Archives For listening

My Early Christmas Gift To You

Erik Cooper —  December 16, 2010 — 1 Comment

Christmas is a time for unbridled merriment and irrational joy, so today I thought I’d throw a little dose of sober in your eggnog.  Perhaps this post will earn me a visit from three spirits? We’ll see.

What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus?

As a lifelong “churchie,” that’s a question I’ve really wrestled with.  Is Christ truly leading my life, or am I just trying to get him to come along on my journey? (After all, He is a great travel partner. I hear He has status in all the airline lounges). If you’ve followed my blog even sporadically for any length of time, this is a question you know I’m not afraid to pose.

To follow simply means to go after. To willfully submit.  To listen and respond.  Which led me to write the following question in my journal this morning:

“Is there anything God has already said to me that I’m not listening to, obeying, or that I’m rationalizing away?”

I’m spending the day with this one.  Maybe you want to join me?  It’s my early Christmas gift to you.

(If you behave, I may even let you have another lump of coal for the fire, too).

My kids rarely like to listen. (All the parents out there just perked up like their morning coffee finally kicked in). Yep, mine too. No Walt Disney animatronic perfections in the Cooper house. You mistakenly thought it was an “It’s a Small World” boat ride everyday at my place, didn’t you?

Nope.  Just lots of…

Real.

Normal.

Children.

Who are a whole lot more like me than I’d like to admit.

Something major registered with me this morning as I was chiding my 8 year old up the stairs (again). “Teeth. Hair. Shoes!” Far too often, I’m not much different than they are.

Instead of listening and responding to the desires of my Heavenly Father, I choose to wait until the circumstances around me force a reaction. When the bullhorn of reality hits the threshold of pain. And far too often, avoidable chaos ensues (“seriously, you don’t have your shoes on yet?!”).

Thank God He’s far more patient than me.

How would life change if we learned to listen and immediately respond to the ever-speaking voice of our Creator (to become actual followers of Jesus), instead of waiting for the ensuing circumstances to dictate our necessary reactions?

All the Voices in My Head

Erik Cooper —  April 7, 2010 — 1 Comment

Never in all of human history have we had access to so much information. So many insights.  So many stories.  So many opinions.  So much good stuff (and some, well…) is there for the taking.

Even those of you reading this post right now are ingesting my perspective, my way of looking at the world.  No editor. No filter. No approval channels.  No publisher needed to grant access to our interaction.  My personal revelations directly delivered to your ears (or eyes…whatever).

Powerful possibilities.  Lots of voices.  In my world (of church leadership), the chatter may sound like this:

Real churches own their own buildings.

Your marketing plan is missing a major component.

The best small group formula is ___________.

You don’t care enough about social issues.

You talk too much about social issues.

Church music is trending edgier/louder/longer/less rock-oriented/introspective/shorter/more R&B/Gregorian chant (I’ve actually heard this one, no joke)

The early church was all about community, man (said in my best emerging church hippie-surfer voice)

What’s your church’s Facebook strategy?

All cool pastors have their own blog (this one, of course, is true)

The future of church growth is multi-site.

Are your services online?

Are you investing in Africa? Europe? Southern Asia? The penguin colonies of eastern Antarctica?

You get the picture.  And these voices can be good, even God-ordained. To grant me short-cuts.  Best practices.  Quicken the learning curve.  To challenge my hard-headedness.  Illuminate a blind spot.

In your world the conversation may be different, but the reality is the same:  we have easy and constant access to all the latest trends, concepts, experiments, opinions, and success stories we can put in our arsenal.

So many voices in fact, that we really don’t even need God’s anymore…

At least that’s where I can find myself.  And this little “people-pleasing” virus embedded deep in my soul drives me to respond.  To appear responsible.  Intelligent.  Cutting edge.  Socially conscious.  Technologically aware.  Whatever it is “they” (who are those people anyway?) think I should be.

And then I remember the Israelites.  You know, God’s chosen people who’s stories fill the pages of Scripture?  I’m reminded of a little detour they took – like 40 years of wilderness wandering (and you think you’re bad with directions) – all because they stopped listening. No, not to each other (there was plenty of that).  To the One Voice that had their real instructions:

“For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.” (Hebrews 3:15-19 MSG)

Am I listening?  Am I really listening?  Not just to “the voices,” but to The Voice?

Are you?