Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Listen and Obey

These are the words of Jesus
Matt. 7:24-27   Hear my words and put them into practice.
Matt. 13:9, 43  He who has ears, let him hear.
Mark 4:3          Listen!
Mark 4:9, 23    He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 4:24        Consider carefully what you hear.
Mark 7:14        Listen to me, everyone.
Luke 8:8          He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Luke 11:28      Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
Luke 14:35      He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
John 6:45        Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.
John 8:31        If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.
John 8:51        I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.
John 14:15      If you love me you will obey what I command.  
John 14:21      Whoever has my commands & obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
John 14:23      If anyone loves me he will obey my teaching.
John 15:14      You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 18:37      Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.
Rev. 2:7           He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. 2:29         He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. 2:11         He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. 2:17         He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. 2:29         He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Rev. 3:3           Remember... what you have received and heard. Obey it and repent.

Help us listen to you and obey you. Jesus certainly tells us repeatedly in your Word to “listen and obey.” The long list of Bible references to Jesus saying either listen, obey or both surprised me. It’s good you are patient because most of us have a hard time listening to anyone except ourselves. I confess I do.

Help us take time to listen. Teach us to bring even minor issues to you that trouble us and pray about them from our hearts. And listen. Your reassuring presence often comes when we do this. Some years ago I prayed about a difficult struggle with another person. You gave me a visual image of us kneeling side by side and you had a hand on each of our heads blessing us. I realized that you had brought us together and we could work things out. This was a turning point in our struggle and I thank you for this. Listening makes a difference.

I’m listening to you by studying the red words in the Bible. I remind myself these are words Jesus spoke! This keeps me focused on your will and shows me my flaws, failures – SINS. I confess and repent and accept your forgiveness. This is not easy.
Lord, obeying you is also difficult. We have as much difficulty obeying as we do listening. Obedience is not a word I’ve ever liked, though I enjoy singing “Trust and Obey!”  You have told me several specific things you wanted me to do. I struggled with each one and questioned it. When I finally obeyed, your directions led me on new paths which stretched me and blessed me beyond my dreams. I want to listen, trust and obey! Forgive our rebellious hearts. Help us learn there’s no other way but to trust and obey.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In Praise of Pastors

Last year I read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, a biography of the noted pastor who became a martyr during Hitler’s reign. Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught pastors, focusing on their prayer life as well as their knowledge of Scripture. Metaxas writes,”Bonhoeffer took preaching seriously. For him a sermon was nothing less than the very word of God, a place where God would speak to his people. . . Preaching was not merely an intellectual exercise….It was a holy privilege to be the vessel through whom God would speak.”

Pastors have a high calling from God and are most effective when, like Bonhoeffer, “they are entirely in God’s grasp.” Pastors engage in a demanding vocation. They need to be love, appreciated, encouraged and supported.

Pastors have played a huge role in my life. My father, grandfather and a brother-in-law were pastors. Here’s an excerpt from Changing Churches about pastors:

Pastors perform a variety of tasks and are on call, day in and day out. My father wrote in an old diary, "I’m excited about my first church, but it’s   hard to imagine giving up my  
Sundays and my weekends for the rest of my life."

Pastors follow a different schedule than most of us. They give up their weekends and 
holidays —because they’re working. They’re in demand at odd hours—when people are sick, when tragedy strikes, and on happy occasions like weddings. Often their family life is slighted.

Pastors also suffer from the apathy of members. Parents who pour their hearts into their children know how it hurts when their children are indifferent. This is also true for pastors. John MacArthur says, “The toughest thing to deal with in the ministry is indifference.” Spurgeon, in the late nineteenth century, said the same thing, “Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false. A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter it is the better.”

Pastors and leaders are under attack from needy or disgruntled church members. They can’t possibly meet the expectations of every member, and Satan also is after them!

Chuck Swindoll, in his book, The Church Awakening says, “Any pastor who is doing the hard work of communicating the truth—and also living it—lives with a big, bold bull’s-eye on his chest. Every courageous pastor who speaks the truth is under the gun. He is in the direct line of fire from the adversary. . . Pray for your pastor! He needs it more than you can imagine. I urge you also to let him know of your commitment to pray for him.”

Christians, respect, value, and love your pastors and pray for them daily. They are human and have a difficult and holy job.

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Q.  My husband and I never quite understand each other. Our communication always adds to the tension between us instead of making things better. When I try to explain my reasons for something he gets upset. He gets testy when I give my opinion or when I give him advice about something. We get along fine in many ways. Why is communication in marriage so difficult? What can I do to improve our communication?

A. Most of us have difficulty understanding our spouses and accepting them as they are.  Instead we often reject our spouse’s ideas and feelings. We’re not doing this purposely or maliciously. We do it unwittingly because we are wrapped up in ourselves and in our own perspective. In order to truly connect we must see things from the other person’s point of view. This is not easy because it involves letting go of our own perceptions and letting go of our belief that we know what’s best for our spouse or our belief that they can’t figure out their problems without our advice or our correction.

Ineffective Communication in Marriage          
There are a number of ways in which you may be rejecting your husband’s ideas  - without realizing it. From his view point you are dismissing his comments whenever you jump right in to explain, defend, apologize, attack, give advice, question or correct. 
Notice your responses and learn to recognize which tactics you use most often with your husband. You may say,
“What I meant was...” (Explaining or Defending),
“But you did such and such...” (Attacking),
“Why don’t you...?” (Advising),
“Why do you think that?” (Questioning),
“What you really mean is...” (Correcting)
All of these responses negate or reject your husband’s feelings or ideas. They don’t accept him as he is. They don’t validate his ideas or feelings. Instead of these habitual responses you will need to learn to listen to him from his point of view. Then your responses will be ones in which you reflect, clarify, explore or extend what his thoughts are. These responses will feel supportive to him even though you aren’t necessarily agreeing with him.

Effective Communication in Marriage 
Suppose for example your husband describes a problem he is having at work. To reflect or mirror his communication you would respond by summarizing what you heard him say. This will encourage your husband to express his feelings about the work problem. If your husband doesn't continue you might say, "I wonder if you're angry and disappointed (or whatever you think he is feeling) about that." Identifying with what your husband has experienced and empathizing with him will help you establish contact.

You can also say,
 “Are you saying...?” (Clarifying), 
“Tell me more about that.”  (Exploring) and
“I can see that you you also feel...?” (Extending).
When someone catches our meaning we feel understood. This helps us feel connected to the other person. It’s essential to mirror, empathize and validate our spouses. When this type of communication occurs we feel safe because we are accepted and loved just as we are. 

Learning to do this will take practice, persistence and some humility.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


John 4:23-24  A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshippers worship him in spirit and in truth.

A note in my Bible says “genuine worship involves both fact and faith.” Our mind and our heart are both involved; our reason and our will join our heart and our soul. Worshipping in spirit means we aren’t just going through the motions but have reached an inner submission to you. We’ve given our hearts to you. Worshipping in truth means our minds also believe that we worship the one true God – the God revealed in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. We worship and love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We aren’t doing the “Hokey Pokey” with one foot out. We’re all in it. Help us do this Lord. We can only do it with your Holy Spirit.
Lord, I do worship you in spirit and in truth. You are my Lord and Savior. You are the Way, The Truth and the Life. You are the Creator, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You gave your Son to save us and your Spirit to indwell us. You are the one true God. We bow before you with awe and wonder and praise your holy name.