We are all made in the same mould; it’s just that some people are mouldier than others!
A young lad doing his homework approached his father and asked, “Dad, what does ‘exasperated’ mean?” The father thought for a moment and replied, “It means to be very angry or infuriated.” The boy questioned him further: “Why do people get exasperated?” The dad sat his son down and explained: “Well, it sort of creeps up on you. It usually starts off as an inconvenience, which, if allowed to continue, leads on to annoyance, then anger and finally exasperation. Let me show you how it works…”
With that the father went to the telephone and dialled a number at random. The phone rang several times before it was answered. The father winked playfully at his son and then said, “Hello, is Simon there?” A man with a grumpy voice replied, “There is nobody here by the name of Simon. You have obviously got the wrong number,” and he hung up. “There!” said the father. “That was inconvenience. You see, it took a while for the man to answer the phone and so we obviously dragged him away from something and inconvenienced him by dialling a wrong number.” Then the father dialled the same number and when the man answered, he said again, “Hello, is Simon there?” This time the man on the other end of the phone said, “Look chum, you have just dialled this number and I have told you there is no one here called Simon. Now, please check the number and stop bothering me.” He hung up a second time. The father looked at his son and explained, “Now, we have moved from inconvenience to annoyance… Let’s try again.” With that he dialled the same number for a third time and asked, “Hello, is Simon there?” There was a moment or two of quietness, and then an angry voice bellowed, “What’s the matter with you. Are you stupid? I have already told you that Simon does not live here. STOP DIALLING THIS NUMBER! Do you understand?” The phone was slammed down hard. Again the father looked over at his son and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, said, “And that was anger! Now for exasperation; watch this…” He dialled the same number again and quietly said, “Hello, this is Simon. Have there been any calls for me?”
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Are read by more than a few,
But the one that is most read and commented on
Is the gospel according to you.
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day
By the things you do and the words that you say.
People read what you write, whether faithless or true.
Say, what is the gospel according to you?
Do others read His truth and His love in your life?
Or has yours been too full of malice and strife?
Does your life speak of evil, or does it ring true?
Say, what is the gospel according to you? (Anon)
God be in my head, and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes, and in my looking.
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking.
God be in my heart, and in my thinking.
God be in my end, and at my departing.
Book of Hours (1514), medieval book of prayer
‘Do you ever drive differently when you see a police car behind you? Why? It’s not because your heart is changed. It’s not because you see the police car and think, Oh, I really want to be a good driver. You drive differently because you are fearful and don’t want to get a ticket. You don’t want to see that blue flashing light in your rear view mirror.’
God doesn’t want our forced compliance because we are fearful of the consequences; he wants our willing submission out of our love and gratitude to him for all he has done for us.
John Ortberg, ‘The Me I Want To Be’, 2010, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, p.133
The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart
What causes people to do bad things? Is it their upbringing, their education, their relationships? All those things factor into who we are and what we do. But the Bible locates the source of our trouble inside of us, not outside of us! Jeremiah 17v9 says: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ Our deepest problem is located inside of us, in our heart. – Woody Allen once tried to justify a scandalous relationship with a young woman by saying: “The heart wants what it wants.” Those words are full of biblical truth! – Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, every aspect of our lives is marred by sin. Our hearts, which are the centre of our emotions, intellect and will, are deceitful and self-protective… What might heart deception look like in your life? Think about:
- Have you even justified yourself when you knew you were wrong?
- Have you ever been sure that you were right, only to find out that you were totally wrong?
- Have you ever found yourself doing something that’s wrong without knowing why you were doing it?
Explore Bible notes, 30/8/2012
The Selfishness of the Human Heart
A little boy came home from school one day to find his goldfish floating motionless of the surface of the fish tank. He was devastated and began to cry. His father tried to console him by saying: ‘It’s sad when a pet dies. But here’s what we will do. We’ll Put the dead fish in a matchbox, take it out into the garden and invite your friends to join with us in conducting a funeral service. Then afterwards I will take you and your friends to the ice cream parlour and buy you all an ice cream.’ The little boy was cheered by this promise but suddenly he noticed that the goldfish was not dead as he had supposed, but had revived somehow and begun swimming merrily around the bowl. The little boy gave a whoop of joy, and clapped his hands in glee that his pet goldfish was still alive.
A few minutes later, however, he remembered the promise of his father to take him and his friends to the ice cream parlour. Now that would no longer be a possibility and the boy had mixed emotions – gladness that his goldfish was still alive, but sadness that he would miss out on a trip to the ice cream parlour. Eventually, one emotion dominated the other and turning to his father he said, ‘I know, let’s kill it!’
Selwyn Hughes, The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success, p.125
Behave like a duck; stay calm and unruffled on the surface, but paddle like heck underneath!
“Stress is like electricity; if there is an overload the body blows a fuse.”
Dr Malcolm Carruthers
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). So let me ask you this: how fruity are you?
Like putting a jumper on inside out, sometimes we get things the wrong way around: We think, ‘when God blesses me then I can be fruitful.’ But it’s the other way around: When we love others and seek to be fruitful, especially in the local church, it’s then that God blesses us and we become more fruitful.
“People are funny. They want a place in front of the bus, the back of the church and the middle of the road. Tell a man there are 300 billion stars, and he will believe you. Tell that same man that a bench has just been painted, and he has to touch it to be sure.”
John C. Maxwell
The first step in changing any behaviour is to start immediately.
Some people are like concrete; they are all mixed up and permanently set!
Never be too proud to change your mind.
You always get more of the behaviour you reward.
Think, speak and act like a pilgrim not a resident.
“A man who slurs a righteous person is like a man who spits at the sky. The spit does not reach or spoil the sky: it simply returns to spoil the face of the one who spat.”
You have to be little to belittle so don’t belittle be-BIG!
Always say what you mean and mean what you say, but never say it mean.
Watch What You Say
I lost a very little word
Just the other day,
It was a very naughty word
I had not meant to say.
But then, it was not really lost
When from my lips it flew,
My little daughter picked it up
And now she says it too.
Englishmen love the gospel because it is something to argue and debate about.
Welshmen love the gospel because it is something to sing about.
And Scotsmen… well, they love the gospel because it’s FREE!
Wherever the gospel is preached there is a reaction, similar to the opposite ends of a magnet: some are attracted (they want more) others are repelled (they can’t get away quick enough). And that’s because there is a cosmic conflict going on, a spiritual battle between good and evil, between Christ and the devil. If you feel repelled by Jesus’ teaching, by his church and his people, ask yourself, why do I feel like this?