home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > July 21st> When Everything Seems To Be Going Wrong

WHEN EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE GOING WRONG

 

Everything is going wrong!“Everything’s going wrong at the moment!” “Things just couldn’t get worse!” are often sighed by people when they are under pressure. If you find yourself frequently using these expressions, then I want to show you three tools for dramatically changing this.

None of us see the world in which we live. What we actually see comes to us through a series of filters which we all use. These filters include our previous experience, what we know, and our emotional health at the time. Combined, these three factors form our perspective. Our perspective is just like our eyes – we mostly look through them rather than at them. And while we have access to things like mirrors and cameras to look at our eyes, our perspective has no immediate way to be viewed.

Rather than view our perspective as either right or wrong, it is better to consider our perspective as either helpful or unhelpful.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
First Corinthians 13:12

PERCEPTION AND PERSPECTIVE

Everything's going wrongI know how it feels when “Everything is going wrong”. It’s in these times that we all see our circumstances as the the problem. To make things seem worse, the rise of filmic entertainment and social media, has given the perception that everyone else’s life is far better than our own. That is, no-one else has the problems that I have because their lives are all full of celebrations and holidays by the beach! Their kids are perfectly behaved! They are loved and have someone to love! They have loads of money and no debt issues! While they’re swimming by the beach, I’m drowning in a sea of problems! Thus, our perspective has a direct bearing on our perception of the circumstances we are in.

but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
Job 5:7

THE THREE KEYS SOLUTION

The perspective of a teddy-bearOur perspective is shaped by –

(i) our previous experience

(ii) what we know

(iii) our emotional health at the time.

1. USE EXPERIENCE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Consider then how you might face all of your current problems if you had experienced similar problems before to these and actually come through them unscathed. If you did have this prior experience, how might it affect your current perspective? This insight is the first key to successfully dealing with our overwhelming problems: draw on your past experiences of successfully coming through problems – or if you can’t, then find someone who has and learn from them! This is why younger people are more at risk of feeling overwhelmed by their problems than those who have a little more life-experience. Imagine if you could go back in time when you were facing another difficult season in your life and talk to yourself. What would you say? Could your talk with yourself have changed your perspective at that time?

2. LEARN WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Due to recent cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned offMaybe you have not experienced anything like the difficulties you are facing now. But what if you had been shown by someone how to solve these difficulties, would that change your perspective? What if you had read about someone else who had gone through something similar and responded in a way that worked to solve the problem. Would that change your perspective for whatever you are facing now?

A few years ago I was asked to take on the management of a struggling not-for-profit organisation. This organisation was insolvent (which meant it couldn’t pay its bills or debts). Several people had previously tried to turn it around but had been unable. There are lots and lots of things that I have no clue on how to solve, but I do know a few things about how the business of not-for-profit ministry organisations needs to work. Within a few months, after implementing what I already knew, things began to turn around. As I met challenges I had never met before, I set out to learn what I needed to know. Because of what I knew, and some past experiences in not-for-profit organisational turn-arounds, the solutions to the vexing problems which this organisation faced seemed obvious to me. Perhaps you now face problems with confidence and ease which once overwhelmed you? If you are currently facing problems which are overwhelming you, you need to apply this second key by finding someone or something that can help you learn how to deal with it.

3. EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

Emotional well-beingWhen I am emotionally drained it seems that my problems are multiplied and magnified. Some of my biggest problems have actually been solved by a good night sleep! Our physical well-being has a bearing on our emotional well-being. Our emotions are formed by chemicals which are released into our blood system. These chemicals can be released involuntarily (such as in a time of shock), as a result of our diet (such as when you only eat a high carbohydrate and high sugar diet which increases the likelihood of depression), and, a lack aerobic exercise deprives the body of healthy endorphins which the brain and body needs to experience happiness. Therefore, if you want to reduce the number and intensity of your problems, get more sleep and less screen-time, cut right down on sugar and carbs, and do something that will get your heart pumping and you gasping for air!

¶ You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
Psalm 77:4

TELL ‘EM TO TAKE A NUMBER!

Troubles and difficulties can sometimes be overwhelmingBy drawing on your own or someone else’s experience to give you the confidence that you get through your difficulties, discovering strategies for better dealing with your problems (one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “Tell your problems to take a number and get in line!” That is, deal with your biggest problems first and deal with them one at a time), and improving your diet and fitness, you’ll be amazed at what that can for your perspective of your problems. What you’ll find is that as your perspective shifts from the forest to the trees, you’ll discover that things aren’t nearly as bad as you had been thinking they were.

By using these three powerful keys you’ll find that even though your circumstances don’t change, your perception and perspective will. The Apostle Paul wrote to a church beginning to experience tremendous difficulties and hardship. Rather than telling them to pray that God might change their circumstances he encouraged them to look at their world differently: through the eyes of faith.

for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Second Corinthians 5:7

ChalmersAnd it was the Apostle John whom God used to bequeath to the Church The Revelation. This closing book of the Bible is all about changing perspectives. While massive and brutal persecution was ruthlessly being waged against Christians around the time that The Revelation was written (65 AD), the Apostle gave his beleaguered audience a glimpse into the eternal realm where Christ was triumphant over all. Rather than getting all worked up about some of the nonsense which has been promoted as the interpretation of The Revelation, it is very safe to interpret this book as reminding believers to have a different perspective on life’s difficulties. Perhaps this is why so many first century believers rejoiced to lay down their lives for their risen Saviour and to be so bold in their witness.

¶ After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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3 EXERCISES THAT WILL WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, AND STRONGER, PART 3

Now I turn my attention to an oft neglected aspect of our spiritual well-being: resting. As a disclaimer, I am one of the least qualified to discuss this topic—but, embarrassing, any lessons I have learned about the value of rest have come negatively from not resting as I should have and then enduring the inevitable consequences.

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 2

A healthy lifestyle involves regular vigorous exercise (aerobic exercise) – such as long brisk walk, a competitive game of tennis, or a 30-minute jog – and, eating a healthy diet. In Part 1, I drew the parallel to how we maintain our physical health with how we can contribute to our spiritual health. In particular I pointed out that just as doing aerobic exercise delivered more oxygen into our blood stream, so too does developing our times of prayer add spiritual oxygen into our soul. In this instalment, I am going to draw parallels with maintaining a healthy diet of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugared and processed foods, and how our spiritual diet. Too many Christians have poor diets. I hope to encourage you not to be one of them. 

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 1

Every physical fitness coach will tell you that daily exercise which causes you sweat and puff is the kind of exercise that is doing you long-term good. Vigorous physical exercise such as running will cause you to need more air in your lungs which will cause you to puff. Puffing, the act of heavy breathing to replenish your need oxygen helps your respiratory and cardio-vascular systems to become healthier. Interestingly, breathing is the word that the Bible uses to describe how God created the First man. As a result of the lack of spiritual exercise, too many people do not have spiritual reserves, and consequently lack spiritual strength, capacity, confidence, psychological contentment, or the emotional happiness that they would otherwise have had. Yet, this is so unnecessary considering that there are three very simple spiritual exercises that everyone whose spirit has been regenerated can do to remedy this malady. 

AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT

It might seem an odd thing to write about just two days before Christmas, but the story of God plaguing the Israelites with poisonous snakes and then commanding Moses to construct a bronze serpent and attach it to a cross-beamed pole has baffled even the best minds for centuries. Some people have regarded this story as yet another reason for them to reject God and the Bible and consider both to be nonsense. An ever-so-slightly-less-cynical approach that some, who seem to really want both God and the Bible to be true, have taken is to regard the story as a fictional myth with mysterious allegorical meaning. I think this is how Dr. Jordan Peterson recently interpretted it in his discussion with Mr. John Anderson on their Youtube discussion last week. The high profile psychologist Dr. Peterson seems to have been on an interesting spiritual journey of late and he is obviously delving into the Bible and coming up with what appear to be some roadblocks to his complete acceptance of the claims of Christ largely due to these obscure passages in the Bible such as this account in Number 21. “No one has ever been able to explain it to me!” he told Mr. Anderson. I wish he had asked me, because if he had, this is what I would have explained to him.

THUS SAITH THE LORD

Within the sixty-six books of Scriptures we have a unified and coherent revelation from God about His identity as the Creator, the Law-giver, the Redeemer, the Saviour, and the Final Judge. Its sixty-six books tell one story – God’s plan of redemption and conquest over and ultimate vanquishing of evil. Within the Scripture is the revelation of how to be reconciled to God by having our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the Scriptures which assure us that we have one mediator between us and God the Father – Jesus the Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 12:24) through whom we can directly appeal. It is within the Scriptures that we find the commands of God for how we are to live, conduct our lives, order our affairs, treat others, and prioritise our worship of God. Thus, we are not permitted to just be “hearers” of God’s Word, we are to accept its authority and be compliant with its commands and imperatives (Rom. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:22-23) – because it is the Word of God.

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR (OF MORE THAN JUST MONEY)

The most basic form of investing was described by Christ in the parable of the talents where He described it as putting money with the money-lenders to earn interest. Albert Einstein stated that ‘compound interest’ is the eighth wonder of the world! When some people hear the word ‘investing’ they might think that it only involves money. Investing involves thinking about present action and the future consequences of those actions. And then acting in a way that sacrifices present income to invest in a richer future. Understood in a much broader sense, investing can and should mean thinking about much more than just money. It can involve investing time, effort, wisdom, training, and prayer. Investing done well results in increased wealth and riches which is not just limited to financial rewards. It is exemplified in the biblical promise, “You reap what you sow.” Each generation is responsible to steward the resources that are at its disposal. These resources are managed by individuals, families, communities, states, nations and the Church. Church leaders have a duty to invest well into the spiritual resources that shape culture to the glory of God so that a tree is planted for the next generations will be the ones who enjoy its shade.

AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building.