Have You Heard…Really?

so-youve-heard

I have a disease. 

I’ve tried to deny it for years, but there’s no denying it any longer; I have to own it now.  What’s more, it seems to be getting worse as I get older, and I’m also 98% certain at this point that I’ve passed it on to all three of our kids.

What is it, you ask?  It’s called selective hearing– and chances are, you may be at risk too.  In fact, I think all of us are.

My selective hearing causes me, among other things to…

  • Hear some information and instructions and completely miss others, particularly when I’m in a hurry or distracted by something else in my environment (such as the day recently when I left an unopened gallon of ice cream in my car…for hours…on a 90+ degree day, despite clear instructions from Kerri to remove it!)
  • “Mis-hear” and misunderstand important information and instructions
  • Take action based on such half-truths, misunderstandings, and most dangerously of all, assumptions
  • Chronically employ the phrases “You never said that” or “I never heard that” as excuses for such action (hint- this is not ever a fruitful strategy!)

Can you relate?  I imagine many of you can.  Naturally, this cycle causes some problems, and while it can occasionally lead to some laughs, it’s often not very funny at all, but instead incredibly frustrating.  If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone else’s selective hearing, you know this!

In any case, I’m trying to work on it by slowing down, being more attentive, and asking lots of questions to ensure that my hearing becomes more complete and correct– because that’s the goal, right?  It is, after all, the only way to lay the right foundation for right action.  Now, as for teaching a 6, 5, and almost 4 year old to do the same, well…let’s just say that’s a work very much in progress- but we’re not giving up!

To be honest, selective hearing is, at some point, a problem for almost all us, not only in our relationships with each other, but also (and even more seriously) in our relationship with God.  Many of us, often because of our family and church background (as well as our own deceptive hearts), have only “heard” part of what God has to say to us in His Word.  Typically, we “hear” the things we like- usually things that affirm what we already believe to be true, or want to do anyway- and “mis-hear” or tune out altogether the things that make us uncomfortable, or demand much of us.  In some cases, the misunderstanding isn’t necessarily purposeful- but it is no less powerful, and potentially harmful!

This Sunday, and over the next five weeks, we launch into a new series called So You’ve Heard.  As we walk through it, we’re diving into Jesus’ “fresh takes on familiar words”- a whole series of teachings in which He brings a corrective to our deep and widespread “selective hearing” on what it truly means to relate to Him and honor Him with our lives.  It is our goal to replace any half-truths, misunderstandings, or assumptions we have embraced with the whole truth about life in and with Him- and to allow that complete and correct understanding to lead us to walk out our faith more faithfully and effectively.

As a matter of preview and preparation, I highly encourage you to dive into Matthew 5:17-48 on your own between now and Sunday.  Notice the repeated phrase from Jesus- “You have heard it said…but I say to you”– as it is applied to so many different areas of our lives, including anger, sexuality, marriage, honesty, and how we are to respond to those who are downright difficult to love and serve.  In all this, hear clearly what Jesus is ultimately after- hearts that love Him deeply and are surrendered to Him completely.  Such are the hearts and lives of those who truly know Him and are following Him- and Jesus doesn’t want you to settle for anything less!

I won’t pretend to know where you are on your journey with Jesus right now.  I don’t know what you’ve heard before, or how you’ve understood what you’ve heard, or how you’ve responded to what you’ve heard.  Maybe you think you’ve heard it all, or maybe you know you haven’t heard much at all.  Maybe right now, you aren’t the least bit interested in hearing, or maybe you’re incredibly hungry to hear more.  Whatever the case, here’s my hope and prayer for you- That you will allow the Word of God to overcome your “selective hearing” and pierce your heart in a fresh way, leading to an inside-out, upside-down transformation of your life that displays the magnificent glory of God for all to see.  Will you allow God to do that work in you today?  This week?  And beyond?  Join us this Sunday at 9:00/10:45am at either of our locations as we go after that together- and as always, don’t come alone!

#everyminutematters

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” Isaiah 42:2-4

We have quoted this verse many times since our area was hit with a flood in August.  It is the simple and powerful promise of God’s presence in times of flood, fire, and frustration.  He is with us because we are precious to him and he loves us.  Somebody really needs to hear that truth today.

This blog is my first time to sit down and write since the flood hit.  This has been a busy season of burdens and blessing.  I hope that I am able to convey the message of my heart and the heart of Fellowship Church to those who have flooded recently and to those who are working to help.

Every minute of every day someone in our community is minutes from giving up.

Some of you who reading this are those who have felt those emotions.  Perhaps you are experiencing that right now.  The stress people are under as they deal with the loss of everything they own is overwhelming.  Add to it the ups and downs of news about mold and permits and FEMA expectations or insurance assessments, people are experiencing moments of great discouragement, loneliness, and difficulty.

As you experience those emotions I urge you to consider the words found in Ecclesiates 3:1- 8 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

There are seasons in life.  There is time and there are times.  There are trials and there are victories.  There is struggle and there is success.  I encourage you to weep as you cast away.  Take the time to mourn as you break down and clean out.  But I also encourage you to dance and to embrace.  Take the time to speak and to be silent.  And I implore you to not do this alone.

#everyminutematters.  God sees them all and he sees you in them.  He sees your hurt, your frustration, your fear, and your anger; but he also sees your hope, your strength, your courage, and your faith.  He loves you and you are precious to him.

Don’t give up.  This season will be difficult.  It will be hard.  But it will not be eternal.  That truth does not make these minutes you are living through easier or less difficult than they are; it simply puts them in right perspective.  Please know God is there.  Reach out to Him.  Pray.  Take the time in the midst of these times to worship Him.  Stop and know He is God, even if it is for a few moments, an hour, or a day.  And please read on as we consider the right heart to help.

To those who are reading this and hope that somehow you can help,

Every minute of every day someone in our community is minutes from giving up.

So #everyminutematters.

People need to know that we are here and that we know that they are there.

The ministry and life of Jesus is always a great example of how to interact with and act towards others.  Some people came to Jesus because they knew that he was here for them, but at other times Jesus went to people because he knew they were there – and that they needed him.

We as followers of Jesus must understand that our ministry is always one of presence.  The Church must have a presence in the community, but it also must be present in the community.  I am humbled by the passion and purpose the people I lead at Fellowship Church have put and are putting into this type of ministry in our community.

Church (not just Fellowship –every church), this is not a time to simply have a presence in the community.  This is not a time to simply make sure people know when your doors are open and where you meet.  This is a time open doors with tools and food in hand.

I encourage each of you who want to help that #everyminutematters.  You might not have all weekend or even an entire day to help someone.  Give them what you have.  When you show up and give someone an hour or two, you give them hope, love, and support.  They know someone knows that they are there.  Someone knows what they are going through…and they care.

Followers of Jesus, get out there and love people.  Get out there and give them Jesus with your hands, your feet, and your mouth.  Show his love, share his hope, and speak his name!

#everyminutematters

Don’t stop now.  Don’t give up.  And do not give in.  The best is yet to come.