How to Get More
of What You Really Need
by Pastor Russ Pflasterer
When it comes down to it, the deepest need of the human heart is pretty simple; we just need more Jesus.
That is the kind of life I want, a life saturated in the presence of Christ. But the sad fact is, most days, my concerns are much more saturated with the “desires of the eyes, the desires of the flesh and the pride of life” (1 John. 2:16).
So what’s the problem?
Well, we know that the problem isn’t Jesus! Jesus is not hiding from us. If we have believed on Him, He is present in our very hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we find that we need more of Jesus today, it is not a matter of Him holding back. He is not silent! The question is, will we shut up long enough to hear what He has to say? Can we be still long enough to perceive and respond to His direction?
"When it comes down to it, the deepest need of the human heart is pretty simple; we just need more Jesus."
In their book Disciplines of the Holy Spirit, Drs. Siang-Yang Tan and Douglass H. Gregg spend a lot of time discussing the different ways Jesus speaks to His people (scripture reading, prayer, godly counsel, visions, etc.). Recognizing that most of us are very deficient in the art of listening to others, they spend some time unpacking the spiritual importance of the practice:
“God speaks to the heart of those who keep silent long enough to listen! In silence, we learn to control the tongue (James 1:26). We don’t need to say as much as we think we do… And the less we speak, the more we see and hear… Sometimes, it’s when our lips are silent that we can really begin to hear others. When we choose not to exercise our right to speak, our minds and hearts don’t have to be constantly formulating how to answer, explain, justify or promote ourselves… We are free to just ‘be’ in the presence of another and respond to their initiative. Because God is always taking the initiative in our lives, silence gives us an opportunity to hear what he wants to say to us through others.”
In other words, when we discipline ourselves to be quiet long enough to listen to other people, we will find that Jesus has something to say to us THROUGH THEM! So, learning how to actually listen to other people is a primary way we can get more of the Jesus that we need!
"All of the fasting and praying leading up to that night was to prepare us to listen to one another in the Spirit, to lower our defenses and hear about somebody else’s experience with no reference to our own!"
With that in mind, I want to thank Ebony Taylor, Melanie Taylor, and Nar'Asha Randall for all the Jesus they brought to us at our first Fish Bowl Event last Wednesday night. What a gift!
I want to thank each of these amazing women for their courage in taking a private conversation about what it is like to be black at City Fellowship, opening that conversation up, and allowing the rest of us to practice the spiritual discipline of listening.
All of the fasting and praying leading up to that night was to prepare us to listen to one another in the Spirit, to lower our defenses and hear about somebody else’s experience with no reference to our own! It was to focus our attention outward, away from ourselves, to receive whatever Jesus might have to say. Of course, some of what our sisters shared has been tough to digest; but we trust that the Spirit has not left us alone to discern where to go from here.
Our task now is to sit with what the Lord has shown us--through fasting and prayer and our sisters' testimonies--in hopes that we might be become more of the family He is calling us to be!
Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil's article "The Hard Work of Resolving Racial Tensions" has been so helpful to the elders and staff as we've navigated this season in the life of our church. We encourage you to read it, and consider how the principles apply to our context!
These reflection questions will also help you to continue the practice of listening to the Holy Spirit, especially in light of the Fish Bowl event:
1. Are there any particular ways the Spirit moved in you through fasting and prayer before the Fish Bowl? How have you sensed the Spirit moving since the event?
2. What were some takeaways from the event? What was difficult to hear? How were you encouraged?
3. Are any particular passages of Scripture standing out to you during this season?
Take some time over the next few weeks to reflect and pray through what the Spirit has shown you through the sermon series in Acts, the Fish Bowl event, and the article and reflection questions above. Discuss what you're learning as you travel for Thanksgiving. Talk it over with friends from your Community Group. As you do so, practice listening prophetically to the Spirit and to one another!