Failure and success

How to do the impossible

How to do the impossible

I have written a year-long devotional on the Psalms. As I’ve been editing the daily segments, it occurred to me that every day is significant to God, including the date each of us was born.

And that is because our mindset is, or should be, fundamentally different from the people around us. I’ll explain what I mean. The ancient Greeks believed our lives were controlled by fate. Supernatural beings policed the lines of fate to make sure no one stepped outside of what was predetermined for them. And in practice, many people believe the same kind of things today. That’s why they say things like “touch wood,” have “lucky” pieces of clothing or other items, or are superstitious in various ways.

The mentality of the Greeks is on display every day in horoscopes. Everyone born under a certain sign of the Zodiac has all the aspects of their life predetermined. There are plenty of people around who can’t bring themselves to believe that the God who created the universe could raise his Son from the dead, but they have no trouble at all believing that their daily horoscope tells them how the inanimate stars are controlling what is going to happen to them today.

Destiny

Destiny

I have written a year-long devotional on the Psalms. As I’ve been editing the daily segments, it occurred to me that every day is significant to God, including the date each of us was born.

And that is because our mindset is, or should be, fundamentally different from the people around us. I’ll explain what I mean. The ancient Greeks believed our lives were controlled by fate. Supernatural beings policed the lines of fate to make sure no one stepped outside of what was predetermined for them. And in practice, many people believe the same kind of things today. That’s why they say things like “touch wood,” have “lucky” pieces of clothing or other items, or are superstitious in various ways.

The mentality of the Greeks is on display every day in horoscopes. Everyone born under a certain sign of the Zodiac has all the aspects of their life predetermined. There are plenty of people around who can’t bring themselves to believe that the God who created the universe could raise his Son from the dead, but they have no trouble at all believing that their daily horoscope tells them how the inanimate stars are controlling what is going to happen to them today.

Terrifyingly awesome

Terrifyingly awesome

A great business opportunity had just opened up for the friend I was having lunch with this week. “Wow!” I thought. “What a terrific series of possibilities that would open up for the glory of God!”

Easy for me to say, of course. For my friend, the opportunity brought an equal mixture of great excitement and sheer terror. One minute all he could see was the risk, the next minute all he could envision was the reward.

And that is where so often God has us. One of my favourite phrases about following Jesus is the one my friend Don Smith often uses: terrifyingly awesome.

The kingdom of God brings with it endless opportunities to experience the supernatural and the mind-blowing, but at the same time makes incredible demands on us that stretch us far beyond our natural capabilities. We may complain about this, but we shouldn’t be surprised.

The root of the problem

The root of the problem

A lady was sharing her woes with my wife in the changing room at the gym. Her problem was simple. She had to keep dying her hair every couple of weeks, or the roots would start to show.

And this is a pretty decent description of how people handle more serious problems in their lives too. We coat our issues with something that makes them disappear, but before too long they all come back. The reason, of course, is that the roots of our problems have never been dealt with.

A frequent mistake in pastoral care is to treat the symptoms rather than the cause. An over-the-counter painkiller will deal with an ordinary headache, but it won’t do anything much for a brain tumour.

Lessons from the whirlwind

Lessons from the whirlwind

After about an hour listening to a man’s story the other day, I said to him, “You’ve been living in a whirlwind.” He thought that was a pretty apt description.

Life seems like a whirlwind every so often. When we’re caught up in it, things can seem to be out of control. We lose sight of God, we find it hard to see any purpose in what’s happening to us, and we feel helpless, abandoned and lost.

But I think God operates in the whirlwind. The fact that he created the world and he also sustains it means he is always in control. The whirlwind that looks like confusion to us may in truth be full of his purposes.