Watch This Space!

I’m serious–watch this space, keep an eye out! Major, big, wow, tremendous news on the way this weekend! If you’ve ever been a fan of this blog, stay tuned–great things on the way!

(I know, I’m such a tease…)huh

Advertisements

Discernment

How do we know when God is steering us, versus when it’s just what we think we want to hear?

My daughter’s been wrestling with a pretty major school decision, and in the next couple of weeks she’ll have to make a decision. She’s been in prayer about it, but asked for advice on how to tell if it’s God’s will that she’s hearing, or if it’s just her own preferences that she’s picking up. We talked it over, and talked with our pastor, and here’s some of what we came up with as ways to tell if it’s God we’re hearing.

  • Does what we’re hearing draw us closer to God, or push us further away? Jesus said there are false prophets, liars in our minds, and that we will know them by their fruit (Matthew 7:16-20). If what we’re feeling urged to do helps advance the Kingdom, that’s a good sign. If it tends to make us focus on our selfish desires, then it’s not.
  • Meditative, contemplative prayer. Emptying the mind is a fiendishly difficult thing to do (and I do mean fiendishly–the tempter is always there to draw us away from focusing on God), but if it’s possible to do so, pay attention to the words and images we may get in our minds. Then try to erase them, and see if they recur. Words, images, or feelings that keep being brought to mind could be God’s efforts to break through the noise of our lives, and for his “still small voice” to be heard (1 Kings 19:11-13). I find it very, very difficult to turn off all the noise in my head–my brain is always running. But this might work easier for some who are more blessed than I with the ability to turn that faucet off.
  • Trying it on for size: If we think we get a sense that God is nudging us in one direction or another, then in prayer we can “try it on”–“God, I seem to sense you saying yes, we should go on the trip…is that right?” And then being still, and seeing if you feel affirmed in the choice. And if not, if you still feel uneasy, then perhaps it isn’t.
  • Closely related: do you find peace in the decision you’ve made, or do you feel still in chaos? God brings peace with him, and so a sense of peace with the decision may be a strong indicator it’s God’s will coming through.

What other techniques do you know for being able to tell when it’s God’s voice you’re hearing?

Come, Lord Jesus, Come

It’s Advent already. Phew. Wasn’t it just Labor Day? Wasn’t Easter about two weeks before that? How is it we made another lap around the sun already?

There’s the old joke about how wrong it is to be surprised that Christmas is around the corner: after all, it hasn’t moved off of December 25th in hundreds of years. And yet each year I find myself making plans to be better prepared to have a more meaningful Christmas, only to have them dashed against the rocks.

I think there’s two places I go awry at Advent each year. One is in just the sheer busyness of the season, and getting caught up in everything that’s “expected.” Here’s this weekend, for example. Saturday morning, Emmaus accountability breakfast with the men who help keep me centered in Christ. Then home to get our daughter to an appointment, then down to get my mom for her own appointment with the dentist at noon. After, a bite to eat, then off shopping for the holidays ahead of the annual lay leadership dinner at church in the evening, before a “mandatory” holiday party at a coworker’s house (“You’ve really got to come!”). Then Sunday is church, grocery shopping, making a batch of chili for the office holiday week coming up, going to help pack my mom ahead of moving next week (!), and then a couple hours in the office (because I didn’t get everything done and it’s a busy season and my boss gets back Monday and will expect things to be Just So).

It’s madness! And yet those are my days and weekends in December every year. Where’s the rest? Where’s the sabbath? Where’s the peace, the joy?

And that’s the second place I go off the rails. My Advent isn’t nearly enough about that ancient prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” We’re called to devote time each December to remembering the promise that what began in a manger two millennia ago will come to fruition when Christ returns.

“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13)

Christ promises he will return. And my sin in Advent is I don’t spend nearly enough of my heart on praying for that day, on readying myself for his second coming. Instead I get consumed by the to-do list, not the to-love list. I suspect I’m not alone (OK, I know I’m not). But it remains my goal every year: to live a life more aligned with the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

It’s Advent again. A fresh chance to let my heart turn to Christ. Pray I don’t miss it again this year.