UNimportant and INsignificant

God's Masterpiece logo for blogTwo little letters at the beginning. They pull down, drag through and beat up. They take focus away from truth. INsignificant and UNimportant. Truth changed to lies.

As God’s Masterpiece, you are special. He created you uniquely to do good works that He also created specifically for you. Your part? Walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

As His original work, you are SIGNIFICANT. Through His plan, you are IMPORTANT. How? When the world sees a life walking in His ways, He is glorified… they see Him. He makes SIGNIFICANCE and IMPORTANCE exist in and through you.

INsignificance and UNimportance comes from a focus on what others think. They come from trying to create and control your own significance and importance. They are born out of comparisons.

Emotions controlled. Feelings ruled. Determined by UNimportance and INsignificance.

Truth does not need emotions or feelings. Truth first, then feelings and emotions only if they line up with truth.

Let truth erase those two little letters. Know that you are inSIGNIFICANT and unIMPORTANT to Him.

8-29-13 UNYou were prepared for a purpose with the Spirit given as a pledge. (2 Corinthians 5:5)

In Christ, you are a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

He chose you before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 1:4)

In Christ Jesus you are brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Your new self is the likeness of God, created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Ephesians 4:24)

8-28-13 IN

He called you by His name and created you for His glory. (Isaiah 43:7)

He formed you for Himself to declare His praise. (Isaiah 43:21)

He equipped you for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17)

He gave Himself for you, to purify as His own possession. (Titus 2:14)

You are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus to do good things planned long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)

Please pass these words of encouragement along to anyone who might need them today.

Breaking Out of the Lather, Rinse, Repeat Routine

shampooThe “No Poo” Method

Not too long ago, I decided to revamp my hair care routine. I was struggling to get my hair to style how I wanted it or even in any way I thought acceptable. It was oily and what I considered unruly, and I felt constantly self-conscious of it.

Then I read a magazine focused on natural methods for everything from house cleaning to personal care. One article talked about using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo. It’s called the “no poo” method. After additional research, I decided to give it a go. Based on my research, I also added olive and lavender oils to the routine as well and decided to only wash my hair every other day.

vinegarMy hair care routine just was not working well. I kept trying different salon products with no positive progress. So, I decided to break out of that lather, rinse, repeat routine and try something radically different. So far, so good.

The Definition of Insanity

My recent hair routine revamp represents what I think we all need to do from time to time in one area or another. We get stuck and feel in a rut, but we fail to change anything, and we just keep doing what everyone else does.

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)

The idea of repetition involves making something a habit, making it automatic. Professional athletes practice the fundamentals over and over again. Writers write day in and day out. And at least to some extent, this repetition should produce positive results.

But Einstein’s point becomes clear when we realize habits are failing to produce those positive results. In fact, they may even frustrate and depress us because of the lack of progress. At times, insanity seems imminent.

This happened with my hair care routine. It’s happened in my exercise routine. My kids often develop pointless habits that need adjusted. These practices of doing the same thing over and over again with no progress not surprisingly produced the same, frustrating, lack-of-progress results over and over again.

Break Out of the Routine

While habits often produce beneficial results, they also often create a rut of frustration and boredom. When this happens, either we choose to break out of the routine or to continue on the road to insanity.

Choosing to break out of the routine includes the following elements (not necessarily steps in this order as many can happen simultaneously):

  1. Assess the current state of affairs. What is not working? What can you change?
  2. Research possible solutions and changes. Get the knowledge you need to make wise changes. Refuse to be ignorant.
  3. Seek wise counsel. Get advice from someone who is where you want to be. Pray a lot.
  4. Acquire the tools. What do you need in order to make changes? Supplies? Instructions? Knowledge?
  5. Obtain accountability. Let someone know what you’re doing, and ask them for honest critique of the changes you’re making. Be willing to hear what they are saying and make adjustments based on their advice.
  6. Find encouragement. Read about people who made similar changes with success. Get around people who encourage you to change & grow. Refuse to let negative in, and that often means shutting out the influence of culture through avenues like television & magazines.
  7. Reassess regularly. Go back to #1 every so often and re-assess what’s working and what’s not.
  8. Try different approaches. Be willing to make mistakes to figure out what works. Mistakes are great teachers!
  9. Nix changes that don’t work. Some approaches just won’t work for you. Keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.sf_runRace_01
  10. Refuse to give up. You are not trapped. There is a way through, over, under around, whatever. Stay persistent! Quitting is the only sure way to make no progress.

Not only are these elements ones I used to break out of the “lather, rinse, repeat” routine, they are ones I have used to make changes in many areas of life. Sometimes, the changes happen rather quickly like they did with my haircare routine. Sometimes, they happen slowly over time like they did for me with defeating depression.

Never giving up really is the key. Simply refuse to quit running the race (Hebrews 12:1).

DISCUSSION: What elements would you add to the list?

A Gentle & Quiet Spirit

1 peter 3Solitude. Quiet. Silence. My soul sometimes wants to live there, literally. The Rockies or Smokies. A remote Hawaiian beach house. Even a secluded lake house in my home state of Michigan would suffice.

But that’s not where my life exists. It exists taxiing busy teenage boys to practices, making sure the kitchen stays stocked, and making sure homework gets completed. It exists with a husband often overwhelmed by work responsibilities and needing to know his home life is quiet and stable.

The busyness of those I love seems to pull me along in life at times. I wonder my place, not just as a mom and wife but as a Christian wanting to please God.

At times, my place in this busyness feels insignificant in comparison. They live lives of activity and relationships and growth while I wait for them to need me.

Atmosphere of the Inner Self

I’ve been a working mother and a stay-at-home mother, and in both scenarios wondered how to be an individual. Seems that many wives and mothers struggle with wanting unique identities but know their identities lie wrapped up in the lives of their families.

For me, this struggle came through a focus on accomplishments rather than on who I was as a person, or rather, than on the atmosphere that enfolded out of my inner self. Scripture encourages me to be known for “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). In fact, it tells me this is “precious” to God.

Creating an atmosphere that comes out of a “gentle and quiet spirit” allows for a place of stability and consistency that my busy family needs. It provides a place of peace and quiet along with gentleness that contrasts so heavily with the noise, clutter and brashness of our culture.

Hidden & Imperishable

Some days, as hard as I try, my spirit is anything but gentle and quiet. Instead, feelings of frustration and being overlooked consume my thoughts. My family finds a moody and downright grumpy atmosphere, and home becomes the least helpful place for them to relax and escape from outside pressures.

On these days, the deep cry of my heart becomes, “Oh Holy Spirit, I need you to transform my inner spirit, so that my home can exist as a place of refuge and strength for my family.”

A deeper look at 1 Peter 3:4 reveals two qualities that must also exist in order for a “gentle and quiet spirit” to have staying power, to be more than just an occasional good day when I don’t constantly react and snap and scowl.

  1. Hidden. Hiding something takes effort while reacting happens all too easily. Take the time to hide a “gentle and quiet spirit” deep within by developing a Discipline of Silence and by constantly returning to the Lord where “quietness and confidence” brings strength (Isaiah 30:15).
  2. Imperishable. Creating that which lasts also takes effort, while the perishable remains instantly available. While the physical has some value (1 Timothy 4:8), focus on increasing the fruits of the spirit grows the imperishable nature of that “gentle and quiet spirit” and provides a safe atmosphere of mercy and grace.

A life changing toward gentleness speaks loudly to growing kids who need stability and consistency as life screams at them to compete and stretch and grow. An atmosphere of quiet strength gives a stressed-out spouse space to live without expectations of productivity and attention.

A quiet and consistent faith not only provides a family with a safe atmosphere for processing life, but it also shows Christ in a way they probably can’t see while out in the world. And that, truly, is a sight precious to God.

DISCUSSION: Comment on the role of “a gentle and quiet spirit” for Christians in general, regardless of gender or age.

Amplifying Silence

7-30-13 sshhSince writing The Discipline of Silence, Part I and Part II, the topic continually comes up in conversation. But instead of hearing a desire for more silence, I hear how people “can’t” stand silence and how literal silence really isn’t possible anyway. These comments seem to be saying, “Why bother?”

Few people can ever truly experience total “absence of sound,” the definition of silence. So, after several of these “silence” conversations, I realized that taking time to clarify silence a bit more might help address the “Why bother?” implication.

Clarifying Silence

My favorite times of silence are bike rides, running, hiking, kayaking, and mornings on my deck. These times are not absent of sound, but they are peaceful and quiet.

Essentially, when someone develops a discipline of silence, he/she really learns to appreciate peace and quiet along with the benefits of regularly pending time there. Spending time in peace and quiet involves reducing or eliminating unnatural sounds so that natural sounds (breathing, birds, footsteps, wind, etc.) are mostly what’s heard.

In other words, a discipline of silence means intentionally choosing not to bring noise into the equation. It means choosing to not talk, play music or watch television. It means not introducing unnecessary sounds (keeping certain things silent) and instead existing in a quiet and peaceful arena.

Realizing that the goal in a discipline of silence is really peace and quiet, not literal silence, helps understand how to achieve a true discipline of silence.

A discipline of silence allows you to think and to process life. Developing a discipline of silence means making a regular practice of simply existing with the natural sounds of life. It involves thoughts being allowed to move freely without little outside influence.

Amplifying Silence1-21-13 Be still

When Rick at Planned Peasanthood and I decided to simultaneously post on the discipline of silence, my objective was to show the value of the discipline. I now realize (mostly after reading Rick’s posts) that my own discipline of silence has developed into more of an active quiet rather than a true discipline of silence.

Let me explain. My life exists at a slower pace and quieter volume than that of most people. Outside of “TV time,” which is minimal, my house is generally quiet. Sure, there’s the sounds of life such as my oldest playing piano or French horn or my youngest moving from one activity to another, but we don’t have the radio or television on “for noise.”

I spend much of my time in my office or kitchen or on my deck writing, researching or studying, and I do so in relative quiet. But, I realized that I am always doing something during quiet times, more like quiet activity than disciplined silence.

I’m often writing, reading or talking, but rarely just sitting and allowing my thoughts and my body to just be still. In that, my own discipline of silence requires growth.

Instead of continually taking in and then regurgitating information, I need to spend time processing. I need to consider how the information I encounters fits into my life and, more importantly, I need to weigh it against the Truth of God’s Word.

Amplifying silence means taking time to “Let be and be still…” as suggested by the Amplified Version of Psalm 46:10. Seeing this verse in a variety of versions helps, so check out the black and white graphic in this post (click on the graphic to enlarge it).

The depth of this verse’s meaning truly gets at the goal of a discipline of silence: Deliberately choosing to think and to process life on a regular basis in as peaceful and as quiet of an atmosphere as possible. Just existing in stillness and letting all else simply be without you for a while. Take time to weigh your own discipline of silence (or lack thereof) against the truth in this Psalm.

DISCUSSION: How does Psalm 46:10 help in encourage you to amplify the discipline of silence in your life?

Whitewater Living

river

For many, whitewater rafting simply seems too scary. The idea of allowing the current to take you where it will, out of control. Maybe they’re just afraid of falling out of the boat. That was me until recently when my family and I went whitewater rafting while vacationing in Tennessee. Initially, I was apprehensive and afraid but went because my family was very excited and would be less so if I opted out.1000097_10200931585244204_1876371616_n

Instead of feeling out of control and scary, whitewater rafting was exciting and exhilarating. In fact, whitewater rafting actually provides a great way to understand how whitewater living, a term many use to express an out-of-control life, can be victorious and exciting instead of scary and unnerving. Here’s how…

  1. Expect variety. Our trip took us through calm waters and rapids. Similarly, life goes from calm to crazy within a matter of seconds at times, but expecting life to be anything but varied like a river really means having false expectations about life.
  2. Understand classification of rapids. Our raft guide explained that rapids are classified not based on what’s visible but on how difficult the area would be for a swimmer because the danger comes from the rocks below the surface. When we focus on what exists below the surface (character, convictions, etc.), we can better manage any level of rapids in life.
  3. Realize the dam is open. On the river where we rafted, rafting only took place the days the dam was open since this increased the flow of water. In life, we must realize that sometimes life is flowing more quickly and intensely than others, and we need to adjust accordingly.
  4. Plan for the worst. Prior to rafting, we received instructions for worse-case scenarios. We learned about our safety gear (helmets & life vest) and what to do if you fall in the water (swim toward the raft, don’t stand up). While not our focus, we must also plan for worse-case scenarios in life. We must know our convictions before we need them and emotions are high.
  5. Get locked in. Most people fear falling out of the boat, so they refuse to go rafting. But when you lock your feat into the raft (there’s an area all around the bottom inside you push your feet into), trust me when I say you aren’t going anywhere. In life, we must simply be locked in to God’s Truth.
  6. Paddle in sync with the leader. We paddled according to our guide’s instructions. We also needed to paddle in sync with the other rafters for the boat to move correctly. The idea of unity with other believers as we live our faith seems fitting with this idea of rowing the boat in sync for efficient movement of the raft down the river.
  7. Hold on to your paddle! We were shown how to hold the paddle and instructed never to let go. If we did, our paddles could easily come out of our hands and injure a fellow rafter. When we struggle with our faith or when we fail to live authentically, we can cause another to stumble. We must hold on to our faith and refuse to let go.
  8. Listen to your guide. The guide told us when to row. He steered the boat. He knew the river well and was our only sure way through the rapids safely. God’s Word is our guide through life. We capsize or fall out of the boat only when we fail to cling to His Truth. Doesn’t mean the river won’t ever get rough or bumpy, but it does mean we have a constant guide steering us through it.

Our lives are so much like a whitewater rafting trip that the experience, while scary at times, can also take us to new wonders and experiences that you just don’t get standing on the shore. With the proper tools, instructions and the right guide, the river of life can truly be an exhilarating experience.

DISCUSSION: What aspect of whitewater rafting can you immediately apply to your life?

“Maybe I should move to Alaska.”

Alaska

Recently, within a 1/2 hour, two different retail workers treated me quite disrespectfully. One was outright rude. Both, like I was insignificant.

Initially, I reacted. My flesh wanted to walk out and explain why I was doing so. But, fortunately, the Holy Spirit kept me from reacting, kept my emotions from taking control.

As I met with a friend – a blessing of accountability – I also observed the two individuals & talked about what happened to me and realized not just why they personally struggled but also why so many struggle with existing in out-of-control lives. This situation brought to light the following realizations:

  1. People often try to control others when their lives feel out of control.
  2. Overwhelming busyness often causes us to take the easy way out, to react.
  3. Many people do not realize they are too busy and overwhelmed.
  4. Feeling trapped in a busy life is all too common.
  5. When people are habitually rude or impersonal, the root cause is usually being overwhelmed.

What does this all have to do with Alaska?

When many people become overwhelmed with life, they say something like, “Maybe I should move to Alaska.” Interpretation: “I want a simpler life.” People recognize their lives are too busy, and they desire permanent escape. This desire to escape teaches us several valuable lessons:

  1. We desire a  clean slate. We want out from under overwhelmed and busy lives.
  2. We recognize lack of balance. We know simplicity helps bring balance.
  3. We want simpler lives. A simpler life is a less chaotic life.

On a more personal level, and this is where the experience gets really painful, I realized that as much as I have grown from treating others the way I was treated and from reacting when being treated this way, I also see the habit still in me. For example, when I am stressed and overwhelmed, I try to control my life by controlling my kids. And controlling 12-year-old and a 14-year-old boys is, well, impossible, resulting in more frustration and a ride none of us enjoy.

gateWhy did the rudeness really bother me?

When the rubber meets the road to Alaska, I must admit that these situations brought out a part of me I thought dead. They brought out feelings and emotions I thought no longer controlled me. They made me realize that I too let busyness and stress control me. I too choose the broad path of either letting emotions rule and reign or fantasizing escape, wiping the slate clean rather than choosing the narrow path of a simpler life (Matthew 7:13-14).

When I allow my life to get complicated, even just slightly, my choices begin to reflect finding an easy way. How can I check tasks off my list in the quickest, easiest fashion? When my life stays simple, when I walk in the agenda God created for me (Ephesians 2:10), my choices reflect His will and my life becomes fulfilled through simple depth of tremendous purpose.

When I’m overwhelmed and live a too-busy life, I treat others based on feelings. I react to their emotions colliding with mine. When complications increase, I treat others based on my own definition of right and wrong, based on reactions to the emotions of life. But when my life is simple, I treat others based on The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), based on showing love regardless of feelings and emotions.

Acting on God’s greatest commands happens more easily the simpler my life. Simpler means choosing the narrow way, choosing to prefer and love others because God wants me to. Letting busyness overrun my life means going through the wide gate, making easy choices, choices that go with the flow of culture.

DISCUSSION: Do you act or react when you are overwhelmed or stressed? When do you hear the call for simplicity most in your life? What do you do when you hear it?

Grace Foul & Mercy Rule

Girl at BatDuring the season of church softball, I enjoy having extra mercy and grace. We get a grace foul, which I need since I usually hit down the third base line. We also have a mercy rule when a team scores more than 15 points over another team, and this helps when playing teams with lots of young players who have serious softball experience.

But you only get one grace foul, and the mercy rule means one team triumphed while another was, well, humbled. Mercy and grace in church softball illustrate the contrast between how man doles out grace and mercy and how God does.

Man often places limits on grace and bases mercy on what is fair or reasonable. This does not reflect God’s view of grace and mercy.

Mercy means we don’t get what we deserve when we mess up. It also involves having compassion when hurt & offended. God tells us we are to…

  1. Love mercy. (Micah 6:8)
  2. Show mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
  3. Be merciful. (Luke 6:36)
  4. Receive mercy. (1 Timothy 1:2)
  5. Seek mercy. (Hebrews 4:16)

Grace means getting what we don’t deserve. It means reaching out to others in a way they don’t deserve. Looking to God as the example (Exodus 34:6-7 & Psalm 86:15), we see that grace involves being…

  1. Slow to anger.
  2. Rich in love.
  3. Forgiving.
  4. Faithful.
  5. Full of truth.

Unfortunately, showing grace and mercy become difficult amidst hurt feelings and wounded pride. They become difficult when your kid does exactly what you’ve told him 100 times not to do. Grace becomes hard when your family once again fails to support you. And mercy doesn’t come easily when another Christian offends you or when you suffer because of another’s poor choices.

How can we overcome these strong emotions that only create drama and lead to regret when we fail to extend mercy and grace?

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

We overcome the flesh with its intense emotions by clinging to Jesus. He knows our weaknesses because He experienced them. We can trust the One who places no limits on grace and mercy for those who turn to Him.

Jesus alone makes us able to love mercy, show mercy and be merciful. He alone makes receiving and seeking mercy possible. He will give us the grace and mercy we need for ourselves and plenty more for us to extend – without limits – to others.

Only by spending time with Him regularly – soaking up mercy and grace – can we hope to be able to give mercy and grace to others. Consider the words of Psalm 103 to gain perspective on the mercy and grace He so abundantly gives.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (vv 1-5)

The more I take in His mercy and grace, the more I realize the necessity of giving it out too. How can I not, knowing what I deserve that I don’t get and what I get I don’t always deserve? Knowing what He did for my salvation and what He’s done for me since then, how can I keep grace and mercy only for myself?

DISCUSSION: How do you see grace and mercy working in your life? In what ways can you grow in grace and mercy.

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On another note, my good friend Rick at Planned Peasanthood and I have a challenge for you to think on and respond to – either by contacting us through our blog comment areas or by email (here for me, and here for Rick). Here’s the challenge: We recently both blogged about silence as a discipline in a joint effort to thoroughly cover the topic. (My posts in the series are The Discipline of Silence, Part I and Part II, and they will lead you to Rick’s series.) The project was so enjoyable and we think beneficial in many ways, that we’d like to do something similar again. So, here’s your part. What topic would you like to see us take up next as a joint blogging project? We will pool the answers and report back what you chose for us, and then coordinate our schedule accordingly. Thank you for your input!

3 Reasons to Pray

970572_409455679172640_1316185825_nLast year at about this same time, my oldest son wrote a guest post (5 Lessons from 2 Timothy) based on reflections from his first year at a Christians in Training (CIT) summer camp at Bair Lake Bible Camp in Jones, MI. He attended the camp again this year and is back with additional reflections from what he learned at CIT.

(Picture to right: Jonathan is the first kid sitting on another’s shoulders starting from the left. He’s wearing the red shirt.)

3 Reasons to Pray by Jonathan Scare

“I don’t know what to write about,” I told my mom.

“Well, just let me know. Make sure you pray about it before you decide,” she replied.

So, I prayed and thought about if I had something to write, and the idea to write about 3 reasons to pray and how I would apply them came to mind.

Reason #1: So we can be more godly.

One of the main reasons for lack of godliness is prayerlessness.

Application: I will pray more, so I can be more like God.

Reason #2: Because prayer is expected.

Jesus expects us to pray.

“Jesus told his disciples they should always pray…” (Luke 18:1)

“Devote yourselves to prayer.” (Colossians 4:2)

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Application: I want to pray because God expects it.

Reason #3: So we can learn about it.

Prayer can be learned by praying, by meditating on Scripture, by praying with others and by reading about prayer.

Application: I will pray, so I can get better at it.

Mom’s Note

My husband and oldest son are a lot alike. They don’t mince words and are very matter-of-fact. Yet, in their simplicity with words, they have a wisdom that will forever awe me. My son wants to pray to be more like God, because Jesus expects it and to learn more about it. Really, what more is there to prayer?

Mom’s Application: I will quit making prayer more difficult than it needs to be.

DISCUSSION: How could Jonathan’s simple view of prayer change your prayer life?

The Discipline of Silence, Part II

This series on The Discipline of Silence coincides with another series being posted by my good friend, Rick, at Planned Peasanthood. Please take time to read Rick’s two posts thus far in the series, Quiet on the Set – Discipline of Silence, Part I and Discipline of Silence, Part II – It’s Golden. Rick & I have “talked” extensively about this topic and felt that covering the topic of silence at the same time would provide a unique understanding of the role silence can play. Rick & I come from very different backgrounds, yet the Holy Spirit has weaved our perspectives together in a way that only He can.

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The Discipline of Silence, Part I painted a picture of how our culture seems to work against silence and to instead push for almost constant noise and distraction. And it’s succeeding too.

While silence isn’t always golden, most people live in a silent-deficient state. Regular silence holds tremendous value, and building regular interludes into life provides an important tool for growth.

The Value of Silence

Scripture extols the importance of silence. For example, we see the value of knowing when to wait in silence in Genesis 24:21, and we realize from Elisha in 2 Kings 2:3-5 that some things need to remain unspoken.

But as always, the best example comes from Jesus. Jesus’ regular practice of silence teaches us that silence…

  1. Prepares us for trials. Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights alone in the wilderness before Satan tempted Him (Matthew 4:1-2). Chances are good He spent that time talking and listening to His Heavenly Father.
  2. Helps us make wise choices. Before choosing His disciples, Jesus spent a night alone in prayer (Luke 6:12-13). He bathed one of the biggest decisions of His life, choosing those who would spread the Gospel, in prayerful solitude.
  3. Provides space to process emotions. As soon as Jesus heard about John the Baptist’s death, he went to be alone (Matthew 14:13). Even Jesus needed space to process emotions.
  4. Helps us recharge. After preaching to and miraculously feeding over 5,000 people, Jesus again went away to be alone (Matthew 14:23). He expended a tremendous amount of physical, emotional and spiritual energy and needed to recharge.
  5. Should be a habit. Scripture tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16). In other words, quiet time was a habit for Jesus.
  6. Should sometimes include others. Jesus took his closest disciples with him for the transfiguration, which took place in a place of solitude (Matthew 17:1). While not a completely silent event, it was private and far removed from busyness and noise.

Jesus spent most of His silent times in prayer, which tells us that silence really means an aloneness allowing for connection with the Father. It means finding quiet space away from the busyness of life to focus on the deep part of ourselves that connects with our Creator.

8-1-13 silenceInterlude (Selah)

Scripture provides another example that speaks profoundly about the importance of silence and also helps direct our silence. To help understand this, please take a few minutes to read Psalm 46 and Psalm 62.

When you read through these Psalms and came to the “Interlude” or the word “Selah,” what did you do? Like most people, as I so often have in the past, you likely moved on to the next verse without much thought. Yet, that’s quite the opposite of what the words indicate.

The Amplified version gives insight into “Interlude” and “Selah” by parenthetically indicating a time to “pause and calmly think” of what you just read.

Taking time to “pause and calmly think” as indicated in many Psalms provides a much-needed reminder of the need to stop and spend time in silence, which is really the only way to “pause and calmly think” that works.

Silence as Legend

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.” (Jean Arp)

Silence provides a way to truly connect with the information we receive in uncountable ways coming at us seemingly every minute of every day. Unfortunately, many people have grown uncomfortable with silence. In fact, many attempt to fill silence, no matter how short, with some sort of activity or meaningless words (”How about that weather?”) just to fill the void. Silence is passing into legend, being steadily replaced by noisy distractions.

As Jesus exemplified and the Psalms encourage, silence gives way to focus inwardly that helps process our lives in meaningful ways and helps ward off the numbness that noisy lives seem to create. Perhaps time spent in silence to prepare for trials, make wise choices, process emotions and recharge would eliminate much of the overload and burnout plaguing us and the ones we love.

Perhaps a habit of silence, mostly alone but sometimes with others, could transform our culture into one of less violence and more meaningful connection. Maybe, a culture-wide discipline of silence could be the answer that so many – from governments to marriages to parents to individuals – seek as they find themselves drowning in the busyness and noise of life.

DISCUSSION: What role does a habit of silence play in your life? What value do you see in regular times of silence?