Category: Ecclesiastes

Choosing to Hear

Happy San Jacinto Day!

Today was the last day of Carrie-Anne’s “Dirty Dozen,” the name I’ve given to the first stage of her chemotherapy treatments: twelve straight infusions on twelve consecutive Fridays. The cold caps are working – so far, I’ve lost more hair over these twelve weeks than she has. We’re diligently rotating the caps for the full eight hours, keeping them at -30 to -35-degrees below zero, to keep her scalp frozen so the blood won’t carry the poison to her hair follicles. By God’s grace, it’s working. And the side effects have been minimal and short-lived each week.

We’re getting this next week off as a break between the first and second stages of her treatment. Then on May 5, we’ll begin what I’m calling the Final Four: four infusions of what everybody else calls the “Red Devil.” One infusion every other week through June 16. This is what everybody says is going to be the hard part. Evidently the side effects are much worse. Maybe. Maybe not. We’re choosing to be grateful for our Lord’s strength and mercy to us over the past few months and confident in his provision for us going forward.


Another truth or principle to consider as we engage the topic of hearing God is that a person must choose to hear the Lord’s voice. It’s the most important part of this. You have to make the decision to grow in your desire and your capacity to hear God.

What did you say back when everybody had CB radios? “You got your ears on?” You have to put on your spiritual ears and tune them in.

When you go to church, do you walk into the sanctuary expecting to hear the voice of the Living God? Church is one of the very best times and places to hear God. But you have to make the choice.

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen, rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” ~Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

When you go to church, God might have something to say, so, as the New Living Translation puts it, “keep your ears open and your mouth shut.” If you’re more comfortable with the King James Version, it says “sitteth down and shutteth up.”

Jesus says, “The one who has ears to hear, let him hear!” God’s choice, his will, is to give you spiritual ears. Your choice is whether or not you’re going to use them.

In Luke 10, Jesus is at Martha’s house. Martha’s running around trying to get dinner ready and Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet in a posture of listening. Why? Because Jesus is talking!

Martha’s unloading the dishwasher, putting out guest towels, dusting the ceiling fans – she “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” She complains to the Lord, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

I think Jesus very gently, but very firmly, tells Martha: “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This past week, when did God have your total, complete, undivided attention? How many times this month have you just sat down with Jesus and listened? I know things have to be unloaded and put away and cleaned up and dusted; I know there are things to do. But when’s the last time you chose to listen to God?



A Time to Laugh

“There is a time for everything… a time to weep and a time to laugh.” ~Ecclesiastes 3
I wish I could take credit for the potency of the “fruit of the vine” we shared around our Lord’s table here at Central yesterday morning. I wish I had set it all up ahead of time. I wish I had made the right phone calls and contacted the right people, even shown up here on Saturday night to supervise the filling of the cups.
The plan was to spend the morning together considering the power of the resurrection. And, boy, did we! The powerful video from the dedication ceremonies of the Alara school reminded us of the power of our God who gives brand new life to more than 300 African orphans in a situation most people gave up for dead about five years ago. Jim Killingsworth’s powerful testimony reminded us of the power of our God who restores and heals, who brings joy and peace to his people walking through a dark desert. John T. Langley’s powerful words at the table connected us to faithful communion prayers from 1,800 years ago, reminding us of the power of our God to crush Satan and destroy all evil in the resurrection of Jesus.
The powerful grape juice — “powerful” may be an understatement — reminded us…. Hmmm. What did that juice remind us of?
How about this: the power of our God who saves us and changes us and bonds us together and empowers us to do his will despite our terribly feeble and inadequate efforts.
What a great reminder yesterday that even our best endeavors and our hardest tries always fall short. What a testimony to the grace of our God who loves us and takes care of us despite our continual missteps. What a powerful witness to our own humanity and to God’s amazing patience and faithfulness to us all.
One of our more clever young men in the youth group texted me as soon as the assembly was over, “It was either the wine or the sermon, but one made me sleepy.” Funny guy. Somebody else emailed me this morning, “Do we need to raise the traditional Church of Christ ‘Age of Accountability’ to twenty-one?” Good.
Yeah, that was strong stuff we were passing out yesterday. No, it wasn’t an intentional thing to be used as a sermon illustration. No, it wasn’t connected to “4 Amarillo.” It was a mistake. We’ve discovered the cause of the mistake and are taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
In the meantime, enjoy the jokes and the laughs, re-live the animated expressions on the faces around you yesterday, and remember that none of us is perfect. But we belong to a powerful, powerful, powerful God who is.