The only investment that really makes you rich

In 1980 Albert J. Lowry’s book, How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate, became a bestseller. One year later Money magazine estimated Lowry’s net worth at thirty million dollars and called him a ‘real-estate wizard’. But something went wrong, and four years later the Success Development Institute, which promoted Lowry’s theories, collapsed with two and half million dollars in debts and Lowry filed for bankruptcy.
Albert J Lowry is just another reminder of the eventual folly of putting one’s hopes for life in get-rich quick schemes. Even when they seem to work there’s no security in them. His story also reminds us of the ancient wisdom of the Bible that says: ‘It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it.’

Posted in Investments, Riches, Spiritual blessing, Treasure in Heaven | Leave a comment

You may not know until you fly away

George Orwell, whose classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four so prophetically predicted the nightmare of much of today’s world, also gave a graphic image of the human condition in one of his essays. He talked about a wasp that descended on his plate one day and began sucking jam from a dollop in the corner. Orwell fixed him by cutting him in half with his butter knife, then paid no more attention, going on with his meal while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of the wasp’s severed oesophagus. It was only when the wasp tried to fly away that it realised what had happened to it.
A bit like some people, I suspect, who, severed from their souls, but greedy and unaware, continue to consume life’s sweetness. Only when it’s time to fly away will they gasp their true condition.

Posted in Abundant life, Eternity, Spiritual blindness | Leave a comment

Impossible odds

One of the most amazing things about our world is the delicate balance required to sustain life. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross says that one of the twenty-five factors necessary for life is that the number of electrons has to be equivalent to the number of protons to an accuracy of one part in ten to the thirty-seventh. To get an idea of this he says imagine covering a billion continents the size of North America in dimes all the way up to the moon. Then paint one of those dimes red and have a blindfolded astronaut find it on the first attempt. These are the odds of the ratio of electrons to protons being at the precise level required for life; and this is just one of many parameters that must be so finely tuned. That’s why he and many like him believe there has to be something more than mere chance behind the Universe.

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Following the argument – to God

In 1950, Antony Flew, a brilliant young philosophy student at Oxford University, presented a paper titled ‘Theology and Falsification’. It became the most widely published philosophical paper of the 20th century and Antony Flew went on to became one of the world’s leading atheist thinkers. But in 2004, Flew dropped a bombshell. He published a book titled ‘There is a God – How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind’. He hadn’t had a Damascus Road experience. Referring to his mature reflections on both science and philosophy, he said: ‘I have simply followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent and omniscient Being.’
Maybe we need to think a bit harder too.

Posted in Agnosticism, Atheism, Faith, Seeking and Finding | Leave a comment

Unanswered prayers

Reverend Daniel Hans wrote about a sermon he preached following the death of his three-year-old daughter to cancer. His heart broke as he watched her slowly die, so he asked his congregation to share things they’d hoped God would do but didn’t. People described praying for the life of a newborn child only to see it die, of the hope God would protect his people only to hear of an elderly woman being stabbed on her way to church, praying for rain for famine-stricken Africa only to see starvation continue. To these disappointments Hans now added his own. Sometimes we remember only the miracle stories of the Bible and forget the others which teach us that God’s action in our world is not always to perform the miraculous, but more often than not it’s to walk through our suffering with us.

Posted in Disappointed, Faith, God with us, Prayer | Leave a comment

It’s what’s inside that makes it go up

When I was young, and most people believed that to have white skin made you superior to someone with black skin, a man was selling balloons at a carnival. He had balloons of various colours, which he filled with helium gas. Every now and then he would release one of them into the air and kids would come from everywhere to buy one. While he was busy with his young customers, he felt someone tug at his jacket. He turned around to see a little West Indian boy standing there. The boy said: ‘Mister, if you release a black balloon will it fly just as high?’ That man put his hand on the boy’s head and said: ‘Son, it’s not the colour of the balloon that counts, it’s what’s inside that makes it go up.’
And nothing has changed. As the Bible says: Man may look on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.’

Posted in Character, Prejudice | Leave a comment

Grandchildren really make you think

In the long and painful history of Arab/Israeli conflict there was one bright moment when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat to meet at Camp David for peace talks. But the Israeli Prime minister flatly rejected the final proposal. However, before they departed Jimmy Carter and Menachim Begin agreed to sign photographs for each other’s families. President Carter then showed the prime minister photographs of his grandchildren, and Prime Minister Begin did likewise. As they looked at the pictures tears filled their eyes and Begin returned to his cabin. Five minutes later he re-emerged and asked to look at the peace proposal once again.
Reflecting on the legacy we are about to leave to our grandkids can change the most stubborn heart.

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Is there life after birth?

There’s an old story about a twin sister and brother talking to each other in the womb. She said: ‘I believe there’s life after birth!’ But he disagreed: ‘No, this is all there is.’ But the little girl insisted that there had to be something more; but she couldn’t convince her brother. Then she said: ‘And that’s not all, but I think there’s a mother!’ ‘What are you talking about?’ he said. ‘I’ve never seen a mother and neither have you.’ Finally, she said: ‘Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? It’s can be quite painful.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered. ‘But what’s special about that?’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I think this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much better than this, where we’ll see our mother face to face!’
Is there life after birth? Sounds very much like the question of is there life after death

Posted in Death, Life, Life's lessons | Leave a comment

Worry – a disease of the spirit

There’s an old parable about a man meeting the Grim Reaper, who told him he was going to take 100 people that day. But 1,000 people died, and that evening he met Death again and accused him of breaking his word. But Death replied: ‘I kept my word. I only took a hundred people. Worry took the others.’
That parable illustrates what the US National Mental Health Committee reported a few years ago – half of all the people in America’s hospitals are constant worriers. Mental distress can lead to everything from migraine headaches to depression. It’s the greatest enemy of quality of life. Worry, essentially, is a disease of the spirit, for its beginning signals the end of faith. The only cure for it is faith – that simple trust that whatever happens, God is at work in all things for the good of those that love Him.

Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Fear, Worry | Leave a comment

Hidden by the light

When I was a schoolboy and had little contact with the Church, I used to be fascinated by a line from a hymn we used to sing to sing at the school assembly that said: ‘All laud we would render, Oh help us to see; ‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.’ Way back then it was clear to my young mind that whatever problems I may have in seeing God in life are not because there is no God but rather are due to the fact that I am like someone emerging from a dark room into the brilliant light of the sun, and it’s the very brilliance of light that causes me not to be able to see it. On the other hand, as the old Maori proverb says: ‘If you turn your face to the sun, all the shadows will fall behind you;’ which sounds very similar to what Jesus meant when he said: ‘Seek and you will find.’

Posted in Blindness, Light, Light of Life, Spiritual blindness, Spiritual discernment | Leave a comment