Friday, August 19, 2016

What Are You Hearing?

August 19, 2016

The old Sunday School song we learned as pre-schoolers really is true:

"Be careful little ears what you hear,
Be careful little ears what you hear;
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears what you hear."

The song actually began with what the eyes see, but it's the ears that have my attention today. In our writer's group this morning, Beth was today's leader, and at the end of the session mentioned that her Haiku was soon to be published in a poetry anthology. I've been down to a single hearing aid since losing one about a month ago, and my deaf ear was towards her. I thought to myself, "Why would she want her IQ published in a poetry anthology?" It took a moment to match the context with what I  heard in order to make sense of her statement. I wasn't  hearing correctly. That's when I began thinking about that old Sunday School song.

Much of our modern educational establishment places great value on having a wide variety of experiences, exposure to different viewpoints, becoming a repository of all sorts of stuff. Of course, that's only if the material being absorbed is politically correct. Viewpoints that don't fit the proper narrative tend to get shouted down. But I digress.

Years ago, I listened to John Maxwell as he taught one of his leadership seminars. He spoke once of a woman who came to him wondering what to do with all the gossip she was hearing at church. "Do you want to know why everyone comes to you with their gossip?" he asked her. When she said she did, he spoke the unexpected. "Because you are a garbage dump. You willingly take it all in. People dump all their garbage because you want it. You are nothing but a garbage dump." I don't imagine she became a devoted fan of his, but it's true.

It amazes me how we recognize the danger of dumping garbage into a river, but are unable to make the connection between what we put into our minds and what comes out in our lives. Garbage and chemicals dumped into a river turn it into a toxic flow that poisons everything into which it flows. Garbage dumped into our hearts and minds turn us into a toxic flow that poisons all we touch.

Here's the rub: we allow toxic stuff into our minds all the time. We fail to set a watch over our eyes and our ears, letting the Enemy of our souls poison us with his suggestions and impressions. Whether it's paying more attention to the daily news than our daily meeting with God, or letting our thoughts and emotions run wild and unrestrained, we open the floodgates to the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual garbage that poisons our lives. If I want the river of my life to flow pure and clear, I must guard its sources diligently.

When I wonder why I so seldom feel the presence of God, I am focusing on me instead of him, and the devil injects another bit of toxic unbelief into my heart. If I indulge what the ancients called "the flesh," I receive another dose of toxic rebellion. The Scriptures repeatedly tell us to remember the great works of God. For the Hebrews, even centuries after the event they were encouraged to remember how God brought them up out of Egypt. Their life and faith weren't tied to a feeling, but to an ancient historical act of deliverance that was constantly held up as the lodestone of their existence. For the Christian, it is the Cross of Christ and the deliverance from sin embodied in it that is the North Star of our lives. The proof of God's love is not some "liver quiver" in my soul, but the great act of God's deliverance in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, be careful little ears what you hear. Your life depends on hearing the right words and leaning hard upon them.

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