Listening to the Right Voice

“[T]he real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing– that demands real effort” (Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World).

Maybe that’s why it’s so difficult for most of us to be still and silent for long. Perhaps the enemy knows that once we start listening to the voice of our Abba, and believing what He says about us, we will no longer be swayed by any temptation from the other side.

Sure, we have lots of voices telling us we’re no good, that we’re failures who are past all hope. We have other voices telling us that we’re as good as how well we perform and jump through hoops and wear the right labels and drive the right cars and so on and so forth.

Still, the voice that trumps all those other voices says that you are already enough because Abba made you. You are not your mistakes or your shortcomings or your weaknesses. You are your Abba’s beloved, and He is very fond of you.

“At issue here is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.

As long as I keep running about asking: ‘Do you love me? Do you really love me?’ I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with ‘ifs.’ The world says: ‘Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much.’ There are endless ‘ifs’ hidden in the world’s love. These ‘ifs’ enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world’s love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain ‘hooked’ to the world-trying, failing,and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).

Films About Ghosts

dee road

“If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts” (Counting Crows)

My dad went to Memphis to finalize the contract on my grandmother’s old  house. She’s been gone for 8 years and hadn’t lived in that house for a very long while, but still it made me a little sad.

I have so many happy memories wrapped up in that place. Just going up that steep driveway can make me feel like I’m 10 years old again going to eat Sunday dinner.  I can picture uncles and cousins who have since passed. I can smell the rolls fresh out of the oven and the roast beef that was always my favorite part of the meal.

I remember walking through all those room once and thinking how small they seemed without the furniture. Or maybe it was the voices of the people that once filled these rooms, their laughter and tears, that made the rooms bigger. Then again, I was smaller, so everything seemed bigger than it really was.

In my opinion. If any place should be haunted, it’s this house. Not with malevolent spirits but with kind souls. My memories of this place are tied up with so many who are now departed that when I walk in these rooms, I almost feel their essence still lingering.

Maybe the people who are buying the house can start their own new memories. Maybe they too can one day look back on this old house with fond remembrances over family get-togethers and meals shared.

I’m thankful for my memories. I’m thankful for family who, while not perfect, loved each other. And me. I’m even thankful for those little gumball things that fell out of that tree in the front yard. I’ve gone blank on what they’re called, but I spent hours kicking those things like footballs over the fence.

I remember we used to all get in the station wagon and drive over there Christmas mornings after I opened all my presents from Santa. I also remember that was where I got my less than thrilling gifts like socks and underwear.

There are still pictures, old and faded, to remind me of these good times. Not all the memories are happy. Some are sad. But each one led me to where I am now and I see how God was working in each one, so I can give thanks, if not FOR all of them, most definitely IN all of them.

 

 

 

 

All Those Voices and The Truth

Maybe you’re like me. Sometimes maybe you get so many voices in your head, it’s hard to tell which ones are genuine and which ones are not. It’s hard to discern your own thoughts from the legion running through your mind.

I firmly believe that one of the enemy’s tricks is to plant thoughts in your mind and make you believe that those are your thoughts. He can take a little bit of the truth, just enough to make it plausible, and mix it with a lie. Kinda like a fisherman baits a hook with enough of a tempting lure to make the fish bite.

I’ve been overwhelmed at times and not known what to believe or which voices to trust. But I’ve come to realize that in those times it’s better to not trust what I think or what I feel, but what I know. That is, what God has revealed to me about himself time and time again.

I know he’s good. I know he’s strong. I know he’s for me. I know he won’t give up on me.

Many times, I’ve fallen back on those truths when the lies seem so very easy to believe. When the old fears of abandonment seem to be coming true before my very eyes and I feel more alone than ever, I have to remember that God is with me.

You never know what you believe until it’s a matter of life or death, when your survival and your sanity depend on it. You never know how strong and good God is until you’re lost and he’s the only one who can find you, when you’re sinking in despair and he’s the only one who can rescue you.

Devils and lies die in the light. They can’t survive when confronted with the very truth of God’s word. So name the lies for what they are. Name where they came from. And declare out loud that Jesus has already defeated that enemy and those lies once and for all.

Most of all, let’s hold each other up in prayer and be strong for those when they can’t be strong for themselves, and believe for those when their faith is too weak. It just takes two or three.

Remember that the Truth as personified in Jesus isn’t just another voice in your head. It’s the Voice that bids all other voices be still the way it bidded the waves to be still. It’s the Voice that will always have the last word.

 

Voices

I heard a provoking question tonight at Kairos. What does your voice tell you?

I’ve never thought about it this way, but usually those kinds of voices never tell me anything good or positive.

Things like “You’ll never amount to anything,” or “You really are a nobody.”

If you try to take steps to make your life better, the voice will say both “Who are you to do that?” and “If you’re gonna try, it has to be perfect or it’s no good.”

My voice that stuck with me for the longest was “If people really knew the real you, they wouldn’t want anything to do with you,” with the close second being “No girl will ever find you attractive so don’t even think about dating.”

Those voices don’t ever go away by you ignoring them. They only get louder that way.

The best way to get rid of those voices is to drown them out with another Voice. The Voice of Truth.

This Voice says, “You are my beloved. I love you just as you are right now where you are.”

The Voice says, “You are good enough and smart enough and beautiful enough because you are My masterpiece.”

The Voice says, “I am your Abba Father and I am very fond of you.”

Sometimes when you can’t hear that Voice, you need someone who will remind you. Sometimes, you will be the one to remind someone else.

I have family and friends who remind me daily of what God sees in me and what He says about me. I try to help people see themselves the way God sees them and hear what God says about them.

This is a repeat, but it it is also my mantra (or one of them): What you think and what you feel will lie to you, so you go with what you know. You go with the promises that God has spoken over you and what He has said about you being wonderfully and fearfully made.

You recognize that voice in your head for what it is and renounce it as the mouthpiece of the father of lies.

May you have ears to hear the good things your Abba Father is saying about you tonight and every day after.

Who speaks for you? (expanding on an idea I heard at Kairos)

kairos2014

When the accuser of the brethren comes against you with accusations of your past, who stands up in your defense and speaks for you?

When other people judge you and make assumptions about you, who speaks on your behalf?

When the voices in your own head are full of condemnation and shame and guilt, who will be lone voice of dissent that will overpower all the other voices?

When you yourself have reached the verdict of guily with the maximum sentence of hopelessness and despair with no chance of parole, who will take your place?

There is one. He who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father and who ever lives to make intercession for you. Jesus is the one who speaks for you. He is the one who took the blame for all the mistakes and blunders and failures, paid the penalty for those sins and make a spectacle of triumphing over the Enemy on the cross. When all these voices are giving you names (and you give yourself names I can’t print here), Jesus is the one who gives you a new name written on a white tablet that only He knows. And one day you will know it, too.

The One who knows the most about you– and has the most right to condemn you –doesn’t. The One who spoke the first words of creation and will speak the last words at the end of all things speaks the final word on your behalf: “It is finished.” No one else will ever be able to bring up accusations against you again. Jesus is your Advocate and He will never, ever, ever, ever, ever stop fighting for you.

I’ve always loved the saying that goes something like: “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Thanks, Mike. These words were a revolution to my mind. I am thinking radically different than I was yesterday. Most of all, thank you, Jesus!