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Thread: Listening to the Spirit

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Listening to the Spirit

    I keep thinking about "how we pray", and how, so often, many people just "do their thing" (if they pray at all) then scoot on to whatever business they have that day.

    There have been phases in my life where I have purposefully not done that.... I have disciplined myself to finish my prayer, then remain quiet and listen. (Psalm 46:10) Then, unfortunately, I get back in my old habits of "pray and stray".

    Yesterday, out of the blue, I heard from Terri. It was so good to hear from her, as she was a part of my youth group many years ago.

    David, a youth intern, and I had been talking about what we could do to better minister spiritually to our youth group. One of the things we came up with (and I don't even remember how or why, but it could have had something to do with Billy Beacham's Spiritual Journal notebook) was an idea to take a list of all our youth, and "pray down the list" for each one of them by name.

    One afternoon, David and I were doing just that, and came to Terri's name. We both just stopped. I asked David what he was feeling, and he said "something is wrong". (Yeah, I know, it's not all about feelings)

    We prayed for her, then I suggested we run by her house to see what's going on.

    She was sitting on the front porch steps, smoking a cigarette. When we got out of the car, I sat down beside her on the steps, and David sat beside her on the other side. Neither of us spoke.

    She said, "I wondered if you'd come". Just like that. Puzzled, I asked, "what does that mean?" Terri was what we used to call a tomboy - a rough gal who didn't like being "ladylike".

    She said, "I've had it - I'm all done - nothing is working right - I miss my dad...." We both just listened (David is a man of very few words, and sometimes I'm wise enough to allow the Holy Spirit to just shut my mouth)

    She started to sob, snuffed the cigarette out, and flicked the butt into the bushes. Then she said, "I just told God that I'm all done, and I was going to smoke one last cigarette and end it all -- my dad's gun is on my bed, and I was headed there next".

    We both hugged her, and David started praying for her. She wept. A lot. We all did.

    Her dad had left years ago, and it was just her and her mother living there, and they weren't speaking. Mom was a Christian, Terri didn't know what she (Terri) was. Mom had talked to me a lot about Terri and how it was just so hard to reach her, and Terri missed her Dad, and just stayed so angry.

    David kept talking to Terri while I asked to use the restroom. I found her bedroom - there was, indeed, a snubnosed .38 on the bed, fully loaded. I emptied the bullets, put the gun in my back pocket, used the restroom, then came back outside and sat back down on the steps. We talked for another 20 minutes or so, then mom came home from work. She was cheerful when she got out of the car, but apparently quickly assessed the situation and saw we were in serious discussion. She said she was going in the house to make us some tea.

    For the next 3 years, Terri was a regular in our youth group. She had already been very close to "too old to be in the group", so she became a sponsor / mentor / encourager.

    We only talked about that incident one time, about 4 years after it happened, and Terri told us she never thanked us for coming, and admitted she didn't know if she could have actually "done it" or not, but was glad that she didn't have to. I don't think her mom ever knew what all went on that day - just that we came by to talk to Terri, and her life changed. I still have the gun.


    So, it makes me think. How many opportunities do we miss by unloading our prayer on the Father, and not waiting around to see if He has anything for us? I'm gonna try to get back to listening.
    Last edited by Cow Poke; 01-05-2018 at 06:13 PM.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    About 15 years ago, I was president of our ministerial association, and was just thinking about some of the really neat guys we had as pastors in our association.

    I just started praying for them, like we did "praying down the list".

    I came to 'Walter', and just couldn't get past that one. I took a card (like a ministerial "praying for you" card) out of my drawer, wrote him a note, just telling him that I was glad he was my friend, and I was praying for him and his ministry.

    About 10 years ago, this same Walter was a speaker at our annual meeting. He was talking about discouragement in the ministry, and "burnout", and how so many preachers give up. Then he paused a long time, and just stood there looking at the pulpit. It got really quiet in the room, as everybody was just waiting to see where this was going.

    Without looking up, he said, "about 5 years ago, I had come to that place, and Sunday hadn't gone so well, and I stopped by the Church on Monday afternoon just to be alone. I had picked up the mail on the way to my office, and tossed it on my desk. I had been writing my resignation letter in my head, and decided to put it on paper, so I was thinking about how to write it. Then I noticed a card in the mail, and opened it first."

    (Another long pause)

    "It was from a friend", he continued, and he looked out at the audience right at me. The "encouraging message" printed on the card as part of the stationery said "God isn't finished with you yet". And the handwriting simply said "I'm glad to have you as a friend, and I'm praying for you and your ministry".

    He said, "I had a little talk with Jesus, and asked Him, 'what do I do?'" And he said all he could think about was an old gospel song, and he began to sing in a very beautiful clear baritone voice....

    Well I'm so glad He was willing to drink His bitter cup,
    Although He prayed "Father let it pass from me",
    And I'm so glad He never called Heaven's angels,
    From these hands, Pulled the nails that torment me

    Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary,
    Had it not been for the old rugged cross,
    Had it not been for a man called Jesus,
    Then forever my soul would be lost

    Then he said - Jesus never gave up on me, and until He tells me otherwise, I will be about my Father's business.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

  3. Amen LostSheep, Celebrian, NorrinRadd amen'd this post.
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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    My problem is when I try to listen, I keep wondering is that God or me? How do you tell?

    For instance, right now my dog Taz is 14 years old, has cataracts, mostly deaf, and so on. It is hard to tell with him if he is feeling OK or not. He tends to eat well, but then he gets nervous and circles around in the kitchen till he gets stuck under something and whines for help. My brother said he is like a Roomba. He also has some other things going on, like high blood pressure and cushing's disease. I know he probably doesn't have too much longer and I don't want him to suffer and so I am considering having to put him to sleep and I am asking God for guidance. I keep praying to God, telling him "Lord, you made Taz and gave him to me. I don't want to have to put him to sleep, you gave him life so will you please take it peacefully so I don't have to face that decision?"

    But I keep getting the feeling that it is time. He doesn't seem very happy any more. Mostly nervous all day, he makes a mess in the house sometimes because he doesn't know where the door is, and he has this recurring cyst on his back that I know hurts him and I have to take him into the vet this weekend to have lanced. But I don't know if that is me or is it God telling me and I need to just trust and wait on God to take him or is it God saying, "no, you have to do this, I won't"?

    I don't have a clue. I really don't want to have to do it. I had to with my last dog Max and it was the worst thing ever. I felt so guilty because this innocent animal was trusting me with his care and I just took him to the vet unsuspectingly and killed him. He had cancer that had come back after treatment and he was suffering, but still, it tore me up.

    so basically, do I wait on God and see Taz potentially suffering more? Or do I put him to sleep and does that mean I was not listening and waiting on God and God wanted to give me more time with him but I didn't listen?
    Last edited by Sparko; 01-05-2018 at 06:49 PM.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Ya know, about 10 years ago, I would have just bopped you on the head and said, "it's just a dog!"

    I'm used to being around animals that live a very temporary existence - and I used to name my cows stuff like hamburger and meatloaf and ribeye, just because I knew they wouldn't be around as pets. Then you get that special calf who acts more like a pet than a potential supper.

    And, when my wife insisted we "get a dog", I was not for it at all. Another mouth to feed - we can't just 'pick up and go' when it's time for vacation, they get sick, vet bills, they make messes......

    Then, as you know, Jake comes along and worms his way into my heart. My wife claims I 'stole her dog', but it's nothing I have done. Jake just seems to love being around me, whatever room I'm in - if I can't sleep and go to the couch in the living room, he'll come to the living room. If I'm working out in the shop, he has to be there. When we come home from somewhere, my wife bends over to pet Jake and he runs around her to get to me.

    What can I say -- I'm a dog person!

    All that just to make it clear I know "it's not just a dog".

    I wish I had an answer for you. I do know this, though... when people get in big heated discussions about "mercy killing" and all that -- it used to be a lot more clear to me -- dogs are not people. Quite honestly, I'm having a harder time telling the difference. Jake is FAR more loyal and trusting than any person I've ever known.

    That's a tough one, Sparko.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Ya know, about 10 years ago, I would have just bopped you on the head and said, "it's just a dog!"

    I'm used to being around animals that live a very temporary existence - and I used to name my cows stuff like hamburger and meatloaf and ribeye, just because I knew they wouldn't be around as pets. Then you get that special calf who acts more like a pet than a potential supper.

    And, when my wife insisted we "get a dog", I was not for it at all. Another mouth to feed - we can't just 'pick up and go' when it's time for vacation, they get sick, vet bills, they make messes......

    Then, as you know, Jake comes along and worms his way into my heart. My wife claims I 'stole her dog', but it's nothing I have done. Jake just seems to love being around me, whatever room I'm in - if I can't sleep and go to the couch in the living room, he'll come to the living room. If I'm working out in the shop, he has to be there. When we come home from somewhere, my wife bends over to pet Jake and he runs around her to get to me.

    What can I say -- I'm a dog person!

    All that just to make it clear I know "it's not just a dog".

    I wish I had an answer for you. I do know this, though... when people get in big heated discussions about "mercy killing" and all that -- it used to be a lot more clear to me -- dogs are not people. Quite honestly, I'm having a harder time telling the difference. Jake is FAR more loyal and trusting than any person I've ever known.

    That's a tough one, Sparko.
    Thanks, so ... how do I know the difference between my own prompting and the Holy Spirit?
    When it comes to things like sin or helping others it is easy to tell: I am reluctant to help or stop sinning so I know what the right thing to do is. Help and stop sinning.

    But something like this, I don't know how to tell. I don't know if I am being disobedient if I decide to put him down and God is thinking, "You idiot! I was going to give you 3 more months! He was fine!" or is God saying, "It's time, you need to say goodby and do it" and I am sitting on my hands ignoring the Holy Spirit.

    When it comes to personal decisions like this, I suck at listening to God.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    Thanks, so ... how do I know the difference between my own prompting and the Holy Spirit?
    When it comes to things like sin or helping others it is easy to tell: I am reluctant to help or stop sinning so I know what the right thing to do is. Help and stop sinning.

    But something like this, I don't know how to tell. I don't know if I am being disobedient if I decide to put him down and God is thinking, "You idiot! I was going to give you 3 more months! He was fine!" or is God saying, "It's time, you need to say goodby and do it" and I am sitting on my hands ignoring the Holy Spirit.

    When it comes to personal decisions like this, I suck at listening to God.
    Ask God to confirm it. "Spiritual confirmation". I have been just all out honest with God in those cases, and literally pray "God, you know what a blockhead I can be - how I can convince myself something is from you if it's something I want, or it's not from you if I don't want to do it - so, please, make it really really clear...."

    More than a few times, after praying that prayer, somebody will, out of the blue, tell me "Ya know, I've been thinking a lot about....." or I'll hear a preacher on the radio, or I'll open my Bible and the passage will be dealing with....

    But I don't AT ALL mean just "throw it to chance".... sincerely pray for God to make it known, and admit your confusion.

    Most importantly, though, the answer needs to be consistent with the teachings of the Bible, so...

    I don't always get an answer, but sometimes it's incredibly clear.

    I share about when my brother was dying of cancer when he was 27, and I wanted so badly to believe God would heal him. I didn't even know how to pray, so I went to the fishing spot where Paul and I used to fish, and, about 3 in the morning, I sat there praying and just telling God, "I don't even know how to pray - I don't think I have the faith to 'claim' healing for him...."

    And God spoke to me (no audible booming voice or anything - but incredibly clear) and said "I'm bringing him home". The peace that came with that was astounding, and carried me through his death and funeral, and dealing with my younger sisters...

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

  8. Amen Sparko amen'd this post.
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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    OK I will try that. Maybe he will speak through the vet when I take him in this weekend for his cyst.

  10. Amen Cow Poke amen'd this post.
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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    One of my college pastors talked a couple out of a double suicide because he was driving past a stranger's house and was prompted to stop and knock on their door.

    Stopping and listening is often what gets me to deal with unconfessed sin in my life - there's always a reason it feels like my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, and that's the only way I've found to clear the channel.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

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  12. Amen Cow Poke, The Remonstrant amen'd this post.
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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    OK I will try that. Maybe he will speak through the vet when I take him in this weekend for his cyst.
    Funny you should mention that... when my wife was going through breast cancer, I was having some real internal "discussions" about what was going on, and just before surgery, her anesthesiologist came in to go over the checklist and explain the procedure to her. When he was done going through the 'medical' stuff, he looked at me and said, "I know you're a pastor, and you're going to be praying through this, but would you mind terribly if I prayed with you, as well?"

    This great big man (all of 6'4" and 320 lbs) held hands with us and prayed for Mrs CP, and for the Holy Spirit to 'administer calm' and to 'give assurance'.... and managed to "hit all the right notes" in his prayer, and it truly gave me the assurance that no matter what happened, she was in His hands.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    One of my college pastors talked a couple out of a double suicide because he was driving past a stranger's house and was prompted to stop and knock on their door.

    Stopping and listening is often what gets me to deal with unconfessed sin in my life - there's always a reason it feels like my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, and that's the only way I've found to clear the channel.
    That's why, when I hear people say things like "God, give me an opportunity to witness" or something like that, I think - there are opportunities around us all the time - we just need to be more sensitive to His leading....

    So, yeah, this is a reminder to me, as well... I get busy and forget.

    1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

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