The Problem of having no religious outlook

Karl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychology, said, ‘People from all civilized countries of the earth have consulted me. I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among all my patients in the second half of life – that is to say, over thirty-five – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.’
It’s a profound observation from one of the greatest behavioural scientists, reminding us that, as Saint Augustine observed a millennium and a half ago, there is still that ‘God-shaped hole’ in every human heart.

Posted in emptiness, God shaped holes, Healing, Religion | Leave a comment

Going round in circles

Charles Swindoll tells of a bazaar in India where a man had some birds for sale, each tied by the leg to a ring which fitted over a post stuck in the ground. Consequently, all that the birds could do was to walk around in circles. However, nobody seemed interested in buying them until a devout Brahman, who believed in the Hindu idea of respect for all life, took compassion on those poor creatures walking in their monotonous circles, and bought the whole lot. He immediately cut the strings and set them free. But those birds, now free from their fetters, continued to walk around in circles just like they’d always done; and just like so many of us do until we learn that God’s will is for us to be free of all those things that enslave us, and that his Spirit within us enables us to actually do it.

Posted in Deliverance, Freedom, Futility, New Life | Leave a comment

Why did Jesus weep?

I met a group of people who were thanking God that an elderly friend had been brought back from the brink of death by a medical intervention that now keeps her alive. Yet I remember that old lady telling me she was ready to die and go to what she described as her true home. I’m not sure what sort of consciousness she now has, but I wonder if she’s is as happy about her condition as her friends are.
It reminds me of that story in the gospel where Jesus went to the tomb of his friend Lazarus and, responding to the grief of his sisters, called Lazarus back from the dead. But before he did it, the Bible says, ‘Jesus wept’. We often why should he weep when he was about to call him back? Maybe it was because he knew how much Lazarus was about to lose in coming back from that realm where God wipes away all our tears.

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When our actions contradict our values

In 1983 a Korean Air Lines flight accidentally strayed into Soviet air space and was shot down by a Soviet jet-fighter, flown by a Major Osipovich. 240 people lost their lives as a result, and an international crisis suddenly flared and came dangerously close to armed conflict. The irony of it is that Major Osipovich was flying that night because he’d been given time off during the day to give a talk at his daughter’s school. The subject of his talk was peace.
It reminds me of how Jesus once said of the people of his day: ‘These people honour God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.’ But it’s not just national leaders who need to heed these words. Every one of us will be called to account for those actions of ours that contradict the values we proclaim.

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The music within us

The famous composer Mendelssohn once visited the cathedral at Fribourg, and having heard the great organ, went into the organ loft and asked to be allowed to play it. The old organist, afraid to let strangers loose on this marvelous instrument, refused. But after a bit of coaxing he agreed. Moments later, amazed and in an ecstasy of delight, he laid his hands on the shoulders of the musician and exclaimed: ‘Who are you? What is your name?’ ‘Mendelssohn,’ replied the player. The old man hung his head in shame and said: ‘Can it be that I nearly refused to let the great Mendelssohn touch this organ!’
And can it be that we, through ignorance or fear of what might happen, might likewise be refusing to let the great God bring out the music that lies dormant in us?

Posted in Abundant life, Fulfilment, God in us | Leave a comment

In every obstacle there’s an opportunity

There’s an old legend of a king who had a boulder placed on a highway and left there to see if anyone would remove it. A number of important people came by and squeezed past, complaining about the way the government was failing to keep the roads clear. But then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. He laid down his burden and after much pushing and straining, he rolled the rock out of the way. Then, as he bent down to pick up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying where the boulder had been. The purse was full of gold coins plus a note from the king indicating that it was there for whoever removed the boulder from the road. That man learned something that most of us fail to understand: that in every obstacle there’s an opportunity, but only if we’re prepared to deal with it.

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Taking things for granted

Two old friends happened to meet each other one day. One of them seemed depressed. His friend asked him why he was so sad. He said: ‘Three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me $40,000.’ ‘That’s wonderful,’ his friend said. ‘Yes,’ the man said, ‘but that’s not the end of it. Two weeks ago, a distant cousin died and left me $80,000’ ‘Wow! Said the friend. ‘And then last week,’ the man added, ‘my great-aunt passed away. I inherited a quarter of a million from her.’ By now his friend was really confused. ‘Then, why are you so miserable?’ He asked. The other man sighed. ‘This week, there’s been nothing.’
Now, you may think I’m being facetious, but it’s part of the human condition to get so used to unexpected blessings that eventually we also just take them for granted.

Posted in Ingratitude | Leave a comment