remembered the FORGOTTEN BEATITUDE, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35).

Before you assume this is another preacher trying to relieve you of your purse, I would suggest that as you examine what Paul did it was far more than just giving material assistance to the believers in Judea.  I believe there were at least three additional desires of his heart in this effort.

  • He wanted the offering to strengthen the unity of the church as the Gentile congregations shared with the Jewish congregations.
  • He wanted this evidence for the Jewish churches to prove that neither he nor the Gentile congregations were enemies of the Jews or Moses.
  • He hoped that the generosity of the Gentiles would silence the jealousy and fear of the Jews toward them. 

          THE PROBLEM that Paul encountered and addressed was, the Corinthian believers were not doing their part.  They had made faith promises but failed to keep them.  In fact, Paul reminds them and us that an entire year has been wasted. [v.10].  I believe it would be good for us to ask, what caused the delay?  What was the problem?  I believe the answer, as Paul describes it was, ‘their spiritual condition.’  A Rule of Thumb that I have long believed is that when a church is not spiritual it is not generous.  When a person is not spiritual they are not generous and the converse is also true.   Another cause was the diabolical invasion of Judaizers, who siphoned off as much money as possible.  That leaves Paul with a dilemma.  He has to convince the Corinthian believers to participate but that will be difficult because of their spiritual condition.  I have often said, the churches that I love to preach to those who are enthusiastically with me or enthusiastically against me, but the apathetic are a nightmare.

Paul’s approach offers us insight as to how to address, identify, and enter into the Grace of Giving.  He lifts his appeal to the highest level possible and teaches a truth that far too many then and now never really grasps.  He teaches that Giving is an Act of Grace not just a response to an appeal.  I find it interesting to note that there are nine (9) different words used to refer to this offering, but the one used most is GRACE.  If you will note verse 4 you will see that giving is truly a ministry of Grace and Fellowship.  Paul pulled back the veil and helped them to understand the ministry of giving.

Time and space will not permit me to continue today so I pause here and we will consider some aspects of this GRACE next time.  Until then, may the Grace of God guard and guide you in all things and at all times.

          The abundant blessing of heaven is my prayer for each of you!

FILL YOUR MIND…

Spiritual Blog - Think.png

Philippians 4:8-9 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”  NKJV

 

Someone said, “You are what you think.”  I can agree with that and take a step further.  I believe we are transformed by what we think and what we allow entering our hearts through our Eye Gate.  We read in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  If we focus on anything we gravitate toward that which we are focused on.  If we focus on the carnal we become carnal whereas if we focus on Christ and the Cross we become spiritual and more like Him.

I have people tell me from time to time, “I have difficulty with my thoughts.”  I have a solution, not me but the Bible and it is found in our text passage.  If we want to learn to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” we need to learn to “fill our minds” with things that will cause us to become more like Christ.  If we think negative thoughts we become negative.  If we think defeatist thoughts we become defeated.  If we think lustful thoughts we become lascivious.  If we think vengeful thoughts we become defiled.  But, if we think thoughts as those found in Philippians we become like that which we are beholding and our hearts and minds are controlled by the Spirit of God and motivated by the Word of God.

So, what should we think?  Let’s consider the list, which is not exhaustive but covers the broad spectrum of life.  Things on things that are…

  • TRUE
  • NOBLE or HONEST
  • JUST
  • PURE
  • LOVELY
  • OF GOOD REPORT

           This list describes characteristics and qualities of God so in filling our minds with these things we are filling our minds with God.  We should always focus on truth, justice, purity, and honesty.  We should focus on the beauty of our transformation in Christ Jesus and always be people who have and give a good report.  We have HOPE and it is a HOPE that does not come from things, man or this world, it is HOPE that can only be found in God.

We have all known people that fanaticize about many things.  Through years of ministry, I have encountered people who have become involved with another, not their spouse.  Often they would insist, “It just happened.”  I always attempted to get them to examine the weeks or months leading up to the event.  Frequently, once we stripped away the excuses, denials and faced reality we found that they had allowed themselves to “fanaticize” about that person.  There would be flirtation given and received.  It, so often, began harmlessly, so they thought, but over time that which they thought about became so appealing that they justified in their minds and opened the door.  Had they not allowed their minds to entertain the thoughts about the other person they would not have become entrapped as they did!  Had they focused on purity and filled their minds with husband/wife and family as well as the things of God they would have resisted temptation and not opened the doors they opened.  So, if we want to be LIKE CHRIST and have the MIND OF CHRIST we need to follow this biblical prescription.

            God bless you as you embark on today’s journey.

 

JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION, PLEASE – – LORD, How Do I Do This???

Spiritual Blog - Stillness

Psalm 46:1 – “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  NKJV

 

Attempting to build on the foundation we laid last time I call your attention to the fact and truth that God is the Infinite Communicator and the Hebrew people understood that.  They expected God to speak and reveal Himself to them and they understood Him to be LIVING and able to speak. They understood they were created in His image and if they could communicate with each other, then how much more with the one who designed us?  They believed this, but as all humans do, at times they allowed the din of emotions and the turmoil of life’s circumstances move them from a condition in which they could HEAR HIM SPEAK.

We have all allowed panic, frustration, or the pressure of life overpower us.  In that state, we often do not and cannot hear God.  That does not mean He is not speaking it means we are not in a condition to hear.  Thus, the need for the command, “BE STILL.”  I can almost hear God saying to them and to us, “So, you don’t feel me.  Just be still and know that I am God.”  It is imperative that we learn to control our raging emotions and learn to come to “inner stillness” where we can HEAR GOD.  Sadly, too often people substitute stillness with activity, even praying.  NEVER MISUNDERSTAND ME… I am not suggesting we do not pray but sometimes BEFORE we pray we need to HEAR and in HEARING we have direction and know how to pray, for what to pray, and what to do after we have prayed.

Let me encourage you to picture in your mind the situation when Israel stood before the Red Sea and the entire Egyptian Army hot on their heels.  Three Million panicking people is utter chaos and there is no doubt that was their condition on that day.  They were petrified!  On one hand, I can understand their state of mind and on the other they should have been slapped like a hysterical person to bring them to sanity.  They had dismissed from their minds who had delivered them and led them to this point.  It is ridiculous to think that the God who performed the miracle to deliver them was now incapable of continuing that deliverance, but they somehow forgot and panic overpowered faith.  If I could put it in East Texas vernacular I can hear God saying, “Hush up!  Stop all this nonsense.  Why are you calling out to me in a panic?  Have you forgotten who I am and what I have done?”   Exodus 14:14, Moses stood before them and said, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”   What a nice way to say SHUT UP!   Imagine God rebuking someone for praying but He did.

That brings me to another thought that I dare not gloss over.  Sometimes what we call prayer is simply a demonstration of our panic erupting from our lips expressing the fears that are controlling our hearts.  God said to them, “If you’d only BE STILL, you would KNOW that I AM GOD and then you’d understand that I’ve Got This!”  The Bible tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” and they were sick in their hearts as their hope was clouded by their fear.  I call you to remember the situation in 2 Chronicles 20 where Jehoshaphat and Israel faced an impossible situation in the natural.  The king was filled with fear but as he prayed he came to STILLNESS in the inner-man and in that stillness as he relaxed and ceased to strive God gave him the answer.

Some misunderstand what I’m saying as equivalent to Hindu meditation or some Eastern Mysticism practice where the mind is blanked.  That is totally other than what I’m saying.  I am talking about stilling the mind not blanking it.  I am talking about causing our emotions and the raging voices inside to BE STILL so we can HEAR Christ.  In the Eastern religions silence is the goal but in Christianity, it is the place we being and can hear the Voice of God.  We live in a world of noise and I know some who cannot be in a room without noise.  They keep the television or radio on all the time even when they are not in the room because they cannot operate without noise.  Someone said, “This generation is drugged by noise” and I believe there is a lot of truth in that statement.  I heard a prison warden and chaplain tell an audience that the time they feared the most inside the prison walls was when there was silence.  They said when there was total silence they began to look for suicides or attempts.  This generation cannot live with silence very long.  Try it sometimes in a group and have everyone sit silently without speaking and watch what happens.  It is an inner cry of the human heart, “Don’t leave me alone!”

Sadly, many in America, equate activity and busyness with direction and obtaining goals.  We seem to think that as long as we are DOING, DOING, and DOING we are getting somewhere so we fill our lives with noise and activity.  We allow guilt to grip us if we are not DOING SOMETHING and that is why we are so addicted to noise.  Then, when we become overly busy we complain that we are spreading ourselves too thin and lament, “I ought not! I ought not!”    We are somewhat like the Laodicean Church full of busyness and activity but the word of the LORD was, “If any many hear my voice.”  Jesus was standing outside the door knocking but no one on the inside could hear him above the din of doing and noise.

I am not suggesting finding some isolated part of the world and become monkish I am talking about, in the midst of the storm, learning to BE STILL.  God bless you as you embark on today’s journey.