When a child is small, whether we want to or not, we train them to hear our voice. We have certain tones of voices that indicate “I mean business.”
By the time a child is four or five years old, they will begin to have so much going on in their heads that sometimes they don’t hear us until we turn on that certain tone of voice.
In the busyness of the Christmas season, it might seem counterproductive to pause. Yet, it is in these moments that we can learn so much about listening. Take a few moments today to consider how you hear God’s voice. Do you only hear Him when He “turns on the voice”, or are you hearing even His whispers?
Chance. Coincidence. Happenstance. Those words don’t exist in the vocabulary of Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains.
“Because our chaplains pray each morning for God's direction, we don't believe that we ever accidentally stumble into a meeting with somebody as we’re ministering in the aftermath of a disaster,” said Jack Munday, international director of the ministry. “Those encounters were put in place by God. We call them ‘divine appointments.’”
And those divine appointments have been happening for more than a month now in New York and New Jersey following the impact of Superstorm Sandy in late October.
Take, for instance, the recent experience of chaplains in Nassau County, N.Y., where the chaplains have been reaching out to hurting survivors since Oct. 29.
I was on an airplane between Louisville, Ky., and Dallas, trying to relax between speaking engagements, in the first week of October 2006. As I looked at the Arkansas countryside below, an inward voice suddenly spoke to me: “I am about to shake this nation.”
Within weeks the shaking began. My phone rang on a Thursday morning in November. A serious media firestorm was erupting at a church in Colorado, and one of my dear pastor friends was at the center of the controversy.
The church I have pastored for 25 years (Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, La.) had helped plant that church 21 years earlier, and I had served as an overseer from the beginning. I knew I had to respond immediately. Within hours I found myself in an office in Colorado, surrounded by media and confused church members.
The recent chaos in Egypt has the raised eyebrows of most of us. President Mohammed Mursi’s decision to grant himself sweeping powers and place himself above the courts has triggered sweeping negative reactions.
Mursi’s grab for power has left Egypt destabilized; some have been killed and many wounded. His new nickname is “The Pharaoh President,” after the manner in which the Pharaohs claimed they were the incarnation of the ancient Egyptian gods.
I don’t know Mursi’s motives for desiring absolute authority. He may be but a pawn in a larger plot, having been coerced by his advisors so that the Egypt would shift its alignment from being a U.S. ally to a U.S. enemy. He may have even caught the Pharaoh spirit of believing his own press to the point of dictatorship.
A famous “defender of the faith,” Benjamin Warfield, against the overwhelming teaching of Scripture, actually claimed, “Christianity makes its appeal to right reason, and stands out among all religions, therefore, as distinctively ‘the Apologetical religion.’ It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way to its kingship. And it is solely by reasoning that it will put all its enemies under its feet.”
Apologetics in this context means, “a reasoned defense” rather than a “presentation-in-power” of Christian belief. Apologetics assumes that one becomes a Christian more by intellectually grasping “right doctrine” or “good ideas” rather than humbly receiving the revealed presence and power of Jesus.
In early church history, as the power of the Spirit became a threat to the church hierarchy, most of the early “church fathers” became more acceptable as “apologists,” defending the faith against philosophical and religious attacks, even as they (rarely) conceded that Christianity was mainly spread by those who healed and drove out demons. Since these apologists were trained in the same intellectual traditions as their opponents, their crucial problem is that they accept their opponents’ premise that human wisdom is the way to discover God and to accept His gospel. The gospel then became a matter of accepting certain facts about Christianity (the creeds), rather than basing faith on the “experience” of God’s revelation and power—a problem even today in evangelical Christianity.