Seeing the light or just feeling the heat

You’ve heard the old saying about a leopard not being able to change his spots. Well, a psychologist friend of mine tells me that in his experience people can change, but they only usually do it when it becomes too painful not to. It reminds me of a man who was constantly in trouble with the law. He went to confession and told the priest that he was going to change his ways. The priest asked him if he had finally seen the light. ‘No, father, he said. ‘I’ve felt the heat.’ Feeling the heat may well be the thing that forces people to change. But it’s far better to see the light and be inspired to do so. Like the man who wrote the psalm that says, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me…and restore to me the joy of your salvation.’

Posted in Choices, Life's lessons, Light, Living Life, re-evaluating life, Repentance | Leave a comment

Life’s too short for fussing around

I know of an old lady who looked forward for months to taking a short train journey to visit a relative. When the big day came she boarded the train and set about arranging all the things she’d brought with her, so she could settle back and enjoy the trip. She fiddled with her suitcase, lunch box, thermos flask, book to read, knitting and so on. Then, just as she got to settle back they called out her station and she had to pack it all up again. She said later, “if I’d known we would get here so soon, I wouldn’t have wasted my time fussing around.”
That’s how life is for many of us. We spend our energy getting things ready so that we can settle back and enjoy it, forgetting how short the journey is. That’s why Jesus taught us that the best way to enjoy the journey is to concentrate on the destination.

Posted in Brevity of life, Distraction, Life, Life's journey, Life's lessons | Leave a comment

‘Jesus, this is Jim.’

Bruce Howell used to tell the story of Jim, a Londoner who, every day at Noon, would slip into a church where he would sit quietly for five minutes and then depart. The minister of that church got to recognise him and one day got close enough to watch what he did, and he heard him say: ‘Jesus, this is Jim.’ And that’s all he said. He came to expect Jim’s five-minute visits and would always greet him as he left. But then the visits stopped. He asked around and eventually found out that Jim was dangerously ill in hospital. So, he went to visit him and found him all alone in a ward for the terminally ill. Jim was glad to see him and said: ‘They’ve left me here to die, you know. But it’s OK. Jesus has spoken to me.’ ‘And what did he say?’ The minister asked. Jim replied: ‘He just said: ‘Jim, this is Jesus.’

Posted in Faith, God with us, God's faithfulness, God's love, Hope, Jesus | Leave a comment

The Devil made me do it

In another twist on the old ‘the Devil made me do it’ excuse, a little girl who had been sent to her room for misbehaving, was heard saying her prayers and blaming God for what had happened, because she’d prayed to be a good girl, and she wasn’t. It’s like the man who sued a hospital after having raided a refrigerator following his stomach stapling operation and tore open the staples. He blamed the hospital for having a refrigerator near his room, claiming the temptation was too great and therefore the hospital was responsible.
Refusing to take responsibility for our own actions seems to be part of the human condition, and blaming God for problems caused by human shortcomings is a common manifestation of it. But, as the Bible says: in the end, ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.’

Posted in accountability, Judgement, responsibility | Leave a comment

Ask somebody who has it

Back in the glory days of the American car industry Packard was the last company to get into advertising. It didn’t happen until the founder died because whenever he was asked to buy advertising for his cars, he would always say: ‘I don’t need to advertise Packards; just ask the man who owns one.’ And after his death, ‘Ask the man who owns one’ became the Packard slogan; and it worked.
In the same way, faith in Jesus has also been spread primarily by word-of-mouth. The Shepherds at the first Christmas may have heard the good news from angels, and the Wise Men were led by a star, but most people who come to faith do so because of the influence of someone whose life has been changed by it.
What’s the value of faith? Just ask the person who has it.

Posted in Abundant life, Witness | Leave a comment

Refer to the designer

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, one day came upon a man whose Model T Ford had broken down. It was clear the driver didn’t know what was wrong, so Henry asked if he could take a look. In a few minutes, he had the car running again. The grateful owner said: ‘I’m amazed at your ability; you fixed my car so easily.’ Ford replied: ‘Well, I ought to be able to fix it, because I’m the one who designed it.’
When things go wrong we naturally go to the designer for a solution. And when things are going wrong with life we can’t do better than refer back to its designer. Jesus said: ‘I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.’ Abundant life is what we all want, and abundant life is what God intends we should have. But only the designer can show us how to make it happen.

Posted in Abundant life, Designer, Failure, God | Leave a comment

There’s something about being a volunteer

When I was a volunteer firefighter our bushfire brigade would respond enthusiastically to fire calls at all times of the day or night. I remember one chilly winter night being called to a house fire to assist the professional fire brigade. The house was empty and it was beyond saving so they left it to us to put it out and keep it from spreading. We all felt pretty good about what we’d done, even though most of us had lost a night’s sleep and still had to go to work at daybreak. We felt envious of the professional firefighters who got to do this for a living, and were surprised to hear them complaining about having been called out. It made me realize that there’s something about being a volunteer that we often lose when we get paid – fun; doing something for the love of it. That’s why true faith is always voluntary.

Posted in Blessings, Faith, Volunteers | Leave a comment