Tag Archives: Voices

The Chaos of Influence

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My kids have been introduced this year to basketball. We signed them up at a church in the next town for Upward Sports.

Having never done basketball before, there is a pretty sharp learning curve when someone is thrown in with other kids who have played for the last two years. Each practice and game is filled with input from both coaches as the kids try to learn the skills needed to win.

Game times are extremely chaotic. There are usually two basketball games going on simultaneously with only a double-row of chairs separating the two games. Kids on one court hesitate when the referee on at the other game blows a whistle. Parents are stacked on top of one another to watch their kids. There is yelling from parents and coaches alike as they all try to encourage their kids to take this shot or pass the ball or block that person.

In the midst of the chaos it is difficult for the kids to hear the voices that are speaking to them and trying to help them excel at what they are doing.

Isn’t this so true in each of our lives as well?

We have voices coming at us from all sides daily. There are voices on the television and radio. There are voices from our bosses and coworkers. There are voices from our friends and neighbors. There are voices from our families. There are voices from the books we read and the internet. There are even voices within our own heads.

Each voice is trying to earn the right to influence your actions.

Once, Jesus was talking about his followers, and he called them his sheep. He referred to himself as the shepherd. He said that others would come and try to lead the sheep away, but the sheep would not follow because they didn’t recognize the voice of the shepherd. Then he said this about his sheep:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

if you consider Jesus your shepherd, then his voice should be the one that rings out through the chaos of noise in your life. You will come to recognize that voice more easily as you spend time with she shepherd in his word, through prayer, and as you spend time with others who are listening to and following the shepherd. It will also be easier to recognize the shepherd when we whittle away the other voices in our lives that stand in stark opposition to our shepherd’s voice. We may not be able to get away from the voices, but we don’t have to give those voices any rights within our lives to dictate feelings, choices or actions.

We each have a choice as to which voices we allow to have authority in our lives. Jesus wants us to make his voice the priority, and his voice is saying “Come, follow me. I love you.”

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Why me, God?

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I’m a nobody.

There’s nothing overly special about me. I’m not stronger or smarter than the average person. I don’t have some kind of special knowledge. I don’t love better than others. I don’t sin less than anyone. I’m abundantly average.

In fact, I feel like I am weaker than most. I don’t know nearly all that I want to know, and my wisdom isn’t very wise compared to those I look up to. I struggle with loving other people because of my innate ability to be selfish. Oh, and I sin – a lot. Maybe I’m less than average.

I didn’t always see myself like this. I used to think I was everything to everyone. I was God’s gift to the world, but then I grew up and the voices around me began to make headway into my own thoughts. I began to see myself in light of the achievements of others and the opinions of others. That’s when I began to have a real view of myself.

The real view of me isn’t pretty. It’s nothing to brag about.

In this view of me, however, I also see that I AM God’s gift to the world.

As long as I am relying on my strength and knowledge and prowess I become puffed up and useless for God. How can He use me if I’m not willing to be used? But I have nothing to offer to Him. I’m just a messed up heap of brokenness.

Paul, the guy that wrote most of the New Testament, thought about himself in similar ways. He had a lot to brag about but he considered all those things as garbage. He had some kind of ailment or personal torment that he prayed for God to remove, but He didn’t. He struggled with the battle between what he wants to do and what he actually does – just like me.

Yet, when it all boiled down he came to one conclusion:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When I realize that I’m just an ordinary person with nothing special to give then I can also realize that Jesus wants to work through me. If I was full of myself there would be no room for Jesus. When, in my weakness, I allow Him to work amazing things then I get to see the glory of God working through me.

As far as pottery is concerned I’m just a cracked pot, but Jesus sees me as priceless and has chosen to work through me to change the world. He’s chosen you too. Are you willing to be empty of yourself so that He can move in and be glorified in you?

I can focus on my faults and inadequacies all day long, but it’s much more fun to focus on how Jesus is going to use me today in spite of all those things. Oh, and He does use me daily…it’s all about Him.

May Jesus be glorified in us as He changes the world by using His favorite instruments – us.


The Voices Inside My Head

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I’m exhausted. My family and I just got back from a 3,000 mile round-trip excursion to Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, back to Tennessee, then Missouri, back to Arkansas, then finally back to Texas. We got to see family and friends we haven’t gotten to see in a while. We got to visit with a couple of my former students – one of whom got back in January from Afghanistan. I also got to go to a marvelous Youth Ministry Conference while in Louisville. It was a time of refreshing as I gathered with 3,000 other youth ministers from around the country to get refueled for ministry.

As I was there breathing out the stressors and worries of life and breathing in the words of God I recognized just how many voices speak into our lives.

What voices speak to you each day? Someone this weekend said that the four hardest jobs in the world are politicians, coaches, teachers, and ministers. They are the jobs where everyone else thinks they can do a better job than you can, and they frequently tell you so in no uncertain terms. What voices speak to you?

Maybe your voices come from outside influences. Maybe your family tells you something about yourself. Maybe it’s your friends or co-workers. Maybe it’s media that are significant sources of the voices that convince you of certain “truths” about yourself and the world around you.

I heard a news piece just last night talking about how even the continual images of the “perfect” women in all the visible roles in media influence our young women to think that they must also look that way. There was one story of the little girl in the beauty pageant, and when she didn’t win, she asked her mom “does this mean I’m not pretty?”

These outside voices can be brutal. Perhaps they tell you that you aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or that you don’t work hard enough. Maybe they tell you that you don’t fit in.

These voices, however, are not as potent as the voices in our own heads. I’m not talking about the schizophrenic voices where we talk to ourselves out loud. I’m talking about the subtle whispers in our minds that try to define us.

“You’re a failure as a mother or father.” “You may as well give up.” “No one really cares about you.” “You have nothing of value to contribute to society.” “You’ll never be the spouse you need to be.” “It’s ok if you do that; no one will be affected by your actions.”

As we go on in our lives these voices can easily morph from whispers to shouts as we feed in to their influence on our lives. When we start believing these things they cripple our ability for forward momentum.

I’ve seen the skits where a person stands in front of the mirror and says out loud to him or herself “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” In every skit they say it with enthusiasm, but their eyes reveal the truth that they don’t really believe what they are saying.

Many of these voices keep the dark places of our lives close by so that we don’t allow God to take over those places and eradicate the darkness. The voices keep us captive. They cripple us in our potential.

God is desperately desiring to speak a different message into your life. He wants to remind you that you are His MASTERPIECE (Ephesians 2:10). He wants you to know that when you listen to Him he will help you have the best life possible (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28). He wants you to know that you are totally worth it.

Worth what? Worth His sacrifice on the cross. God thought and still thinks that you are totally worth sacrificing Himself so that you can live eternally with Him.

We listen to these voices because we desperately want to be accepted and liked by society around us. We are constantly trying to impress the world – the created world – while the whole time the God who created that world, the Master of all existence, is trying to tell us that we are His favorite, and he already likes us. He even loves us. I once heard Jon Acuff say that “God follows our Facebook, and he likes, likes, likes!”

That’s pretty good news isn’t it? Let me challenge you. Spend more time listening to what God says about you in His word than what society said about you or even than what Satan whispers in your head. If you do this it will be much easier to combat those voices. I propose that you will even have a much brighter outlook on life. “You are more than a conqueror through Christ.” “You have been given a spirit of power, love, and self discipline.” “God will never leave you nor forsake you.” These and so many other promises are found in scripture. And when we read these promises, we also need to remember that God cannot lie.

You are awesome! God made you the way you are, and he doesn’t make junk. Satan has been trying to remold you into his likeness since you were born. It’s time to allow God to reshape you back into the masterpiece he created you to be. That reshaping can only happen when we let the voice of God be more influential than the voices of this world.

I’m on this journey with you. External voices are constantly trying to tear me down. Join with me in becoming more dependent on the voice of God than the voices of all the “haters” – even the ones inside our heads. And may our lives change for the greater because of it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to call me at 245-1611 or via email at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you!


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