Listen slowly —

You can hear something quickly, but you can really only listen slowly. Hearing may happen accidently, but listening only happens intentionally.

Sometimes, the Spirit whispers. Always Love listens.

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Shout loudly; don’t hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their crime, to the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, desiring knowledge of my ways like a nation that acted righteously, that didn’t abandon their God. They ask me for righteous judgments, wanting to be close to God. “Why do we fast and you don’t see; why afflict ourselves and you don’t notice?” Yet on your fast day you do whatever you want, and oppress all your workers. You quarrel and brawl, and then you fast; you hit each other violently with your fists. You shouldn’t fast as you are doing today if you want to make your voice heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I choose, a day of self-affliction, of bending one’s head like a reed and of lying down in mourning clothing and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?

Isaiah 58:1-5

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Isaiah delivers a direct and difficult message. “You serve your own interests on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. You fast only to quarrel and to fight.” Those words hurt. We need to listen.

We all need God’s sentinels like Isaiah in our lives. Mothers and grandmothers, teachers and preachers, those close friends who care enough to say not just what we want to hear but what we need to hear.

There is a growing tumor in our time. Apathy. It is malignant in the worst way. It is the absolute opposite of care. You do what you do, and I will do what I do. Isaiah comes to combat our apathy. Speak the truth in love, not to be hurtful but to be helpful. Identify wrong and work to make things right. We cannot do everything, but we must do something.

It starts by looking in the mirror.

Chris George

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God who speaks truth, teach me to listen. Comfort me in my affliction and afflict me when I am too comfortable. Forgive me for my apathy. Open my eyes that I might see injustice and my ears that I might hear the call to be an instrument of love, mercy, and peace. In the name of the Christ who always spoke the truth in love, amen.

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God gives you strength to overcome any struggle, blessings greater than your burdens. This is Good News.

Speak Up. Speak Out.

Fast and Feed.

Pray and Act.

Live and Love.

Chris George

Chris George is the Pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. A capable communicator, a lover of candy, and a father of four kids, Chris is always busy, but also blessed.

Reflections on the Way: I surrender All

Ken Medema

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