God Help Us All – Wordless Wednesday

Five Times August is the name of a solo music project by Dallas, Texas independent singer/songwriter/guitarist Brad Skistimas.  Another one on this same theme entitled Jesus, What Happened To US?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPzc8ROZEjU.

The Answer Man? – Not Me!

2021-06-12 Struck Down But Not Destroyed
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”

When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles.  The same goes for blogging.  When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).

We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog.  We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are.  Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).

Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time.  I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)

But sometimes I do not “have it all together.”  Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock wi2021-06-12 Pinnedth no light.  I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more.  So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.”  He won’t let me up anyway.

I am not suicidal (See  ).  As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.”  But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world.  Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.

But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you.  Life is about Him!

Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.”  As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible.  Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD.  And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people.  But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense.  I was born spiritually blind and sinful.  Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin.  He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews.  But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb.  And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him.  It’s ALL about Him!

I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters.  It DOES!  You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross!  And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.

“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.”
  Job 19:25-27

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH.
  Habakkuk 3:17

Suicide? Don’t Do It!

 

Several blogs I have written address suicide, e.g. , but to get a really helpful handle on suicide I recommend the book, Hope Always, by Dr. Matthew Sleeth.  It is an excellent guide for both professionals and lay people interested in helping friends at the end of their rope.  It is a wonderful addition to any library with 24/6 or Reforesting Faith already on its shelf.  (Note, I do not have any affiliates or compensation from books or items I recommend in my blog.)

2021-05-29 Hope AlwaysHope Always is Dr. Sleeth’s latest.  With the insight of a director of a large hospital emergency room and the traumas endured there, he writes with an understanding of the pathos that drives people to consider suicide.  His personal experience with friends who have chosen this route to end this life did not drive him to despair, but instead to forge deeper into faith that God is the author of Life with a capital “L.”

Written in an easy reading style that will be informative for lay people, without pedantry or complex medical terminology, he presents an argument for life and a plan for preventing suicide, whether the “final option” is one you are considering or you know someone who may be thinking about it.  In all likelihood you have been touched by suicide, either a family member, friend or acquaintance who took their own life.  It may have haunted your thoughts, or you may have even attempted it, and from Dr. Sleeth’s perspective, many are glad you failed.

The timing of this text is significant, as I expect sequel printings to probably include more on the “culture of death” into which the whole world is moving.  Nine states in the USA as of 2019 have legalized PAS (Physician Assisted Suicide). Germany has recognized PAS and suicide itself as a non-criminal act for 150 years and in 1942, Switzerland determined that if a suicide was assisted for non-self seeking motives, the assistance was not a crime.  The Netherlands and Belgium seemed to be racing each other in 2002 to be the first to explicitly legalize PAS to go beyond just suicide for the terminally ill, but to make euthanasia an acceptable way for one to end one’s life simply based on a person’s decision without regard for medical reasons.  Luxomberg, Canada and Spain have joined this morbid club in the last 12 years, though with some constraints, though these are likely to be challenged in courts.  Columbia authorized PAS in 1997 and in 2017 extended this to minors so that even “children could die with dignity.”  Taiwan and Australia since 2015 have both passed laws allowing for PAS.

After a brief overview of suicide statistics, The “Life Continuum Scale” he presents in chapter 3 is alone worth the price of the book.  It scales from the left side at -10 (Has a plan with deadly means) toward the middle of -1 (Experiencing melancholy and pessimism).  Then to the right it scales up to the extreme of +10 (Sacrificially giving one’s life for others).  It is the clearest presentation I have ever seen of essential mental health in relation to suicide and gives readers a clear tool for evaluating themselves or others with whom they may be concerned.

Dr. Sleeth then takes us on a tour of the psychology of suicide examining this uniquely human activity.  Not even lemmings commit suicide, though this myth persists in popular culture.  He reminds us that “There is no one-size-fit-all approach to examining and treating people.  Medicine and psychology, like spiritual care, are a combination of art and science.”  Yet, “50% of those who commit suicide suffer from a mood disorder.”  Thus, he recognizes that while spiritual issues need addressing, the religionist who only tells the suicidal to read the Bible and pray more may miss some critical elements to help the hurting.

However, he goes on to address the real source of suicide, even if it is worked through psychological disorders.  As Dr. Sleeth points out, there is one source for the desire for death: “Satan is always for death.”  While examining many of the psychological and social factors surrounding desires for suicide with the intelligence of a highly trained physician, Part 2 of the book examines the Biblical worldview of suicide.  Beginning with the first recorded suicides of Adam and Eve, Satan convinced our parents to trade Paradise for death!  Though the devil claimed they would surely NOT die, Father had told them they would, and they chose to take that chance; to believe the Lie from the father of lies. 

I suspect many suicides are still in this vein: someone decides to get attention and “attempt” suicide, expecting to be saved at the last minute, but miscalculations on when someone is coming home, the speed of a train, how severe a pill will be, etc., and they buy into the Lie that the enemy told them, “You will not certainly die.” (Genesis 3

In contrast, Paul’s announcement to the Philippian jailer prevented his suicide.  Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”  Speaking on this passage to a group of prisoners, Dr. Sleeth told them, “When Jesus is in the house, people don’t kill themselves.  They live.”  Though many characters in the Bible voiced a desire to end it all, God shows us through them what He really thinks about suicide.  From Moses, Elijah, and Jonah, he reveals that even God’s best can feel hungry, angry, lonely and tired (HALT), low enough to throw in the towel and die.  But then Dr. Sleeth leads us through the process whereby God brings saving life into the picture.  And he notes, “Jesus is still healing the hopeless!” and that He is always FOR life and against death!

Towards the end of this very readable book, Dr. Sleeth provides many helpful links, including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Beyond this, he has solid advice for church leaders and participants who want to help people struggling with depression and suicidal intentions.  If the Life Continuum Scale is worth the price of the book, he should double the price for including chapter 10, The Hope Always Toolkit!  From a simple 12-step program anyone can do, to a list of scriptures to help us “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” to music, movies and books that can lift one’s spirit, he provides practical resources to assist one if you are depressed, or that can be used to help others raise their hopes.

If you have felt like ending it all, do not buy the lie!  There is Hope Always!

Pray For India; Wordless Wednesday

Our hearts and prayers are with India that The God Who Is will bring a speedy end to the suffering of its people.

2021-05-12 Wordless Wednesday Pray for India
Multiple funeral pyres of Indian victims of COVID-19 burn in a New Delhi area converted for mass cremation on April 24.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/may/pray-for-india-christians-covid-19-virus-oxygen-cremation.html

Rated R: The Mystery of Marriage

The word “mystery” in the Bible does not mean what most people seem to think.  The first definition of the word is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.”  However, other definitions are more fitting: “an event that remains unsettled until the very end,” or specifically, “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.”  I.e., a mystery is not something about which we are still in dark; it is something that is being or has been revealed, though it was once hidden.

Now to the singles reading this, I will offer very little to aid you in your sexuality, other than to note that Jesus was a young adult single.  I can offer (in another blog sometime) advice on this matter, but only as an observer and student of Scripture, because I am “the marrying kind.”  Jesus, the apostle Paul and others, both men and women, were not, and they lived fulfilled and purposeful lives without spouses, and with complimentary relationships without sex.

As for the MPA Rating, the R is a slight overstatement.  Spoiler: there is no lewdity, nudity, or excessive foul language or violence, but the subject matter IS something which you probably don’t want children to read without parental input.  If you have come here for the R rating, please stick around for a few minutes and read about the mystery of a marriage.  Regarding Same-Sex marriage, I refer you to an earlier blog.

Consider for a moment what most modern American marriage relationships look like.  Now this a VERRRY broad generalization and not to be taken as a model for how a marriage must work, but just an observation of how most in our nation work.
He mows the lawn, maintains the vehicles, does minor repairs around the house, works outside the home, and sometimes shares some of the housekeeping or cooking.  He maintains the checkbook, figures their taxes and spends some time with the children.
She does most of the cooking and housekeeping, organizes vacations, makes reservations and is primarily responsible for raising the children even though she may also work outside the home.
And he shows love to his wife and she shows respect to him, and they satisfy each other sexually.

If they are more affluent they may hire a landscaper to maintain their lawn, and they will take their autos in regularly for maintenance.  If anything in the house needs attention they just call a repairman.  They may hire a CPA to do their taxes and may even have a personal financial manager to pay their bills, and tell them how much they can spend on amenities each week. 
Perhaps they will employ a cook and a housekeeper or order meals from a service that provides on time delivery.  The cook may do the grocery shopping and the housekeeper maintains their cleaning supplies.  They may sign up for a cruise or tour group and leave the travel arrangements entirely to the tour company.  A nanny could be hired to come in daily, or an au pair may live with them and share meals with the family.

All of these services can be hired without incurring any personal guilt or judgement from society.

However, if they indulge in sexual infidelity, there will be consequences.  These may involve separation, legal actions, social stigmatism, and maybe divorce.  There will be changes in family relationships beyond the couple, including children, in-laws, shirt-tail relatives and family friends.  There may be job losses or changes, housing rearrangements, financial hardships, and a complete reorienting of their lives.  All because of violating one feature of the marriage relationship.

This suggests that there is something unique about the sexual relationship in a marriage that makes it apart from all of the other intimacies and details of the “normal” marriage.  The Bible supports this idea in 1 Corinthians  6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 

The husband who does not tend to his wife’s sexual desires risks pushing her away, either into the arms of another or into volunteerism or vocational obsessions.  The wife who does not tend to her husband’s sexual desires may find him falling for promiscuity, prostitution or pornography to gratify them.  The unique thing which elevates their marriage above every other relationship a husband or wife may have is their sexuality, specifically their sexual fidelity.

Every marriage is as unique as the couple involved.  No two are exactly alike, but there are certain commonalities that can be recognized in any successful and pleasant marriage. 

The first is a common faith, a recognition that the marriage is not just for their happiness, but is a “mystery,” a reflection of Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Let’s reveal this “mystery!”  Jesus said the pattern for marriage was laid down by God at the creation: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.”  (Matthew 19:4-6)

Problems in marriages come because none of us is completely sinless as Jesus was (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15).  So when you put two fallible people together and tell them to love and respect each other (Ephesians 5:33), there will inevitably be conflicts, as each of them needs the other to discover where their selfishness lies.  It is in the curing of that selfishness that married couples become a model of Christ and the Church.

2021-04-17 Marital FidelityThe second is a developing intimacy that will increase and expand as they live together.  Sexual expression will likely be a part of that intimacy even when age or illness deteriorates the actual sex act of consummation.  An acceptance of a spouse’s body in the same way one sees his or her own body will grow in this intimacy (Ephesians 5:29).  Just as one looks at his or her reflection in a mirror and tolerates developing wrinkles or extra body fat or minor defects, loving and respectful husbands and wives will become more comfortable with each others’ bodies, and can enjoy physical intimacy that reflects what the Scripture means when it says “the two shall become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24)

Note the inclusivity and exclusivity of this expectation:  Nothing is forbidden in the marriage sexual relationship as long as it is mutually agreed and not harmful.  However, it is ONLY for the two committed to the marriage.  (See for more about this.)

As books have been written on these subject, I will simply refer you to some of best I have encountered and encourage you to explore this wonderful subject of what makes cohabitation a marriage by reading a couple of these references:
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
The Gift of Sex by Dr. Clifford and Mrs. Joyce Penner
The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick
His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. William Harley

See https://www.marriagebuilders.com/ for an excellent online resource from Dr. Harley.

Mystery solved.  Revelation resolved.

 

Intermezzo Guest Blog: On Being Infected With Covid-19 On Thanxgiving

2020-11-25 Intermezzo Blog

Basement Isolation Reflections
By Karla Duerson

When [insert certain circumstance here] then I will be happy, fulfilled, satisfied.
If only [insert certain circumstance here] then I could live meaningfully, fulfilled.
When all the kids are finally gone . . .
If only he would stop antagonizing his sister . . .

These subtle whispers can rob reality right out of in front of my nose.  Life is happening right now.  That’s it!  Yet the zest and spice of life are illusive.  The mundane quotidian lulls me.  Sometimes I want to shirk responsibilities.  I back away from complexities and challenges.

I work a lot.  I do a lot.  I think a lot.  I take care of people a lot.  I get tired.  Sometimes I daydream about being alone.  “When all the kids are finally gone . . .”

Well, now covid-19 has brought me closer to aloneness than I have been in a long time.  No one is talking to me.  No one is interrupting me.  I have very few tasks to complete.  Strange.

The strangest covid-19 symptoms are those that have robbed my senses.  I cannot taste coffee!  I cannot smell chocolate chip cookies.  I cannot touch my children.  My vision was even affected for a day.

My friend said, “Taste, smell, touch – God gave us these to enjoy life.  When one or all of them go away, it really is a wake-up call to His goodness!”

Well put, my friend.  This world is an explosion of God’s breathtaking artistry!  Tree-lined mountain tops, a home-cooked meal, gifted flowers in a pretty vase, Wylies’s round little cheeks, and Neva’s brown silky hair, Guy’s strong growing arms.  The world above in space, the world below in the sea, the world all around us on the terrain is remarkable beautiful.

How can I stay awake to that splendor?  How can I ward away dullness, ingratitude and boredom?  One of our very young participants on our Simple Church Zoom call suggested the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Well, sitting in the bed in the basement for the fourth day in a row while listening to the hustle and bustle of the activities going on above, concerning myself about everyone’s well-being without being able to lift a finger, and longing to cuddle and comfort my people, this brought me to tears.  I love it when children share.  

Even more, Gavin reminded us of the next part of the letter:
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

I will learn the secret that Paul did because just like my BSF notes stated last week, “God intends hardships to draw us closer to Him, so we become more content with His presence and provisions.”  So, “whether in plenty or in want,” I will learn to be content and that I “can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

I am in the basement.  Topside, in the upstairs of my home, I am in plenty.  Either way, I have Christ who empowers me to see, to touch, to taste, to hear, to smell His wonder-filled world, to truly live!

Read more of Karla’s writing at www.karladuerson.blogspot.com

On a lighter side, be sure to check out Gavin’s take on Black Friday:

Inside Joke – Black Friday

And for some thought-provoking apologetics, check out the CSLewisDoodle on “Good Infections”:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw-kYN6wWXWDyp_lB0wnlxw
C.S.Lewis Doodle

You’ve Never Failed Me Yet (?)

Nice words to a beautiful worship song, but what about when it does not feel true?  When you pray and seek the face of Father and the heavens seem bronze.  Worship ceases to be celebration of love and care because no one really seems to care, not deeply.  Worse yet, leaders do not seem to care about the people for whom they are performing with volumes too loud for comfort and enough to injure ears.  (Psalm 55:12-14)

Like the story in Reader’s Digest, a wife complained to her husband about the car beside them with the booming stereo that was rocking their car, “Well, that driver will soon enough be almost deaf.”  To which he replied, “Yes, Hon, but it won’t do us any good, He’ll just crank it LOUDER.”

Maybe denominational leaders should require hearing tests for pastors and worship leaders to see if they are operating with damaged ears.  They might realize then what they are doing to the rest of us, especially children with not fully developed hearing apparatuses.  Maybe the rocker, Ted Nugent, was right, “If it’s too loud, [I’m] too old.”  Maybe too old to attend “worship” performances that will damage my hearing as much as circular saws and hammer drills which operate at ~90-100dB.  (See https://capost2k.wordpress.com/the-science-behind-if-its-too-loud-youre-too-old/.)

Just feeling very discouraged these days and wondering if anyone really cares.

2018-12-10 Someone Watching Over Me

“Someone Watching Over Me” © c.a.post, 1985

  1. So many times I’ve been so lonely,
    no one seemed to really understand.
    The pain I felt inside was more than only
    an ache that could be soothed by a gentle hand.
    Longer than I even can remember,
    the bleeding heart-wound never seemed to end.
    Looking for relief I just would wander,
    blinded by the razor hurt within.Yet, time again I’d catch a glimpse behind me and I’d see
    the flash of death’s cold glinting sword that brushed so close to me,
    and wondered how it failed to end the task it had begun,
    my soul so tired, I couldn’t, if I’d known which way to run.Chorus
    There must be Someone watching over me.
    I surely couldn’t make it on my own.
    I feel the pull of His unseen hand.
    I hear His silent whisper in my soul.
  1. I never found a crowd that I could fit in;
    could never find a home where I belong.
    Running from the weakness that I knew, I’d just pretend
    the loneliness would leave if I was strong.
    Looking for a circle that would close me in its arc,
    I’d cover all the fears I had to hide.
    But as the line drew closer to what’s really in my heart
    I’d step back and watch it close with me outside.So darkness followed sunset just as dawn came after night,
    and days turned into weeks and months without a hope in sight.
    Year by year I wondered how this life could still go on,
    waiting for each day to pass and glad when it was gone.
  1. Sometimes my days just turn like empty pages.
    Sometimes they feel so full they ought to burst.
    I know too well how far I missed the best that life can give;
    I also sigh relief; I missed the worst.
    But now I know that Someone special’s standing by;
    knowing, yet it does not stop His care.
    Laughing with my laughter, feeling every tear I cry;
    there’s nothing in my heart that we can’t share.Now all those empty memories of tears I cried alone
    are just shadows of a nightmare passed before Your love-light shone.
    And all these times and questions that I still don’t understand
    don’t really matter anymore since You now hold my hand.Alternate chorus
    Then You reached out and took me by the hand
    even though You’d seen the dark inside.
    You loved me back to life and made me understand
    there’s nothing from Your love I have to hide.Chorus
    There must be Someone watching over me.
    I surely couldn’t make it (couldn’t take it) on my own,
    I feel the pull of Your unseen hand.
    I hear Your silent whisper in my soul.

Psalm 130:1-6
Out of the depths I cry to you, Yahweh; Yahweh, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If You, Yahweh, kept a record of sins, Yahweh, who could stand?

But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You.
I wait for Yahweh, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.
I wait for Yahweh, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

What Are You Listening For?

Our world is too noisy, too busy, too crowded.  Even when you look for something good to do, you can be so overwhelmed by how many good things need to be done, you can wind up frozen to inactivity by the myriad of choices in front of you.  We desperately need quiet.  We desperately need time.  We desperately need solitude.

machine-shop-2Quiet:  One of my favorite illustrations of this comes from when I lived in Alaska for a year.  I stopped by a machine shop where a friend worked as a steamfitter, running a huge pipe-cutting machine that trimmed 12″ solid steel bars (30.5cm diameter) into pipes for offshore drilling rigs.  The machine shop was a huge warehouse building with dozens of threaders, grinders, benders, welders, brazers and cutters whirring and clanking away at the various tasks of making pipes and their fittings.

machine-shop-1The noise in the shop seemed deafening to me as we “chatted,” or rather yelled at each other, in order to be heard over the other machines that were all noisily performing their jobs.  Suddenly, mid-sentence, my friend held up his hand, and apologized, “Sorry, I have to take care of this.”  As I wondered what he needed to take care of, a half dozen other men came rushing to his machine.

Somehow amidst all the noise of the machine shop, he and these other men heard something go wrong on his pipe-cutter, and everyone sprang into action to do their parts to take care of “what they had heard.”  Their ears were as attuned to the sound of this machine as clearly as a mother is attuned to her baby’s cry.

Time:  Father has given each of us 24 hours every day, no more, no less, no matter how you use it, abuse it, or lose track of it.  You and I have the same resource of time that Jesus had and that presidential candidates have.  We have the same 24 hours per day that the homeless guy sitting beside his belongings in a grocery cart on the street corner has.  The issue is prioritizing what each of us needs to do.  And for that we need guidance.  A small voice whispering in our ear, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

It is a small voice, even though it comes from a very great source.  In Elijah’s day he was instructed, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for Yahweh is about to pass by. Yahweh passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before Yahweh, but Yahweh was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but Yahweh was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”  (1 Kings 19:11-12)  And God was in the low whisper, or as the KJV puts it, a “still small voice.” 

Isaiah further went on to describe the Messiah speaking to the world,
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.”  (Isaiah 42:2-3)

God does not need to yell.  He is God and His purposes will stand.  His plan will be worked out in the end, though all hell and its demons rage against it.  The clamoring noise of the world can protest and scream; they can build bombs and try to destroy what He wants to accomplish, but He will just keep whispering to His people, to anyone who will listen for Him, and He will finish what He began in the Garden of Eden.

We cannot “make time.”  Time is what it is, and we can simply use it, abuse it or lose it.  We use time by setting some aside and spending it in quiet solitude to listen for a “still small voice.”  Ralph Carmichael understood this when he penned the words to There Is A Quiet Place.

Solitude:  Loneliness can be devastating.  It feels even worse when other people are around, but you are disconnected from them.  A feeling of emptiness can suck the life out of a marriage when a husband and wife are on different wavelengths.  A comedy club is one of the most miserable places in the world for one who has no one with whom to share the jokes.

Crowd 1.pngBut solitude is time chosen to be away from the masses, “far from the madding crowd,” (Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard).  Often Jesus would withdraw from the crowds who longed for His leadership (Matthew 14:13, John 6:15), a far cry from today’s politicians or celebtrities who love the limelight.  But Jesus knew that, as a man, He needed time to digest His role, His position, and His mission.

You:  So before you embark on a week of noise, busy-ness, and crowds, take some time for quiet, peace and solitude.  As you listen for His voice in the quiet times, learn to hear Him even when the noise crowds in around you.  Underneath all the noise of the tv, radio and iPod, in the flurry of all of this world’s busy-ness, and in the middle of the crowds of Lexington or LA, listen for His voice.  He is here, and He is not silent.  What are you listening for?

See  for more thoughts about Prayer, one of the Marks of a Man or Woman of God.  And take a look at for a wake-up call a friend gave me to be more careful to listen.