OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #180 Two Ears One Mouth
OnFire #180 Two Ears One Mouth
My foot is improving, slowly, but it is getting better. The chiropractor gave me some suggestions and I’ll see him in a few weeks again.
The rest of us are healthy. School is back in full swing and we are getting back into our regular routines. Back on PEI, however, one of my grandmothers is in hospital. We would appreciate your prayers for her.
And finally, this week we have been attending a prayer conference here in Moncton called Encounter 09. A wonderful man named Gerhard du Toit is leading the sessions and they have been incredible. I’ve read lots of stuff of on prayer, but here is a man who, when he speaks, you know he meets with God. Each morning we have been having sessions with him and there have been three or four times as many people coming as organizers planned. And then we come back in the evening and the place has been packed.
Basically, he takes us through some teaching, and then we break into groups of 4 or 5 to pray together. It sounds so simple, but it was a surprise to me how many people have never prayed out loud together, or how scary this might be. Morning and evening are both 2 hours, and they never seem long.
What’s the catch? Is there a formula? Simply put, he has been encouraging us to spend time in the presence of God. I talked with one lady I know who said she just hasn’t been able to stay away. Its just the joy of spending time with God.
I’ve been at these things where the speaker used all sorts of emotionalism and manipulation, but this isn’t what has been going on here. He is a good speaker, with tons of theological depth, but the meetings are not what I would call emotional. People are praying and loving it, and they are hungry for connection with God so they return.
Me too, for that matter. Its been a crazy week, and to be honest, at the start I resented how much time it was going to take in a week which was already full. But I want to go back each session. It feels good to connect with God.
After here, he is meeting with a group of pastors in Halifax to begin planning some meetings there. This is what he does - travels the world holding these kinds of conferences. A neat man.
‘My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20*)
I remember a Bible study leader once asking us why we had one mouth but two ears. I could think of a few reasons why we have two ears - to distinguish where sounds come from, for instance. But this wasn’t what he had in mind.
He told us the reason God gave us two ears but only one mouth was that it was twice as hard to listen, so he gave us twice as many ears as he did mouths.
It is not hard to get myself in trouble by what I say, especially if I’m not listening or if I let my mouth run ahead of me. I did it again this past week when I tried to play matchmaker but had forgotten the guy was engaged. Oh my. Those are the times I’d like to forget, along with other times I said stupid things or got angry at someone only later to discover they were indeed right, or that I had misunderstood something. "...quick to listen, slow to speak..."
"Slow to become angry." I can recall a study that came out a few years ago about anger. It said basically that many people think if we just express our anger we will get it over with and be done with it. What researchers found, however, was that when we indulge our anger it generates more anger within us. It seems anger begets anger, and we haven’t even touched on how other people react to our anger with anger in return.
I find that when I am determined to express my anger - in other words, I explode - there is only a split second when I feel "better." This is very quickly replaced with regret and I often find it takes much longer to undo the damage than the original time I spent in anger. That’s when I find myself thinking, "If only I had kept my mouth shut!"
James is going to talk about this again in chapter 3. In short, we can’t claim to follow Jesus and leave the tongue unchecked. A mark of the believer is that we are working on listening more and becoming angry less. Two ears, one mouth.
I hope this helps. Be on fire,
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published March 12, 2009. *Bible references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com Blog located at http://onfireletter.blogspot.com/