One of the most insightful and practical preacher theologians I have ever read is J.C. Ryle his insights are deep his love for Christ is palpable. My only regreat in reading all the things he has written is that I didn’t find him when I was younger. Of all past theologians, I am most confident that J.C. Ryle would have had a blog his passion for truth and his ability to speak the truth plainly would have demanded it. I pray that you are encouraged by his practical insights and deep love for Christ as I have been over the years.
One of the things that many adults struggle with and most kids I’ve encountered, struggle with is the ability to hear God’s voice. Hearing God’s voice is not as easy as some simplistically explain and it’s not impossible as many believe.
Hearing God’s voice is made possible by a few basic practices;
- Listening to God starts with learning to listen to those you can see.
- Knowing God’s voice comes from knowing his word.
- Hearing God’s voice requires discernment.
Learning to listen is not a skill that is taught anywhere. It is a gift a few are born with, a skill most can learn, and is indispensable in our ability to hear God and love our fellow believers. The world we live in is crowded, loud, and chaotic. We are surrounded by digital noise that demands little focus from us. To truly listen to others is a difficult thing to do but is a practice we must grow in. To grow in our ability to listen we must understand the importance of it and must actively practice the discipline of it.
Why Listening matters so much.
- It is our primary duty as a Christian, loving our brother by listening to him. We have this insatiable urge to say the right thing when often times what people need most is someone who will truly listen to them.
“The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear.” – Bonhoeffer
- We must train ourselves to listen to our fellow believers or we will only know how to speak at people rather than listen to or converse with others. If we train ourselves to ignore our fellow man which we can see how will we ever listen to a God we can’t see.
“Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.” – Bonhoeffer
Listening is something I think most people struggle with. It is something I have to consciously work on. In pastoral ministry, listening is something that you must learn. As a parent, if your kids want to hear God’s voice they need to learn how to listen to yours.
How do we grow in our ability to listen and teach our kids how to listen to others well.
- Listen with your face – don’t “Multitask” and believe you are doing your duty. You are not. In fact, you are not listening and you are also not focusing. Multitasking is a myth.
- Listen long and patiently – “Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.” Bonhoeffer
- Fully listen, don’t think about a response while listening.
- Wait till the other person has finished before you begin to speak.
- Listening understands that our duty to our fellow believers is to hear their confession.
Few people have spoken out on our need to listen to others as clearly as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his powerful book on the Christian fellowship. He offers this dire warning to those who won’t listen “The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end, there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it.”
May we be as James says in his epistle “Quick to listen and slow to speak.”
Hey just wanted to thank all of you who came out to my precon really enjoyed sharing with you and hearing from many of you. Here are the links to my prezi’s and some of the resources I referenced in our time together today.
Family Minstry 101: Basics of Family Ministry
Family Ministry 201: Advanced intergration
First Step Next Step Cards
Here is a blog Post that discribes our first step next steps cards. – http://samluce.com/2017/04/answering-questions-parents-asking/
Books every kids pastor should read their first year in kids ministry.
Here are a couple of family ministry posts you may also enjoy.
In light of the current event over the past several weeks I have been thinking, and talking a lot about the state of our country and the issue of race in particular. There are so many people with opinions from both sides and hot takes all over the web. In my conversations on race, the thing I keep coming back to is the idea of the nature of love.
The one thing your kids need to know about race is that our hatred towards others races or obsession with race our or another comes primarily from an excess or deficiency of love. Augustine in his Confessions explains to us that restlessness in his heart and in the heart of every human is a result of disordered loves that we love the right things in the wrong order. We love self or others above Christ. In doing this we are incapable of loving our selves or our brother. Augustine believed that when we rightly love God primarily every other secondary love would be loved apporpraitely because we love God primarily.
Several hundred years later Dante picks up where Augustine left off and he says that there is a right order to love but there is also a proper force of love. We sin when our love is misdirected, deficient or excessive. Dantes most famous poem The Divine Comedy is most well known for its graphic depiction of hell. What people miss in the gore of hell is that the whole force and purpose of the poem is about right ordered and rightly applied love.
Serving as a family pastor for the past 6 years and having been a children’s pastor for 14 years and now I have come to see ministry to the families of a church is not a luxury but a necessity. I believe family ministry matters more than anything else the church can do and here is why.
1. A society is as strong as the families that comprise it. Aristotle wrote that the family is nature’s established association for the supply of mankind’s everyday wants. John Paul II further develops this idea.
John Paul II said the following of the link between family and society.
“The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: it is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself”
Aristotle saw the value of family without being able to see the purpose of family. The purpose of families is to show a watching world the covenant keeping love of Christ through the sacrificial love of husbands and wives for one another. It also through families that the world sees our need for a perfect father through imperfect ones.