Saturday, October 27, 2012


by Tim Howard

While growing up did you ever hear your parents or guardians say: “Do you think I’m talking to hear myself talk?” I sure did, on many occasions! The statement was voiced in the form of a question but when I tried to answer, I was told to be quiet…in not so many words. Now that I have more understanding, I realize they were making a statement and not asking for my opinion. They wanted me to “Listen”

God listens to us when we speak. Isn’t that amazing? He has called us into relationship: we speak and He listens; He speaks and we listen. This may seem obvious to some but this is the difference between Christianity and religion.

Christianity is a relationship! God calls us into a love relationship where we converse with him. It’s more than a monologue - It’s a dialogue! Religion on the other hand is about following the rules rather than cultivating a relationship. Go to church for an hour or so a week, read a few chapters in the Bible, do a daily devotional and make sure you do a couple of good deeds.  As good as these things are, God wants to have more. He desires a conversational relationship with you!  You speak and He listens.  He speaks and you listen.

God hears everything! You may say something in private like a politician but discover later that someone taped your words and everyone heard what you said. Even when you think no one heard, God hears.

God even hears what you say when you don’t say anything. After all, you don’t need words to speak. Sometimes your body language, your facial expressions and your actions speak volumes without the utterance of one word.

God hears everything you say even when you can’t hear him. If you ever pray to God in his Son’s name, and feel like no one is listening you need to know, he does hear. That’s one reason King David loved God. He said:  “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. “Psalm 116:1-2. I couldn’t agree more.

Since God created us in him image and since he listens to us, doesn’t it make sense that we should listen to him?

The word “listen” and its derivatives are used 338 times in the NIV Bible.  The word “hear” and its derivatives are used 982 times.  There is a lot of talking and listening going on in the Bible!  Interestingly the most common use of the word “listen” in the Bible is God telling us to listen. 

God speaks to us in a variety of ways, so whom should we listen to?

If you are a married man, I would suggest you listen to your wife. God speaks to us through people and he can use your mate to shape, adjust or encourage you. God speaks through experiences and circumstances. When something out of the ordinary happens to you don’t dismiss it as an aberration. God might be trying to get your attention because he wants to change something or strengthen something. Your conscience is another authority in your life. If it has been trained properly and you listen to it, your steps will be guarded from many stumbles.

Francis Scheaffer wrote a book called “He is there and He is not silent.”  He isn’t talking just to hear himself talk. I encourage you to “listen”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Keep the Faith

by Tim Howard

I began developing a passion for God when I turned 6 years old. Even at that young age, I was convinced God existed and He was good. One of the verses I learned as a young boy is found in the Bible - Hebrews 11:6. It says: “… it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek.” NLT

Even at a young age, the sun, the moon, the rivers, mountains, clouds and all of creation seemed to shout: There is a God! I recall saying to myself: “No person could create all this - there must be a God.” Solomon said: “Wisdom shouts in the streets… will we not listen?”  Well, I listened and faith in Christ has directed my steps for the past 55 years.

Faith. It’s hard to define but we all have it. Every time you step into an airplane you exercise faith. You put your confidence in a person believing they will navigate the flight and get you to your destination safely. You know nothing about the pilot; his or her qualifications, abilities or present state of mind, yet you put your trust and confidence in them. Every time you invest money through an investor you are putting faith in those who oversee the enterprises. 

Hebrews 11:1-2 “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith.” NLT

Faith sees something beyond the material realm. When I do something kind for someone I’m hoping they will see beyond my good deed. I want them to see the kindness of God and His benevolent attitude toward them. That’s what my actions are supposed to reveal. Unfortunately, many never see God in the good that is happening. Without faith, a person who looks at a snow-covered mountain range, a beautiful sunset or the mighty waves of an ocean, will not be able to see a powerful creator behind the visual display.

Faith in God releases God to change things! There are many illustrations in the Bible, where faith opened the door for divine healing. People who were sick got healed. People who were bound got delivered. Many blind eyes were made to see, deaf ears began to hear and things designed to destroy people were turned around to develop and strengthen them. All because faith released God to move!

At other times, however, faith in God didn’t change the circumstances. Rather than removing the challenges confronting people, faith releases strength for them to go through the challenges. They endure hardship and rejoice because they have faith in God. Sometimes faith changes things around you but at other times faith changes things within you.

When you put your faith in Jesus, He is released to change something! For the past 55 years my faith has been altering me. I have a long way to go and I’m not what I ought to be in many ways but I’m sure a lot better than I use to be. At least that’s what my wife says! Faith! The real question isn’t do you have it, because we all do, but what, where or who are you placing your faith in? That’s the million-dollar question.