Non-Essential plus a few other thoughts

  • 99.6% survival rate from Covid-19
  • By being silent you are complicatedly standing with tyranny.
  • If a Christian refuses to vote then they will stand before God in judgement.
  • Pastors who open their doors to politicians who stand up for abortion have blood on their hands.
  • The true moral evil of socialism is stealing.
  • We’ve lost the fear of God therefore the church isn’t teaching it.
  • Why are we so silent?
  • Marxism’s goal – sew dissatisfaction

Excellent presentation, October 19th, 2020 – https://www.nonessential.live
Non-Essential, youtube – https://youtu.be/0gUzu99yTrA
About 2 hours worth, you can skip to 18 minutes, then when the national anthem is done, you can skip to 39 minutes

I would highly recommend taking 2 hours to view the previous link, but for those who would rather read a summary of some points plus a few added thoughts, then continue reading.

Dr Dan Erickson
We can’t legislate risk, have an overall 99.6% survival rate from Covid-19; need to protect the vunerable, be able to have free scientific discussions, let people get back to life as normal, and need to restore the republic to its former form of glory.

Pastor Rob McCoy from California
They have not had one case of Covid in their church and they have been open since May. Romans 13, the government is “WE THE PEOPLE”. You cannot say you are not political (i.e. pastors); you have chosen a political stand by being silent and complicatedly standing with tyranny.

Cissie Graham Lynch
You could replace the word politics with governance, who is going to rule over you. In 2016 over 40 million evangelicals did not vote. People say, “I don’t love either candidate”. When did love become a standard to vote for someone? We need not love the politician but the public policy that they will stand by. The time is past to leave faith inside the home. Abortion up to the time of birth is barbaric. If a Christian refuses to vote then they will stand before God in judgement. We need to fight for religious liberty. Children’s education is key. Do you want your kindergarten kids taught about LGBT for a month? Is it OK for an 8 year old to decide what sex they want to be? (15 second clip showing that Biden supports it, https://twitter.com/i/status/1316931434507063302)
The beauty of freedom was given to us by Christ, but it is a choice to be part of the solution. What are you going to do with it?

David Harris Jr
A movement has crept into the church that is satanic in nature; that movement is the Black Lives Matter movement. They choose to identify with the color of their skin instead of Christ. BLM is a Marxist, anti-God and anti-family movement. David’s wife was almost aborted, but her mom got up off the abortion table and chose life. Where are the pastors who aren’t standing up against abortion? Why are pastors opening their doors to politicians who stand up for abortion? There is blood on their hands. It is essential that believers vote for the party that supports life.

Charlie Kirktpusa.com
Activist Christians founded this country. Freedom and equality are key principles of this country’s founding. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said: ‘I will build my ekklesia.’
Ekklesia is tied to freedom and equality.

Steve Simms points out that an ekklesia was the governing body of an ancient Greek city-state and the world’s first expression of democracy… Everyone was considered equal in the ekklesia and any citizen present could participate and share his ideas, opinions, and concerns.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza points out in the Gospels a true, ground-up “ekklesia of equals” becomes a possibility in the new society initiated by Jesus.

Locking down America should go down as one of the worst decisions ever. They haven’t figured out how to control “We the People”. Everyone should get 10 others to the poles. Charlie is only going to sleep 3 hrs per night for the next 17 days as he speaks throughout the country.

Kirk Cameron
What do we do? Ask the very people who founded this country (Monumental documentary). The secret recipe, if we have ever lost our way is the National Monument to the Forefathers.
The right arm and hand of faith is pointing upward toward God, and the left hand holds an open Bible; below faith are morality, law, education, and liberty.
– Liberty – a warrior who has overcome the tyrant King of England who persecuted the Pilgrims for their deep religious beliefs.
– Morality – a woman holding a tablet of the 10 Commandments in her left hand and the scroll of Revelation in her right.
– Law – a man holding a Bible with his chair supported by justice and mercy.
– Education – a woman pointing to the Bible in her lap with her chair supported by wisdom and youth.

Dinesh D’Souza

The church is the sleeping giant of American politics. From the beginning of the US until a generation ago it was a Christian nation. But today we are living in a secular society. Our politics have taken a dark turn. Part of the agenda of the secular left is to move to socialism. People say they are going to make socialism work this time. Modern socialism is dividing America in many different ways, not just by economics. The goal of the secular left is to terrorize everyone, making us conform, live by their rules. What do we do about this? We have to create our own educational system, movies, etc. We have one giant unused megaphone, the church. The other side knows we are the nice guys who want to play by the rules; they know we are suckers. We need to realize that they take advantage of the fact that we play by the rules. The lion tamer and the lion story – if the lion is more powerful why is he following the lion tamer? The lion doesn’t realize its power. It’s time for we the church to roar.

The true moral evil of socialism is stealing. For example, go to your neighbor’s house, kick in the door and start eating their food. They say that your neighbor’s stuff is actually yours due to something that happened to your grandfather. They are suppressing our consciences and labeling it social justice.

The church needs to be addressing moral choice issues. We’ve lost the fear of God therefore the church isn’t teaching it. When talking to someone, first find out why they believe anti-moral things.

What needs to be said to the American pulpit? The Judeo Christian worldview is essential – need application of God’s word to all areas of our lives.

You have to do to them what they are doing to us or they will never stop.

The Soviets removed truth. It is evil to tell a young person there is no absolute truth. Christ did not just say truth, He was truth. The biggest sensors in America are You, we aren’t talking. Why are we so silent? Every single person who believes in truth has a moral obligation to never allow a lie to cross their path. We have to introduce truth.

Some of my thoughts beyond the previous summary of non-essentials.

Do we in the USA no longer fear God?
Does it matter if we no longer fear God?

The midwives, however, feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. Exodus 1:16-18

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7

Many of us may have never read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, or need a refresher, so the following is a brief overview to inform or refresh.

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Genesis 19:4-5

We are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” Genesis 19:13

Excellent documentary – “After Trump: A Warning to America”
https://salemnow.com/trump-2024/

William Federer (The American Minute)
Socialism promises a common good – they teach that the state is God walking on earth. They identify groups who are disgruntled, then sew dissatisfaction among them – Marxism.
The “1619 project” is brain washing by destroying the history.

Some key things the Democratic platform states:
– Supports “repealing the Hyde Amendment” to allow the government
to fund abortion.
– Supports insurance coverage of “gender transition,” including
“surgery and hormone therapy.”
– “We will ensure that all transgender and non-binary people can procure official government identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity.”
– Supports banning practices aimed at assisting patients with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria.
– “We will fight to enact the Equality Act” – a bill that would allow
biological men to play in women’s sports if they identify as
transgender women.
– “We will restore the United States’ position of leadership on
LGBTQ+ issues” and appoint “senior leaders directly responsible for
driving…LGBTQ+ issues within the federal government.”
– They cater to LGBTQ, whose life style is why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, is mentioned 32 times in the Democratic platform – none in Republican platform.
– Calls for VA medical benefits to include abortion and gender
“transition” services.

Election Day thoughts

From: BreakPoint – John Stonestreet
As you consider your presidential, state, and local vote, many issues are important. But a few, like the protection of innocent life, are essential.

Tomorrow is Election Day. And here’s some advice from Chuck Colson from a few years ago that applies even during this crazy 2016 campaign. “Vote as your conscience informs you. And allow your faith to inform your conscience.”

We must be morally informed and conscientious citizens who see voting as a civic duty. And to do so, we need to distinguish between those issues essential for Christians, and those that are matters of prudential judgment. As I wrote in an article for Decision magazine recently, the sacred value of every life, the essential institution that is marriage and family and the preservation of religious freedom are fundamental, essential issues. Others—such as minimum wage increases, gun control, education policy, health care—they matter, but they’re prudential. In fact, it will be impossible to get those issues right, if we don’t first establish that human value is intrinsic and universal, that no society survives without strong families, and that people are first of all allegiant to God, not the state.

When it comes to these essential issues, there can be no debate for Christians. Here at BreakPoint and the Colson Center, we’ll never tell you for whom to vote. But let me be blunt. The dignity of human life from conception through natural death is non-negotiable. And voting for a candidate or initiative that supports the killing of children in the womb or the early termination of the life of the elderly and the infirmed cannot be reconciled with the Christian faith.

As we say here often, politics isn’t everything, but it isn’t nothing, either. The fact is, one presidential candidate, during a nationally televised debate, defended not only abortion, but partial-birth abortion. And one party not only has forgotten its promise to make abortion “rare,” its current, 2016 platform supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which would force taxpayers—you and me—to pay for the abortions of Medicaid recipients.

In a powerful homily in October, the Very Reverend John Lankeit of the Phoenix Diocese told his Roman Catholic parishioners that they sin if they vote for candidates and platforms that support “intrinsic evils” such as abortion—harming their own souls and causing a scandal in the church. “Make no mistake,” he said. “There is no single issue that threatens innocent human life more directly, consistently, imminently, and urgently than the deliberate killing of baby boys and baby girls in their mother’s womb.” We have a “serious obligation to protect human life,” he added. “Whoever fails to do so, when able to do so, commits a serious sin of omission.”

Listen, voting is a moral act. But one nominee for vice president, like too many other politicians who claim Christian faith, says that though he is “personally opposed to abortion,” the government shouldn’t be involved in women’s “personal decisions.” One vice-presidential candidate received, despite his “personal convictions,” a “100 percent pro-choice voting record” designation from NARAL Pro-Choice America. There is no such thing as being personally opposed to abortion while publicly promoting it.

This candidate claims that his faith is central to everything he does, but as Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, said, “…apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life.”

The dignity of life is an essential issue for Christians. Period. It’s why I’ve spent considerable ink, airtime, energy, and strategy recently urging my fellow Coloradans to vote against Prop 106, which would legalize doctor assisted suicide.

Look, if we claim to be pro-life on Sundays, we must be pro-life on Election Tuesday as well. And, of course, the day after that and the day after that. In fact, we’ll be calling all BreakPoint listeners and readers to participate in March for Life and Sanctity of Life activities in January. And, our “21 Days for Life” Prayer guide, updated and expanded is back, and will soon be available as a downloadable app.

Until then, please vote. For Life.

A few excerpts from another of Chuck’s Articles

And let me say this. The next time you hear someone tell you that Christians ought to take a vacation from politics, tell them to go fly a kite. Listen, it’s our duty as citizens of the kingdom of God to be the best citizens of the society we live in.

If your pastor no longer has the energy or courage to motivate his flock to speak out on public issues, maybe you can lovingly “buck him up.” Remind him—or her—that God’s people are to love their neighbors, to desire the best for them, to pursue the common good. And we can’t do that on the political sidelines.

Go out and vote for the candidate of your choice. Vote as your conscience informs you. And yes, allow your faith to inform your conscience. But today of all days, thank God we still live in a free nation. So speak out. Exercise your right. Fulfill your duty. Go and vote.

Our Founders recognized that true rights come not from government, but from God Himself. Government must not take those rights away.

And to protect those rights, we must vote.

Why All The Silence, God

Why All The Silence, God – Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer

God’s silence should never be interpreted as the indifference of God.

The silence of God should be interpreted as part of the purpose of God.

How else can we grow in faith?

We know that God is with us, but sometimes it appears that He is not for us but against us.

Even John the Baptist had doubts.

Christians take promises that are intended for the future as if they are for today, then wonder what is happening.

Trust Him no matter what.

That trust gladdens the heart of God.

Unanswered Prayer – Dr Cindy Guthrie Ryan

Unanswered Prayer
Dr. Cindy Guthrie Ryan

The doctor delivered the news to the wife just after I introduced myself as the hospital chaplain, “Your husband has no heartbeat. He is not breathing on his own. We are working as hard as we can. But, it doesn’t look good.”

The wife’s shocked and terrified eyes met mine. Before I could offer to pray, she was on her knees there in the ER Family Room. No one ever gets good news in the Family Room. But, I’d never seen anyone go to their knees there either. Deep from her soul came the prayer, two words repeated over and over and over, “Please God, please God, please God, please, please, please.” I didn’t have much to add to the prayer, so I simply stayed beside her and added my own silent prayers for mercy, comfort, peace… anything at all.

Agonizing time went by until the doctor returned shaking his head. Her husband, age 49, was dead. The “Please God” prayers she’d prayed echoed around that tiny room mocking her faith and now mixing in with her cries of grief and anguish.

Studies have shown that people who pray and who have a spiritual component in their lives tend to experience less stress and depression; recover more quickly from illnesses and even live longer. Some studies have shown that specific prayers can actually cause a change in a person or a physical outcome. One study even showed that people who were being prayed for recovered more quickly than those who were not prayed for…even when all the subjects of the study didn’t know anyone was praying. Prayer is powerful.

But what do we say about unanswered prayers; those prayers that seem to fall into a black hole? What do we say when entire communities are praying for the child with leukemia and still he dies? What do we say when planes crash, buildings collapse, wars rage, illness strikes or one particular family suffers cruel loss after cruel loss? What if 10,000 Disciples pray and our denomination still declines?

You’ve seen it and so have I. Maybe you’ve even been in the midst of it. “Please God, please God, please.” You know that gut wrenching, from-the-heart prayer.

Once, in the midst of an uncertain time, I became bold enough to demand that God speak to me and answer my distress. I asked for an answer, for direction, anything…and then I listened. Never in my life, have I heard such deafening, sickening silence. All I could hear was nothing.

What do we say to that? How powerful is prayer when it comes from deep within us but seemingly God is busy with other things? How powerful is prayer when it encompasses all we are, all we feel and all we desire and God silently turns away?

In the area of spirituality and theology, experts abound. I’ve heard and read many “experts” postulating why some prayers go unanswered. Some say prayers go unanswered because the one praying has forgiveness issues to resolve. Others say it is because we don’t know how to pray as we ought to. Some say unanswered prayers are simply the ones which don’t align with God’s will or that we are not in proper fellowship with God. Others theorize that it must be that the person praying is lacking faith. One scholar even denied the reality of unanswered prayers saying simply, “there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer.” Country singer Garth Brooks even managed to get in on the theories singing “…some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I’m not sure any of the theories hold up if you are the one on your knees in the ER family room pleading, “Please God, please God, please.” Or, if you are Jesus crying out to God, “…if you are willing, let this cup pass from me….” (Luke 22:42). Or Paul who writes of asking God over and over to remove his thorn in the flesh, but it did not happen. (2 Corinthians 12: 8-9). Unanswered prayers are when the husband dies anyway; when the cup does not pass from even Jesus’ lips; when Paul’s thorn is not removed, not the first time or the second time or even the third time he asks. It simply does not happen.

Truly, if prayers are answered or not based on our ability to be close to God, fully forgiving, properly faithful and only asking for the “right” things, then I imagine we are all in trouble. If somehow the answer to prayer depends upon our prayer technique and our ability to properly attach ourselves to God, then, let’s face it, we’re doomed.

The older I get, the more years I spend in ministry and in parenting and in life, I find the less expertise I have…the less I really have to say about anything. I really don’t know why life is so painful for some. I really don’t know what to say about some of the tragedy, injustice or evil I’ve seen. If someone asks me a “why” question these days, I certainly don’t try to answer it, what do I know, after all?

But, one thing I do know is that when we pray…when we fall to our knees crying, “Please God” or when we demand an answer or join with a whole community in praying or when we simply sit beside someone silently praying for some unnamed something… we have moved from the place where we control our destiny to a different place. When we realize we just might not be able to figure this one out on our own… when we realize that our physical lives are finite and that the people we care about will not be around forever…when we arrive at that place…the place of crying out… of falling down…of screaming kinds of prayers…no matter what the answer or lack of answer… we’ve arrived. “Please God, please God, please” is just another way of saying “Suddenly, I realize I am not going to be able to handle this alone. I am not going to be able to control it, fix it, outsmart it or micromanage it. My life, O God, is in your hands I am in your hands.”

When we get there, to that soul-laid-out before-God-place, we’ve arrived. When we stand or kneel or lay ourselves out before God, vividly aware that this life is not all about us…or our requests…then we have arrived at the incredible place of trusting in the mystery and the love which gave us life in the first place. It is the place where we know without a doubt that we are not our own, we are God’s. At that place, it is not the answers that matter so much as to Whom we belong.

I’ve seen people who have lived through horrendous losses and tragedies, and yet somehow have peace. Clearly, their most fervent prayers went unanswered. Peace and comfort and inner joy probably don’t come from specific prayers answered or not answered…those gifts must come from finding oneself face to face with God and enfolded in something bigger than even the stumbling words of our very best prayers. To finally understand that we are utterly and completely God’s, and to, in that same moment, be wrapped in the transforming light of God’s presence, is to have arrived.

“Please God; please God, please, please, please.” Maybe it’s not so much the answer that brings the power to our prayers, it’s simply the place.

Does God Always Answer Prayer?

CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, the cultivation of a psychology of uncritical belief is not an unqualified good, and if carried too far it may be a positive evil. The whole world has been booby-trapped by the devil, and the deadliest trap of all is the religious one. Error never looks so innocent as when it is found in the sanctuary.

One field where harmless-looking but deadly traps appear in great profusion is the field of prayer. There are more sweet notions about prayer than could be contained in a large book, all of them wrong and all highly injurious to the souls of men.

I think of one such false notion that is found often in pleasant places consorting smilingly with other notions of unquestionable orthodoxy. It is that God always answers prayer.

This error appears among the saints as a kind of all-purpose philosophic therapy to prevent any disappointed Christian from suffering too great a shock when it becomes evident to him that his prayer expectations are not being fulfilled. It is explained that God always answers prayer, either by saying Yes or by saying No, or by substituting something else for the desired favor.

Now, it would be hard to invent a neater trick than this to save face for the petitioner whose requests have been rejected for non-obedience. Thus when a prayer is not answered he has but to smile brightly and explain, “God said No.” It is all so very comfortable. His wobbly faith is saved from confusion and his conscience is permitted to lie undisturbed. But I wonder if it is honest.

To receive an answer to prayer as the Bible uses the term and as Christians have understood it historically, two elements must be. present:
(1) A clear-cut request made to God for a specific favor.
(2) A clear-cut granting of that favor by God in answer to the request. There must be no semantic twisting, no changing of labels, no altering of the map during the journey to help the embarrassed tourist to find himself.

When we go to God with a request that He modify the existing situation for us, that is, that He answer prayer, there are two conditions that we must meet:
(1) We must pray in the will of God and
(2) we must be on what old-fashioned Christians often call “praying ground”; that is, we must be living lives pleasing to God.

It is futile to beg God to act contrary to His revealed purposes. To pray with confidence the petitioner must be certain that his request falls within the broad will of God for His people.

The second condition is also vitally important. God has not placed Himself under obligation to honor the requests of worldly, carnal or disobedient Christians. He hears and answers the prayers only of those who walk in His way.
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (I John 3:21, 22; John 15:7).

God wants us to pray and He wants to answer our prayers, but He makes our use of prayer as a privilege to commingle with His use of prayer as a discipline. To receive answers to prayer we must meet God’s terms. If we neglect His commandments our petitions will not be honored. He will alter situations only at the request of obedient and humble souls.

The God-always-answers-prayer sophistry leaves the praying man without discipline. By the exercise of this bit of smooth casuistry he ignores the necessity to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, and actually takes God’s flat refusal to answer his prayer as the very answer itself. Of course such a man will not grow in holiness; he will never learn how to wrestle and wait; he will never know correction; he will not hear the voice of God calling him forward; he will never arrive at the place where he is morally and spiritually fit to have his prayers answered. His wrong philosophy has ruined him.

That is why I turn aside to expose the bit of bad theology upon which his bad philosophy is founded. The man who accepts it never knows where he stands; he never knows whether or not he has true faith, for if his request is not granted he avoids the implication by the simple dodge of declaring that God switched the whole thing around and gave him something else. He will not allow himself to shoot at a target, so he cannot tell how good or how bad a marksman he is.

Of certain persons James says plainly: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” From that brief sentence we may learn that God refuses some requests because they who make them are not morally worthy to receive the answer. But this means nothing to the one who has been seduced into the belief that God always answers prayer. When such a man asks and receives not he passes his hand over the hat and comes up with the answer in some other form. One thing he clings to with great tenacity: God never turns anyone away, but invariably grants every request.

The truth is that God always answers the prayer that accords with His will as revealed in the Scriptures, provided the one who prays is obedient and trustful. Further than this we dare not go.

Learning to Listen

Learning To Listen – Listening To Learn

Related Media

August 29, 2005 saw one of the most deadly storms of recent U.S. history hit the shores of New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina unleashed 100+ mph winds and torrential rains across the city. The storm, over 400 miles in diameter, didn’t just leave wind and rain in its wake, it also led to the failure of the city’s aging levee system which caused massive destruction and even death across the city. For anyone who remembers seeing those images, you also saw the chaos and helplessness that followed as people were being rescued off rooftops by boat. Many took shelter in the Superdome which was also a scene of chaos and violence itself. It was a shocking and horrific scene, one which we are not accustomed to seeing in the U.S., and the recovery is still ongoing.

In the days that followed, many of those evacuated from New Orleans came to cities in Texas who rose to the challenge in an honorable and compassionate way by providing shelter, food and other necessary services. One of those places of refuge was the (now dismantled) Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. It is in that setting this story takes place.

I had been called as part of a team of volunteer chaplains to go in to Reunion and provide pastoral care to one of the first groups that arrived. I don’t mind confessing my anxiety as I entered the arena. I had no idea what to expect and I was fearful considering all I had seen at the Superdome. It was full of people of all ages, some milling about the concourse and some sitting on the rows and rows of green army cots that had been set up on the floor. However, it was quiet and orderly and I was encouraged to see so much help available to the evacuees.

I stood for a moment at the chaplains’ table where we were headquartered and prayed for “holy radar” – that God would lead me to the people who needed my help. As I walked along the rows of cots, mostly empty with a few adults and children scattered about, I noticed in particular one frail woman sitting very properly, knees together and hands folded resting on her lap. I sat down on the cot next to hers, our knees facing, and asked if she would like to talk. She readily accepted my offer.

And then, in a very quiet, measured voice, she began to tell me her story. She and her husband lived in one of the many homes that had flooded and had to be rescued from their rooftop. Not only that, but they were also caretakers to her disabled mother who had been a stroke patient. The mother was totally bed-ridden. As they were deposited from the boat onto dry land, they somehow made their way, with the mother, to the Superdome. Soon after they got there her husband realized it was not a good place to be and insisted they leave. He didn’t know how, but he knew they couldn’t stay in a place so volatile and desperate. So again, all three of them made their way down the highway. They walked for miles, each carrying the disabled mother, until the mother couldn’t take the stress any longer. She died along the way. Another victim of Hurricane Katrina.

The couple had no choice but to continue to walk, in spite of their grief and shock and with the body in tow. Soon after, a truck came along the road, miraculously driven by an acquaintance of the husband. The bed of the truck was already full of people trying to leave the city. The lady went on to tell me how her husband begged the man to please give them a ride as he was their only hope. The driver finally agreed, under one condition, “You can’t bring that body,” he said.

So, with tears streaming down her face but still perfectly composed, the lady looked at me and said, “So I had to leave my mother on the side of the road. That’s the hardest thing I ever did.” And then she said one thing I will never forget as long as I live, “Thank you for letting me tell you my story.”

Thank me? Thank me? I sat in stunned silence as the magnitude of what I had just heard set in. I couldn’t have spoken if I had wanted to. Even today the story overwhelms me. But it taught me a valuable lesson – which is many times the most beneficial thing we can do for each other is to listen to one another’s stories. I am reminded of a quote, “Over and over again, I am struck by the transforming significance and profound simplicity of the ministry of listening.”

James 1:19 gives us a Scriptural example, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (NKJV). Scripture itself encourages us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Two perfect guidelines for practicing pastoral care skills to those in need of comfort or just affirmation. Be ready to listen, and slow to speak.

However, this skill does not come naturally to most of us, and to become a good listener requires focus and practice as does the acquisition of any worthwhile skill. Our minds are busy; we’re thinking of what we have to do that day, we’re distracted by our cell-phones, our iPads, our own thoughts, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say next, we glance at our watch, we fidget. In other words, we want our friend to hurry up and talk so we can get on with our lives. But is this helpful? Is it healing? Does this show respect? And most of all, is this how Jesus encountered others?

No. Jesus stopped. He listened. Jesus was fully present with all He encountered – He gave them His full attention. He called people by their name. He let them tell their story. He was never in a hurry. He mourned with them and was present in their pain.

As members of the body of Christ, and particularly women who have sought out this article to read, you WILL have the opportunity to do this. When people are in crisis, grief or pain, they need someone to share it with. Always remember, at times like this your presence and keen listening may be your greatest gift. Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “Christians so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others – that is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.”

And here’s another Bonheoffer quote of encouragement, “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship is listening to them. Just as the love of God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is listening to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His word, but also lends us His ear.”

So how do we do this? What are the skills necessary to become a good listener? Below I will list 10 Tools for Effective Listening. Prayerfully and patiently begin to incorporate these into the next time you are in the position someone needs a sympathetic ear.

  • Face the speaker – maintain eye contact
  • Be attentive, yet relaxed
  • Keep an open mind – do not judge
  • Listen to the words and try to picture in your mind the event or thought being described
  • Do not interrupt!
  • Do not impose your solutions or try to fix
  • Wait for the speaker to pause to ask limited clarifying questions. Ask questions for clarification only, not to probe for further details or to be intrusive.
  • Try to feel what the speaker is feeling
  • Give the speaker regular feedback; restate, summarize, reflect, validate, encourage
  • Pay attention to what isn’t said – feelings, facial expressions, gestures, posture or other non-verbal cues

Please note that you should always hold everything your friend has said in the strictest of confidence, even if that has not been stated. People are sometimes unusually open and vulnerable in times of crisis and nothing they say needs to be repeated outside of the confidence in which they have spoken to you.

Perhaps another way to look at being a good listener is to look at the other side of the coin. How do you know when someone is NOT listening? My husband and I were at a Family Life conference once and the speaker shared the following. After the session, I quickly went to the front and asked if he would share this with me, which I copied from his notes (written by Dave Rober):

I’m Not Listening

When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking, I’m not listening.

When I give unsolicited advice, I’m not listening.

When I suggest they shouldn’t feel the way they do, I’m not listening.

When I apply a quick fix, I’m not listening.

When I fail to acknowledge their feelings, I’m not listening.

When I fail to maintain eye contact, I’m not listening.

When I don’t ask follow-up questions, I’m not listening.

When I top their story with a bigger, better story of my own, I’m not listening.

When they share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own, I’m not listening.

Really, all I have to do is listen. I don’t have to talk, just listen.

We are all guilty of some of these, and most of the time we mean well – we really do want to help and be a good friend, we just don’t have the tools. It has been the goal of this article to give you the ability and some concrete methods of being the good listener and friend we desire to be. Be patient with yourself. As stated earlier, proficiency requires practice, but you can do this. Not only will you succeed, with the power of the Holy Spirit, you can be an outstanding representative of Him.

You have sought this website and this article because you are in ministry or you are looking for Bible-based tools to help you in your journey. Hopefully, you see now the tool of being a good listener doesn’t just have value within the body of Christ – it has value in every area of your life. These skills transfer. You will be a better spouse, parent, employee, professional, staff member, or whatever. Ask God to help you do this – He will. And the more you employ the practice of being a good listener, the better you will become, showing His love to all through your compassion and presence.

“The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.”

Proverbs 16:21

Health

The best book I’ve ever read on health – Prescription for Life

Basically it says we need to do three things:

  • Keep our weight close to ideal.
  • Watch what we eat.
  • Exercise property.

Correct weight and exercise do not totally compensate for eating badly.