speak

Courage and cowardice.

Strength and weakness.

When you think about it, the prophets of the Bible at one point lived each of those extremes.

Moses said no thanks in the beginning and eventually tells God, “’Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ But Moses said, ‘Lord, please send someone else to do it.’” [Exodus 4:10-13]

Isaiah had a vivid vision and was brought to his knees in humility, hearing God speak, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” [Isaiah 6:1-8]

Elijah got to a point he wanted to die after all the other prophets were killed, and hides in a cave, where he hears God speak, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” But the best part of the cave is that God tells him to go stand outside, then:

“And behold the Lord passes by, and a great strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was no in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” [1 Kings 19:11-12]

Samuel thought God’s voice was actually his mentor’s voice and when he finally got clued in he said the scary words a prophet can never take back, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” [1 Samuel 3:10]

Examples of the prophets hearing the voice of God could go on for paragraph after paragraph. It was their calling to be a mouthpiece for God and to speak his words. Even on that level of being known and hearing from God there is still a common factor…they were all still human and their actions show that in some revealing ways, but it didn’t stop God from using them.

Some would say I am a mission-junkie…others know it has matured into more Kingdom-junkie, and I would definitely say I have become a prophet-junkie and that has a lot to do with really loving how God used the prophets.

I am constantly mesmerized by their ability to speak words to people in their own culture that were so incredibly painful to hear. Words full of truth, yes, but painful words at that. They were calling people back to rightness with God, and back into God’s heart, but the people didn’t want to hear that their behavior was too far outside of what God had instructed them to do. They didn’t want to hear that worshipping idols would really have consequences. They didn’t want to hear that their social indulgences of sex, prostitution and debauchery were wrong.

The words God had the prophets speak fell on deaf ears, and the Old Testament is full of stories of God trying to bring his children home.

God is still speaking now, and friends, God is still trying to bring his children home.

Can we honestly say we are seeking to hear his voice? When God speaks those words…do we even recognize it?

Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God because it hadn’t been heard in thousands of years. He had no idea what it sounded like. Thankfully, his mentor instructed him to listen and say to God, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Wise words from an ailing priest with sons that continually made him look bad…(cliff note) Samuel’s first prophecy was to tell Eli that God was going to carry out everything against his family that he said he would, because Eli knew his sons’ sin and did nothing.

But the real question is…are we living in that time again where God’s voice hasn’t been heard in thousands of years? Or are there people who clearly hear the voice of God speak and we ignore them? Label them as crazy?

Elijah stood at that cave entrance dejected, dishonored and alone. But God showed up. Not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire…but in a whisper. I have the fortunate timing of being placed where I can hear a whisper, but I still have to be an intentional listener with plenty of discernment time available.

What would happen if we all breathed out what Samuel did once he realized who was talking to him in that dark room where the voice of God woke him up? What would our lives look like if we intentionally spoke out as Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening?”

Much courage and strength are needed to speak those words.

May God grant you that courage and strength, friends.

 

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silence

**Forewarning: this blog post completely changed from ‘Silence is beautiful and we need more of it…’ following a really ‘happy’ blog post, to what you read here. Beware, it wasn’t me…it was the one I serve. If you are looking for beautiful silence, probably find a different blog…because the silence you read here is a bit dangerous.**

Amos. He’s in the Bible, I checked. It helps when God keeps bringing scripture forward from this obscure book everywhere. His name in Hebrew also means ‘burden’ as in lifting or carrying a burden. Appropriate for a prophet I think, because with the words they are burdened with from God…they cannot rest in silence.

Amos is the book of the Bible right after Joel and before Obadiah.

Who the hell is Obadiah?!?! I said the same thing, and he only had a page in my Bible, so I felt a better about not quickly recollecting his words. Bible fact of the day: Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible with 21 verses.

Have you heard of minor prophets? Well, they weren’t minor because they were less important…they are just smaller books. Isaiah had to be wordier, he was predicting Jesus…a lot!

We blogged about prophets earlier in our Lent journey, but it is important to note that God called prophets to speak, and to not follow the beliefs and ways of the nations they were calling out. Then they had the beautiful opportunity to proclaim the message of salvation and coming glory…the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Amos’ carried a message for God’s people to return to his ways…instead of their current perverted sense of religion and complete lack of justice.

Amaziah, priest at the shrine at Bethel, sent a message to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos is plotting to get rid of you; and he’s doing it as an insider, working from within Israel. His talk will destroy the country. He’s got to be silenced. Do you know what Amos is saying? ‘Jeroboam will be killed. Israel is headed for exile.’

Then Amaziah confronted Amos: “Seer, be on your way! Get out of here and go back to Judah where you came from! Hang out there. Do your preaching there. But no more preaching at Bethel! Don’t show your face here again. This is the king’s chapel. This is a royal shrine.”

But Amos stood up to Amaziah: “I never set up to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher. I raised cattle and I pruned trees. Then God took me off the farm and said, ‘Go preach to my people Israel.’ [Amos 7:10-15 MSG]

Acts 18They wanted to silence Amos’ message against greed, injustice and self-righteousness.  Their society was incredibly materialistic to the point that the wealthy were setting themselves way above the peasant class, and only using their wealth to improve their own gain.

Amos gave a message with absolute clarity that God hated evil and was going to punish injustice.

Thinking of anything familiar?

Our culture has pigeon-holed us into a corner that makes us feel like our beliefs might offend someone. That we should be quiet and that we have no business forcing our beliefs on others. Even when those beliefs include setting right the wrongs in this world.

I had lunch with some students today, and one was sharing that she wasn’t going to Tweet during the showing of the Bible Series anymore. When we pushed her for why, she said, ‘I lost 4 followers because I was tweeting about the Bible.’

If we live in a world where God’s message and conversation are no longer welcome, are we really okay with not push against those enforced boundaries? Do we let it slide and decide we shouldn’t use social media to spread the message and truth of God? Do we sit in our buildings, our homes…in silence?

Let me just say, it’s against my nature to let it slide. It is, however, in my nature to push against boundaries and has been since I was a toddler. Just didn’t grow out of it, I guess.

And I am definitely not perfect, by any stretch of the word.

But when it comes to my beliefs, who I serve and why I serve Him…I’m sure as hell going to push back on anyone who says I shouldn’t be sharing.

I believe in being in relationships with others, and that God created us for community.

To learn from one another. To share our stories with one another.

I am not intrusive with my beliefs. (At least I don’t think I am…maybe I really am one of the crazy ones others find intimidating.) But you could say I am intrusive with my actions, because I am going to care about people that no one cares about. I am going to love people that some say I have no business loving. I am going to talk about the reality of God’s Kingdom. I choose to embrace my God given missional impulse. And I am going to fight against the injustice in this world, because things in this world are really screwed up and God never intended it to be this way.

Stand up. Do not be content with silence. Speak God’s message through relationships that matter. Choose to see the world through God’s eyes, instead of the eyes that are conditioned to our culture.

Amos called out God’s people for not caring about the things that mattered and I think we can learn from his lack of silence.

Care to join? Think wisely…you might just be told you shouldn’t.