Sit down, keep your mouth shut and your eyes open….

Over the past few weeks I have been putting in quite a few miles for work, 6 different states, 4 different sites, over 3000 miles in about 20 days.  Over this time I have had many hours to reflect on the things around me.  The one thing that I do when I am going to have to travel is to make sure that I spend the morning with the munchkin.  I take the few hours before I get on the road to keep her home from school for a bit and just have time with her.  If she wants to lay around in bed, we do that, if she wants to go get pancakes, we do that.  This is her time to have daddy to herself.

By having this time and then the time on the road I go to thinking about all the distractions we have in life.  I know I have wrote about turning the phone off, playing, listening, and all that before, but this time is a little different.  I got to really thinking about some of the things that we tell our kids; Do it this way, Color inside the lines, write with the other hand….. We try so hard ourselves to conform to society and we push our kids to conform as well.  But why not, to a safe extent, let them do what comes naturally to them.  By just observing my daughter I have seen her emmense ability to comprehend and grasp many different concepts.  The way she figures things out is amazing, the things that she understands at 4 blows my mind.  Then I started thinking about how she is able to do this, she will watch everything that we do and then act that way.  Even though I don’t think she is paying attention sometimes, or she isn’t listening, the actions that come later prove me wrong.  Also in all of the driving, I was listening to some old @Common tracks.  One track jumped out at me, Pop’s Rap II, from One Day It Will All Make Sense.  In the middle of the track, Pops is talking about how when Common was a kid he taught him more than he taught Common, with a few simple words.  It is when we shut up and listen to our kids, that we can learn the most from them.

We have all heard the saying, Out of the mouth of babes, and it is true, the most honest answer that you will ever get is from a child.

When, I was thinking about all of this, I was trying to figure out what God was trying to tell me or if it was just on my mind.  Then Sunday at Church, our Pastor was continuing our current series called Strong.  It is about having a stronger relationship with God, and doing the things that He has told us to do to build that relationship.  This week was about fasting and solitude.  And this really started to hit home, I have fasted before…. Usually when I want God to do something or show me something.  But never to do it just to get closer to Him.  Fasting is all about getting closer to God, it was laid out as something we should be doing as Christians.  It helps us to focus in on JUST God.  It is that time that we put everything else out of our way, and listen to Him.  Just like when we think our kids aren’t listening to us, Are we listening to God?  The example our pastor gave was of when you are listening to the radio, while driving down the road.  You get some stations perfectly clear, no static just pure sound; then as you go on down the road there is a little more static, and more and more and more, until finally you can’t hear that station anymore for all the static and other noise you are picking up.  In our daily lives, it may not be that we are getting farther from God, but that we have too many things fighting for our attention.  Too many things are putting static into our minds, that we think that we can hear God, but we aren’t sure.  It is our uncertainty that causes us to not act on things that He has in store for us, we get nervous, and continue with our mundane lives.

God listens to us whenever we come to Him with our whole heart, He knows what we are coming for before we ever talk to him about it.  He listens to us as if we were the only ones around, we have a direct communication line with him.  He doesn’t get distracted and bogged down like we do.  I know many of us, specifically us dad’s – lets face it we all have ADD; Will respond to our children, out of routine, with an “Uh huh”, or something of the like, when we don’t know what they really said, (We get in big trouble when we take this approach with the wife, who knows the things we really agree too.)

So I challenge you, to take an extra 20 minutes in the morning, to Shut Up and listen to God.  Then take an extra hour with no TV, no phone, no electronic interference, to talk with your kids, talk with your wife/husband/significant other, and just see how things in your life change.  Hey if nothing changes, I just saved you some electric and phone minutes, but I hope things get better.

What are we doing with our lives

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you do the things that you do.  Not why do I go to work, but why are actions and attitudes are they way that they are.  The past couple weeks at Church, 2 different churches for that matter, the sermons have touched on things that I felt God laying on my heard for a few weeks now.  Why do we go to Church where we do, why do we do the things that we do, why do we live the way that we live, what are we doing as Christians different from the world?

Some words have kept popping into my heard why thinking on this; complacent, convenient, habit, comfortable, satisfied, pacified, agnostic, and accustomed.  If you look at these words and feel that they are all the same, you could be right, they could be all unrelated to some as well.

I feel that in life in general we are all creatures of habit.  Even if you think that your not, we are all a little OCD.  You know if someone has adjusted your chair at the office; You know that the blue pen was on the right side of the pencil holder when you left last night and now it is in the middle; You use the same seat in the conference room every meeting, in fact 90% of you co-workers sit in the same seat.  We get to a point in our lives that we are just in a habit, we get up at the same time everyday, go through the same routine, drive to work the same way, get mad when someone has taken your normal parking spot….. Drive home the same way every day, come home and put your keys on the same hook…. You get the point and for the most part we are all genuinely happy this way.  Our days have enough variance that they stay interesting, and when you have kids, in they house you never know what to expect.  But its the stable things in life that can cause us the issues.

We get to a point where our jobs have not changed in 20 years, you are still pulling the same lever that you did when you started 20 years ago, you have not had a desire to move up.  You are satisfied with you pay and responsibility.  You become complacent, in your work, everything is mundane, it the same ol different day.  To some this is great to others it makes them go crazy.  We do things because thats all we know.  We have no desire to go that extra mile to do something on our own, to step into that unknown realm of difference.  This happens all to often in our churches and in our spiritual lives.  We do enough to get by, we go to church on Sunday, we don’t cuss around people, we are good people, thats not enough.  As the Bible clearly states, we are not saved by works alone, however faith without works is dead.  It is not enough to go to Church and say that you are a Christian, you have to live it day in and day out.

This brings me to another point, when we become complacent and pacified, our spiritual lives suffer.  When we go to church just out of habit or obligation, we can’t let so and so down if were not there, we loose sight of why the Church is there to begin with.  If the Church has just become a social gathering to see and be seen, to get a warm fuzzy and to do your spiritual duty of going to church for the week, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  While yes Church is absolutely about community, it is about helping each other, being there for each other.  When someone in the Church needs help, your answer should not be, let me see if I can make it, it should be I’ll be right there.  The sense of community in the church has changed over the years, but in some churches you can still see the congregation come together, pray for one another, cry for one another, and just all go to the throne of God for someone else.  They put their cares and worries aside for this other person who has a need.  No matter how great or small God hears them all.  Sometimes you just don’t see prayer services in Churches anymore, that the thing I love about our Church in Ohio, this little Church has not forgotten the power of prayer.  So what if it throws off the flow of service, let God do what God needs to do.

I have said all of that to say this; If in your life, you feel satisfied make sure you are not complacent.  God wants to bless us abundantly, He wants to fill our cups till they are running over.  He wants us to ALWAYS be hungry for His will in our lives, He wants us to find community with those around us, to where we don’t just know their names and 5 things about them, but that we can look at them or get a call from them and in seconds know that something is going on, good or bad, we have that connection with them that we know they need us to praise with them or pray with them.

Sometimes you will have to do things that you don’t think you can do or want to do, but be responsive to God’s will in your life and see if you don’t become happier in all that you do.  There will be a new feeling around you and people will know that something is going on.  God has done amazing things in the past with 1 person; David, Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Paul, Jesus.  Yes these people had others with them, but it took the power of God working through the one person to bring in those others, and do change lives, nations, the world.  God can use you and the gifts that He has given to you in ways that you have never dreamed, the key is to never be satisfied, always want more from God.  Our God wants to give us everything all we have to do is ask.  We step out in faith, even if we are alone, even if we only have 1 person to back us up, we still have Him on our side.  If you look at the story of Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14,   Jonathan was tired of hiding.  They stepped out in faith that God would talk care of them, and 2 men killed 20 men who were more well armed then they were.

Have faith in God and trust in Him.  Nothing is to much for God and He will never give us more than He knows we can handle.  Maybe now is the time you to make that new commitment to your Church, maybe it’s time to find a new way to share your faith, maybe its time to put into action that tugging that has been in your heart to do something that you have no idea what it is.  Trust God in all that you do and believe, seek His will for your next actions, and see what adventures lie ahead for you.