MESSAGE SERIES

Mother's Day at Central

To Listen is to Love Sermon Only Lisa Jernigan May 08, 2022

To Listen is to Love Sermon Only
Lisa Jernigan May 08, 2022

To Listen is to Love Full Service Lisa Jernigan May 08, 2022

To Listen is to Love Full Service
Lisa Jernigan May 08, 2022

[00:00:00] All right. Hey, well, one more time, a welcome and happy mother's day. And that welcome goes out to all of you on any of our campuses across the valley. And those of you who are watching this online, we welcome you. We acknowledge that you're with us and, uh, it, uh, it is, uh, it's a, it's a wonderful day and it's a difficult day. And I just want to acknowledge that we've already done that in the service. And we have in mind and we know that it's just, you know, it's one of those things gets really personal. We've chosen today to celebrate. And if you were with us last week, I, I told you that, uh, we're excited this week because of, uh, well, my wife, Lisa is going to bring the message and I could tell you so much about her and why I'm so excited. And she's done this every other year on mother's day for the past two plus decades. Every time I ask her, uh, it's a. Uh, to convince her to do it, but I just, it's one of these things where if you come to central, if you know her, you have a much better understanding of what's actually [00:01:00] happening here. Uh, there's so many things I could tell you about her. I'm not going to take a lot of time, but I can tell you she's a mom of two and her two kids love her and love Jesus. And I could tell you that she's the grandmother of eight. They love her and they love Jesus. I could talk to you about. Uh, just her, uh, Uh, her ministry she has, and this is going to sound because you just don't know. Cause I don't talk much about it and you don't get a chance to hear her. She had literally has an international ministry. She travels all over the world. She meets with foreign leaders. She talks about principles of peace and women in leadership on three different occasions. She has met and talked to Pope Francis in the Vatican about that. She knows foreign minister. She knows mayors from around the world. She just is. And this person who has this ability to build the relationships. And so she heads up a ministry of this international mission called amplify peace. [00:02:00] She has a podcast, she puts out she's a co-host of a radio show, and I can just go on and on and on. And I would just tell you this, that in the early days of our life together, we, by the way, we've been married somewhere between 43, 44, 43 and 44 years. Which is really amazing, cause I'm only 44 and she's only 43. So we met in the nursery and has been this thing ever since. But, um, as, uh, as it goes in the early years of our marriage, uh, I was kind of a public. Uh, I was a preacher. I'd be out front and she'd sit and listen. And often when we'd be somewhere, um, w we'd be introduced as, uh, this is, uh, pastor Cal and his wife. And sometimes people would say things like, well, what do you do? And nowadays, because of her international stature, uh, we travel and often, uh, it will be introduced this as Lisa Jernigan and her [00:03:00] husband Cal, and somebody coming with. Really nothing, nothing much. I am so delighted for you to get to know her because you're going to hear her heart. Uh, we've asked her not just to think about mother's day, but to think about women and leadership and how we can be better. And that's what she's going to address. So it is a thrill for me to have you get to meet her. Would you please do what you do so well, and that is make her feel welcome to her church, Lisa journey again, there she is. Well, good morning. It is such a privilege and honor to be here with you and, you know, um, I love that guy, but he can, he's a preacher and he can exaggerate a little bit. So just consider that there, um, that video earlier wow. All the emotions of that. Right. And it just reminds me. The importance of family. And I think of today, and I think it's family is family time coming together. And, you know, we have our families of [00:04:00] origin and then we have the families that we choose. And central has been a family that we have chosen you as of church, family had been so instrumental and so important in our lives. As we were raising our children, as we've just gone through life for 35 years, you've been a part of our. And such a personal way, and we're just so grateful. So thank you for being in the journey and all they, all the emotions that go with that. So honored to be here, where our family is a family of readers. So the journey begins in the word word. So there were three generations of that. Love a good story. The love, a good book and stories. The only thing about stories there, captain. Stories are intriguing stories are educational, inspirational, and even transformational. They can take us to new lands and new destinations and new places that we only dream of ever going there. They allow us to escape into that. And if it's a really good story, you never want it to end when you're reading a book, you don't want to see the words the end, because it's [00:05:00] just is brought you in so much, but like any good story. There are some common elements to a story. There is conflict. A good story. Usually has conflict has the plot that's been set. It has tension. It has mystery. It has suspense. It has extra ordinary characters and it usually has some. Theme woven throughout. And those are the elements that really draw us into a good story. John Capeci and Timothy gage said this, the ability to see our lives as stories and share those stories with others is at the core of what it means to be human. You see it is through these stories with each other that we share our. Our dreams, our fears, our sadness, and our joy. So we can better connect as humans, as friends and be into envy intentionally con find our commonality with each other. You know, we live in a world that we tend to focus on what divides us, where we are different and we kinda camp out. Then instead of going, [00:06:00] where do we share the same space? Where's our commonality and how do we really stay in that place and turn our attention to. Well stories, help us understand God. They help us understand. And they help us understand ourselves and through these stories and understanding our relationships with God, with others and with ourselves, we find meaning in life and purpose and that it matters. Each one of us I would suggest is a living story. We're a story in the making we're fold-up chapters and, and, and words. And, you know, it's always evolving and we're always turning pages on our life. And when, so we don't really know. How it's going to end, but it's living, it's active. Sadly. We have become a culture that's known for talking more than listening. Um, we live in a world that is very noisy. We're quick to speak and we're slow to listen. And that is causing us some problems in our world today because everybody wants to share an opinion. Everybody [00:07:00] wants to share where we're different instead of just taking the time to. And so listen, so today I want to focus our attention on this concept of listening and listening to the stories all around us and the difference it can make in our lives when we truly listen. So our big idea today is to listen, is to love and love response with empathy and compassion. Now I want to ask you a question. I love questions. I just got to tell you, and there's gonna be a lot of questions today that I want to ask of you, because I think questions take us to a place of discovery and allow us to think and go maybe somewhere or think about something we would not normally do. So if somebody that knows you well, We're asked to rate you on your effectiveness as a listener. Now you might want to not ask your spouse or significant other, because they might want to be a little biased. I know Cal and I probably would not ask him how he would rate me. But if somebody who knew you really well were to rate you, would they give you a nine [00:08:00] or a 10 on the listening? Well, this, this simple word, listen, has really changed my life. And I've come to appreciate over the past few years, because I have found myself as I've traveled to various places, sat in various cultures and various situations. Just the significance of. And being present and listening, listening to stories that are very different than my own listening to cultural differences. I've sat in refugee camps and especially listening to the stories of women and their resilience and just what they've gone through. I have sat with groups of, um, with different cultural differences and with women and different people, just, just to understand, to listen, to understand and, and just hear what's what I don't know, what's not my life. So I'm going to say, ask you a question. What is the difference between hearing and listening? Because you kind of go, well, if I've heard something or I've listened, isn't the same thing. Well, according to the dictionary [00:09:00] hearing is defined as the process, the function or power of a, uh, perceiving a sound hearing is passive. You see us like with our eyes, if we don't want to see something, we close our eyes and we don't. With our ears, all the noise going around us, you know, it could be traffic, it could be music. It could hear voices. You don't turn your ears off. You just can't do that. So hearing is passive. It's involuntary. You just can't, you can't do that. On the other hand, the word listen means to hear something with thoughtful attention. So I want to suggest that listening is active because in a crowded room and with all this noise and space, we decide what voice we're going to listen to. You can be outside and there's traffic and there's music, and there's somebody with you and you can choose to kind of tune out those things and focus on the voice of the person next to you. We have that. So listening is [00:10:00] active many times in the new Testament, you had read Jesus saying this to him who has ears to hear, and then he would proceed to share a parable or a story to him who has ears to hear. Now that word here, what does that mean? What is Jesus saying when he says to here? Well, now Jesus being a Jewish man. Would have spoken, not in English and our English word, our English vocabulary. Doesn't doesn't do rightly with that word. It kind of falls flat in our vocabulary. It's kind of one dimensional, but Jesus would have spoken in Hebrew or Aramaic. And the word he would have used would have been the word Shama and Shama means to hear, to listen to, to. You see the word when he said to him who has ears to hear, he's saying that you will hear that you will listen and that we obey you see in our English vocabulary. When we say we will [00:11:00] say something like I heard you, and then we'll just walk away and we'll think we're done. Right. I heard you and we're done. We've moved on to the next thing. But in that culture, That was not the case you had to listen and you had to obey. So to listen is to engage your whole being, listen with your eyes, with your heart, with your whole person. It's listening to. I want to share a story, um, of a really good friend of mine, several, a couple right before, actually right before the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to meet in person a really special woman. Her name is ginger Sunbird Martin, and I got to hear her in person and I got to be, she was telling a story. She was sharing she's from the Heela river Indian community. And there was a group of us that were listening to her out in her community. Tell, uh, tell stories, telling the story of the past, the history and some of the realities of today and her storytelling [00:12:00] ability was captivating. And we stood there and we listened to her. And when she was done, I immediately went to her and I'm like, I got to learn more premium because the way you tell a story, the heart, in which you tell a story, I've got to learn more from you. And then right after that, we had locked down, but we couldn't. And through the lockdown, we started a conversation and we started a friendship and we would talk on the phone cause I wanted to learn more about tribal culture, tribal culture values, um, compared to our culture and gender, someone who teaches that she trains on that. She. Dynamic leader in her community. And I knew I need to listen to her. And so over the course of time, we just developed this friendship. We developed this trust. I felt comfortable to ask her any questions to say anything to her. And in one particular conversation, I asked her a question I've been wanting to ask this question. I felt like this was safe enough to ask her. So I asked her a question and when I asked her this [00:13:00] question, there was a long pause afterwards, and there was a silent. Now I don't do good in silence. I feel like I have to fill it with words. Right. So I just sat there for a moment. It was a little uncomfortable. It was quiet. And then, um, I kind of realized that maybe I didn't ask that question really well. So I remember saying ginger, did I just offend you? Did I just ask that question in an inappropriate way? And I will never forget what she said to me because hers, her words have literally transformed my life. What she said to me was Lisa, I listened to the words of your heart. I didn't listen to your English words. I didn't let your English words get in the way, because I know you. And I said, what do you mean? She goes well, in our culture, the way you ask that you said, Ken, I in our culture, we're a second and third person culture. We would never use. And I said, okay, can you help me? [00:14:00] How, how should I have asked that question? She said, well, you could have said, would it be possible for someone to do this? And so in that moment, she listened to the words of my heart. She didn't let my, she wasn't offended by the, by my English words that got in the way that were messy. And in that moment, and in that conversation, I knew how much she cared about. And our friendship deepened, and ever since I've learned so much from this woman, and I'm so grateful for her in my life. The next time you get ready to have a conversation with someone, I want you to consider these facts. We listened at 125 to 250 words per minute, but think at a thousand to 3000 words per minute, can you even imagine conversations going on 85% of what we have learned is through listening, not talking. And 75% of the time we are distracted preoccupied or [00:15:00] forgetful. Now I don't know about you if that's not that shocking to me, because I know myself and I know sometimes I can be in a conversation in a crowded room and FOMO kicks in, right? Because it's like, I want to know what I'm, what am I missing? What's going on? And I have to really make myself focus my attention to be fully present with someone the 75% of the time we are usually distracted in a conversation. So, let me ask you this question. What are we missing by not listening and being fully present with somebody in that moment? What if we talked less and listened more? Are we giving God and others in our lives? A chance to truly be heard? Because the listener is to love and listening has the power to change our world. I want to suggest three areas where listening can be transformational in our lives. First of all, when we listen to. Second, when we listen to others. And third, when we listen to ourselves, you see, we have a God who listens, he's fully present he's in the moment with us. And [00:16:00] Jesus knew that the best ways to minister to people is by listening and by listening, he loves and he was loving us. Jeremiah 29, 12 says, then you will call up on me and come and pray for me to me. And I will hear you here. I will listen. I will read. Have you ever thought about a posture of listening? Is there a posture to listening or is it just with our ears? I read a verse in Psalms a couple of years ago that literally changed my view on, on God and even how God interacts with me because a lot of times I think we think of a God that's rigid. That's just kind of stands there that listens to us. That's not totally engaged. And I'm going to read this first, cause I think you might join me in singing. Uh, view of God. It says once Psalm 1 16, 1 to two, I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy because he bends down to listen. [00:17:00] I will pray as long as I have breath. I love that imagery of God coming to us and he bends down and he looks at us and I think he looks at us in the eye and he says, I see. I hear you. I'm listening and I'm responding with love, you know, this posturing of building bending down of getting kneeling before somebody is a posture of humility, not power. And that's how we see that God comes to us, not in a powerful way, which he could, but he chooses to come to us. And with love. I find that it makes a difference. This posture I've thought about this more because we have a grandkids ages three to 13. Now a couple of them I'm looking up to these days, but a lot of the little ones are still little and young enough. And when they start speaking to me, There's nothing better than a voice of a child. And when I remember just hearing my own kids' voice when they were little and now your grandchildren, [00:18:00] and so they start to speak. And first of all, it's really hard to understand them and some of the little ones, but when they start speaking, I find myself kneeling down in front of them, trying to get closer to them, to hear them, to read their lips, to read their eyes, to see the full expression on their face. Because a lot of times when they're talking to their eyes are twinkling they're they're, they're so excited. And if I stand up. And look down at them. I will miss all of that. And so just the posturing of getting down, meeting somebody where they're at, I think it's just, it's more than official physical posturing, but are we, when we're listening to somebody, are we where they are at listening to them? Are we engaging the full being? Cause I think it matters. It matters to them and it matters to me because when we're in proximity like that, it breaks down barriers and walls come down because we're together. We're in that. Then I also think there's a posturing of looking up. Sometimes we look down and we can kneel down and be with somebody, but also we get so, um, you know, we're in this journey of life and we're [00:19:00] so on a mission and we're moving and we forget to look around. We forget to look up. And I want to share a verse with you where Jesus actually looks up to find somebody to meet them where they're at. And it's in Luke 19 one through six. It's a story about set Kias, Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zach Kias. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and yet become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and declined Sycamore tree beside the road for Jesus was going to pass that. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zach Kias and he called him by name Zach. He S he said, quick, come down. I must be a guest in your home. I can't even imagine being Zach. He is. And having Jesus walking, you have to admit he's in a crowd. He's walking. People are just coming around him trying to be near him. [00:20:00] And Jesus stops and he looks. And he sees that Zach, he is, and he calls him by name. I think it's a beautiful imagery of a God who searches for us, who seeks us out to find us and to listen to us, many of us with, with lab to hear an audible voice of God, speak to us. But just because we don't doesn't mean that God isn't speaking, because God is always communicating. And there are many ways that he communicates to us. He communicates to us. Through Jesus through the holy spirit. And I believe he communicates to us through others. You know, the thing about the Bible, it's a, it's a beautiful story. Basically. The Bible is a story. It's a divine love story of a creator God, and how he loves humankind. And we just see that throughout the Bible. We are the object of his unconditional and unfailing love. He is searching for us. He [00:21:00] wants us to know how much he loves us and to what links he will go to bring us. And Genesis three in the old Testament, we see that man turns his back on God. And the rest of the big biblical story is God trying to win us back and to go I'm here, I'm here. I'm with you. And I want to be with you. The Bible is filled like any good story. We talked about the Bible. The story of the Bible is filled with all the elements that make up a good story. There's tension. There's conflict. There's suspense. There's miss. But above all there is love. And that's what we see in the story of the Bible and the story of God, you know, as parents, I don't know about you, like, you know, just imagine sitting around the family table, there's nothing, we want more as parents than to have our. Sit at a table, so to speak and love each other. Now this doesn't mean that they always will agree that they always get along, that they see life the same, that they have the same [00:22:00] experiences that they have, the same opinions or perspectives that's okay. Because it is not about uniformity. It's about unity and it really matters because we want harmony at the family table. Do you think God wants anything different for him? He created all of us the same in his image, doesn't matter, ethnicity or gender. It doesn't matter because we are all children of God created in his image. And I think it breaks his heart when he sees what's happening in our world today that the vision, the polarization, the hatred, the animosity, I think it breaks his heart because he's like, this is not what I wish for you. This is not what's best for you. This is not how I created things. John 1720 through 23 says I am praying not only for these disciples, this is Jesus' words, but also for all, who will ever believe in me through their message, I pray that they will be all be one just as you and I are one, as you are in me, father, I am in you and may they be [00:23:00] in us so that the world will believe you. I have given them the glory you gave me. So they may be one as we are one I am in them. And you are in me, may the experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Let me ask you a question. What if God listened to us? Like we listened to him, would we be okay with that? Would we be okay with the way he listens to us with the way we listen to. We know that God is listening to us, that God hears us. He responds to us. He hears our pains. He hears our sorrows. He hears our dash dreams, but he also hears our hopes, our desires, the things we want in life, the joys, the celebrations he's with us and all those. So the second area when it's suggested as transformational in our listening is when we listen to others. I just [00:24:00] returned Thursday night from an eight day trip, uh, taken a deep drive, dive into, um, the American or American narrative, um, touring some of the sites in the south where some of our history of the chance Atlantic slave trade with enslaved people to the civil war. To the civil rights area era and to the realities of today. And we talked and we visited with different leaders, community leaders, faith leaders, ordinary people, and their story, just to understand, to listen, to understand, to listen, to learn and to glean from them because their story is different than ours. We had a diverse group. We had a group of 16 from central and we traveled together and we were a diverse group. And so our. Our histories, our families of origin were very different and we would sit in these, I call them sacred space where we could just be real with each other and share. And I got to tell you, we had moments that [00:25:00] were hard, that were painful, that were messy because. We were sharing some of our realities and some of it's hard to hear, but that doesn't mean we don't listen because we need to be listening to each other. We need to hear each other's stories and understand and hold them and honor them for what they are. But as hard as it was, it was also rich. It was beautiful. And it was transformative. Now I know last week, Cal shared a story of two brothers who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned for over 20 years for crimes. They didn't. We also have the opportunity to meet with two men, Jerome and Robert who had similar stories. They were wrongly convicted since to present served over 20 years for crimes. They did not commit. And so we listened to them. There's a beautiful thing about them is they had every right to be. To be resentful. And there's a lot of pain. One Jerome had at the time when he [00:26:00] was incarcerated, had a young young son. And so he missed all those years with his child, but just a couple of years ago, they were each released. Um, and one of the men, Robert Jones had. For many years for his own conviction to be overturned. And so it was after 23 years of wrongfully serving time in prison, he was released. And today among other, uh, roles he plays, he is the client advocate with the Orleans public defender's office in new Orleans. One of the most amazing things about these men is that they, they realized their story wasn't wasted. It wasn't the story they wanted. It was injustice that had happened to them, but yet they're choosing to use their story to help so many others. And so they're fighting on behalf of others. So this doesn't continue to happen and you just see love they're listening and they're responding. Robert Jones. One of the men said this when we first love ourselves, in spite of our shortcomings, [00:27:00] it makes it easier to love others. These were just two of the stories that we heard. And as we would sit in these spaces and listen to these stories, our hearts were broken. Our souls were disrupted, but together we listened together. We prayed and together we breathed. And our listening challenge, each one of us to really ask ourselves, what does it look like to listen and to respond in love? How do we love, how do we see through the eyes and the heart of Jesus? If we truly listen, we must love and respond. Proverbs 31 8 9 says this, speak up for those who can not speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes. Speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get. Psalms 1 46, 7 through nine says this. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. The Lord gives sight to the [00:28:00] blind. The Lord lifts up. Those who are bowed down the Lord loves the. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked and that word wicked means someone who mistreats another human being, who denies them, their God, given dignity and worth. And we see that God frustrates the. You see, we can, sometimes we need to be reminded of who we are, that we are the body of Christ and all our diversity in all of our differences and all our opinions and all of our experiences. And with all of our realities, we are the body of Christ and we come together as children of God. First Corinthians 12, 25 through 27, says this so that there should be no division in the body, but that is part should have equal concern for. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ [00:29:00] and each one of you are a part of it. What does that look like? If we truly see that in our differences, we are one, we are United. We are the body of Christ. And as we are United, the world will see a different story than their story they're seeing in the. You know, many of us were taught as children and we teach it to our kids, the golden rule. Right. Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. I want to change that little a little bit. What if we listened to others the way we want others to listen to us, would that make a difference? Would that change things? So, let me ask you a few questions here to get us thinking. I love questions. Like I said, I think they take us on a journey of discovery. Who do you need to listen to? Is there a family member? Is there a friend? Is there a coworker? Is there somebody in your life that you just really haven't listened to in a while that you probably think it would be, it would be benefit. Whose story do you need to hear [00:30:00] that as different than your own, who has a different story, a different life experience that you could listen to, that you could hear? And what if you ask them? What is your story? I find that's a great opener. Cause sometimes it's a lot of people use, it feels awkward to go up to somebody. And how do I have a conversation? How do I ask something to just be able to listen? And I find that a great question is what is your story? And let people tell you their story. A lot of times in the world where it's gotten us to places we want to go, because we have told people what their story is. We have defined them and not let them tell us who they are. We listened to love and to respond with empathy. The third area I think of listening this transformational is listening to ourselves. Have you listened to your own story lately? I have. That might be an awkward question. We got my own story. I know myself. I know myself pretty well, but no. Have you really listened to your own story? And what story are you telling your. [00:31:00] To really be honest with you. I find myself a lot of times, not telling a really good story to myself, cause I can be hard on myself. I can beat myself up. I can focus on the things I don't like instead of focusing on the things that are good about myself and how God creates. Um, a lot of times, I think we find ourself dismissing our story, denying it. Just kind of pushing it aside. I think, especially for women, because we constantly pouring into other people. We pour into our children, our families, our husbands, our significant others, our coworkers, wherever it is, we're constantly pouring out and it's hard to take time for ourself. There's a lot of times we feel like we're being selfish when we do this. But as being is taking care of ourselves is self care. When we do that, we even take time to just find a few moments ago who. You know, if life goes on and on, you know, we find different situations, circumstances, and we're constantly to ask that question, who am I now? Who am I now? And so I think it's important to know who we are. So how do we listen to our own story and listen to [00:32:00] it? Well, I don't think we can know ourselves and listen to our own story without listening to. And I don't think we can listen, really listen to God without really listening to others. And I think the three go together. When you listen to yourself, you've got to listen to others and you got to listen to God. And when you listen to God, you listen to others and yourself, it's all together. You cannot separate them. It's a holistic approach to that. So how do we listen to our story and truly honor it realizing that there's imperfections there's tensions. There are struggles and there's. But how do we also honor the courage, the bravery through resilience in our own story? How do we remember that? Each one of us were created in the image of God and that he loves us unconditionally and that we matter, Matthew 2237 through 39 says this when Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, what is the greatest commandment of the law? And Jesus said, [00:33:00] You must love the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself as yourself. That's hard. That's a hard one in these verses. Jesus emphasized the need for right relationships with God. With others and our S and ourselves, because this is what a family looks like. This is what the body of Christ looks like when we truly listen to each other and are present with each other. I want to read a book right now. I happened to find this week, while we were visiting the legacy museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and the legacy museum was founded by the equal justice initiative. And you may be familiar with the name Bryan Stevenson who wrote the book just mercy, which later came out as a movie, just mercy. And the museum has on display the history of slavery and racism in America from the enslaved. To mass incarceration. [00:34:00] And as I was walking through this museum into the exhibits and listening to the stories they were telling, it just gripped my heart. And, um, it's, it's, it's a place we all need to go to. And just to hear some of the history and from a different perspective, even, but then I, I was walking through and there was a book, um, there in the gift shop that just caught my attention. And so I started going through the pages and I. I need to get this book. I need to read this. Now the book is, I am enough by Grace Byers and it's written as a children's book. It's a picture book. If you have kids, you understand that difference in a picture book and a chapter book. But I want to suggest that perhaps this is a chapter book that is written for adults, because this is a message, not just for children, but this is a message that we all need to be reminded, and we all need to hear. So I'm going to read the story like the son I'm here to. Like the voice I'm here to sing, like the bird I'm here to fly and soar [00:35:00] high over everything. Like the trees I'm here to grow, like the mountains here to stand like time I'm here to be and be everything I can like the champ I'm here to fight, like the heart. I'm here to love, like a ladder here to climb and like the air to rise. Like the wind, I'm here to push like a rope. I'm here to pull, like the rain I'm here to pour and drip and fall apart. I'm full, like the moon. I'm here to dream, like the student here to learn like the water here to swell, like the fire here to burn, like the winner I'm here to win. And if I don't I'll get up again. I know that I may sometimes cry, but even then I'm here to do. I'm not meant to be like you, you're not meant to be like me. Sometimes we will get along and sometimes we'll disagree. I know that we don't look the same, our skin, our eyes, [00:36:00] our hair, our frame, but that does not dictate our worth. We both have places here on earth and in the end we are right, right here to live a life of love, not fear to help each other when it's. To say together I am enough. And that's a message. I just want to remind us that each one of us, we are enough. And when we listen to our own stories with empathy and compassion, we change not only ourselves, but those around us. So in conclusion, I just want to share. So what happens when we truly listen, hear and respond to. I think chains are broken since forgiven healing happens. Hope is lived love and braced dignity restored because he is, we are, he is enough. And what happens when we listen [00:37:00] to others, relationships are restored. Healing happens, unity results, injustices cease, because he is, we all. We are enough. What happens when we listen to ourselves? Chains are broken. Freedom is realized, hope rises. There's love for self dignity restored because he is, I am, I am enough. You know, your story and my. Can't be lived alone. It can't be lived separately in isolation because my humanity is connected and tied into your humanity, humanity. I can't flourish at the expense of view and you can flourish at the expense of me. We all must flourish together and we, and we must fight for a world in which we all flourish together and that's the body of Christ and that's what love does. And that's what happens when we listen to each other to live our best life and to make a great.[00:38:00] We must listen to God and listen to others and ourselves. And as a result, love response and love happens in our world. When we lesson with love, we can create a better story, a better future for generations to come. Now I know that many women today sitting here, this is a hard day, and I went to say it again, that I know it represents loss and unmet expectations and an fulfilled. I know, not every woman is a mom here, but I also want to share just a story. I, cause I know that today is a happy day and it's a sad day. We hold both. We hope both tensions. I lost my mom in 1990. And when I was watching that video earlier that bumper, all the fields in that thing, you know, and I just took me to that place because I, my mom has been gone for 24 years and I still to this day, want to pick up the phone and call her and tell her about something. I wish she could have been. [00:39:00] My grandkids, her great grandkids. I wish she could have seen her grandkids grow up and see that the spouses that they chosen married, she'd be so proud. My mom loved kids. She was a teacher. My mom was fun. She was funny. She was one of my best friends. We had so many great memories together and her life ended way too soon. And I still miss her. One of the things I miss the most as I miss her. I long to hear her voice again. And there was something about her voice that just made life. Okay. Especially when you're sick, you're not feeling well, you're having a bad day. You just want to hear that voice to know, just put life in perspective. I think we have a heavenly father who longs to hear our voice and his voice. And so he, we can know our story and what he thinks about us. And do you long to hear his. When's the last time you heard his voice. So you just set, took time to be still and to be present and to listen to the voice of God. A [00:40:00] voice of love. Pope Francis said this obeying God is listening to God having an open heart to follow the path that God points out to us. Are you listening with an open heart? Are you listening to stories? Are you listening to God? Are you listening to. Are you hearing and are you obeying God and the relationships that you have with others and with yourself, when we do this, when we listen to love, we can change our world. Let's pray. God, thank you. That you are a God who loves. You're a God who sees your God. Who's with us in the moments you're fully present. You're not distracted you long to hear our voice help us long to hear yours, help us listen to you to hear and. Help us to have the courage to listen to others who may have a different story, a different narrative, help us to sit in those spaces and honor the stories of each one of us, and know that we are a family that you want us United in this world. And that when we are United, amazing things can have. And [00:41:00] then Lord give us courage to listen to our own stories and help us to put away the shame that could be there. Um, the disappointments that we've had with maybe with ourself to realize that doesn't define us, what, what defines us and who defines us as you, and you want us to live our best life because you are with us. Lord. I pray if there's someone here today that just needs to turn their attention to you, to truly listen to you, that you would turn them to you. And thank you. You kneel down with us in humility and not in power and that you see us and you listen to our voice and it makes you smile. God, we love you. And we thank you for the love you have for us in Jesus name. Amen.
✖ CLOSE

[00:00:00] All right. Hey, well, one more time, a welcome and happy mother's day. And that welcome goes out to all of you on any of our campuses across the valley. And those of you who are watching this online, we welcome you. We acknowledge that you're with us and, uh, it, uh, it is, uh, it's a, it's a wonderful day and it's a difficult day. And I just want to acknowledge that we've already done that in the service. And we have in mind and we know that it's just, you know, it's one of those things gets really personal. We've chosen today to celebrate. And if you were with us last week, I, I told you that, uh, we're excited this week because of, uh, well, my wife, Lisa is going to bring the message and I could tell you so much about her and why I'm so excited. And she's done this every other year on mother's day for the past two plus decades. Every time I ask her, uh, it's a. Uh, to convince her to do it, but I just, it's one of these things where if you come to central, if you know her, you have a much better understanding of what's actually [00:01:00] happening here. Uh, there's so many things I could tell you about her. I'm not going to take a lot of time, but I can tell you she's a mom of two and her two kids love her and love Jesus. And I could tell you that she's the grandmother of eight. They love her and they love Jesus. I could talk to you about. Uh, just her, uh, Uh, her ministry she has, and this is going to sound because you just don't know. Cause I don't talk much about it and you don't get a chance to hear her. She had literally has an international ministry. She travels all over the world. She meets with foreign leaders. She talks about principles of peace and women in leadership on three different occasions. She has met and talked to Pope Francis in the Vatican about that. She knows foreign minister. She knows mayors from around the world. She just is. And this person who has this ability to build the relationships. And so she heads up a ministry of this international mission called amplify peace. [00:02:00] She has a podcast, she puts out she's a co-host of a radio show, and I can just go on and on and on. And I would just tell you this, that in the early days of our life together, we, by the way, we've been married somewhere between 43, 44, 43 and 44 years. Which is really amazing, cause I'm only 44 and she's only 43. So we met in the nursery and has been this thing ever since. But, um, as, uh, as it goes in the early years of our marriage, uh, I was kind of a public. Uh, I was a preacher. I'd be out front and she'd sit and listen. And often when we'd be somewhere, um, w we'd be introduced as, uh, this is, uh, pastor Cal and his wife. And sometimes people would say things like, well, what do you do? And nowadays, because of her international stature, uh, we travel and often, uh, it will be introduced this as Lisa Jernigan and her [00:03:00] husband Cal, and somebody coming with. Really nothing, nothing much. I am so delighted for you to get to know her because you're going to hear her heart. Uh, we've asked her not just to think about mother's day, but to think about women and leadership and how we can be better. And that's what she's going to address. So it is a thrill for me to have you get to meet her. Would you please do what you do so well, and that is make her feel welcome to her church, Lisa journey again, there she is. Well, good morning. It is such a privilege and honor to be here with you and, you know, um, I love that guy, but he can, he's a preacher and he can exaggerate a little bit. So just consider that there, um, that video earlier wow. All the emotions of that. Right. And it just reminds me. The importance of family. And I think of today, and I think it's family is family time coming together. And, you know, we have our families of [00:04:00] origin and then we have the families that we choose. And central has been a family that we have chosen you as of church, family had been so instrumental and so important in our lives. As we were raising our children, as we've just gone through life for 35 years, you've been a part of our. And such a personal way, and we're just so grateful. So thank you for being in the journey and all they, all the emotions that go with that. So honored to be here, where our family is a family of readers. So the journey begins in the word word. So there were three generations of that. Love a good story. The love, a good book and stories. The only thing about stories there, captain. Stories are intriguing stories are educational, inspirational, and even transformational. They can take us to new lands and new destinations and new places that we only dream of ever going there. They allow us to escape into that. And if it's a really good story, you never want it to end when you're reading a book, you don't want to see the words the end, because it's [00:05:00] just is brought you in so much, but like any good story. There are some common elements to a story. There is conflict. A good story. Usually has conflict has the plot that's been set. It has tension. It has mystery. It has suspense. It has extra ordinary characters and it usually has some. Theme woven throughout. And those are the elements that really draw us into a good story. John Capeci and Timothy gage said this, the ability to see our lives as stories and share those stories with others is at the core of what it means to be human. You see it is through these stories with each other that we share our. Our dreams, our fears, our sadness, and our joy. So we can better connect as humans, as friends and be into envy intentionally con find our commonality with each other. You know, we live in a world that we tend to focus on what divides us, where we are different and we kinda camp out. Then instead of going, [00:06:00] where do we share the same space? Where's our commonality and how do we really stay in that place and turn our attention to. Well stories, help us understand God. They help us understand. And they help us understand ourselves and through these stories and understanding our relationships with God, with others and with ourselves, we find meaning in life and purpose and that it matters. Each one of us I would suggest is a living story. We're a story in the making we're fold-up chapters and, and, and words. And, you know, it's always evolving and we're always turning pages on our life. And when, so we don't really know. How it's going to end, but it's living, it's active. Sadly. We have become a culture that's known for talking more than listening. Um, we live in a world that is very noisy. We're quick to speak and we're slow to listen. And that is causing us some problems in our world today because everybody wants to share an opinion. Everybody [00:07:00] wants to share where we're different instead of just taking the time to. And so listen, so today I want to focus our attention on this concept of listening and listening to the stories all around us and the difference it can make in our lives when we truly listen. So our big idea today is to listen, is to love and love response with empathy and compassion. Now I want to ask you a question. I love questions. I just got to tell you, and there's gonna be a lot of questions today that I want to ask of you, because I think questions take us to a place of discovery and allow us to think and go maybe somewhere or think about something we would not normally do. So if somebody that knows you well, We're asked to rate you on your effectiveness as a listener. Now you might want to not ask your spouse or significant other, because they might want to be a little biased. I know Cal and I probably would not ask him how he would rate me. But if somebody who knew you really well were to rate you, would they give you a nine [00:08:00] or a 10 on the listening? Well, this, this simple word, listen, has really changed my life. And I've come to appreciate over the past few years, because I have found myself as I've traveled to various places, sat in various cultures and various situations. Just the significance of. And being present and listening, listening to stories that are very different than my own listening to cultural differences. I've sat in refugee camps and especially listening to the stories of women and their resilience and just what they've gone through. I have sat with groups of, um, with different cultural differences and with women and different people, just, just to understand, to listen, to understand and, and just hear what's what I don't know, what's not my life. So I'm going to say, ask you a question. What is the difference between hearing and listening? Because you kind of go, well, if I've heard something or I've listened, isn't the same thing. Well, according to the dictionary [00:09:00] hearing is defined as the process, the function or power of a, uh, perceiving a sound hearing is passive. You see us like with our eyes, if we don't want to see something, we close our eyes and we don't. With our ears, all the noise going around us, you know, it could be traffic, it could be music. It could hear voices. You don't turn your ears off. You just can't do that. So hearing is passive. It's involuntary. You just can't, you can't do that. On the other hand, the word listen means to hear something with thoughtful attention. So I want to suggest that listening is active because in a crowded room and with all this noise and space, we decide what voice we're going to listen to. You can be outside and there's traffic and there's music, and there's somebody with you and you can choose to kind of tune out those things and focus on the voice of the person next to you. We have that. So listening is [00:10:00] active many times in the new Testament, you had read Jesus saying this to him who has ears to hear, and then he would proceed to share a parable or a story to him who has ears to hear. Now that word here, what does that mean? What is Jesus saying when he says to here? Well, now Jesus being a Jewish man. Would have spoken, not in English and our English word, our English vocabulary. Doesn't doesn't do rightly with that word. It kind of falls flat in our vocabulary. It's kind of one dimensional, but Jesus would have spoken in Hebrew or Aramaic. And the word he would have used would have been the word Shama and Shama means to hear, to listen to, to. You see the word when he said to him who has ears to hear, he's saying that you will hear that you will listen and that we obey you see in our English vocabulary. When we say we will [00:11:00] say something like I heard you, and then we'll just walk away and we'll think we're done. Right. I heard you and we're done. We've moved on to the next thing. But in that culture, That was not the case you had to listen and you had to obey. So to listen is to engage your whole being, listen with your eyes, with your heart, with your whole person. It's listening to. I want to share a story, um, of a really good friend of mine, several, a couple right before, actually right before the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to meet in person a really special woman. Her name is ginger Sunbird Martin, and I got to hear her in person and I got to be, she was telling a story. She was sharing she's from the Heela river Indian community. And there was a group of us that were listening to her out in her community. Tell, uh, tell stories, telling the story of the past, the history and some of the realities of today and her storytelling [00:12:00] ability was captivating. And we stood there and we listened to her. And when she was done, I immediately went to her and I'm like, I got to learn more premium because the way you tell a story, the heart, in which you tell a story, I've got to learn more from you. And then right after that, we had locked down, but we couldn't. And through the lockdown, we started a conversation and we started a friendship and we would talk on the phone cause I wanted to learn more about tribal culture, tribal culture values, um, compared to our culture and gender, someone who teaches that she trains on that. She. Dynamic leader in her community. And I knew I need to listen to her. And so over the course of time, we just developed this friendship. We developed this trust. I felt comfortable to ask her any questions to say anything to her. And in one particular conversation, I asked her a question I've been wanting to ask this question. I felt like this was safe enough to ask her. So I asked her a question and when I asked her this [00:13:00] question, there was a long pause afterwards, and there was a silent. Now I don't do good in silence. I feel like I have to fill it with words. Right. So I just sat there for a moment. It was a little uncomfortable. It was quiet. And then, um, I kind of realized that maybe I didn't ask that question really well. So I remember saying ginger, did I just offend you? Did I just ask that question in an inappropriate way? And I will never forget what she said to me because hers, her words have literally transformed my life. What she said to me was Lisa, I listened to the words of your heart. I didn't listen to your English words. I didn't let your English words get in the way, because I know you. And I said, what do you mean? She goes well, in our culture, the way you ask that you said, Ken, I in our culture, we're a second and third person culture. We would never use. And I said, okay, can you help me? [00:14:00] How, how should I have asked that question? She said, well, you could have said, would it be possible for someone to do this? And so in that moment, she listened to the words of my heart. She didn't let my, she wasn't offended by the, by my English words that got in the way that were messy. And in that moment, and in that conversation, I knew how much she cared about. And our friendship deepened, and ever since I've learned so much from this woman, and I'm so grateful for her in my life. The next time you get ready to have a conversation with someone, I want you to consider these facts. We listened at 125 to 250 words per minute, but think at a thousand to 3000 words per minute, can you even imagine conversations going on 85% of what we have learned is through listening, not talking. And 75% of the time we are distracted preoccupied or [00:15:00] forgetful. Now I don't know about you if that's not that shocking to me, because I know myself and I know sometimes I can be in a conversation in a crowded room and FOMO kicks in, right? Because it's like, I want to know what I'm, what am I missing? What's going on? And I have to really make myself focus my attention to be fully present with someone the 75% of the time we are usually distracted in a conversation. So, let me ask you this question. What are we missing by not listening and being fully present with somebody in that moment? What if we talked less and listened more? Are we giving God and others in our lives? A chance to truly be heard? Because the listener is to love and listening has the power to change our world. I want to suggest three areas where listening can be transformational in our lives. First of all, when we listen to. Second, when we listen to others. And third, when we listen to ourselves, you see, we have a God who listens, he's fully present he's in the moment with us. And [00:16:00] Jesus knew that the best ways to minister to people is by listening and by listening, he loves and he was loving us. Jeremiah 29, 12 says, then you will call up on me and come and pray for me to me. And I will hear you here. I will listen. I will read. Have you ever thought about a posture of listening? Is there a posture to listening or is it just with our ears? I read a verse in Psalms a couple of years ago that literally changed my view on, on God and even how God interacts with me because a lot of times I think we think of a God that's rigid. That's just kind of stands there that listens to us. That's not totally engaged. And I'm going to read this first, cause I think you might join me in singing. Uh, view of God. It says once Psalm 1 16, 1 to two, I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy because he bends down to listen. [00:17:00] I will pray as long as I have breath. I love that imagery of God coming to us and he bends down and he looks at us and I think he looks at us in the eye and he says, I see. I hear you. I'm listening and I'm responding with love, you know, this posturing of building bending down of getting kneeling before somebody is a posture of humility, not power. And that's how we see that God comes to us, not in a powerful way, which he could, but he chooses to come to us. And with love. I find that it makes a difference. This posture I've thought about this more because we have a grandkids ages three to 13. Now a couple of them I'm looking up to these days, but a lot of the little ones are still little and young enough. And when they start speaking to me, There's nothing better than a voice of a child. And when I remember just hearing my own kids' voice when they were little and now your grandchildren, [00:18:00] and so they start to speak. And first of all, it's really hard to understand them and some of the little ones, but when they start speaking, I find myself kneeling down in front of them, trying to get closer to them, to hear them, to read their lips, to read their eyes, to see the full expression on their face. Because a lot of times when they're talking to their eyes are twinkling they're they're, they're so excited. And if I stand up. And look down at them. I will miss all of that. And so just the posturing of getting down, meeting somebody where they're at, I think it's just, it's more than official physical posturing, but are we, when we're listening to somebody, are we where they are at listening to them? Are we engaging the full being? Cause I think it matters. It matters to them and it matters to me because when we're in proximity like that, it breaks down barriers and walls come down because we're together. We're in that. Then I also think there's a posturing of looking up. Sometimes we look down and we can kneel down and be with somebody, but also we get so, um, you know, we're in this journey of life and we're [00:19:00] so on a mission and we're moving and we forget to look around. We forget to look up. And I want to share a verse with you where Jesus actually looks up to find somebody to meet them where they're at. And it's in Luke 19 one through six. It's a story about set Kias, Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zach Kias. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and yet become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and declined Sycamore tree beside the road for Jesus was going to pass that. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zach Kias and he called him by name Zach. He S he said, quick, come down. I must be a guest in your home. I can't even imagine being Zach. He is. And having Jesus walking, you have to admit he's in a crowd. He's walking. People are just coming around him trying to be near him. [00:20:00] And Jesus stops and he looks. And he sees that Zach, he is, and he calls him by name. I think it's a beautiful imagery of a God who searches for us, who seeks us out to find us and to listen to us, many of us with, with lab to hear an audible voice of God, speak to us. But just because we don't doesn't mean that God isn't speaking, because God is always communicating. And there are many ways that he communicates to us. He communicates to us. Through Jesus through the holy spirit. And I believe he communicates to us through others. You know, the thing about the Bible, it's a, it's a beautiful story. Basically. The Bible is a story. It's a divine love story of a creator God, and how he loves humankind. And we just see that throughout the Bible. We are the object of his unconditional and unfailing love. He is searching for us. He [00:21:00] wants us to know how much he loves us and to what links he will go to bring us. And Genesis three in the old Testament, we see that man turns his back on God. And the rest of the big biblical story is God trying to win us back and to go I'm here, I'm here. I'm with you. And I want to be with you. The Bible is filled like any good story. We talked about the Bible. The story of the Bible is filled with all the elements that make up a good story. There's tension. There's conflict. There's suspense. There's miss. But above all there is love. And that's what we see in the story of the Bible and the story of God, you know, as parents, I don't know about you, like, you know, just imagine sitting around the family table, there's nothing, we want more as parents than to have our. Sit at a table, so to speak and love each other. Now this doesn't mean that they always will agree that they always get along, that they see life the same, that they have the same [00:22:00] experiences that they have, the same opinions or perspectives that's okay. Because it is not about uniformity. It's about unity and it really matters because we want harmony at the family table. Do you think God wants anything different for him? He created all of us the same in his image, doesn't matter, ethnicity or gender. It doesn't matter because we are all children of God created in his image. And I think it breaks his heart when he sees what's happening in our world today that the vision, the polarization, the hatred, the animosity, I think it breaks his heart because he's like, this is not what I wish for you. This is not what's best for you. This is not how I created things. John 1720 through 23 says I am praying not only for these disciples, this is Jesus' words, but also for all, who will ever believe in me through their message, I pray that they will be all be one just as you and I are one, as you are in me, father, I am in you and may they be [00:23:00] in us so that the world will believe you. I have given them the glory you gave me. So they may be one as we are one I am in them. And you are in me, may the experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Let me ask you a question. What if God listened to us? Like we listened to him, would we be okay with that? Would we be okay with the way he listens to us with the way we listen to. We know that God is listening to us, that God hears us. He responds to us. He hears our pains. He hears our sorrows. He hears our dash dreams, but he also hears our hopes, our desires, the things we want in life, the joys, the celebrations he's with us and all those. So the second area when it's suggested as transformational in our listening is when we listen to others. I just [00:24:00] returned Thursday night from an eight day trip, uh, taken a deep drive, dive into, um, the American or American narrative, um, touring some of the sites in the south where some of our history of the chance Atlantic slave trade with enslaved people to the civil war. To the civil rights area era and to the realities of today. And we talked and we visited with different leaders, community leaders, faith leaders, ordinary people, and their story, just to understand, to listen, to understand, to listen, to learn and to glean from them because their story is different than ours. We had a diverse group. We had a group of 16 from central and we traveled together and we were a diverse group. And so our. Our histories, our families of origin were very different and we would sit in these, I call them sacred space where we could just be real with each other and share. And I got to tell you, we had moments that [00:25:00] were hard, that were painful, that were messy because. We were sharing some of our realities and some of it's hard to hear, but that doesn't mean we don't listen because we need to be listening to each other. We need to hear each other's stories and understand and hold them and honor them for what they are. But as hard as it was, it was also rich. It was beautiful. And it was transformative. Now I know last week, Cal shared a story of two brothers who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned for over 20 years for crimes. They didn't. We also have the opportunity to meet with two men, Jerome and Robert who had similar stories. They were wrongly convicted since to present served over 20 years for crimes. They did not commit. And so we listened to them. There's a beautiful thing about them is they had every right to be. To be resentful. And there's a lot of pain. One Jerome had at the time when he [00:26:00] was incarcerated, had a young young son. And so he missed all those years with his child, but just a couple of years ago, they were each released. Um, and one of the men, Robert Jones had. For many years for his own conviction to be overturned. And so it was after 23 years of wrongfully serving time in prison, he was released. And today among other, uh, roles he plays, he is the client advocate with the Orleans public defender's office in new Orleans. One of the most amazing things about these men is that they, they realized their story wasn't wasted. It wasn't the story they wanted. It was injustice that had happened to them, but yet they're choosing to use their story to help so many others. And so they're fighting on behalf of others. So this doesn't continue to happen and you just see love they're listening and they're responding. Robert Jones. One of the men said this when we first love ourselves, in spite of our shortcomings, [00:27:00] it makes it easier to love others. These were just two of the stories that we heard. And as we would sit in these spaces and listen to these stories, our hearts were broken. Our souls were disrupted, but together we listened together. We prayed and together we breathed. And our listening challenge, each one of us to really ask ourselves, what does it look like to listen and to respond in love? How do we love, how do we see through the eyes and the heart of Jesus? If we truly listen, we must love and respond. Proverbs 31 8 9 says this, speak up for those who can not speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes. Speak up for the poor and helpless and see that they get. Psalms 1 46, 7 through nine says this. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. The Lord gives sight to the [00:28:00] blind. The Lord lifts up. Those who are bowed down the Lord loves the. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked and that word wicked means someone who mistreats another human being, who denies them, their God, given dignity and worth. And we see that God frustrates the. You see, we can, sometimes we need to be reminded of who we are, that we are the body of Christ and all our diversity in all of our differences and all our opinions and all of our experiences. And with all of our realities, we are the body of Christ and we come together as children of God. First Corinthians 12, 25 through 27, says this so that there should be no division in the body, but that is part should have equal concern for. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ [00:29:00] and each one of you are a part of it. What does that look like? If we truly see that in our differences, we are one, we are United. We are the body of Christ. And as we are United, the world will see a different story than their story they're seeing in the. You know, many of us were taught as children and we teach it to our kids, the golden rule. Right. Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. I want to change that little a little bit. What if we listened to others the way we want others to listen to us, would that make a difference? Would that change things? So, let me ask you a few questions here to get us thinking. I love questions. Like I said, I think they take us on a journey of discovery. Who do you need to listen to? Is there a family member? Is there a friend? Is there a coworker? Is there somebody in your life that you just really haven't listened to in a while that you probably think it would be, it would be benefit. Whose story do you need to hear [00:30:00] that as different than your own, who has a different story, a different life experience that you could listen to, that you could hear? And what if you ask them? What is your story? I find that's a great opener. Cause sometimes it's a lot of people use, it feels awkward to go up to somebody. And how do I have a conversation? How do I ask something to just be able to listen? And I find that a great question is what is your story? And let people tell you their story. A lot of times in the world where it's gotten us to places we want to go, because we have told people what their story is. We have defined them and not let them tell us who they are. We listened to love and to respond with empathy. The third area I think of listening this transformational is listening to ourselves. Have you listened to your own story lately? I have. That might be an awkward question. We got my own story. I know myself. I know myself pretty well, but no. Have you really listened to your own story? And what story are you telling your. [00:31:00] To really be honest with you. I find myself a lot of times, not telling a really good story to myself, cause I can be hard on myself. I can beat myself up. I can focus on the things I don't like instead of focusing on the things that are good about myself and how God creates. Um, a lot of times, I think we find ourself dismissing our story, denying it. Just kind of pushing it aside. I think, especially for women, because we constantly pouring into other people. We pour into our children, our families, our husbands, our significant others, our coworkers, wherever it is, we're constantly pouring out and it's hard to take time for ourself. There's a lot of times we feel like we're being selfish when we do this. But as being is taking care of ourselves is self care. When we do that, we even take time to just find a few moments ago who. You know, if life goes on and on, you know, we find different situations, circumstances, and we're constantly to ask that question, who am I now? Who am I now? And so I think it's important to know who we are. So how do we listen to our own story and listen to [00:32:00] it? Well, I don't think we can know ourselves and listen to our own story without listening to. And I don't think we can listen, really listen to God without really listening to others. And I think the three go together. When you listen to yourself, you've got to listen to others and you got to listen to God. And when you listen to God, you listen to others and yourself, it's all together. You cannot separate them. It's a holistic approach to that. So how do we listen to our story and truly honor it realizing that there's imperfections there's tensions. There are struggles and there's. But how do we also honor the courage, the bravery through resilience in our own story? How do we remember that? Each one of us were created in the image of God and that he loves us unconditionally and that we matter, Matthew 2237 through 39 says this when Jesus was asked by one of the Pharisees, what is the greatest commandment of the law? And Jesus said, [00:33:00] You must love the Lord, your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself as yourself. That's hard. That's a hard one in these verses. Jesus emphasized the need for right relationships with God. With others and our S and ourselves, because this is what a family looks like. This is what the body of Christ looks like when we truly listen to each other and are present with each other. I want to read a book right now. I happened to find this week, while we were visiting the legacy museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and the legacy museum was founded by the equal justice initiative. And you may be familiar with the name Bryan Stevenson who wrote the book just mercy, which later came out as a movie, just mercy. And the museum has on display the history of slavery and racism in America from the enslaved. To mass incarceration. [00:34:00] And as I was walking through this museum into the exhibits and listening to the stories they were telling, it just gripped my heart. And, um, it's, it's, it's a place we all need to go to. And just to hear some of the history and from a different perspective, even, but then I, I was walking through and there was a book, um, there in the gift shop that just caught my attention. And so I started going through the pages and I. I need to get this book. I need to read this. Now the book is, I am enough by Grace Byers and it's written as a children's book. It's a picture book. If you have kids, you understand that difference in a picture book and a chapter book. But I want to suggest that perhaps this is a chapter book that is written for adults, because this is a message, not just for children, but this is a message that we all need to be reminded, and we all need to hear. So I'm going to read the story like the son I'm here to. Like the voice I'm here to sing, like the bird I'm here to fly and soar [00:35:00] high over everything. Like the trees I'm here to grow, like the mountains here to stand like time I'm here to be and be everything I can like the champ I'm here to fight, like the heart. I'm here to love, like a ladder here to climb and like the air to rise. Like the wind, I'm here to push like a rope. I'm here to pull, like the rain I'm here to pour and drip and fall apart. I'm full, like the moon. I'm here to dream, like the student here to learn like the water here to swell, like the fire here to burn, like the winner I'm here to win. And if I don't I'll get up again. I know that I may sometimes cry, but even then I'm here to do. I'm not meant to be like you, you're not meant to be like me. Sometimes we will get along and sometimes we'll disagree. I know that we don't look the same, our skin, our eyes, [00:36:00] our hair, our frame, but that does not dictate our worth. We both have places here on earth and in the end we are right, right here to live a life of love, not fear to help each other when it's. To say together I am enough. And that's a message. I just want to remind us that each one of us, we are enough. And when we listen to our own stories with empathy and compassion, we change not only ourselves, but those around us. So in conclusion, I just want to share. So what happens when we truly listen, hear and respond to. I think chains are broken since forgiven healing happens. Hope is lived love and braced dignity restored because he is, we are, he is enough. And what happens when we listen [00:37:00] to others, relationships are restored. Healing happens, unity results, injustices cease, because he is, we all. We are enough. What happens when we listen to ourselves? Chains are broken. Freedom is realized, hope rises. There's love for self dignity restored because he is, I am, I am enough. You know, your story and my. Can't be lived alone. It can't be lived separately in isolation because my humanity is connected and tied into your humanity, humanity. I can't flourish at the expense of view and you can flourish at the expense of me. We all must flourish together and we, and we must fight for a world in which we all flourish together and that's the body of Christ and that's what love does. And that's what happens when we listen to each other to live our best life and to make a great.[00:38:00] We must listen to God and listen to others and ourselves. And as a result, love response and love happens in our world. When we lesson with love, we can create a better story, a better future for generations to come. Now I know that many women today sitting here, this is a hard day, and I went to say it again, that I know it represents loss and unmet expectations and an fulfilled. I know, not every woman is a mom here, but I also want to share just a story. I, cause I know that today is a happy day and it's a sad day. We hold both. We hope both tensions. I lost my mom in 1990. And when I was watching that video earlier that bumper, all the fields in that thing, you know, and I just took me to that place because I, my mom has been gone for 24 years and I still to this day, want to pick up the phone and call her and tell her about something. I wish she could have been. [00:39:00] My grandkids, her great grandkids. I wish she could have seen her grandkids grow up and see that the spouses that they chosen married, she'd be so proud. My mom loved kids. She was a teacher. My mom was fun. She was funny. She was one of my best friends. We had so many great memories together and her life ended way too soon. And I still miss her. One of the things I miss the most as I miss her. I long to hear her voice again. And there was something about her voice that just made life. Okay. Especially when you're sick, you're not feeling well, you're having a bad day. You just want to hear that voice to know, just put life in perspective. I think we have a heavenly father who longs to hear our voice and his voice. And so he, we can know our story and what he thinks about us. And do you long to hear his. When's the last time you heard his voice. So you just set, took time to be still and to be present and to listen to the voice of God. A [00:40:00] voice of love. Pope Francis said this obeying God is listening to God having an open heart to follow the path that God points out to us. Are you listening with an open heart? Are you listening to stories? Are you listening to God? Are you listening to. Are you hearing and are you obeying God and the relationships that you have with others and with yourself, when we do this, when we listen to love, we can change our world. Let's pray. God, thank you. That you are a God who loves. You're a God who sees your God. Who's with us in the moments you're fully present. You're not distracted you long to hear our voice help us long to hear yours, help us listen to you to hear and. Help us to have the courage to listen to others who may have a different story, a different narrative, help us to sit in those spaces and honor the stories of each one of us, and know that we are a family that you want us United in this world. And that when we are United, amazing things can have. And [00:41:00] then Lord give us courage to listen to our own stories and help us to put away the shame that could be there. Um, the disappointments that we've had with maybe with ourself to realize that doesn't define us, what, what defines us and who defines us as you, and you want us to live our best life because you are with us. Lord. I pray if there's someone here today that just needs to turn their attention to you, to truly listen to you, that you would turn them to you. And thank you. You kneel down with us in humility and not in power and that you see us and you listen to our voice and it makes you smile. God, we love you. And we thank you for the love you have for us in Jesus name. Amen.

To Listen is to Love

by Lisa Jernigan • May 08, 2022

Did you know there is a difference between hearing and listening? Hearing is passive. When you stand on a busy street, you can’t help but hear all the different sounds passing you by. Listening, however, is active and requires your full attention. Listening is a choice and the power of a listening ear is often underrated if not totally ignored in our culture. Join Lisa Jernigan as she shows how God can use us to be powerful listeners.