Tag Archives: listening

Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia, part 2, listening

25 Nov

from part 1

‘Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. ( Genesis 15 ) Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.’

from Genesis 15,

5 “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Abram/Abraham is being built by the Lord. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Lord God develops his servant into an acute and active listener. What, how is Abram/Abraham growing in his abilities to hear? to see and to feel? to understand? Abram sees God as the Lord actively and totally listens to him. Abram moves to becoming Abraham, the complete and finished father of stars and dust, nations, by experiencing how God listens to him: to Abram’s thoughts, spoken and unspoken; to his fears and desires and his anxieties; and to Abraham’s faithful loving actions. And to Abram/Abraham’s failings.

In Genesis 17: 3 Abraham falls ‘face down’ ( his mouth and eyes touching, covering the dust that he had walked earlier ) as God explains how Abraham will father many nations.

And in Genesis 17: 17 – 20

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.”

God hears both the spoken and unspoken. As we grow in seeing how God listened to Fathers, Mothers and children of the past, we listen well.

By dust, Abram/Abraham grows. By dust and stars Abraham learns, sees and understand, how the Lord hears him. Verse 20 underscores this when after the Lord voices Abraham’s inner speech with complete answers, he says to Abraham, ‘And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; …’

Abraham heard because God first hears him. And we hear as He first heard us, hears our prayers, spoken and unspoken.

Walk this day with Him; see stars and dust. Be conscious of Narnia and Dark Materials. Hear, see, be with him.

questioning Jesus, Mark 15, Pilate

15 Sep

Jesus is brought before Pilate, the new Roman authority. Wishing to begin well, to win over the populace, Pilate is nothing if not pliable, mutable. He has one essential question for Jesus, himself, and the people,

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 Are you the king of the Jews?”asked Pilate.

You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Pilate voices the question, Are you the king of the Jews? Present tense; open and clear. Yes on no. And no mater how Jesus responds, death.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply,and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

How is the crowd speaking. They are shouting. Jesus has blasphemies their holiday; has no met their kingly expectations. They scream louder. The shout again and again.

This is their answer, crucifixion. They hear; they answer. The question is settled, sorted.


Paul’s at his end, Rome, listening Acts 28

14 Jul

They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

‘…we want to hear…’

Hearing is not listening. Hearing sits with words, words spoke or written; words external or internal; words written or in silences, hearing sits with words for a moment and then, releases their meaning. Meanings leave without any trace.

Paul spends all day with this crowd. What do they retain, what is listened to, absorbed?

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say,

“You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

This large crowd of Jewish leaders whom Paul has given all to speak to, they cannot hear the Jesus in, with Paul. Words are heard, and gone. Nothing is listened to, retained and held. Hearers of the word do not act. Listeners do.

Only those who listen act. Like the apostles; like Paul. Like gentiles.

Paul now knows that strangers, gentiles, will listen.

And as we end our walk with Luke through the acts of the church and her apostles in tomorrow’s post, we will see how and why they listen.

listening parts 3 and 4

17 Jul

listening 3, a prayerful community

EQ: How does God the Father listen to His people?

Ephesians 3: 14-19
‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’

EP: There are five ‘yous’ in this passage. In the Greek they are all plural. They point to community; the trinity; Jesus and His disciples; His spirit with ours; His church. There is power in community. Power in a prayerful, listening community. It is the power of listening love.

talking, teaching points:

A. We listen to nature; others; our city. Listening -is by its nature about relationship; ____________________________________________________________________________________________

B. _Listening is hearing-hearing is about reflecting; thinking without assumptions or judgements. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

EP: He listens to us as unique individuals; and He listens to us all, in our community,

Small Group activity: In your group (or by yourself-though try to find a ‘community’ to do this exercise) share one verse you have read (John 17?) that spoke to your heart today. State why/how this verse spoke to you. At the end of your sharing time, praise God thankfully (Step 3 from this morning, the Garland of Praise) in small group community. (12 minutes.)

• your community’s thanksgivings:

• Whole group sharing time:

listening, part 4

Open in a prayerful reading of John 17 in still another translation, Young’s Literal Translation

EQ: How does the Holy Spirit take Jesus’ words and life into our hearts and minds? What is the work of the Spirit?

We keep our unique voice, our unique character when we listen to, by, with and in the Spirit. Yet, as Christians, we become like Christ by listening to the same word, the same heart, the same mind, by the same Spirit that worked with Him. NLT John 17:17 ‘Make them Holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.’

Essential Question/thoughts:
EQ: What stops our hearts; our minds from listening?

• Hard hearts (Pharaoh; Aaron’s sons-Nabab and Abihu; Ananias and Sapphira;)
• Unreasoning animals, darkness of words & thoughts (Jude)

ET: How are our minds, our hearts taught to listen?

• Soften, listening hearts (Acts 2)
• Transformed minds (Saul/Paul) Romans 7; Romans 12

Romans 12 shows a path to listening,

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ NIV

Now, let’s look at Young’s Literal Translation of these verses,

I call upon you, therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice — living, sanctified, acceptable to God — your intelligent service;
2 and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God — the good, and acceptable, and perfect.

EQ: What is a transformed mind, or in the Greek, a ‘nous? ’nous?’

Here is one scholar’s definition.
Commonly translated as ‘mind’ or ‘intellect’, the Greek word nous is a key term in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. What gives nous its special significance there is not primarily its dictionary meaning – other nouns in Greek can also signify the mind – but the value attributed to its activity and to the metaphysical status of things that are

‘noetic’ (intelligible and incorporeal) as distinct from being perceptible and corporeal.
In Plato’s later dialogues, and more systematically in Aristotle and Plotinus, nous is not only the highest activity of the human soul but also the divine and transcendent principle of cosmic order.
In its pre-philosophical usage nous is only one among a number of terms for mind. It is chiefly distinguished from these other words by its tendency to signify ‘intelligent’ activity – realizing, understanding, planning, visualizing – rather than mental processes more generally, including the emotions.(emphasis mine)

Romans 12:1-2 uses this Greek word, nous, for mind, in this phrase, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

Evening talk/teaching notes:

• The Greeks understood that listening involved both the heart and the mind and the spirit. You listen as a ‘whole’ person.
• You can’t hear if you are not living in a ‘transformed’ moment. By this I mean the quick, present, passing moment. If you are living with assumptions and judgements before or as you listen, you can’t hear in the the moment. You are listening to someone or something else.

Review & vision casting _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It is time to cast a vision. (step 4 in our ‘Simple way to pray’) If you really believed this scripture is true, how would the scripture change your life? Now pray for change; for transformation, the next step. For ‘nous’

Closing: We are now at the dimming, the closing of the day. Now is a time to sit silently with Him and move to private individual confession.

Closing individual activity, confession: On the basis of this scripture, what can you confess to God?

listening, part 2

16 Jul

Listening part 2: John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for His Disciples (that’s us) This prayer is about ‘listening.’

EQ: How does the Father listen to us when we pray?
The same way He listens to His son; He loves to hear our voice.
He listens to us as a Father listens to a child. He knows our voice; our cries; our words. Our prayers. He hears.

The Message states John 17: 9-10 as, ‘For they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine.’ If we are ‘by right’ His, how will our prayers sound to Him?

Exercise: Compose a one sentence immediate, right now, response:



Let’s look at another prayer. This time Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. . (In John 17 the disciples saw Jesus Himself praying.) The ‘Our Father’ (Matthew 6) is so well known that to hear it fresh ears and eyes let us listen to The Message version:

‘Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.’

Matthew 6:9 begins with this phrase, ‘Our Father…’
He is ‘Our Father…’ Now ask yourself,

Step 1. What does this phrase, ‘Our Father’ tells us about God?

Small group activity (or by yourself):

1. Within your group discuss how a distracted parent may listen to their child. List some qualities from your discussion. (5 minutes) Quick report and recording to whole group.

2. Now, how would the best and most loving and most attentive parent listen to their child? List qualities; share in whole group (Share and discussion 10 minutes)

We read John 17 out loud as a group. (NIV translation) Our purpose, to listen. To listen for the voice of our loving Father.

Move to an individual reflection: Reread the John 17 NIV hand-out. We will spend 20-25 minutes following steps 1-3 below:

A Simple Way to Pray
(Adapted notes from Tim Keller’s teaching from Martin Luther’s way of meditation: Letter to his barber)

Pray that the Lord would speak to you through His word. Start with scriptures you have chosen to study; read. Continue till some passage strikes home to you. Trust the Spirit to lead here. Now:
1. What does this scripture tell you about who god is? (How he thinks and feels?)
2. What does this scripture tell you about you?
3. Garland of Praise. On the basis of this scripture, what can you thank God for?
And a new step, a last question:

4. Confession: On the basis of this scripture, what can you confess to God?
This last question should not be answered to the end of your day. TK calls it casting a vision. If you really believed this scripture is true, how would the scripture change your life? Pray for change, the next step.

Pray for change, the next step. We will do this at the end of our day. Wait; listen; wait.