In His Grip

HIS VOICE

Posted by David Maki on 05/04/15 @ 11:11 AM

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4)

Mothers have an amazing gift to be able to distinguish the voice of their child in the midst of a crowd. Among the many voices, the sound of the child’s voice is imbedded in the mother’s memory so strongly that it acts like radar.

Jesus was speaking about a similar gift given to his disciples. He tells us that his sheep hear and know his voice among the many voices that seek our time and attention. God gives us a gift of faith that distinguishes Jesus’ voice from all others. It is a voice that becomes familiar and we learn to trust it to comfort, guide and protect us from the voices that would kill and destroy us.

It is the voice of the Good Shepherd who has demonstrated his love and care for us by giving up his life at the cross. Jesus has paid the price of our sin and risen from the grave to demonstrate that he is the true shepherd. His love for us is without limits and will be ours even beyond death.

He calls us to listen to his voice. It is not necessarily an audible voice as much as it is the words spoken to the heart that needs hope and healing. His voice is the reassurance that he knows our needs and hears our cries for help. The voice of the Good Shepherd is the forgiveness of sins, the strength to rejoice in troubles and the peace that passes all understanding.

We learn to trust his voice as we study and meditate upon his words. His voice becomes our source peace in world of chaos and turmoil. Our ears become tuned to the movement and prompting of the Holy Spirit as he directs our lives. Our thoughts, words and actions begin to give evidence we are listening to the voice of the One who called us to be his. When we listen to his voice our lives become filled with the blessings of a relationship with the Good Shepherd. You can hear his voice in John chapter 10.

INTOLERANT TOLERANCE

Posted by David Maki on 04/20/15 @ 12:06 PM

Recently I met someone whose first question of me was, “What does your church believe about gay marriage?” (Understand, this was a chance meeting that by circumstances would be brief). I explained what I believe is a pastoral perspective of marriage and a Biblical approach to addressing the subject. The fellow never let me finish my explanation and said that he would never come to such a church. He railed on me being judgmental and believed God would, on judgment day, find me convicted of being intolerant of others. With a few more generalizations about the kind of person I am, he told me to get out of his place. I thanked him for the time and as I approached the door I turned and said, “Haven’t you just judged me without really knowing anything about me?” He said nothing but “get out”.

It seems it has become more difficult to have open discussions about certain topics in this present culture. Some issues are so emotionally charged that it is easier to label people intolerant and write them off as ignorant bigots. We hear the call for tolerance and yet it seems that tolerance really means you are required to hold a certain position or remain silent. In the present climate, we are to tolerate everything except what some would label intolerance. Maybe it should be called a qualified tolerance.

I suspect, for some, the call for tolerance is an attempt to marginalize, silence or guilt others into submitting to the public political position. Unfortunately, that approach will do very little to bring different parties together to discuss why or how we arrive at our understanding of various actions, beliefs or preferences. In the end the push to tolerant all views, beliefs or opinions becomes as intolerant as those who the tolerant ones berates.

Tolerance is just too fickle a description of Jesus’ call on our lives. Tolerance in our culture is code for accepting everything as normal or equally valid. I believe Jesus calls us to love others regardless of likes, behaviors, or beliefs. Love is not the same as tolerance. Tolerance is only interested in avoiding the hard work of really loving others who differ from us. Love does not tolerate what destroys or harms what God has created. Love speaks against evil and supports what is of God’s will. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, not tolerate them.

Love like that is not based on human emotion or tolerance; it is the gift of God in Jesus Christ. It is mostly clearly seen at the cross.

IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN

Posted by David Maki on 04/06/15 @ 11:43 AM

I would guess we have all said, “If I had only known”. It usually happens when we have received some information about the tragedy or suffering of someone we know or love. We are generally a people who like to help and give comfort to those who suffer and so finding out that we might have missed an opportunity can cause us guilt or regret. If we had known the plight of those near us we could have made difference.

We live in a culture that seems to place a high value on being busy. Our schedules get filled up with activities and responsibilities and we have very little room for something more. We might like to spend time getting to know the joys and sorrows of others, but the press of life doesn’t seem to provide the opportunity. We will give a wave to the neighbors as we pass them, but we can’t find the time to invest in learning the real needs of people around us.

Building a relationship with those in our sphere of influence takes time, energy and desire. Let me put it this way, building relationship must be intentional. Relationships seldom grow by accident. They must rise to the top of our priority list if we are going the find the opportunity to grow them.

Jesus said, This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16). Laying down our lives is not just a physical dying; it includes dying or putting aside the things that keep us from demonstrating love to others. One of the most valuable acts of love is making room in our busyness to listen. Love is taking an interest in the things happening in the lives of others. It is intentionally looking for ways and places to listen. It means being available when God puts opportunities in front of us to give our ears, hearts and hands to a neighbor.

 Of course, we can’t reach everyone around us. We a people limited by time and circumstances in our relationships. However, God is not so limited by our failures and oversights. This is why we live by his grace and mercy. He forgives us for our busyness and distraction. That forgives reminds us that people are his priority. He bestows his grace so that we can be renewed in our desire to love as we are loved. He is working out a plan for us to learn how to lay down our lives for others. He leads us by the Holy Spirit to desire to get to know the people he places in our path.

 By the way, it is never too late to get to know what is going on in your neighbor’s life. When you have learned of a need, even if you consider it late, send a card, make a call, or bring over the hot dish, because acts of love and kindness are always on time.

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