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When Silence Is Golden

November 2012
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Reverence . . . Dictionary.com defines reverence as “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.” In our fast-paced, frenetic society we have lost our sense of reverence and awe. If we attend church on Sunday (and I’m not pointing fingers as I don’t at the moment), we may sing a few worship songs at the beginning of the service for maybe an hour (usually less), but for the most part the remaining 167 hours in the week are spent frantically rushing around in an attempt get more of whatever it is we are looking for–better health, a better job, maybe a spouse (or maybe a divorce), more money to get out of debt or to buy more stuff and go deeper in debt, a college education, a great career, the quest to become a millionaire or maybe a billionaire no matter the cost to your health, your relationships, or your soul . . . but God, well, He gets put back on the shelf until next Sunday morning arrives and we, once again, give Him maybe an hour of our time (if we can hold our attention on Him for that long).

Back in 2003 the Barna Group conducted a survey in which 84% of all adults taking that particular survey considered themselves to be Christian. Here’s the opening paragraph from their findings which may or may not surprise you:

“More than four out of five adults – 83% – contend that they are concerned about the moral condition of the nation. Given that 84% of all adults consider themselves to be Christian, they have good reason to worry about the moral state of the country: many of their own views conflict with the moral teachings of their professed faith.

“Of the ten moral behaviors evaluated, a majority of Americans believed that each of three activities were ‘morally acceptable.’ Those included gambling (61%), co-habitation (60%), and sexual fantasies (59%). Nearly half of the adult population felt that two other behaviors were morally acceptable: having an abortion (45%) and having a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse (42%). About one-third of the population gave the stamp of approval to pornography (38%), profanity (36%), drunkenness (35%) and homosexual sex (30%). The activity that garnered the least support was using non-prescription drugs (17%) (quote source here).

Surprised? I’m not. We rarely consult with God anymore about anything pertaining to our personal and professional lives. Lip service? Maybe. But actually seeking His guidance on how to conduct ourselves and how to live our lives 24/7? No . . . .

At the William Jefferson Clinton Memorial Library website there’s a list of Ten Signs of a Culture’s End. Let’s take a look at those ten signs (for a detailed description of each sign click here):

#1: a society which no longer worships or acknowledges God
#2: the decline of the family

#3: a low view of life–abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc.
#4: the prevalence of base and immoral entertainment
#5: the increase of violent crime among young people
#6: the declining middle class
#7: an insolvent government
#8: a government that lives off of society’s moral decay
#9: when the ruling class loses its will
#10: the failure of its people to see what is happening

Churches litter the landscape of America but the true worship of God is sorely missing most of the time. Many churches have become “Christian Entertainment Centers” instead of a place to worship the Creator of the Universe. “Worship” is a billion-dollar industry in America but rarely does it change lives. Sermons lasting 30 minutes at the most (and that don’t mention either Jesus or “sin” during that time) are about as long as our attention spans will allow for (if we aren’t thinking about something else during the sermon).

Read that list again–it starts with “a society that no longer worships or acknowledges God” and ends with “the failure of its people to see what is happening.” And folks . . .

We are there . . . .

Tomorrow is Election Day in America and we are at a crossroad–the most significant crossroad in our history to date. There is not one item on President Clinton’s list that hasn’t been embedded in our culture over the past few decades. If you are a registered voter you need to vote if you haven’t already (I voted early by mail). What happens in these next four years will determine what happens to America.

If you are Christian, I encourage you to spend some time in silence before God during the next two days. Here’s a devotion from Dr. Charles Swindoll titled “Waiting in Silence” to help you prepare:

Waiting in Silence

James 1:2-4

“My soul waits in silence for God only” (Psalm 62:1). Some of the best times in prayer are wordless times. I stop speaking, close my eyes, and meditate upon what I have been reading or upon what I have been saying, and I listen inside of myself. I listen deeply. I listen for reproofs. I think of myself as a home with many doors. As I am meditation–and often it helps to close my eyes so I won’t be distracted–I unlock doors and open them as I want. It is here that the Holy Spirit invades. Then, I take circumstances before Him and I listen with doors open.

Please be assured that I have never heard an audible voice. It isn’t that kind of answering. It’s a listening down inside. It’s sensing what God is saying about the situation. His promise is, after all, that He will inscribe His law–His will–upon our hearts and our minds.

It’s like what you do when you’re in love with a person. Isn’t it true–the deeper the love, the less that has to be said? You can actually sit alone together by a fireplace for an hour or two and say very, very little, but it can be the deepest encounter and relationship you know anything about.

Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength according to Isaiah (40:31), but remember: the key is waiting.

There’s a sense of stability in trusting the Lord. That’s how we wait silently and with a sense of confidence. When we wait for God to direct our steps, He does! When we trust Him to meet our needs, He will!

God tempers us and seasons us,
making us mellow and mature
when we wait on Him.

Source: Day by Day by Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 12
Word Publishing, Thomas Nelson, 2000

In our “instant” society, we know very little about waiting or silence, but we know a lot about impatience. Now is not the time to be impatient. Set aside some time where you won’t be distracted (even if you have to do it at 3:00 a.m.!) and wait on the Lord is silence and let Him guide you instead of your needs. He knows you far better than you know yourself. For a few minutes, “let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20), at least in your little corner of the earth.

You might even think about making it a regular habit. It will change your life and your focus on life. It is individuals that make up a nation. And, if we want to see change in our nation, it starts with usyou and me.

So let’s start now . . . .

And if you haven’t voted yet, VOTE!

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
~Psalm 27:14

YouTube Video: “The Lord is in His Holy Temple” sung by the Camelback Church of Christ, Phoenix, AZ (2011):

Photo credit here

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