Tag Archives: church

When Silence Screams

Restlessness. Distractions. Chatter. We don’t know how to be silent anymore.
But Silence desires our attention.

Psalm 46:10
Be Still and Know that I Am God

As an introvert, I can sit quietly in the shadows at a party.  That is different from sitting alone in my house with no phone in my hand, no window open to hear the distant traffic and no TV on in the background. Silence. Complete silence can be uncomfortable because I’m wired for sound. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household of four children who played instruments, a mandatory chore for some, but a pleasant break from homework for me. When we weren’t practicing the tuba, cello, piano or viola, we were playing our radios in our bedrooms. Silence arrived when everyone was finally asleep.

My current family is even bigger. I’m mother of six children, ages 5 – 25. All but the oldest lives at home and so sound is a part of my life. Lots of continuous sound.

My best friend still doesn’t understand how one of my sons can ask me a question and I don’t “hear” him. Sound. It’s always around. I’m so used to it that someone’s question just melts into the stew of busyness in the house.

Don’t get me wrong, sound isn’t bad, but it can be such a constant in our lives that we forget sometimes to turn everything off and just appreciate the silence.

In the past week, I’ve asked myself “Why is it to challenging to sit down and do absolutely nothing, close my eyes while fully awake and just be?” After all, God’s still small voice and the reality of his omnipresence is more apparent when I’m still and quiet. Sometimes it takes so long to even turn off my inner voice that I hear Silence scream “Shshsh!”.

As a former worship leader, there were times when it seemed as if Jesus had come into the sanctuary. A holy awe swept the room and silence urged our attention. But still, it was terribly difficult for me to restrain playing the piano quietly, thinking that He needed my sound in order to stay.

What He desired was 100% of my attention.

DPP_0091
Practicing silence can be an act of worship to God. Due to the variety of denominations in the Christian church, outsiders may think that some do “it” right and others do “it” wrong when it comes to service style. We’ve seen scenes of  loud “holy roller” Pentecostal churches and quiet and stoic Anglican or Quaker churches. The contrast is stark.

I’m a firm believer that God inhabits the praises of his people in song and spoken word. I believe that every believer should be comfortable “shouting to God with a voice of triumph”. Can we hear the Spirit of God say “Clap your hands, all ye peoples!” and do it?  (Psalm 47:1) But sometimes He wants our silence. “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1) In the place of silence is divine rest. We quiet our own voices because we know and we trust in the One who has all of the answers. We turn off our internal speakers, the mental lists, yesterday’s marital squabble, and the spirits of hell that seek to steal our peace.

We can and should use silence in two ways. Sometimes we need to be silent in order to actually hear what is going on within our souls. Have you ever been quiet for awhile and then you get to a place where you are forced to pay attention to the state of your soul? We can carry on conversations with co-workers with smiles on our faces and sobs in our hearts. We are good at masking ourselves. We are good at denial and suppression. Silence is helpful in allowing us to admit what’s really going on inside and then turn to the One who can make things better. At the same time,  there are times in our moments of solitude when we self-introspect and talk too much. God is trying to speak and we have our lists and wants and petitions and needs and then we finish throwing it all up, get up and resume our day with burden-laden souls. There are times when we need to be still and listen to the silence. A mysterious rest descends like a soft blanket. Reliance and devotion to God is strengthened because in our silence we are saying, “Your presence is enough.”

Psalm 131:2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Are you willing to wean your soul from the distractions and just be still? and silent? Are you ready to close your eyes and not be afraid if you, oh tired mother of toddlers, fall asleep in the midst of your quiet time with God?

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Feel the weights fall off and every atom in your God-breathed being begin to vibrate with heavenly peace.   And if God chooses not to speak in his still, small voice, welcome and appreciate His constant presence. Jehovah-Shammah. God is there.

I know He speaks in the stillness.

I believe He heals in silence.

When silence screams “Shhhh!”,  stop and

just be.

 

Isaiah 32:17-18 (NKJV)
17 The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,…

 

 

 

 

Respect the Rules of My House

stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-male-neighbors-talking-over-fence-133161437Most mornings I do a quick perusal of my Facebook Newsfeed. I came across an article that made my heart ache a couple of weeks ago. I ended up taking a few minutes to jot down some thoughts in a quick post. This “quick post” has gotten pretty high approval ratings Lol and I’ve decided to delve more deeply into the societal issues that were on my heart when I wrote the first post. Here is a lengthier, more controversial, but heartfelt cry to those who don’t want to respect the rules of my “houses”.

Whether it is the obliteration of the possibility of offense or the idolatry of sensitivity, we’ve seen a lot of attack on traditional faith values, particularly when it comes to the hot button topic of gender issues. This traditional value crosses religious lines. When it comes to this one issue, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have common agreement. It’s true that in Christianity, some denominations are splitting over this issue and they have the right to do so. Those who follow a traditional reading of Scripture disagree with the view that scripture evolves or is dictated by ever-changing culture.  Islam is not without it’s inner debates. Some conservative Western born Muslim women disagree with the traditional Islamic view of women and children as being inferior to men. The differences need to be respected, not suppressed or banned.  Right now there is pressure for churches and individuals to not teach or share their faith values because what they believe may offend someone else. In some cases, it’s being touted as hate speech or at the very least…a phobia. Tolerance, one of the gods of the early 2000s has lost it’s luster for a more sinister god, that in my view, lacks basic common sense. Instead of tolerance, society is being duped by the doctrine of compliance.

In other words, there is a segment of society that wants me to change my house rules to comply with their worldview. Right now the attack has begun with houses of faith and houses of self-enterprise. I pray the day never comes when the attack comes to your personal house or mine. Why, oh why can these various “houses” just be respected for having different worldviews and left alone? Let’s be neighbors and respect each other’s individual intellectual property when it comes to belief and speech. I learned the importance of this at a very young age as a young black girl living in a mostly white suburb.

When I was young, we lived in a community with a mixture of Jewish people, Catholics, and Protestants. It was okay to acknowledge the differences and not be insulted or offended. I learned that my 4th grade buddy Jonathan’s family ate matzah and didn’t believe Jesus was God. His mom let me try matzah. I didn’t like it. He invited me to his birthday party at the Jewish Community Center. I was the only black person. Despite feeling a little overwhelmed by the cultural differences, I was ok. Jonathan and his family liked me. We played together almost daily, trying to figure out how to sell our “furniture” that was made from sticks and Ohio buckeyes. No one back then got afraid, indignant or nervous that one of us was going to proselytize the other. My few Catholic friends also had some different beliefs. I went to a mass once and decided at eleven that I liked my faith better. My friend wasn’t offended. It was normal to respect differences of opinion. It was fine for each of my friends to think “our” way was the best and not be offended or feel discriminated against. I’d never expect Jonathan’s mom to serve me ham, just because I like ham. When in each other’s houses, Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant, we knew to respect “house rules” even if we didn’t participate or personally agree with them. We never got offended and thought that the “house rules” were discriminatory towards us. It was our choice to go to that friend’s house or not. 
I miss that era. If people come to my house, house of faith, the business I own etc, they should respect me and the “rules” of my houses. It’s their choice to come or not. We can still be friends even if we don’t agree with the tenets the other’s faith, lifestyle decisions, or worldviews. We can do what my friends and I did as kids: know there are differences and not be offended by them. We don’t have to take their differences of opinion as an affront to our well-being. I had one childhood friend whose “house rules” were uncomfortable to me. Therefore I didn’t go into her house. We played outside.
I hope in this present era that my house, your house, our individual houses of faith, self-employment venues etc will be respected for their “house rules”: tenets, beliefs, worldviews. I don’t like the taste of matzah, You may not believe that Jesus is God. There’s no reason for offense to be taken, just understanding to be offered.

Do you remember the adage that you learned as a child, “Respect your neighbor’s property”? My parents instilled in us an understanding that while we share a neighborhood, each property line distinguishes boundaries of ownership. My small four street neighborhood right outside of Shaker Heights, Ohio had a block party one summer. It was a wonderful experience! I remember zooming down the street on my bicycle with kids that I knew and some that I’d never met before. We shared food and fun. However, an unspoken rule remained as I looked around. No one, but no one stepped onto the lawn or driveway of another property owner. We stayed in the street, the area that belonged to us all. I was impressed.

If a person goes into a house of faith, whatever the spiritual tradition, there is an unspoken rule, or understanding, that you now comply with or respect the “rules” of that house. I can’t enter a mosque and expect to be served Holy Communion. I can’t go into a Muslim country as a woman and expect them to let me roam freely without a burka. That would be rude.

Private businesses, schools, churches and homes reflect the values of their founders or owners. None of us wants someone else to come into our home or business and tell us that we have to never eat peanut butter because someone with a severe nut allergy may come over.

No civil authority has the right to censor religious doctrine or individual speech. There is a divine boundary line between state and individual. What is deemed private should never be violated by the ever-changing court of public opinion.  We have a divine gift to believe what ever we perceive is Truth. Our lives reflect this Truth each day in our lifestyles and words. No state or law has the right to make us comply with something different. Traditional faith values as well as other worldviews deserve mutual respect. We do not have to agree with each other’s “house rules” in order to live as neighbors.

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neighbors Leslie Oshana and Marilynn Taylor(glasses) talking outside their homes.