THE PERFECT STORM
August 27, 2000
The first time it happened, I was 19 years of age. I’d finished reading my Bible, and I took my journal and summarized this verse: “Ed, don’t treat others differently because of their outward appearance.” I thought to myself, “How can this verse help me?” I went to sleep.
The next morning, I was walking out of a sporting goods store, when I saw a rough-looking character sitting in an automobile all alone. I said to myself, “Boy, I’d better get in my car quickly.” Suddenly, the voice from the car said, “Hey, boy, come here. You, come here!”
I thought, “Oh, no. This is it.” Yet, I felt impressed by God to turn and walk over to the man.
He looked at me and said, “I want you to help me with my wheelchair.” So I helped him into his wheelchair. And as I was pushing him into the store, I thought about the verse, the journal entry I’d made the night before: “Don’t treat anyone differently because of their outward appearance.”
Roll the clock forward several years—to be exact, August of 1989. I received a phone call from Ed Kinkeade, a gentleman who was leading a search team for a church that was starting in the Irving area. When I talked to Ed, I felt a leading from God. I felt God saying to me, “Hey, this could be it.” Several weeks later, Lisa and I flew up to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and prayed about this situation, and I felt God telling me to become the founding pastor of Fellowship Church. I’ve often thought, “what would’ve happened in my life had I not listened to the voice of God and did what He said?”
A few years back, I was sitting in a carpool line at LeeBeth’s elementary school, waiting to pick her up. I saw someone that caught my attention. I saw a man waiting by his car for his children, and I could tell just by his appearance and the way he handled himself that he did not know Christ personally. I’d never seen him before, but I felt like God was telling me to pray for him. He didn’t attend Fellowship Church. I had no contact whatsoever with him, but I began to pray for this gentleman. For one year, I wrote in my journal, “God, give me the opportunity to talk to this man about you.” I really felt it would happen one day.
I was teaching one morning in the MacArthur High School auditorium—some of you who are veterans remember MacArthur High School, before we moved to this beautiful facility—and as I was scanning the crowd, I saw him on about the fourth row. A month later, we had lunch. Over lunch, this man committed his life to Jesus Christ. Just this week, I received this letter from his wife:
Dear Pastor Ed, —that sounds like Ranger Rick or Smokey the Bear. You can just call me Ed.
Being from Austria, I was born Catholic, grew up Catholic, and even had Catholic religion classes in school once a week. As I grew up and older, I had no connection about or to God. I just kind of lived my life. We would try to go to church every once in a while, only to have whiny and bored children ready to get out of there as soon as possible–including myself. I’d find different excuses, week after week, why I would not go to church.
Through a set of circumstances, I was on a mission to find a church for my daughter—not for me or my family, this was just to help her out at the time. And writing all this makes me shake my head, because I can’t believe what a sad life I lived at the time. Some friends invited us to Fellowship. I dropped my children off at their designated places and went to the service. Wow, I was so overwhelmed. I loved it, but I felt guilty because this was not supposed to be church. I almost felt guilty having been there. Even though I had never gone to church at all, I still felt guilty because it did not seem right.
Our two children on the other hand were hooked. They loved it. “We want to come here all the time,” they were both telling me all excited. Soon, I did not go to Fellowship because my children wanted to go, but because I needed to go myself. Since I’ve been going to this wonderful church, I’ve found myself so many times referring to things that you’ve said and taught me. I use it with my children, my family, my friends, and employees. Four years ago, I would never even have spoken God’s name out loud. Now, I can’t stop talking about Him. I know that through Fellowship, I’ve been able to reach people and even change some lives and their view of things.
Last spring, I did the Beth Moore Bible study, and I think I now understand truly what this is all about. I know in my heart that there is no better place to be than the local church. One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that you talk to God always, not just through the rituals of the Catholic Church once a week. And I do talk to God. It’s been a huge change in my life.
Anyway, one day my husband wanted to know what this was all about, where his family was going every single Sunday. He joined us, and I think the same thing happened to him. At first, he was just a little overwhelmed, but he actually got used to it even faster than myself. He loves to come to Fellowship now. That’s the reason we have to close our restaurant on Sundays. We could not do without our church now. The time you had lunch with him made him a changed man. I think he was always without guidance, and through your conversations, he has found what this life is all about. It’s amazing to see what he has done with his business and his life. Last weekend, we had to reserve 18 seats at church.
God has really blessed you, and I’m so very grateful my life has brought me from a little town in Austria to Dallas—just so I can be a part of this church with my family. Because of this wonderful church, my fourteen-and-a-half-year-old daughter is hooked on church. She cannot get enough of it. She proudly wears a dad’s ring, and Beach Retreat was the most fun and best time of her life. She committed herself to Christ on that trip, and she’s so proud of that. Also, Crossover Weekend was the same. The day she got back, she must have told us at least fifty times how much fun she had. Thank you for helping me with my teenager. She’s trying to invite all of Dallas, I think, to The Apex grand opening. And she’s determined to turn people’s lives around.
Our son loves Fellowship so much that some of his friends are always joking around, saying that one day he’ll become a pastor. Thank you for helping me raise a good son. But thank you, most of all, for teaching me to be closer to God, to enjoy coming to church, and for changing my life.
P.S. I thought you’d get a kick out of this: every time we drive by Fellowship Church, my husband makes the sign of a cross and kisses his hand. I guess you just cannot completely change an old Italian Catholic from New York, but believe me, Fellowship Church is his church.
[Applause from crowd]
I know you’re not applauding the person who experienced that leading. I know you’re applauding the God who gave the leading.
I wish I could tell you that every single day—twenty-four hours—I’m dialed in to God, that I have a hotline to Him, that I’ve obeyed His voice on every single occasion. But that’s not the case. Recently, I was drawn to a young man who was visiting our church—a nice guy with a strong background. As our friendship developed, I could see some inconsistencies in his life. I felt God impressing upon me to ask him several hard questions, but I sort of caved in. I said, “You know, God, I don’t want to rock the boat. Let me spend more time building this friendship.” I discovered he was in the deep weeds. I met with him and then kind of scrambled to ask him those hard questions. But it was too late. Today, this man’s life is spinning wildly out of control.
I’m talking about listening to the voice of God—not only listening to it, but responding to it. Now, I know some of you are saying, “Well, Ed, of course God speaks to you. You’re Pastor Ed. You’ve got this special deal with the Lord. I’m just an average guy. I’m just a normal person. Surely, I can’t have those promptings and leadings like you just explained.” That line of thinking is completely false. If you’re a believer, you can have stories just like I told—stories even more profound, deeper, and better.
Every single time I talk about listening to God, two questions arise. The first goes like this: “If God’s doing all this talking, how can I get in on the conversation?” That’s the first question.
The second question goes like this: “Ed, how do I know, when I feel these leadings and promptings, if it’s God or if it’s from some other source?” Good question.
I’ve never heard the audible voice of God. God didn’t tell me a decade ago, “Hey, Ed, I want you to become the founding pastor of Fellowship Church.” He didn’t tell me that. I couldn’t hear it. He spoke to me in my spirit. And often times, when God speaks to our spirits and impresses things upon our lives, it’s more profound than if He actually said it where our ears could hear it.
When you think about listening to God, you’ve got to talk about Noah—the Old Testament character, Noah. If we could scroll through Noah’s website, we could click on a lot of icons, but I think that the icon that receives the most hits is the fact that Noah knew how to listen to God. This man faced the mother of all storms. This man faced it, and when he faced it, he heard the voice of God and responded to it. So, in the next few moments, we’re going to learn how to listen to the voice of God.
Some of you, today, listened to the voice of God just this morning. Some of you were lying in bed, the alarm went off, and you said this, “Ooh, this bed feels good. I could go to brunch and just chill.” But part of you said this, “Go to church.” You know when you go to church and open your heart to God, things happen. Don’t they? You obeyed that leading, that prompting, and you’re here.
Some of you are believers who prayed the prayer to commit your life to Christ. You came to a point in your life where it was either time to fish or cut bait, either become a proverbial tire-kicker or buy into the deal. Part of you said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure.” The other part said, “Step over the line.” You did it. You responded to the voice of God.
How can you do that to a greater degree? How can you live a life where God’s speaking to you, and you’re dealing with it, processing it, and obeying it? How? Well, Noah will show us how.
If you have your Bibles, open them to the book of Genesis, Chapter 6, beginning with Verse 5: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.” Pretty sobering. Pretty tough.
Years and years ago, we bought LeeBeth a Little Tykes sliding board. You know, one of those things that says on the front, “Easy Assembly.” You know, we thought it was going to be simple. If you know me very well, you know that I’m mechanically challenged. I’m not good in that area of life. Well, I was trying to put this thing together, and I got frustrated. There was a part I had to hammer, and a hammer wouldn’t work. So, I got a two-by-four and started hammering it. I lost my temper. I took that two-by-four and sort of gave it a WHAACK!
I’m so thankful that God did not have that reaction when he saw that His deal – human beings created in His image, human beings with a freedom of choice – had gone bad. I’m so glad that God did not just arbitrarily obliterate them. Aren’t you? What’s God’s first reaction? Is it to play wipeout? No. It’s to extend grace. You can talk about the grace of God, the love of God, and the forgiveness of God, but you also have to talk about the fact that God’s a God of justice, a God of judgment, and a God that will settle all accounts. God’s first response is to extend grace.
And that’s what God did. Verse 8 of Chapter 6: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” This is the first instance of the grace of God in all the Bible. God found favor with him. And then in Genesis Chapter 6, it continues in Verse 9. Okay, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. That’s the first thing. And Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. See the order there. First, he responded to the grace of God, and because he knew the grace of God, he was righteous, blameless, and walked with God. When you walk with someone, you talk with someone. When you talk with someone, you listen. Noah listened to God. His ear was trained. When you listen to God, you’ll have a perspective that’s supernatural. Noah had a perspective on life that was supernatural.
God asked Noah to do something that was illogical, counter-cultural. He said, “Noah, you’re kind of going through the mid-life crisis thing. You’re five-hundred years old. I want you to build a boat.” Noah had never seen a boat. Then God said, “I want you to build a boat, because it’s going to rain.” Noah had never experienced rain. See, this guy didn’t buy a Ferrari or get a face lift. He just started building. He built a boat.
Now, some of you are saying, “Ed, do you really think that some people lived to be five hundred years old before the flood?” I sure do. A canopy, I believe, enveloped the earth, and it cut out all of these harmful rays and things that we deal with today. “Ed, do you really believe in a world-wide flood?” Listen to this:
Almost 200 different cultures throughout history have accounts and traditions of catastrophic floods. From Ancient Greece to Ancient Egypt and from the Incas to the Native American Indians, these flood stories resemble closely what the Bible records as the actual historical account of a universal or worldwide flood. This lengthy list of various cultural flood stories, complied by a very ambitious student of history, references no less than 63 books of religion, ancient folklore, and mythology. Out of a representative sampling of these 200 different stories:
85% tell of a favored, good, or righteous family that survives the flood.
75% mention some form of boat as the means of survival.
A whopping 95% of them say that the deluge was universal, a worldwide flood.
65% mention that animals were saved.
57% speak of a mountain as the final destination after the waters recede.
And 66% say the flood is punishment for man’s wickedness.
Let that settle in. “Whoa!” some of you are saying. “That’s something else.” God must have sent the flood. And I believe the Bible, which is the most historically accurate ancient piece of literature ever penned, is the true source.
Yet, Noah had this perspective. People were probably laughing at him, making fun of him. Noah jokes were floating around, “What’s this idiot doing? He’s five hundred years old, and he’s building a boat. What is this thing for?” On and on and on…. Perspective. Is God telling you to do something right now? Is God speaking to your heart in a deep way? Is He wanting you to gain a perspective?
How many of you were here several weekends ago when we had the artist paint the painting during the musical portion? Keep your hands up. It was hilarious to listen, and read, and watch people’s reactions. Some said this while the guy was painting, “Wow! That is the most moving and incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Others said this, “I just don’t get it.” If you sat in the middle portion, in the back, or maybe in the balcony, you probably got it because you saw it within the context of the whole service. This artist was simply painting what he felt God leading him to paint about the storms of life, about going through the storms. Some friends of mine sat on about the third row, and they were saying, “Ed, I didn’t get it.” They had a poor perspective. They were concentrating on maybe a one-square-foot portion of the canvas.
What a word to you and me. How many times in our lives is our perspective all messed up? We’re concentrating on a one-foot part of the canvas, and God’s saying, “Back up. Look at it in the entire context of life. I want to give you a perspective on your marriage, a perspective on your career, a perspective on your storm that’s supernatural.” Noah, the boat builder…Noah, the man who spent a good portion of his life building this craft…Noah, described in Genesis Chapter 6, Verse 22, as someone who was obedient…The Bible says that Noah did everything just as God commanded him to do.
Obedience is not always fun. Faithfulness is not always fun. There are many times when I don’t feel like being obedient, I don’t feel like being faithful. But you know what, I trust God more than I trust Ed. And when I trust God, and I’m just obedient, and I’m just faithful, even though I don’t feel like it, God always, always rewards me in a phenomenal way. A perspective.
Noah also had some serious patience, didn’t he? He had some patience that was purposeful. I mean he had some endurance that was other-worldly. I talked to somebody several weeks ago who said, “Ed, I’ve been involved in a long project at work.” I said, “How long?” The guy said, “Two years I’ve been working on one deal.” I thought to myself, “Man, that’s nothing. Do you know how long Noah spent on this ark? One hundred and twenty years.” One hundred-twenty years. I don’t know about you, but after three or four decades, I would have mailed it in. I’d say, “Wow. I’m tired of this.” Patience, a purpose-driven patience.
Noah didn’t worry about the details, did he? He saw the big picture. Sometimes in my life, God will lead me to do something, and I’ll worry about all the details. “Whoa, all the details!” We get so mesmerized by all the minutia that we miss the whole deal. For example, how about all the animals that were supposed to enter the ark. Noah could have gone, “How will I get all the animals? What’ll I do? Do I become the crocodile hunter? ‘Boy, that’s a good boy. Yeah, okay.’” Read it. The book of Genesis says that God supernaturally had the animals come to Noah. It was a supernatural deal.
And I believe that during that 120 years God was patient. God was giving people opportunity to repent, opportunity to bow the knee. Sadly, they didn’t do it. After 120 years, after the animals were in the ark, God told Noah and his family to enter the ark. There was only one door in the ark—remember that, I’ll come back to it, only one door—and they entered the ark. Then the Bible says that God—SLAAM!—shut the door. Noah didn’t. His wife didn’t. God—BAAM!—shut the door. How many times in my life will I see a door, and I know God’s leading me to go through the door? I’ll go through the door, but I want an escape hatch here and Plan B there. God shut the door. He had a perspective and he had patience—one hundred and twenty years.
The Bible says Noah spent seven days in the boat, with his family, in the dark, with all those animals, and it hadn’t rained a drop yet. Think about it. On this Survivor deal, people were going nuts after just a couple of days. Here’s Noah, one hundred and twenty years into the project, and for seven days, he’s in the boat with no rain whatsoever. He had a patience, didn’t he, that was purposeful. Think about all of those animal sounds. Think about the arguments with his family. Think about the different smells. I won’t go on—you hear me.
Then it began to rain. It rained and rained and rained. Noah was in that ark for a year and ten days. Do you need some patience right now? Do you need some patience in a particular area in your life? Do you need some patience that’s purposeful? Listen and respond to the voice of God?
Noah tells us something else about listening to God. Listening to God will also give us a heart that’s grateful. After this flood deal was over, after the waters had subsided, the boat rested on Ararat. Noah did not move. He didn’t leave the boat until God said, “Move.” Wow, many times in my life I’ve felt like I should move, should get into this, or do that. But I’ve tried not to move until I hear the voice of God.
As senior pastor, people have presented me with a lot of creative ministry ideas over the years. Many times, though, I’ve said, “That’s great, but ‘No’, because in our church we don’t move until God tells us to move.” When Noah walked out of the ark, what did he do? I’ll tell you what I would have done. I would have gone, “All right! Ground! Yeah, a tree! Woooo!” Don’t laugh. You’d do the same thing. I just acted out what you were thinking. Do you know what Noah did? He built an altar. He worshipped God. It’s the first time we have of anyone building an altar. He worshipped.
It’s so easy to worship God when we’re in the flood. It’s so easy to worship God when the animals are making their annoying animal noises. It’s so easy to do it when we’re in a difficult situation. But when we’ve been blessed, do we still worship Him?
I love being a senior pastor. I’m called to do it. I love stories like this. There’s nothing like them. On the other hand, I see some sad stories. Some of the saddest stories I’ve seen over the years go like this: Here’s a couple or a single adult, and they’re barely getting along. They’re faithful during the rocky times, during the storms of life. But suddenly, God blesses them in some way—relationally or financially or through their career. All of a sudden, now that they’re “in the money,” or “in the know,” or they have this power or this position, they put God to the bottom of the deck. They don’t worship Him anymore. They don’t give of their ministry anymore. They don’t give of their resources to the local church anymore. They just forget Him. They get so mesmerized by the cars, and the clothes, and the homes, and the deals, and the portfolios. They become selfish with everything.
Not Noah. He worshipped God. We must worship God in all stages, in all realms of life. Noah, he had a perspective that’s supernatural, a patience that’s purposeful, a heart that’s grateful.
It’s fun to receive an invitation to something that’s really cool. You know, when one of those engraved invitations comes to your mailbox, that’s fun. You open it and go, “Wow, look what we got invited to. Man, that’ll be cool. What will I wear? I can’t wait to see their house.” You know what you say. Noah received an “engraced” invitation. No, I didn’t mispronounce the word. He received an “engraced” invitation. His life is a picture of the grace of God.
The ark represents what happens to us when we come to know Christ personally. The ark was made of wood; the cross was made of wood. The ark saved and rescued Noah and his family; the cross saves and rescues us. God told Noah after he’d built the ark to cover it with pitch; the exact verbiage is also used in the Old Testament in reference to Jesus Christ’s blood covering us and atoning for all of our sin. The pitch kept the boat afloat; being covered by the blood of Jesus keeps us afloat. There was only one door in the ark; there’s only one way to get to God.
Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way….” Not an option. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to God but by me.” In John Chapter 10 Jesus said, “I am the door….” Have you walked in the door? Have you received and responded to God’s “engraced” invitation? Noah did. Why don’t you? And we have more revealed now than Noah did. He didn’t have Jesus back then; we have Jesus. He didn’t have 2000 years of the early church and life change going on.
Let’s go back to the invitation. When you receive an invitation, what do you do? R.S.V.P. Say it with me: R.S.V.P. This is how you listen to God—you R.S.V.P.
“R” stands for Read Your Bible. The number one way God speaks to us is through His Word. Reading your Bible. Reading The Word. The Bible says we’re to come together for corporate feeding. It also says we’re to be fed every single day. What if you only ate once a week, just a feeding frenzy once a week? You’d have some digestive problems. A lot of you have got some spiritual indigestion. You’re only feeding yourselves once a week—just through this service. That’s why we have Home Teams. There’s got to be more. That’s why we have Power Source Bible Studies. There’s got to be more. That’s why we have Connection Classes. There’s got to be more. You’ve got to learn how to feed yourself. Reading the Bible is how God will speak to you and speak to me. When you buy a new car, what do you do? You better read the owner’s manual because the owner’s manual was written by the person who designed it. If you follow the owner’s manual, the car will go the best. It’ll cruise. If you don’t, you’re going to mess it up. Do you read God’s owner’s manual—The Bible? It was written by the designer. Do you want your life to cruise? Read it. God will speak to you.
What’s so funny is—this is some insider pastoral humor—that people tell pastors on our staff things that are just hilarious, things that don’t even make sense. For example, I’ve had people tell me this before, “I’m praying about whether or not I should get involved in church.” I’ve said, “You’re wasting your time and God’s time.” Don’t pray for something when it’s already written down. “You know, I’m praying about whether I should give or not.” That’s a no-brainer, a “no-prayer”. In the Old Testament, they gave at least ten percent. In the New Testament, they did something called storehouse giving—Ouch! A lot of people gave thirty to forty percent of what they made to the local church. Whoa! Ouch! That hurts me. “You know, I’m praying about whether I should divorce and marry so and so….” Come back!
“S”: Skilled Teachers. Skilled teachers are another way God speaks to us. Almost every weekend, people come up to me and go, “Hey, Ed, have you been following me around? You’re like reading my mail, man. I felt like I was the only one you were talking to today.” Let me stop and say something. I’m not that smart. I’m not that smart to do that. Every week, I pray and ask God to use me.
For example, I’ll just read a journal entry that I made several days ago. I said, “God I know you have something supernatural to say, life-changing to say, to these who will attend your church this weekend. You’ve already arranged it. Give me something meaningful to say to them. Use my voice box, my vocal chords to communicate your message.” And God does it supernaturally. I spend time in prayer, I spend at least 25 to 30 hours in study, and God does it. He gives me the thoughts. He gives me the ideas. So, it’s God. It’s not me. It’s God through me.
There are some skilled teachers, some people who are balanced biblically, but also, in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, friends, there are some false teachers. They’re out there. Don’t think they’re not. Just because you see someone open God’s word, and maybe see their face on television or whatever, does not mean they are teaching the full counsel of God. False teachers teach truth, but they put that little sinister spin on the truth. They put a little bit of counterfeit in the truth, and that’s what the evil one does. If I gave you some water and poured one drop of arsenic in it, it would mess you up, wouldn’t it? That’s what false teachers do. So, make sure you’re getting biblically-based teaching from God’s word.
“V” stands for Visual Impressions. God impresses us. He gives us ideas, leadings, promptings in our minds. There are two extremes here. The rationalist says, “God can only speak to me through the Bible, that’s it.” On the other extreme, the mystic says, “Every impression is from God.” The problem with the rationalist is that he misses the impressions from God. The problem with the mystic is that the mystic makes some stupid statements and dumb acts because he thinks everything is from God. It could be just some bad sushi, or it could be God. “God told me to wear this black shirt today and these jeans and….” What is up with that?
When you have these impressions—and impressions are great—run them through filters. Number one, run them through The Bible. If Scripture supports them, that’s great. If it doesn’t, then you need to put up a major question mark. Run them through a few trusted friends. Let your leading and prompting pass the smell test. If it does with these strong Christian friends, then that’s a good sign.
Also, make sure the leading fits with your skill set. I don’t think God’s going to call me to lead the praise team or be in the band. That’s just not my skill set. I doubt He’s going to call the band to become teachers. That’s just not their skill set. This can mess people up.
I talked to someone this fall, a Christian man, who had already made a life-altering decision, a choice that changed the trajectory of his life. I asked him this, “Who have you talked to in your life? Who are those trusted Christian friends you’ve run this by and through?” He said, “I didn’t talk to anybody.” This man had settled for second best. He made a step he could not take back.
“P” stands for Pain. Did you know that suffering is in the will of God? I said it a couple of weeks ago. I’ll say it again. There’s only one thing we’re exempt from: hell. Other than that, if you’re a Christ-follower, you will experience storms. Often times, if we do not give God our full-court attention, God will knock out props, He will send storms to get our attention. C.S. Lewis said this, “Pain is God’s megaphone by which He speaks to a deaf world.” So, when the storm strikes, are you bailing water, are you freaking, or are you saying, “Okay, God, I am all ears.”
I talked to an athlete years ago who had an injury that put him flat out on his back. He said, “Ed, God had to put me flat on my back so I would look up to Him.” God disciplines those He loves. I discipline my children. He’ll discipline you. He’ll speak to you. What’s God saying in your storm? What’s God saying through the wind, through the rain, through the flood? What’s He saying? God’s a rainmaker.
“Well, this is great, Ed, about God speaking to me. I understand this stuff, and I see the R.S.V.P. thing. But why is it vital? Why spend thirty to forty minutes talking about this? Why should I listen to the voice of God? Why is it so big?” I’ll tell you why. The voice of God shows us that we’re connected to God’s family. In other words, if I hear God’s voice, it means I’m part of God’s family. If I don’t hear it, I’d better do a spiritual EKG.
Do you know what Jesus said? In John 10:27, He said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” When my children call me at work—LeeBeth, E.J., Laurie and Landra—they don’t say, “Hi, Dad, this is E.J.” or “Hi, Dad, this is Laurie.” I know them because of their voice. I know them because they’re mine. I know them because I’m related to them. A lot of people know about God, but they don’t know God. There’s a guy who comes by our house six times a week. I know about him, but I don’t know him. It’s the postman. Do you have a postman mentality about the person of Christ? “Oh, I know about Him.” But do you know Him?
Another reason why it’s critical to hear the voice of God is because it keeps me from making mistakes that will wreck my life. My wife and I have a couple of dogs, with a combined weight of 300 pounds. Around several flower beds, we have an electronic fence buried beneath the soil. I’m not cruel to animals. I love animals. No letters please. This system is called Fido Shock. The dogs have these little sensors on their collars, and it warns them. When these big old brutes get near the flower bed, the sensor will make a beeping sound, and they’ll back up. If they keep going, they’ll get zapped. When we listen to the voice of God and respond to it, we can hear that gentle beeping sound and back off. God will warn us. He will lead us. He will prompt us because He does not want us to get shocked.
I thank God for saving me in so many circumstances. You know that gut feeling, that prompting, to stay away from that person, to stay away from that activity, or maybe to go there, or leave this situation. Another reason why this stuff is critical, friends, is because it provides great spiritual depth and growth. I’ve found this: the more I respond, the more I’m tuned in to the leadings of God, the more I get them. When I’m doing the stiff-arm thing, when I’m not really responding, I don’t get them as much.
We haven’t mastered cell phones yet, have we? We just can’t get them down. They always come with new stuff. You know, a new this or new that, or the reception on this one’s incredible. But, invariably, you end up talking in staccato tones with every other syllable getting cut out. Some of us, just like these bad cell phone connections, have a bad connection with God. We have industrial strength sin we have to confess and deal with. We’ve got to keep His lines open as we listen and respond to the voice of God.
What’s God saying to you? Are you listening? I believe God wants many of us here to do a Noah-type task. The question is: Are we sensitive to His voice?