Aside

LISTENING

I can not shake the need to write about ‘Listening’.  In particular Listening to The Lord.  Listening to Him after I pray, Listening to Him in the quiet times, Listening to Him in the times of confusion.  Active Listening, a term I have carried around for many years and tried, with varying degrees of success, to practice. My definition is as follows;

 

“Active Listening is the ability to listen without thinking about my agenda.  And responding with a question about what the speaker was talking about, not a statement about me and a similar situation and/or personnel statement. When we are engaged with someone in a conversation it is amazing when one practices ‘Active Listening’.  Which means that one person is engaged in the other persons narrative. 

After we pray, see a great sunset, or feel lost in the surge of humanity – do we Listen for God.  Listen to Him without thinking about our To-Do-List.  Actually, do we even pause at all?  When we Listen to God how do we recognize His voice?  Amongst all the chaos of today – politics, advertising, image products, esteem.  How can we sort it all out and say with confidence “The Lord has spoken to me?”.  Look to His Word to sort out the garbage of this world to define the wisdom of His Words for your life.  If the voices we hear contradict scripture then they are not from God.  You have Listened to the wrong voice, you are following your own agenda, you are not Actively Listening.  Ask/Pray to God about that decision, action, relationship, and Listen.  Listen by asking him questions you develop from His Word.  God’s wisdom and voice is found in the Bible.

Luke 2:46-47

After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.”

listening to them and asking them questions —- Jesus was ‘Actively Listening’.  He asked them questions about their statements and they were “astounded“.  Next time someone is telling you about a problem and/or situation practice what Jesus demonstrated – Listen, Actively.

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IS THIS A BATTLE, OR IS IT WAR?

There will come a time, actually many times will come, throughout life at which you will need to decide – is this situation a Battle or is it War.  What is the difference?  General Patton once said “you’ve got to lose a few battles to win a war”.  I often remember, when raising my children, that I had to ‘Lose a few battles’.  The condition of ‘War’ meant no quarter, no mercy, no prisoners – win at all cost!  A fact that I attempted to drill into their heads.  I would not lose the War!  And just what defined a ‘War’ over a battle?

A battle might be the constant effort, yelling, threatening, and discipline over cleaning their bedrooms.  One time I took a leaf rake to one of my daughter’s room and raked all the trash (plates, rock solid chunks of food, clothes that fit them 4 years earlier — under the bed looked like an episode of Fraggle Rock).

For the next week my daughter simply walked around the pile in the middle of her room. If the pile hadn’t developed an organic life and walked out by itself (has since appeared in two made-for-cable B horror movies) I would have had to consider hiring a Hazmat trash collector.

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After bagging up the “Fraggle” Rock Heap.  I asked myself, how can I solve this without using a combination of Duck Tape & a locked Closet.  So I shut her door and told her to leave it closed (in contrast to my previous open-door policy). And that as long as she kept the trash fumes to a non-combustion level, It was okay with me.

pasted-image 2Yes, I had surrendered.  Thrown in the towel. Inconsistent parenting. Gave up. Chickened out. And the list goes on.

The important point is that I decided to lose this ‘Battle of the Bedroom Trash Monster’.  Because the battle was only causing a situation of frustration for me and I found that I

was yelling, threatening, and demanding – quite frequently.  How was this demonstrating Unconditional love, how were my actions encouraging, kind, gentle, and instructional. I was a parent not a boot camp drill instructor.  I decided to lose this battle, and save my army and strength to fight a War…..

And just what is the difference?

If I asked you that question – your answer?  For me it was any of the below.

Faith

Drugs

Friends with loose morals, weak characters

School

Respect

Violate any of these tenants and I was prepared to declare War.  Which meant doing whatever it took to win. Change jobs so I could work the night shift. Hire a retired Black Ops soldier to be my Recon and enforcer.

Basically, I would have been willing to take a bullet to win the War.  Which meant winning a child – helping them to get over the early hurdles.

Digital Blindness

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How often are you in a group and the majority of the people are on their smart phones, tablets?  You know, but do not want to admit it, that you are one of those people.  Like the alcoholic that does not admit they have a problem, or it applies to other people not them.  No it applies to you!  I have witnessed family and friends sit at dinner, over coffee, enjoying a evening of wine and a fire —- hitting their devices playing an online game, checking the weather – basically interacting with their device rather than the people they care about.  What happened to manners?  When did being rude become acceptable?

I have observed some people thinking that they are crafty enough to secretly use their DRD’s (Digitally Rude Device) off to the side, on their lap.  This is crafty – with their bent heads (you end up talking to their foreheads or top of their head) and mono word answers to everything “huh” “O” “right” “yea” —– basically they exhibit the conversational intellect of a mentally challenged slug.

Okay, let’s get one point corrected.  I know that most reading this so far have formed an opinion (based on your denial that the person I am describing so far is not you – ya, right!) that I am a dinosaur, old fart, using a flip phone or phone-in-a-satchel (I am that old, look it up).  No, quite the opposite, I am a 65+ year old geek that has always used the latest electronic device, and not just used it, but take the time and effort to understand how it functions.  I hold classes on how to configure your IPhone & IPad.  Yes, I am a Dinosaur, only in age not in Digital Knowledge.  I love technology and consider it a hobby.  So much for the theory you had formulated.  So what is my problem?  For one – stop being so defensive and at least accept the fact that on more than one occasion you choose your DRD over conversation, eye contact, verbal engagement.  If you can not admit to that then don’t read any further – trash the rest and  continue to live in denial.

As I sit (in a local cafe, 730am) drafting parts of this letter just two tables over sit a young family (Child in highchair, parents in mid twenties, professional looking) – the mother/wife is eating and on her smart phone, the husband/father is eating and also on his phone playing a game or checking the market (who cares).  Lacking attention, and for an infant this equates to love, I am making googoo stuff with the kid.  What is he learning?  Apart from weird old man making faces, he is learning that as soon as possible he wants one of those boxes so he can be just like mommy and daddy.  And when he gets older that is how he will not only treat his kids, but his old mommy and daddy whenever he visits — no communication just playing with his DRD.  What goes around comes around.  That family has missed an opportunity.  Every time we choose our DRD over interaction, conversation, involvement – we care less, learn less, and in general have Missed An Opportunity.

For one day – no computer, , no tv, no radio, no phone, no tablet/pad/touch/pod —- no whatever is electronic.  Instead – talk, play games, walk, make eye contact, hold someones hand.

One morning I sat at a great Bistro type place with outdoor sitting.  I sat alone outside as it was an overcast, cold day.  Facing one of the floor to ceiling windows I observed a couple (I would say late fifties or early sixties).  He had his Tablet standing up and was reading something on the internet, looked to be a digital newspaper.  She was drinking her coffee looking this way, that way, my way, his way.  She tried to talk several times, but he answered (I think) in short ‘yea’ ‘right’ ‘ok’ – she looked bored out of her mind.  Her lonely eyes caught mine from time to time.  I feel like going in and asking her is she wants to come outside and have a conversation.  What a missed opportunity he is having – she needs to ‘accidentally’ spill her coffee on his keyboard.

 

The next time you are visiting someone I challenge you to not use your phone.   Turn it off and enjoy the company, I’ll bet you can not do it……..!!!!!!!!!

BENDED KNEE

You may be wondering why I seem to have increased the frequency of my blasts of base line common sense (little brained thoughts).  It appears that I have the time to be more purposeful in my scheduling.  I have some health issues that I am battling over the last month or two.  It has made me somewhat of a couch potato.

I could detail a graphic picture for you on my condition, but that only is a veiled attempt to solicit a big Oooooooo.  There are days and isolated moments when I am depressed, angry, and sad.  Sometimes all at once, that’s fun.  And yet through the weekly Doctor visits, medications, surgery, hospital, discomfort, pain, and the knowledge that the future is now a different normal —- through all of that I have learned again that why do I feel the closest to the Lord when I am on “Bended Knee”.

Praying when things are going great, good, or just ok – is like autopilot.  When we get personally involved either through a loved one or being the object of attention, it becomes intense, real, and scary. So we, as Christians, get on Bended Knee and Pray.  For me I am unable to get physically on my knees, but that is not the point, is it?  Bended Knee is when we are broken to the point that we know it is beyond our control.  At that point do we either crash and burn or through watery eyes lift our hearts to God and cry out “Help Me”.  Nothing fancy, no structured prayer ladder, no quoting of verses – “Help me my God, for I can not face this alone”.  When you say it and mean it – then you are on Bended Knee.

I am reminded of the old quote that I came across early in my Christian walk – “to be healed, you need to be broken”.  Sometimes, when you are broken (as I am right now) you wonder if it is possible to be healed, because it is hard to look beyond the physical.  Yet I know that is what He seeks, healing on a spiritual level – it is just a shame that most times we need to be broken on a physical and/or emotional level for our Knees to Bend in sincere Prayer.

When you are the object of the Prayers, when you are the one asking for healing, when you are the one waking in the middle of the night with a crying heart, when you are the one that feels the pain of uncertainty, when you are the one that cries out “Lord Hear My Prayers”, when you are the one on Bended Knee……….it is not easy.  And yet there are times when I know it’s all I have, there are times when it is hard to accept, hard to pray.  And yet I know that I can not stop for He hears me.  I pray that I am worthy of His attention.

I Pray for strength to look up to Him and take His hand as He lifts me up from my Knees.

BENDED