The Art of Listening

24 Jun

If there was one thing my mother was good at, it was listening. I could always count on her to hear me out. As a know-it-all kid of course we butted heads many times but she was always actively engaged in the moment. She wanted to hear what I had to say so she could respond appropriately.

I’ve been noticing a dangerous trend in our country.

There used to be what they called a, “community ethic.” We were all pretty much on the same page. Conversation or, “small talk” was by and large pretty easy. We showed each other common courtesy. It seems those days are all but gone in some circles.

It’s perfectly normal to be passionate about your beliefs, we all have personal convictions, but the polarization in America is getting out of control . . . and the ear splitting silence of the media is deafening.

I heard a comedian this morning talking about how we’re watching two different movies in our culture. That’s a perfect description. The problem is we’re no longer talking to each other. We’re even past the point of talking at or over each other. In fact most of us don’t talk at all because it will invariably lead to a headline topic and begin to go south in a hurry.

In a free society you can agree to disagree, it’s okay. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong it’s a matter of respect.

During a conversation most of us, if we’re honest, aren’t paying much attention to what’s actually being said. We’re already thinking about what we’re gonna say next, or our mind will wander off into other areas of life, things that need to get done, places we need to be. Listening is an art form, it takes concentration and real effort; it doesn’t come naturally. We’re self centered by nature, we can’t help it. But if we don’t get a handle on this somebody’s gonna get hurt.

God give us patience, a genuine interest in hearing the opinions of others, hearts that want to be part of the solution not the problem..for Your glory.

Amen

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Boundless Devotion

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Five Words of Hope in the Face of Horrific Evil and Pain

25 Feb

When horrific evil and terror unfold before our very eyes, there is a temptation to lose sight of the verities that ought to sustain and comfort us. Here are some words of hope to cling to. Hold them close.

1. God is good all the time.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8). “For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Ps. 106:1). “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).

2. God is near to the broken-hearted.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “He heals the brokenhearted, And binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works” (Psalm 73:28). “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

3. The delay of God’s justice isn’t the absence of God’s justice.

“He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7). “But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:7-9).

4. God is sovereign over our pain and works it for our good.

God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. (Psalm 103:19). “Who is there who speaks and it happens, unless the Lord has ordained it? Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?… Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD” (Lam. 3:37-40). “The steps of a man are established by the LORD; And He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

5. God will one day wipe every tear from our eyes.

“For the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). “He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’” (Revelation 21:4-5)

Peter Cockrell

Can You Hear the Cries of the Fatherless?

20 Jan

My heart has always been for kids. Not so much as a kid, but after I had my own it was over.

Growing up in a divorced setting myself, I always took special care to make sure they knew mine were loved. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort but you have to be intentional about it.

Mainly all they wanna know is that you’re interested. Kids internalize just about everything. If you don’t spend time investing emotional capital into their young lives they’ll find it elsewhere.

Somebody will pick up on that and end up becoming their primary source of information. It needs to be you bud.

I know maybe nobody showed you how, or worse yet raised you to believe that men don’t think about such things . . . not to over analyze, but you’ve got a solemn obligation to them and to society to be there.

Our culture is slowly veering out of control because fathers and their kids aren’t connecting anymore. Manhood is almost viewed as adolescent behavior, something our culture needs to grow out of. But true manhood is what holds it all together.

Roll up your sleeves and get busy man will ya? 👊😯

What is manhood?

God is Faithful

13 Jan

I don’t know about you but I’ve always had a tendency to try and control the outcome of things in my life. I believed that as long as you put in enough effort at something you inevitably reap the rewards, like planting seed or even cooking the harvest. That has some truth to it but if you’re a believer the, “outcome” is more of and outgrowth, determined by your level of faith.

I’m not talking about how much faith you have, or some kinda name it claim it nonsense, I mean how you’re trusting God with the whole of your life; the substance of your faith.

Up until the last few years mine was pretty shallow. I trusted Him with my salvation, I read the Bible daily, prayed all the time, but I never learned how to let go of the shovel.

I’d compartmentalized everything. I had my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my job, my ministry, my friends, all neatly packed in boxes, everything checked off, safely put away.

All of those things are critically important, but they need to be part of each other; to mingle together. As humans, we just don’t have that capacity, it’s too much to carry at once. We need to put it all in God’s hands, that’s how He created us.

Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Here’s to New Beginnings

7 Jan

I’m super excited about this new path I’m on. I’m still an aspiring Author . . . but we all need something to anchor to. Even the Apostle Paul supported himself as a tentmaker.

My family’s been in the wood flooring business for over a century. I love working with wood, I didn’t see any other path for myself to be honest.

I watched as the industry continued to grow and expand but I couldn’t keep up with it anymore . . . and opportunities were dwindling for a 48 year old man with arthritis.

I was scared to death.

Outside of the book I never thought about branching out into other directions. I’d worked as a professional apartment painter for a while but when the work ran out I had to find somewhere else to play, so I went back with what I was familiar with.

“Painting,” isn’t much of a challenge for me but professional painting is a different beast. There were a lot of fine tuning skills, in terms of production that I just didn’t possess, and it’s really hard to get an apprentice gig with a painting outfit. There’s SO much competition!

But God knew what He was doing. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He’s got our lives all planned out.

Psalm 51:1-6 Have mercy on me oh God, according to Your steadfast love, according to Your abundant mercy. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You would be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgements.”

HELP!

6 Jan

This is driving me bananas! I’ve been searching everywhere trying to figure out how to update this information.

Unrealistic Expectations

6 Jan

Thirty years..thirty years of tunnel vision, busting my tail trying to prove myself, believing in other people’s pipe dreams, carrying their vision, being taken advantage of . . . hoping that someday it would all pay off. What did I get in return? Zilch, nada, nothing but dust, dirt, headaches, hernias, arthritis, the list goes on and on.

I got paid a good wage but for some reason my dreams never materialized.

I was raised to, “Stick with what you know” to, “Become an expert in your field.” That’s all well and good but I’ve been trying to do it all in my own strength instead of trusting God with my future.

These past couple of years have been quite revealing. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve finally figured out that my struggles haven’t been with my level of expertise or not meeting the, “right people.” I’ve been heading in the wrong direction. The more I smash the throttle the faster my wheels spin but I just wasn’t going anywhere because I was chasing the wind, dragging around a dead dog on a leash.

I had my own vision of what my career should look like by now. I figured the more detailed it was in my mind, the better the outcome would be, but wood floors were just meant to carry me to this point . . . not all the way home.

I know lots of older guys that are still struggling in the industry. I’m just glad I was able to let go, I’m finally gaining traction.

Sometimes believing in God is the easy part. Believing in his plan for our lives is often much harder. That requires trust in him. Not just in his existence but in his ways, his word, and his promises. That can seem like such a tall order for us when life is spinning. But part of being a Christian is committing our lives to following him, wherever that may lead us. When we trust that He will guide us safely along life’s path, we can walk confidently all the way home.

Read more here

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