Hugh’s News & Views (Swift To Hear . . .)


Two weeks ago our “News & Views” essay posed some questions for Christians about the church. Last week we asked some questions concerning New Testament Christianity. The two essays were intended to complement each other and to allow us to check up on ourselves to see just how well acquainted we are with New Testament teaching about the church and the distinctiveness of New Testament Christianity. How did you do on those questions? Continue reading

#hearing, #hughfulford, #listening

Listening as spiritual art

hearListening is a spiritual art. It is the beginning of salvation. Many saints often begin the steps of salvation with hearing the gospel: “hear, believe, repent, etc.” That’s the blessed and necessary starting point.

The great Jewish recitation is the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” Deut 6.4 ESV. They say these are a faithful Jew’s last words. Supposedly, those last words have been the main words of a faithful life. In the Old Testament to hear means to obey. Continue reading

#corollaries, #everyday-carry, #listening, #privacy

Listening can mean more than speaking

I’ve heard it told that a teacher once asked a student to sum up Socrates’ life in four lines. The student replied with: 1. Socrates lived long ago. 2. He was very intelligent. 3. Socrates gave long speeches. 4. His friends poisoned him.

If you didn’t know any better after studying that list, one might think Socrates’ death was connected to his “gift” of drawn-out gab.

All humorous illustrations aside, there are times in life when we need to remember that listening to others can mean more to them than speaking. This doesn’t mean that truth must take a backseat to indifference when it comes to giving advice. It only means that to some people, listening ears equates to a caring heart as much as good advice given does to other people. And when a person knows how much you care, then they will be more interested in what you know.

The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” (Proverbs 20:12)

#caring, #conversation, #counseling, #listening


(#143) The Proverbs of Solomon 19:27-Don’t Miss A Word!

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 19:27: “Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

The way to be lost is to not listen to directions. The way to forget “the words of knowledge” is to quit listening. There is discipline in listening, and there is no learning without it. This has already been stated: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days” (Proverbs 19:20).

Just because some people quit listening doesn’t mean the sermon is over. “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek,’ of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:9-14). Bible truths need to be learned, and it is not the Bible or the sermon that needs shortening, but more often, there are some in the audience who need to grow in understanding!

Jesus Christ used parables, not to disguise spiritual truth, but to give “milk-drinkers” something to understand until they could handle “meat” of the Word of God. “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them’” (Matthew 13:13-15).

It is difficult enough to lead the disinterested to study the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), but there many who make the path to faith even more difficult, even impossible. Jesus condemned such people in His day: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13); “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered” (Luke 11:52).

“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word” (John 8:43). When people are children of the Devil (John 8:44), they hear him, but they don’t want to know (“understand”) the manner of Jesus’ teaching, therefore, they “are not able to listen” to what He taught! No Holy Spirit intervention needed here, but the sinner must desire to know Jesus Christ, as Paul’s first recorded sermon indicated: “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him” (Acts 13:26-27). The people who crucified Jesus Christ were guilty of the same attitude toward truth as everyone today who has not obeyed the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16). Don’t let this be your undoing!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #discipline, #knowledge, #listening, #proverbs, #truth, #understanding, #wisdom

Job’s Friends, Labeling, and Us

We label items to help us account for them and use them efficiently. Both leaders and office workers use carefully named folders (computer and traditional) to organize their material. Labels help to find and also help us to understand. The packaging for food and other commercial items will inform us what is inside, whether it has been inspected, what risks it poses to us (proper use, calories, fat grams, etc.), and how to dispose of it after use. Labels sometimes confuse or misdirect. Signs on dumpsters that state, “This is not a dumpster,” clearly misinform. A dumpster (a large container for item disposal) is a specifically designed piece of equipment. The sign-maker perhaps should have written, “This dumpster is for recycling only. Do not place trash in it.”
We also label people. Soldiers wear uniforms that often have their names and ranks affixed. Soldiers who have trained in special skills may wear badges that identify those skills. Workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries wear uniforms that identify their employer, their name, and their place within the organization. Prisoners today often wear brightly colored uniforms that identify them as such. We may also describe people according their height, weight, skin pigmentation, religious preference, and a variety of other variables. During Jesus’ ministry, a disciple tried to label someone by asking, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born…? We sometimes label people verbally with derogatory descriptions.
Friends of the biblical character Job also labeled him. They said, “Wicked man (Job 15:20),” “blustering wind (8:2),”deceitful (11:11).” We ourselves find it easy to criticize those friends even when, if we reflected, we might have done the same as they. Job rebuked them for their labeling of him. To reinforce the righteousness of such rebuke, God himself berated the frustrated advisors of Job. We spot some of their mistakes easily. They misjudged Job’s character, despite having known him for years. Job reminded them in the twenty-ninth chapter of Job how his words had commanded the respect of community leaders. Job had rescued the poor and championed the cause of strangers. He had clothed himself in righteousness and justice. Job’s friends no longer remembered those days. The Job they saw before them deserved rebuke, or so they thought. His loss of family, his financial devastation and physical suffering compelled them to conclude that Job must have sinned greatly to warrant such severe punishment from God.
Job’s friends struggled because their worldview did not allow for a series of catastrophes devastating a righteous person. We too struggle today when we encounter new situations or meet people who challenge the categories we use to label people, events, and religious doctrines. Job’s friends, despite their faults, actually did a few things right. Before they castigated him, they wept with him, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads to show their grief over his situation. They sat silently with him for several days. They failed, however, to listen; they failed to consider that the origins of Job’s suffering might be more complex than they imagined. They spoke from ignorance.
Some labels accurately define what they describe. Poison warnings on bottles save lives. Jesus sometimes labeled people, calling some religious leaders “hypocrites” and a devoted disciple who didn’t quite understand his master’s mission “Satan.”
Labels can destroy lives. People sometimes harm themselves after being labeled wrongly by people who did not know them, or envied them, or just had wrong information. Labels can destroy ministry. Judaizing teachers labeled Paul. I observed on on-line discussion in which a preacher asked if a church fit a one-word (label) description. An intriguing aspect of the ensuing discussion was that subsequent contributors had different definitions for the label or even admitted their confusion as to what the questioner meant by the term. Ignorance makes labels dangerous. We may not know what another believes.
Job’s friends started well. They grieved with him. They sat silently with him. Still they did not truly understand Job. If only they had listened. Will we?

#church-of-christ, #discipline, #gossip, #jesus, #job, #labeling, #listening, #slander, #wisdom

How Well Do We Listen (Especially When We Are Paid Talkers)?

Decades ago (never mind how many), I took a vacation from the congregation where I preached to visit relatives in the Midwest. On Sunday morning, as is my custom, I worshiped with the saints, assembling with the congregation where my father’s sister went. After the service, my aunt paid me a most unexpected, and at the time confusing, compliment. This daughter of an elder and sister of a preacher observed, “You listen to other preachers’ sermons better than any preacher I ever saw.” As I said, this confused me, for I knew my weaknesses as a listener well. Yet it also troubled me and provoked the question with which I entitled this entry. How well do we listen when we hear others preach, when we read blogs, when we sit as students in Bible classes that we might teach better (emphasis on might)? It is difficult to hear when one is accustomed to being the authority. David experienced this phenomenon when the prophet Nathan confronted him with the implications of his adultery and murder.(2 Samuel 12:1-14). Peter the Rock must have struggled within when Paul the former persecutor challenged his unethical behavior in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14). Why do we find it hard to listen? Perhaps after-service plans or on-going problems distract us. We may have preconceived notions about the speaker and assume (because he has too little education or too much, because he stutters, because he uses a different Bible translation or writes for the wrong magazine) that he has nothing to say to me. We may assume that our role is to judge the competence and soundness of the speaker, not to learn from the message. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminded his readers that God’s word cuts to the heart. When Christ stood at the door and knocked (Revelation 3:19,20), he asked for Christians to respond. When I manage to overcome competition for my attention and listen to preaching half as well as my aunt thought I did, I do so because I realize that I too need the nourishment of the Word. When a speaker’s words offend me or I question his interpretation, I pause to consider whether it is his error or my sin that causes my negative reaction. I try, no matter how much experience or education I have attained, to remain a student of God’s word. I try to hear God’s Word when it is proclaimed, for I need it. How well do we listen? May we learn to listen better so that we may learn to teach better.

#church-of-christ, #discipleship, #listening, #paul, #peter, #preaching

Learning to Listen

Not only does Jesus’ ability to speak amaze me but also His ability to listen. The prophet, priest and king of God had a message to give, but He also had time to spend to allow others to talk. This wasn’t only true for His followers, but also for His enemies. There’s a thought for you!

How can we better learn to listen and be more like Jesus?

I think one way is to remember how we want to be listened to at times. Sometimes we just want someone to listen to us, not necessarily to put a burden on the shoulders of others, but so we can just get something off of our chest. A good preacher and a good listener doesn’t always follow the same name, but it did with Jesus!

Another way to remember how to be a good listener is to remember the opportunities it can bring to have an effect on someone else’s life with the gospel. The ‘right’ answer can’t be given if we don’t know the ‘right’ question. The idea is novel in a way, but there’s nothing novice about. It takes patience and a heart that sincerely cares about individuals.

Christ-like is what we’re called to be and I’m still trying to answer that call in more ways than one. Do you know what one of the most important things we have to be willing to do when it comes to that call? We have to be willing to listen!

No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Luke 8:16-18, NKJV)

#christ-like, #christianity, #jesus, #listening

Illustration About Listening and Emotions

Years ago a radio talk show host was reacting to President G.H.W. Bush’s refusal to eat broccoli. A caller criticized the President for being a bad example. The host said that he didn’t like broccoli and didn’t see why he should have to eat it, either.

After the angry caller hung up, the host said, “Do you realize that everyone who ate Broccoli in the 18th Century died?”

A flood of angry callers lined up to yell at the host and defend the healthy qualities of broccoli. This is what happens when we don’t listen and allow our emotions to take over our reason.

Of course, everyone who ate anything in the 18th century died! It was an excellent social experiment to show how irrational we can become.

Quite often we allow this kind of ridiculous behavior to destroy our relationships. When we are talking to people we love, we must never forget who they are and , if we must, remove ourselves from the situation to settle down so that we do not say something that cannot be remedied.

True love means that we always focus on the other person, instead of ourselves (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). Otherwise, we get wrapped up in our emotions and can burn up everything around us.

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

We must never lose ourselves to anger or we might lose our souls, in the process.

#anger, #broccoli, #listening, #relationships

“Proverbs are the Piths” (1)

Here’s a short outline for Proverbs 1…it’ll preach if you know what I mean!

I gave it the title: Meet Ms.Wisdom and the Listening Band

Listen To This and Win – vs. 1-7

Listen to Your Parents – vs. 8-9

Do Not listen to Sinful Friends – vs. 10-19

Listen to Ms.Wisdom – vs. 20-27

Don’t End Up Wishing You Had Listened – vs. 28-33

#listening, #proverbs-are-the-piths, #sermon-outlines, #wisdom

Daily Nudge: Unheard — and news

Tell us about a recent moment when you felt ignored, when your words fell on deaf ears, or when you spoke and nobody paid attention. (Kinda like the Nudge some days.) Parents with teens say this is a common phenomenon.

Communication can sometimes be a risky enterprise; always a challenge.

I’m batching it this weekend, wife and daughter gone to women’s retreat. Easy recipes, anyone?

#communication, #listening, #nudge

Hear Him!

All the events at the mount contributed to giving Jesus honor and glory from the Father – 2Pe 1:17 “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”‘ The glorious transfiguration of Christ. The presence (and subsequent absence) of Moses and Elijah. The voice from heaven, acknowledging Christ as God’s Son.

What does God desire of us today…? Not tabernacles or temples erected in the memory of His Son, but for us to simply obey what God said at the mount: “Hear Him!” If we desire to add to the honor and glory that Jesus so richly deserves, and to one day behold His majesty in heaven, then be careful to heed what He himself said regarding His authority:

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Mt 28:18-20

Are we listening?


How’s Your Hearing?

Have you ever been talking to someone on the phone and while they talk, you wash a few dishes, dust the furniture, and turn to holler at the kids now and then?  How about chatting online?  Have you ever carried on conversations with two or three people simultaneously?  How about four or five people?  In this day and age, multitasking has reached new heights, and ironically, with the many different tools we have at hand to supposedly aid in communication, it seems that many people lack the ability to communicate on a deeper level.  It has been said  “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” I think there’s some truth to that statement.

Ralph Nichols once said “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” It seems like some people are people magnets.  Somehow others are drawn to them. Folks always want to bounce ideas off them, discuss various problems, and bare their souls to these individuals.  Perhaps one of the reasons is that they listen.  But I wonder, who listens to them?

The next time you engage in a conversation, give some thought to how you listen.  Try to focus your attention solely on the person with whom you are conversing at least for a few minutes.  Don’t be so quick to express every thought and opinion.  Don’t formulate your next sentence in your mind, while the other person is still talking.  Instead, take the time to really listen.  You just may learn something.

#communication, #listening