I can’t hear you over my talking

Many people that I personally interacted with today are worried about what President-elect Donald Trump will do to them;  their relationships, their bodies, their jobs.  I didn’t understand until I thought:  Would I be concerned about my religious rights and freedom of speech rights if Hillary Clinton had won?  I am very scared of the trouble her presidency would have caused me and worried if I would be willing to stay true to Jesus in the face of unknown suffering.

These people are also tired of hearing, “Don’t worry,” “Get over it,” and other mindless remarks by friends, family, etc. that may show they don’t understand, don’t care or both.

What I am trying to do is listen with my heart for their heart.  We are all people and we all have a story.  If I interrupt, judge, give advice am I going to hear their story?  Do I really just want to hear myself talk and confirm to myself how brilliant I am in my own eyes or do I want to discover another beautiful human being and their unique story?

Everyone’s opinion makes sense to them.  If I listen long enough they may tell me why they feel the way they do.  Today I heard why someone believes in doing something I wouldn’t do.  And from their perspective it made sense.

This presidential election proved that most people want to be heard.  And “the other side” has feelings and concerns that don’t make sense.

Until you listen.

How do you solve poverty?

4 Will evildoers never learn— those who devour my people as men eat bread and who do not call on the LORD?
5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.

Isaiah chapter 14, NIV84

Those with money many times prey upon the poor – check cashing charges, fees for “plastic” money and money orders, cash advance charges, ever rising rent when the costs to the owner stay the same, higher prices for those trapped in the inner city without transportation for the same goods that cost less in neighborhoods that have customers that can shop around, lack of the volume discounts the rich enjoy, higher interest rates for loans to those who have the least money to pay for it.

Satan’s kingdom (fear-based, selfishness-based and money-based) is founded on “what can I get out of you?”  Jesus’ kingdom (love-based) is founded on “what can I give to you?”

I believe heaven’s economy will be the opposite of ours.  We will dream of what we can do for others, ask Jesus for the resources to do it, work with those resources in His strength and give away what we make, our only payment is the joy we receive when we give joy to others.

What would happen if we stopped giving hand-outs that are barely enough to survive on, and we made helping the poor become self-sustaining the same priority President John F. Kennedy gave making the United States the first on the moon?  What about asking those who are challenged what they thought we could do to help them?  What if we stopped being prejudice and gave jobs to those who would otherwise end up in jail because they can’t find someone who will hire them for honest work?

What would happen if I actually went about tangibly demonstrating the actions of the love of Jesus instead of just singing about it in my church or car?

I invite you to discover how you and I can allow Jesus to lift our challenged brothers and sisters.  I invite you to discover:  The Open Table  http://www.theopentable.org/

What’s in a name?

Does the same word mean different things to different people?  I grew up learning the definitions of words from the context of the experiences I was in.  Did you?  No, I don’t mean the context of the experiences you were in, but the experiences I was in.  Of course not, you say.  And herein lies the problem… or opportunity.  When I say, “father” what do I mean?  I think of my father.  If I am trying to describe to you my relationship with my Heavenly Father do you instantly think of my father?  Or, your own father?

I believe some people hate God the Father because they are really thinking He is like their own father.  And their earthly fathers did not fulfill their expectations at best, and were evil to them at worst.  Satan can encourage real or imagined hurts to grow into bitterness.  So when I talk of my Heavenly Father what do I mean?

Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God (Isaiah 1:16).

When Jesus was born He was called: wonderful counselor, mighty God, EVERLASTING FATHER, prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Because Jesus was and is God’s Only Begotten Son, He can perfectly represent God the Father to us.

So what is the character of this Father?  Jesus was patient, even when His disciples got it wrong again and again (as I would have gotten it wrong as well),  Jesus was kind, even when it cost Him.  And forgiving too.  He didn’t repay evil for evil.  When He was dying on the cross He prayed for His murderers (the religious leaders) and tried to help them discover His Forever Love by reminding them of Messianic Scripture.  Though God the Father created all things by Him and for Him, He was not proud.  He humbly seeks a relationship with us.  He never forces Himself on us.  He doesn’t hold our past mistakes and sins against us.  He loves us with all that He is no matter what we do or what anyone or anything else does.  He believes the best about us and encourages us to become all He created us to be.  He does not fail.  (See I Corinthians 13 and substitute “Jesus” for “Love”).

Does this sound like a Father you would like to have?  You can.  Just ask Him to forgive your wrongs and come into your life and heart.  He is waiting.  And you two have so much to talk about!

I’m Listening

Have you ever noticed that we don’t have any “problems” anymore?… we only have “issues”?  I think we are so much better off.  And we don’t “make progress”, we “move forward”.  I know I’ve benefited immensely from that change.  But seriously, new words to old concepts bring a new perspective and help us freshly rethink meaning.  But the concept hasn’t changed.  We have.

What is the difference between “truth” as I perceive it, as you perceive it, and as it “Truly” is apart from distorted perception?  And, if you believe there is “no absolute truth”, do you believe that that statement is absolutely true?

Joshua 5 NIV84

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the LORD ’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Jesus’ Truth does not belong to Republicans or Democrats, conservative evangelicals or liberal universalists.  Jesus disciples included a former political freedom fighter (Simon the Zealot) and a former political oppressor (Matthew the Tax Collector).  They included common uneducated fishermen (Peter, James and John) and the intelligentsia (Paul).  Jesus loves all.  And all can be transformed by His Truth.

Steven Covey implied that you can only hope to influence another if you risk being influenced by them.  Why don’t we agree to disagree and still love each other and talk to each other.  Instead we accuse each other of “hate”, call each other “sinners”, refuse to listen to the other’s point of view, and refuse to allow ourselves to be influenced by the other’s pain.  Are we so insecure in what we believe, that we that we can’t allow ourselves to learn from each other?

Jesus’ enemies hated Him because His Truth exposed their flaws.  The people who loved Him (the common people) loved Him because they had the courage to acknowledge their flaws and accept His forgiveness and acceptance and healing.  In His Truth they saw the power of God’s love to change their life.  He didn’t ask them to first be perfect.  He asked them to trust His love to change them by following Him.  His enemies (the self-righteous religious crowd) didn’t want anything to do with Jesus’ love and Truth changing their life.  They loved themselves just the way they were.  They were right.  They were perfect.  Sound like anyone you know?  I know it sounds like me.

I was in the depths of severe mental illness for ten years while God proved to me I was a sinner.  It took that long, not because He is cruel, but because I refused to see the Truth.  I had to admit my flaws and my need of His forgiveness and new Life.  I wouldn’t wish mental illness on anyone.  But I would go through it all again if it was the only way for me to meet Jesus.

Our society is polarized to the point of dysfunction.  The answer does not lie in waiting for “the other side” to wise up.  The answer does not lie in political force.  The answer lies in the listening ear of Jesus.  And because He values you enough to listen to you, I value you enough to listen to you.  Do you value me enough to let me listen to you?