Failure opens doors - Jesus Army Life

 Some of us had a great discussion the other night about... failure. 

The really interesting thing about failing is how it actually opens up opportunities. At the very least it teaches us lessons and allowing for failure encourages grass roots creativity. But, too often, we fear to fail and miss the opportunity to do something new. Worst of all, we never get to see who we really could be if we'd just taken that chance.

Success obsessed people don't like to accept difficulties. Consider how badly organisations deal with scandal and how often they try to conceal it.

And, as individuals we're often not keen to welcome troublesome situations either. While we're busy thinking of a thousand reasons why we shouldn't face the challenge, we forget that in reality we're training ourselves to avoid risk and can often miss an opportunity to truly help someone in need.

Worse still, for Christians, when things go wrong, we often blame our practices and, when we've exhausted that, we blame God. It strikes me that sometimes the reason God could choose not to answer prayer is because he wants to shake our spiritual self-importance.

While churches can seem almost like a corporation, counting conversions and boasting about growth, God may be more concerned with how much we're expressing his grace and favour to people.

Dare we even consider how Jesus may have failed? (There are certainly examples of it: not being able to heal many, losing disciples, withdrawing from political heat, weeping over Jerusalem.) He didn't go around driven by success and feeding his ego. And he didn't try to fit people into neat spiritual boxes. Instead, in brokenness, grief and frustration he accepted people in their mess, coped with God's paradoxes and faced up to the call of self sacrifice.

 Jesus was very human, he knew failure, pressed on and opened the door to help us realise that God truly cares.

Other examples are plentiful... Isaiah was promised that people would not listen to him. Paul considered himself the worst apostle alive! So the question I must ask myself is this: Why am I not so willing to take the risks that could open new doors?...

I'm not so sure that my ego wants me to find out.


Never lose hope - Jesus Army Life

I drafted this blog a while back when times were tough. Now that we're coming through, it's a timely reminder...

Making the most of life. Photo by Ritesh Man Tamrakar on Flickr.com
There's a big question for our church at the moment:
What next?
Not everyone's verbally asking the question but I think everyone feels it - some more than others.
Some are feeling it badly, getting shaky, questioning vision, needing encouragement.
Some are dreaming dreams, grasping at straws, complaining to God.
But I don't know anyone who's handling things particularly well...

What I do know is that God is still with us, bringing us new people, offering his spirit. We should be able to trust Him.
Personally, I've been wondering how we can grow stronger and more confident in God, especially in such seemingly dry times?
I think I see an answer in not just counting, but investing in, God's blessing. Tough times can lead us to lean on God: 'Will God help us?' But good times can also teach us to trust if we ask: 'How can I make the most of God's blessing?'
In richer societies, where its easy to put our confidence in other things, we need to capitalise on God's provision and see him coming through even more - that way our confidence can grow.
And, deliberately celebrating God's goodness will also prepare us to endure through darker times, knowing that it's worth putting our trust in the living God.
Let us never lose the confidence we have gained.


Budding Out - Jesus Army Life

by James Gaither from Flickr.com

I found this picture of a horse chestnut the other day: A dry tree amidst a world of green.

At the time I felt it perfectly described my life.

My little church group which, at times, has seen so much success has come to an end. We're spreading out to strengthen other local groups, and admittedly it's sad for us.


If you look carefully, the tree, though seemingly dry, is putting forward new buds.

(My last blog had a similar picture.)

I hope this represents the promise of the future. I have no doubt that God is still with us, even if we've known much failure of late. And I'm also able to believe this because of the very accurate prophetic words and dreams we've had lately - it speaks peace to my grieving heart.