Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bumpy Roads

If you live in the Chicago land area, you are more than accustomed to the dreaded road construction. You either dislike it or you hate it. (sorry, those are the only two choices you have!)
We can either choose to sit in traffic through that construction project or we can take that alternate route and sit in traffic along with every other driver that had that same gut feeling,"I can make it home faster going this way."

The two things we could all agree on are:
1. We don't like driving on bumpy roads.
2. And we don't like road construction.

But, once those roads are finally paved and it's smooth riding, we come to realize that construction was well worth it. The problem is, we don't think about how it is going to be when it is completed, we only care about the "here and now moment".

The same thing in life, we hate those bumpy roads we sometimes go through, but that is how our faith grows the most. Bumpy roads are a challenge, but it is how you respond to those challenges that gets you through that road construction to that increase of faith.

I've been on a certain bumpy road for quite a few months now, and I can tell you, it hasn't been easy. But, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that God has been paving that bumpy road with good intentions.What I had to do was take a positive approach to that bumpy road and adhere to God's plan and pretty much trust in Him.

As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him. (Ps.18:30)

For once, I am actually thankful for the overkill play of a song; Fail Us Not by One Thousand Generations gets a lot of airtime on radio, and for good reason:

Whatever may come
we'll rise above
You fail us not,
You fail us not.
No matter the war
Our hope is secure
You fail us not,
You fail us not.

When you're faced with a bumpy road, approach it with confidence, approach it with Jesus.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Believe and Confess

Those that know me as a huge football fan, also know my allegiance to not only my home team Chicago Bears, but also to the Dallas Cowboys. So it kind of struck a chord with me back in May when the Cowboys practice facility had collapsed during a storm, injuring many coaches and players. The severest was a scout for the team, Rich Behm, a 33 year old with a wife and 2 kids. He suffered a spinal chord injury that partially paralyzed him. I remember a week after the accident his wife attended a fund raiser dinner for him, where she boldly claimed,

"My husband will walk again!"

Just last week Rich went back to work, in a wheelchair, but getting physically stronger each day with rehab. Rich emphatically claimed,

"I'm still going to walk again. It's no big deal. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it!"

I admire their faith in the midst of their circumstance, to be able to stand and boldly claim in faith that he will walk again.

In the Bible the word believe occurs over 250 times. The words confess and declare show up altogether over 500 times, in one form or another.

A wise preacher once taught me to pray the answer, not the problem whenever situations would arise. In other words, he was telling me the same thing scripture tells us:

to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. In fact, the Lord rejoices when we speak by faith:

My son, if your heart is wise,

My heart will rejoice- indeed I myself;

Yes, my inmost being will rejoice

When your lips speak right things. (Proverbs 23:15,16)

Sometimes we believers forget that we have His Word in our hearts and in our mouths:

But what does it say? "The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):


We're just forgetting to put that Word into action, applying it to our circumstance. When we apply the Word of God into our situation what we are doing is renewing our mind with His Word.

Do you remember when you first got saved,what did you do?

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

For the scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be be put to shame." (Rom.10:9-11)

Faith, such a simple thing, yet we struggle with it big time. All we need to really do is renew our minds with His Word, His love. Believe and confess.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lessons from the Dog (part two)

"A dog's got a right to have a man around just as a man has a right to have a dog around."

One of my favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone is called "The Hunt". The story about an old man and his hound dog Rip. He and Rip love to go coon hunting in the evenings. Sometimes the old man's wife gives him heck for letting Rip come into the house. Until she is reminded that old faithful Rip once saved the old man's life.

One night the old man and Rip set out for the woods to chase down a racoon. The pesky critter leads them on a wild chase which ends up with Rip jumping into a pond to catch the coon. Rip disappears from his master's sight. Naturally, the old man jumps in to save his faithful companion. They both have now disappeared.

Both the old man and Rip would wake up on Eternity Road. They aren't aware of this yet. Not until they head for home and discover no one can see them. Once they get to the house, they see the old woman preparing to go to her loving husband's funeral. It is then when the old man realizes, yes, he is on Eternity Road.

As he and Rip travel down the road they come up to a gate with a gatekeeper; the old man assuming he's St. Peter.

"Oh, you can come on in", the gatekeeper exclaims, "But you can't bring your dog in. There's a special place for dogs just up the road."

Of course the old man wasn't about to enter without his faithful Rip. In fact, Rip begins to unnaturally growl as if something was wrong. The old man rejects the gatekeepers offer to enter, thinking he'd be better off somewhere else as long is Rip's beside him. They travel further down the road and meet up with a man who explains to him that the gatekeeper they were talking to earlier wasn't St. Peter at all, and that gate did not lead to heaven.

"Why Rip and I knew there was something strange back there. Who would ever think of separating a man from his dog. It's unheard of!"

The angel leads them up to the gate that enters heaven and exclaims,

"A man, he'll walk into hell with both eyes open, but even the devil can't fool a dog."

Now we all know, that our dog can't save us from going to hell. But, we do know, that mans best friend (next to Jesus) is his dog. One of the great lessons we learn from a man and his dog is
the act of obedience and faithfulness. One is always there for the other.
This also relates to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. He calls upon each of us to be obedient and to stay faithful to His Word. I can remember a time when I was going through an extreme hardship. I not only had to work my way out of it, but had to fully rely on God, and remain obedient and faithful to His Word and His promises. Sure enough, He got me through it. He never left me.
The greatest growth of our faith in the Lord is through our trials. We are not guaranteed a perfect life here on earth, but one fact still remains, He will always be by our side.
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said,"I will never leave you or forsake you."
So we may boldly say," The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
(Hebrews 13:5,6)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lessons from the Dog (part one)

Since we are in the midst of the Dog Days of Summer, though the Chicagoland area has been nice and cool, thought I would do a couple of blog posts that somehow relate to dogs. And God, of course!

There was a time when I would put the leash on the dog and he ended up taking me for the walk. After a while of watching the Dog Whisperer on Animal Planet, I discovered what I was doing wrong. One of the things dog trainers teach you is that when you do get them to the point to where they obey you, you must continuously give them praise. You pet owners out there know the drill, "Good Boy" (or girl), "Good Boy", throughout your walk. Then, if they do well, after your walk you reward them with their favorite Scooby Snack. Now Francis the dog finally gets it!
So now I can walk him through the neighborhood with some kind of dignity.

Parents, teachers, coaches, and supervisors have all been taught the importance of using praise on their:kids, students, team members, and employees. When you throw some praise upon them it not only makes them feel good, but they will take that praise you give them and turn it into positive results. You are also showing them that "you care", boosting their confidence so that they may excel in all that they do.

Our praise upon the Lord kind of has a reverse effect. When we give Him praise, we are ultimately making ourselves feel better. This is probably the biggest reason why we are told to
praise Him in all things.

Lately I've become enamored with a new version of the old hymn Blessed be the Name of the Lord:
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
Blessed be Your Name.

In Psalm 24 the Psalmist ask's,

"Who may stand in His holy place?" (v.3)
Then in the next verse we get our answer,

"He who has clean hands and a pure heart". (v.4)

And our reward is this:

He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (v.5)

Most importantly we need to remember that:

It doesn't matter if we receive a blessing or not, for,He Is Worthy Of Our Praise.
But.. you will be blessed!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mine, Mine, Mine

You see them in the parking lots of fast food restaurants, strip malls, and parks. They're fighting for french fries, pieces of our hamburgers, bread crumbs, anything we'll leave behind for them to nibble on. Yes.. I am talking about the selfish, annoying bird called the seagull. Thanks to Pixar's Finding Nemo, we now know what they are chanting when they do battle over that french fry that hasn't even had time to shrivel in the sun or collect ants: "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Over the last few years our culture in America has flocked to new heights (or lows) in this act of selfishness. This past week I noticed this more extensively when I was called upon to the civic duty of serving on a jury. Though I never officially got questioned in order to be selected, I did however sit in the courtroom to observe the selection process and witness, on all levels, the behavior of our society as it exists.
The first thing I noticed was how many potential jurors were victims of a crime: mugged by gun point, purse snatched, domestic abuse, car or house broken into.
The second thing I noticed was how many were deliberately trying to get out of serving on a jury. The judge did warn us in the beginning that this was a first degree murder trial and it would probably be at least a 5 day trial. I do admit some had legitimate reasons for not wanting to serve on this trial, such as being adamantly against handguns, or were victims of assault. But some admitted they disliked police, had a bad experience and didn't trust them, and couldn't leave their opinions aside and come to a conclusion based on evidence. One even claimed his dislike for lawyers and was very adament about not serving.(the State's Attorney drilled him good!!)
As the court reached a conclusion, and jurors and alternates were chosen, an exuberant joy was let out, loudly I might add, by those who didn't get chosen. All of this in front of the defendant that was standing on trial for this crime. I wondered to myself, what must have been going through his mind, his fate lying in the hands of people who didn't want to be there to serve.
Would he get a fair trial?
Though we may perceive our society as being one in disarray and financial crimes rising in:bank thefts, muggings, purses stolen, credit card fraud, all of this most likely due to the economy. We do however see a rise in charitable giving. In a recent Christianity Today poll, 78 percent of those surveyed will give the same amount or more this year than in 2008.
Our society may look a mess and our economy looking bleak, but we as Christians know,there is no lack in God's economy when we give. Thankfully God looks at the heart and loves a cheerful giver. This does not necessarily mean just the giving of our money, but: the giving of our responsibility to society, our giving of Jesus Christ's love, and our giving when we see someone in need.
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2Cor.9:6-8)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life For Both Patient and Doctor, An Amazing Say So

The following testimony was passed on by my Pastor. It is from the doctor who performed emergency surgery on my Pastor's wife, Mary Gaye, after she gave birth to their daughter. Though this happened 21 years ago, it still speaks volumes today of how great our God is. Pastor Freddie and Mary Gaye are a great ministry team, their different talents but same Spirit complement each other well in serving the church and God. This testimony proves God had a plan, not just for their lives, but for their doctor's as well. Hope you enjoy:

I was newly and happily remarried. My medical practice was healthy and growing and very satisfying to me. I really had no sense of need, no sense of sin, and while I believed that there might be a God, He certainly didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with me.

There were, of course, some problems in my life. My teen age daughter and I had something of a strained relationship at times, but I felt that I was making an adequate effort to be a good father.

One day as I was taking care of a patient who had just delivered a baby, a dramatic thing happened. The patient, a woman who had just given birth to her first child, began to bleed very heavily. This post partum hemorrhage is not in itself unusual, but the degree and severity of her bleeding was. After going through a series of treatments, manuevers and surgeries, it became quite clear that she might die. During this time she and her husband displayed remarkable faith and calmness. As this young woman recovered from her ordeal, first in ICU and later in a regular hospital room, it became apparent to me that she and her husband were Christians. Because of the strength of their faith, I started reading the Bible.

Over a period of several months I began to read the Bible very intensively. I considered what had happened to the young woman to be something of a miracle, in the sense that I certainly recognized and felt God's hand in her ultimate survival and return to normal health. The special characteristics that I had witnessed in my patient was described very well for me in Psalm 34:

"Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."

My main stumbling block in all this reading was the uncertainty that God did care enough to speak to us through the Bible, though I could clearly feel His presence in reading it. Coming across the following passage helped alot:

For God does speak, now one way, now another, though man may not perceive it.(Job 33)

This opened up a whole new way at looking at life and at the Bible for me and it was only shortly thereafter that while reading Romans chapter 10, I was able to say in prayer,

"I accept you, Lord Jesus, as the Son of God and believe that you died on the cross for my sins."

After this, things began to change rapidly in my life. A friend stepped in to help discipline me, using the Design for Discipleship Series by Navigators. Since turning away from what I now realize to have been a sinful life and my New Birth in Jesus Christ, God has worked in a powerful way to change my entire world view and approach to things.

I continue in my medical practice, though the way I look at it has radically transformed. My relationships with friends and most especially with my family have been dramatically renewed. My marriage, which was good, now became meaningful to me on a completely different plane, as I saw Jesus Christ working in my life and that of my wife. She, of Jewish descent, became a Christian a few months after me, also through studying the Word. We are involved in a church planting in Charlotte, North Carolina, seeking to establish a gospel preaching, Bible teaching church in a part of this city where we feel it's needed. The Holy Spirit, who led me to saying faith in Jesus Christ now fills my whole life, produced in me a desire to serve God and to know Him.

I love this testimony because it says alot, not just about us using our faith in difficult situations, but God using our faith to reach those around us who may be watching.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Love Song

In the powerful film Wendy and Lucy, Wendy is traveling with her dog Lucy from Indiana to Alaska, hoping to get a high paying job in a cannery up there. Not only that, but she seems to be running away from her existing way of life, searching for something far greater. Her journey takes an unwanted detour in a small town in Oregon when her car breaks down and she loses her dog Lucy.

Wendy goes to great lengths to find Lucy: travels throughout the town by foot looking for her, informs the dog pound of her lost dog, eventually puts up posters all over town,and even retraces the steps she took there with Lucy, leaving articles of clothing behind hoping she would recognize them. Throughout all of this you get the sense that Wendy wasn't leaving without her dog, she was persistent in finding her.

So, in what great lengths would you go to in order to find that missing love? Or, more importantly, to find God? To just be with Him?

I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean

just to be with the one he loves

All of those dreams are an empty notion

it has never been done

Some intriguing lyrics from a Third Day song called Love Song. We all kind of carry on that persona of willing to travel far and wide for that one we love. Going to great lengths to be close to them. The song goes even further with:

Just to be with You

I'd do anything

There's no price I would not pay

Just to be with You

I'd give everything

Oh, I'd give my life away.

Of course here, it is God desiring to be near us. When God says,

"Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you", He literally means it!

Amongst all the busyness that surrounds our daily life, it is important to find time to draw near to Him. But it is equally important to want that desire to be near Him. Find some quiet time to get close to Him this week. We really don't have to travel to the end of the ocean or to the top of a mountain to find Him. He's closer than you think. God loves you and desires to be near you.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Having a Prayertitude (conclusion)

I remember 2 years ago hearing a testimony at church from a Muslim teen (traveling with Eddie James Ministries) on when he gave his heart to Christ. Naturally his parents had trouble accepting this, so he literally had to hide his Bible from them, sneaking it out to read when convenient. Sometimes reading it in the bathroom. This youth was so excited about Jesus and the things God was doing for him that he wanted to share it with his sister. He would sneak into her room late at night, talk to her, and read scripture to her. One night she locked herself in her room and prayed. She prayed to both Allah and to God, demanding each of them to show themselves to her if they were for real. Now, who do you think showed up?Yes! God lit up the room with His presence that only He Himself could do. So, now both brother and sister can work on their parents.

When reaching our own siblings, hopefully our relationship with them has already been established. So, if we're presenting the gospel to them for the very first time, the hard part, a relationship built on trust, is done. The main ingredient is to approach them in love. Express to them the wonderful things that God has done for you, the peace that He has given you, and the love that God has for them. If they turn you away, don't fret or give up on them. There will be other opportunities for you with them. If they become argumentative, stop, find yourself an alone place to pray about it and pray for them, then just continue to show love on them. Don't be so overeager in your reaching them, God will work with you, if you ask Him. You need to continue to show you care for them, help them out when they need it. You might even want to go the extra mile and spend more time with them, just as siblings.

Now comes the hard part, parents with their kids. I am not a parent so I am not speaking from experience.But, we all know, if you've laid the foundation within your home while your kids were young, the groundwork is done:

Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov.22:6)

I love this verse because it is so absolutely true. It is the one verse that parents need to remember most for their kids. Parents need to realize that once their kids become adults they are going to have to make choices on their own, and hopefully they retain the groundwork that you laid upon them. They will test the waters and your patience, but you just have to continuously love them and pray that they make the right choices in life.

It's sort of like the white bread-wheat bread way of life: as a kid you ate white bread and hated the wheat bread your parents may have forced you to eat.But when you got older you ended up loving the wheat bread, that same bread you hated as a kid. As parents you need to be there for your kids no matter what they go through. Us kids, it's what we remember most about our parents; them just being there for us. This is love!

And finally, spouses..another area I can't personally speak of yet. But, I do know the key words for any marriage: to love, honor and cherish till death do us part. When dealing with an unsaved spouse, again, you just need to show them love and pray for them. Have them see that joy and peace that you now have within you. Make them jealous of what you have in Christ Jesus.

A great way to begin ministering to them is just by asking them if you can pray for them. As my Pastor always says: "Don't pray about them, pray for them." In other words, don't pray for God to fix them.

In your daily devotional time or during breakfast,ask your spouse if you could read to them, either a passage of scripture or a snippet from a daily devotional. Begin to plant a seed in them. But, remember to administer grace to them. They may not at first be receptive to your approaching them with something as new into their lives.

Love is our key witness.We need to not look so much for results, because you'll come away disappointed. All you need to do is plant the seed. Always have an attitude of prayer for your family. I've seen and I've heard countless stories of family members coming to Christ while at a funeral because of that loved one's walk with the Lord. That noble Christ-like legacy that you leave behind will be remembered. And.. someone will continue your labor in the Lord for your family.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Having a Prayertitude (part two)

As Christians when dealing with family members, I believe it's hardest reaching those in our extended families for a couple of reasons: one, we may only see them at social gatherings, and two, it takes a much longer period of time building a relationship with someone you don't frequently see. The one thing to remember though is nothing is impossible with God. The key in reaching an extended member is obviously getting to know them first, to build some kind of trust with them. You can't just rush in and throw Jesus at them. Most new born Christians will learn this the hard way! We all remember being so overwhelmed with joy and wanting to tell the whole world about Jesus, then becoming overeager in our assault of evangelism within our own family that they look at us and say, "Who created this monster!"This over zealousness will only push them farther away from you. As you begin to build a relationship with that person, you can then bring Jesus into the conversation when the opportunity presents itself. Unless they bring Jesus into the conversation first, and if that happens, then your halfway home! And then it's,

Hook, line, and saved!"

The key in any of these scenarios is to show love. The same love that Christ himself has shown in you. I believe love and prayer is the only way to reach those who may appear argumentive against your evangelistic approaches. This scenario I can speak on from personal experience.

Once again, we are dealing here with just extended family members for the moment. Since the times we see them are limited, and once some kind of relationship has been built, we can then bring Jesus into the light. But, all along through this building up of the relationship, they need to see Jesus in you. If they see you at a gathering, and your in the corner with your brothers swearing at the game on the television, or you ladies are in the kitchen cooking with your sisters, whining and complaining about your husbands, it is most likely they aren't going to respect what you have to say about Jesus. You need to exemplify Jesus if your going to reach others to Christ. They need to see what you have: joy, peace, love, all of the fruits of the Spirit within you.

To the debaters who always throw a monkey wrench into your approachment of Jesus, better to just walk away as it says in scripture. I've learned this one the hard way. After a few social gatherings and many debates, I, and the other extended member, have learned to just not bringing Jesus into the conversation unless someone else brings it up. We are just friends. No, I haven't given up on that person. I still pray for them and more importantly show love to them. Just by being there when they or someone in there family is in a crisis, or maybe a death in the family, and the good times as well: remembering their birthdays, and Christmas. This all fits in the category of showing Christ's love through our actions.

We need to remember our works are not in vain. We may not see the results in our time span, or sometimes even in our lifetime, but you have to believe that, if your are exemplifying Jesus with love, they are paying attention to you.

Conclusion on Friday post.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Having a Prayertitude (part one)

They say that family members(extended family too) are the hardest to bring to Christ. I don't have a reason why this is true, but it is just that. Hopefully this post and my following blog post this week will help and encourage you if you're dealing with this in your own family.

I am one of 5 kids raised in a Christian home. I am one of 30 grandkids, some not raised in a Christian home, but they all heard the gospel through my grandfather, the preacher, who spent 2 hours a day literally praying for all of us.. Like all kids when they reach that "conquer the world" age of 18, we have a tendency to want to check out the surrounding waters of life. Dabble into what the world has to offer. Not all kids do this, but a high percentage of them will. I've had several preacher kids as friends, all of them tested the waters,but eventually got back to their roots, and what they were taught. And the reason why? Somebody was praying for them.. I am not a parent but I do know the one thing any good parent knows: to pray, pray, and pray for their sons and daughters. We all need to have a prayer attitude, or what I like to call a Prayertitude

It was 14 years ago when I had a spiritual encounter with God that changed my life forever.
I was at my grandfather's funeral, he lived a full life to the age of 95. Not everyone in the family took it as hard as I did, sure, everybody loved him, but they knew he lived a full life and was heading to where he most wanted to be. I really can't explain what happened to me that day, but I'll never forget all the tears I had. Some family members asked what was wrong, I had no explanation for them. I had always frequently visited my grandparents, sometimes more than my siblings. I even got to say goodbye to him 5 days earlier, when they knew his life was getting shorter. I spent alot of my childhood with him, so we were close, but still, I had no answer into what was going on. I had a feeling God had something to do with the way I was feeling.

That night I remember so vividly: I coudn't sleep, I was tossing and turning constantly, punching the pillows in anger for not being able to sleep. As soon as I did actualy doze off, I awoke, the room kind of lit up a little, and sure enough it was God speaking to me. Now up to this point I guess you could say I wasnt as strong a Christian as I should've been from growing up in a Christian home, nor was I practicing going to church on a regular basis. So this was the Big One!!
God spoke, and put me back into place. God pretty much told me the torch is being passed onto you, so what are you going to do with?

On a previous post I had wrote that it took faith to have a spiritual encounter. I think I was mistaken. Because I definitely wasn't expecting this encounter. But it does take faith to accept and receive your encounter and move forward with the action that God expects from you. I don't know why I was chosen to continue my grandfather's work, I don't think he prayed for me any more than the others in the family. But, I have such fond memories of him, and the things I saw God do through him, I must've had to have been there for a reason. Just recently I heard a scripture verse mentioned in church, one I had never heard before:
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works will follow them." (Rev.14:13)

Whatever works in the Lord you do, someone close to you will carry on that torch after you've gone home to be with the Lord. All you need to do is continue in faith with that torch, and don't ever stop praying for your family. Have a prayertitude.

More on how to reach others in your family on my next posting.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oh Say Can You Hear

Those that know me well, know my passion for running. Yeah, you have to be crazy to have a passion for running. Never ran a marathon and never will. I'll stick with the 5k races!! The one thing that I've noticed when I'm out on the trails, either running or biking, is the people who can't let go of their electronic devices. Whether it's the cell phone, the ipod, or the blackberry, they just can't get rid of it, not even for half an hour.

What I love about being out in the middle of the woods is the quietness. When I do go running it is usually after work, this is my time alone, listening to nature, talking to God, and hopefully listening to Him talk to me. No headphones, the cell phone on off, and my ears and heart opened for listening. This is how it should be! This is my independence day, three times a week, even if it is only an hour at a time in intervals.

When we need to make a big decision, us Christians do what we are taught and told to do, wait on the Lord. But, if we are expecting to hear from Him, how do we know it is Him actually speaking to us? This is why we need to put into practice the art of listening, spending quiet time with the Father, so that we are able to recognize His voice.
And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. (Jn.10:4)

Sheep are known to have good memories, they can recognize the other sheep in their flock and even the face of the shepherd who is leading them. But one sheep that stands out in the flock is called an Outlier sheep. It has a tendency to wander off on it's own, and then becomes weak and hungry.
So, for us, it is more than just being able to recognize His voice, but wanting to follow Him. There is no need for us to wander off. Our Heavenly Father is a good shepherd, who will never lead us astray. He leads us to green pastures.

This summer find yourselves an independence day at least twice a week, open your ears and your hearts, and you'll be amazed at what you will hear.