Crucial Conversations

by Randy Taylor

Last Sunday Pastor Brock preached on this subject.  He talked about the 4 crucial conversations between God and Elijah, Ahab and Obadiah, Obadiah and Elijah, and Elijah and Ahab.  You might want to read that last sentence again to try and get it straight in your head.  In 1st Kings Chapter 18, you can read about each of these conversations.  Although each conversation was different, all of them were crucial to the parties that were involved.

Where I work, we have available to us a 2 day course on how to conduct a crucial conversation.  This tells me the importance that should be placed on a crucial conversation should be high.  At our company we know tough decision have to be made and crucial conversations are critical to the success of these decisions.  I believe it is just as critical in our lives outside the work place.

In 1st Kings Chapter 18, God had a plan for reaching Ahab.  He knew that a crucial conversations through Elijah and Obadiah was needed for His plan.  The conversations had to be at the right time and with the right message.  I think there are at least 4 things we can learn about crucial conversations.

  1. Start with prayer. This is probably obvious, but I believe it is overlooked many times.  Each crucial conversation we have should start with prayer when possible.  We should seek guidance on the right time to have the conversation.  We need to ensure we have the right heart for the conversation.
  2. Sprinkle in lots of love. Most crucial conversations go better when they are delivered with a heart of love.  Think back to times when you were on the receiving end of a crucial conversation.  If it was delivered with a heart of love, you were more likely to receive the message.  Without love there is a high potential for the conversation to become heated and emotional.
  3. Add in listening. A conversation is a two way street.  If only one party is doing all of the talking it becomes a monologue.  Listening shows you care about the conversation but more importantly you care about the other person(s) in the conversation.  If you listen, you may learn more about the others in the conversation and realize the things in their life where you can help.
  4. Try to end with agreement. In almost every crucial conversation, an agreement can be reached.  Sometimes this takes compromise from both parties.  Other times one party may “see the light” and realize the need to change or take action.  Reaching agreement will give all involved a sense of accomplishment and a better spirit of working together to accomplish the goal.

I am sure there are more ingredients that make crucial conversations successful, but hopefully, these suggestions will help when you are faced with the inevitable task of having a crucial conversation.

Messy Discipline

Messy Discipline

by Jenna Davis

I’m not currently a mom, but in my job as a nanny I basically get to pretend to be one during the work week. I hear a lot of mothers talk about how God often uses their children to teach them truths about Himself, & recently the Lord spoke to me through a seemingly “mundane” moment with the little one I care for….

After a messy breakfast of milk, banana and Cheerios, I grabbed a wet cloth to wipe his banana-covered hands and face–& he HATES when I do that.
*He also currently has a cold, so when wiping his nose enters the equation, it’s practically World War III.

I do my best to clean him up, as he turns his head from side to side, trying to avoid me. While he is squirming and crying and expressing his frustration for this momentary experience, I tell him,”I’m sorry, buddy, I know you hate this, but I’m trying to help you. You’re all messy and I need to clean you up.”

Whoa.

Enter…The Holy Spirit.

In that moment, He sweetly reminded me that HE knows what it’s like to be in the shoes of a caregiver, & that He is a good one. He loves His children and always wants, and does, what’s best for us. While we may wiggle, squirm, & cry out of frustration in those uncomfortable moments as He is working on us, He is patiently & calmly saying, “I know you might hate this, but it’s for your good. I’m making you beautiful; I’m making you clean.” (Hebrews 12:11)

It was a beautiful moment of realization for me.

However…if I’m honest…most of the time I don’t see it as beautiful, and usually wish that those times of God’s “cleaning-up” weren’t so painful. Sometimes I wish I could just skip to the parts of my life where I get exactly what I want, how I want it, and everything is glorious and wonderful, all wrapped up with a neat little bow…like the end of a Hallmark Holiday movie. (And, let’s be real–thanks to the invention of the internet, iPhone, & Amazon Prime- we are pretty much used to getting what we want, whenever we want it.) But that’s not the way sanctification works & it’s not how discipline works.

It’s hard. It’s challenging.
It’s laying down my will.
It’s daily dying to self.
It’s taking up MY cross to follow The One who bore it all for me when He carried HIS.

He is God.

He is good.

If I believe He is God and He is good, I must also believe that His plans are wiser, better, & that, in spite of my doubt, perseverance is possible, patience is still at work and (slowly…always slowly) making me perfect.

Jesus was a spiritual revolutionary. He said a lot of shocking things to a lot of people, including His disciples. In turn, some of them walked away not being able to reconcile it in their minds. I pray my response would be like Peter’s when those other disciples walked away. Jesus asked him if he wanted to leave, too. His response: “Where else would I go? You alone have the words of life.”

Jesus is still a spiritual revolutionary. He will sometimes ask us to walk through hard things. His heart-shaping and discipline, even if it doesn’t always feel good, is always for our benefit and growth.

And where else would we go?

He alone has the life we need.

He is worth trusting.
May we always long to REALLY trust Him, and rest in His sovereignty, wisdom, goodness and love.

 

Calling All Called: Part II

by Phil Baker

A couple Sundays ago Boone Benson taught us that God calls us through pain, not from it. That made me realize that in my last post I may have given the impression that a calling means it will be easy. But sometimes a calling is hard. In fact, sometimes it is so hard it can feel less like a calling and more like a challenge. I’ve recently felt such a call.

After my wife’s uncle passed away last year, his widow started cleaning out the house and giving things away. This uncle was a collector of various instruments, one of those people who could play virtually anything by ear. For years I had coveted a few of his banjoleles (a type of banjo/ukulele hybrid). I had taken up the ukulele a few years ago and the thought of simply transferring what I knew on the uke to the banjolele was very exciting. So I was naturally hoping to get one of them. But instead she gave me an actual banjo. I’m ashamed to say I was disappointed with my gift. I didn’t get what I wanted. Nevermind that this was a better gift, a much more expensive instrument. It was in excellent shape. And the fact that she set it aside especially for me was a touching sentiment.

A few months went by as I felt that banjo calling to me from inside its case. This Washburn 5 string had a voice and I wasn’t going to keep it silent. So, despite my intimidation and limited knowledge of stringed instruments, I answered the call. I started out very slowly and sporadically. But just recently I really committed to it, taking at least 30 minutes each day to work with it. That first day I got so frustrated I had to set it down and walk away for several hours. I wasn’t getting anywhere. Everything about it was so foreign and awkward. The ukulele was easy to learn. You just strum it. And if you know a few chords you can play a wealth of songs. But the banjo is so much more complicated. You pick it one string at a time. Its strings are in a completely different key and order than a ukulele or guitar. Then there’s that pesky 5th string that refuses a capo. ARRRG! I was tempted to give up entirely. But I gave it one more shot. Day 2 was just as hard. But on day 3 I had a major discovery that invigorated me! Day 4 and the days since I’ve begun to slowly get better. I’ve been plucking away at it every day for a couple weeks now.

Why would I have this calling? Am I to be the next Earl Scruggs or David Crowder? Probably not. At this point, only God knows the purpose. Maybe he just needs me to have calloused fingers. All I know is it’s my calling so I’m not gonna phone it in! (pun intended)

I’m reminded of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid teaching Daniel “Wax on. Wax off.” Daniel didn’t know it at the time but Mr. Miyagi was teaching him a powerful defensive move by building those muscles and muscle memory. It wasn’t until Daniel had endured days of this seemingly pointless exercise that his sensei revealed the rewards of his teachings.

So why didn’t Mr. Miyagi just tell Daniel “Hey, I’m gonna teach you these really useful karate moves by having you do some of my home improvements!” He just kept silent while Daniel worked. Theologian Helmut Thielicke calls this “the silence of higher thoughts”. It means that only God sees the big picture. We can’t comprehend it (see Isaiah 55:9). It’s when He’s mum on his complete plan and just gives us what we need to know. It’s when a parent says “because I said so” to a child questioning their authority. It’s when Mary and Martha ask Jesus why he wasn’t there before Lazarus died (John 11:1-44).

You see, at its root, any calling from God is a call just to walk with Him day by day. Each day you have to rely on Him even if that day won’t be as rewarding as you’d hope. I will continue to practice my banjo day by day knowing that I will have some good days and some days I want to chuck it out the window. But I will continue to walk with Him. And he will walk with me.

So be mindful of God’s callings. Even the difficult ones. We won’t always be given the full picture making it all the more challenging and confusing. But rest in the fact that it is God who gave the call. He’s there at the finish line cheering you on!