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April 1, 2009

Raise Your Ebenezer

Here's a practical way to build a teachable moment into this week's discussion.

I was re-reading the material for week 1 of the Answers to Difficult Questions study, and I was reminded about Ebenezers. No, not Scrooge. There are a couple common references that might help you get an idea of what I'm talking about.

The first a line from the second stanza of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It goes: "Here I raise my Ebenezer / Here by Thy great help I've come / And I hope, by Thy good pleasure / Safely to arrive at home."

The second is from 1 Samuel 7:12-14: "Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, 'Thus far the LORD has helped us.' So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites" (1 Samuel 7:12-14 NRSV).

So, an Ebenezer is some kind of physical monument that it set up in remembrance of something meaningful that God has done. The word literally means "stone of help." Think of a wedding ring with a diamond, for example—it's a permanent reminder of a covenant set up in the presence of God, but also a permanent reminder of God's goodness and direction.

Now what in the world does that have to do with Dot Com(unity?) I'm glad you asked.

The big question we're grappling with this week is, "How do I know if God is speaking to me?" And it struck me that there might be some people in your group gatherings that have a pretty cool testimony regarding that subject. Maybe they felt nudged by God about a certain job, or about a spouse or child. Maybe they were warned away from something harmful.

Whatever happened, if someone shares an experience of being spoken to by God, that is a huge teachable moment for your group. Please don't miss it!

One of the ways you can be sure to maximize the moment is by establishing some kind of Ebenezer. This can be done personally, between you and the person who shared how God directed them. In that case, give the person a little gift sometime after they share—something that matches the way in which that person heard God's voice. For example, if a man mentions that God lead him toward his current job, you could frame one of his business cards with the word "Ebenezer" written on it, then encourage him to keep it in his office as a reminder of God's faithfulness.

Creating an Ebenezer can also be a group activity. You could by a bit of clay and bring it to the group meeting in anticipation of someone sharing a time when God directed them. Then have the group fashion a little Ebenezer out of the clay and present it to the person who shared. Or just bring little polished stones and have group members write on them with permanent markers.

Got any other creative ideas? Post them as a comment below.

But whatever you decide to do, please take advantage of this great opportunity for a teachable moment.

posted by Sam O'Neal on April 1, 2009 5:35 PM

Related Tags: Ebenezer, Memory, Remembering, Reminders


I find that readers respond very well to Raise Your Ebenezer posts that present your personal weaknesses, failings and the gaps in your individual information relatively than those posts the place you come across as figuring out every thing there is to know on a topic. People are attracted to humility and are extra possible to answer it than a post written in a tone of somebody who would possibly harshly reply to their comments.

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