Big Fish… Big Attitude – On Hearing the Call of God

The Lord’s word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come to my attention” (Jonah 1:1-2, Common English Bible).

Well, we finally finished Matthew and now we turn our sights back to the Old Testament and we will now spend time with that character of childhood Sunday school fame, Jonah, one reluctant prophet.

Wow!!! Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear “The Lord’s word” as clearly as Jonah did in today’s lesson? I would love to be able to sit down on Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday for that matter. Thursday is starting to push things a little close for my taste. I would love to sit down and pray, “God, what text do you want me to preach this week? Oh, and while you let me in on that if you would tell me what to say that would be really great. Thanks God. Amen”

Though I have heard what I truly believe (both then and now) was the voice of God speaking to me, it is far from an everyday occurrence. One day I was driving home. I was considering a major change in my life. The what doesn’t really matter. As I was driving I received a couple of phone calls regarding the change. During the second call, I quickly made an appointment that while not committing me fully in that direction was a huge step in the process. As soon as I hung up the phone, I heard a loud, audible voice saying, “Enough. Stop now!” I did. I pulled the car off the road and made a call, this time to cancel that appointment. I haven’t considered that change since (some of you do know of which I write, the majority do not and if you tried to guess you would probably be wrong).

I know there will be readers who think I lost my mind. There will be those who believe it was all in my imagination. Some others will probably think I didn’t really want to follow that path to start with. I can’t really say. All may be true.

What I do know, well believe is, God does speak to us. The Word of the Lord is not rare these days. People who will listen and discern the Word of the Lord, well that could be a different story altogether.

I have come to understand that sometimes God speaks to us through circumstances. I once had a well-timed letter in the mail. I am convinced it was God. God speaks to us through the words of others. I would submit even the words of children.

God speaks to us through the words of others. I would submit even the words of children. Whenever someone speaks profound words that address our given situation, there is a good chance God’s hand, and voice is involved.

God speaks to us through the words of Scripture. God spoke at least once through these words and I know it has been far more often than once. If God has done it before, many times, God can and will do so again.

God speaks to us through nature. For me, at least, there is nothing quite like a hike in the woods or a walk along the beach to clear my head and better enable me to hear what God is saying. In my experience of these events, I often find that something will happen that for me, is a clear message from God.

I have also come to understand that God often speaks to us through a still small voice. Many may call it our conscience but if we pay attention, I believe we will hear a difference. This voice is the voice where I heard my call to ministry.

God also, at least this is what I believe, speaks to us like God spoke to me that day in the car, in a loud, clear, audible voice. When I read today’s lesson, it is how I think God spoke to Jonah. There should be no doubt, Jonah heard and he knew God was speaking to him. It may not happen as often in this way, but it does happen.

I have only scratched the surface of the ways God might speak to us. But make no mistake, God does speak, even to people like us. It may be in the written word, in a soft voice or a loud voice. It may come in the song of a bird or the words of a child. God speaks. What is left for us is, to listen.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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