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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Drowning God Out




by Colleen Reece

My pastorís creative sermon illustration changed my life.

 My pastor is the best pastor anywhere. I know I’m biased, but hear me out. You wouldn’t believe all the creative things he does to make worship interesting. His sermons are never dull or boring. Everyone leans forward on the edge of their seats so they won’t miss anything. He makes the Bible so real that you feel like you’re right there in the middle of what is happening. His ideas are so creative that no one forgets his messages. He has a unique gift from God.

If there’s a “king of gotcha,” it’s Pastor Deane. Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s coming next, he does something totally different. The only thing you can expect from him is the unexpected!
Not long ago, he opened by reading Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” I recognized the scripture right away from the words of a song that’s on Christian radio a lot. 
The first thing Pastor Deane did was to mention a whole lot of the things that drown God out in our lives. I don’t mean just the unnecessary stuff, but other things. By the time he finished, he had a laundry list of things that gobble up our time and attention—school and homework, friends, television, work, family time, recreation and vacation, church activities, sports, music, reading—and a lot more that keeps us from reading the Bible or spending quiet time alone with God. Pastor Deane pointed out that many of these things are good and important, but all of them are time-consuming.
I scrunched down in my seat, remembering the past week when I’d been too busy to really talk to God. My drive-by prayers were something like “Good-morning-God-thank-You-for-this-day-amen” in the morning and “Thank-You-for-a-great-day [yawn] please-bless-everyone-amen” at night. 
“Sorry, God,” I silently prayed. “Please help me to concentrate on you.” Then I honed in on the sermon again.
“I don’t usually do object lessons using some of you, but today I will,” our pastor said as he looked straight at me. 
Then he held up a book and said, “Colleen, would you please come up front?” 
Hundreds of faces turned toward me, all their eyes staring at me. I wanted to crawl under the seat, but Pastor Deane was undeterred. He smiled and waited for me. Was there life after embarrassment? I doubted it. 
I stumbled up the aisle that suddenly looked like an Olympic-size swimming pool. When I reached the front of the church, Pastor Deane had me stand next to him and face the  congregation. He handed me the book. 
“This is a book of Christian stories,” he said. “Choose one. When I tell you, start reading it out loud.”
Excuse me? I thought. I’m supposed to stand here and read a story to the congregation? It was a cold day, but I felt hot all over. 
I somehow managed to open the book and put my finger in the pages to mark the place, but our pastor didn’t have me start reading right away. Instead he told several others from the congregation to come up front. Some of them looked as uncomfortable as I felt. Having a few other people up there with Pastor Deane  made me feel a little better!
Our pastor handed each of the other people a different type of book—books on history, math, astronomy—books by well-known Christian authors. He gave the others he’d called forward the same instructions he’d given me. 
After each person selected a place to read, Pastor Deane called his wife forward. He had her stand slightly in front of him, with her back to the puzzled-looking congregation. Even though we’re used to our pastor’s extraordinary methods, this was something new. 
He took up his Bible and told us, “Start reading, please, everyone at the same time.” He began reading from the Bible.
After loud gasps and a ripple of laughter that swept through the sanctuary, we started reading. I wanted to laugh at the clamor, but valiantly struggled on. Our voices rose, each trying to be heard, until the sound was almost unbearable.
Pastor Deane leaned closer to his wife and continued reading from the Bible. The expression on her face showed she obviously couldn’t hear him. Too many voices were drowning out the Word of God. 
You wouldn’t believe how stupid I felt, standing there with a bunch of people all doing their own thing. It was like the Tower of Babel all over again.  
Our pastor kept reading. Mrs. Deane kept shaking her head and straining to hear what her husband was saying. After what seemed like forever, Pastor Deane held up his hand. The noise stopped. He thanked us and sent us back to our seats.
Pastor Deane could have ended the service right there. Instead, he quietly said, “All of the books I gave you have value and good information. But because they were all being read at once, we couldn’t hear God’s voice speaking through His Scriptures.”
No matter how good the stuff happening in your life might be, until you turn it all down it will be difficult to hear God. How long has it been since you turned off the TV, shut off your cell phone, put aside an exciting book, found a quiet place, and listened for God’s whisper?
 
Colleen Reece writes from Auburn, Washington.
 




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