If he said it to you, what would your first thought be about the person he described? Would it have anything to do with how she uses her money? Probably it would. Money is the context we almost always use the word “generous” for. And that’s not bad—we need far more financial generosity in the world. But let’s not forget that the word (and the reality it stands for) applies to far more than our finances.
I’ve been surprised many times at how strong the connection is between my mind and my body. Thoughts may not be tangible, but there is no denying that they have tangible effects on how my body works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). My doctor told me years ago that the symptoms I described to him were not a disease—they were the natural (and quite common, he assured me) results of stress. The cure was not medicine, but a quieter mind. Easier said than done. The good news is we’re not alone: Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 invite us to cast our burdens on the Lord, who cares for his children. Galatians 6:2 also encourages God’s people to imitate their Saviour and “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
That was Pilate’s question to Jesus, after Jesus told him that he had come into the world “to testify to the truth.” The question was a good one, but Pilate didn’t wait for the answer. Probably it was less of a genuine question and more of a cynical—possibly bitter?—statement of the shifting realities of political life and Pilate’s role in it. This was a man who had given up on the idea of firm principles. He had seen how changeable the crowds could be, and how precarious his position and power were. He could not afford to care about what was really, foundationally, true—he could only respond to the immediate situation in front of him and try to make the best of it for himself. Or so he thought.
I’m happy to announce that the audiobook version of Dream Small is now available, read by yours truly. It’s only three and a half hours long, less than 25 minutes a chapter. Put me in your ears—I’d like to talk with you about what really matters in life.
Words are powerful. They can communicate ideas, and ideas can change everything. Every once in a while someone captures a profound idea so well with their words that it hits my brain hard enough to stick and it won’t let go so it ends up becoming part of me. This week I want to share with you a few quotes that have become part of me. The hard part was picking just a few, so you’re likely to see this kind of post again in the future. Here they are:
There was a period of years in my life when I randomly lost consciousness. The first time it happened I had just had an eye test, and I woke up on the floor with my head spinning and several blurry women in matching purple uniforms leaning over me. That was strange. Then there was the time my face went straight into my lunch, and the time I just fell over standing in the doorway of the kitchen. There was also the time I gave blood, and once again woke up with the staff leaning over me. Last, but certainly not least, there was the time my wife and I went to a traditional Irish music show. At the end of the evening they called people up from the audience to sing, and they called us, and we tried to say no but somehow we ended up on the stage anyway. We sang, and I was just starting to think we were pulling it off pretty well when I felt the blood leaving my brain. I knew that feeling like an old enemy by then, so I bent over double to encourage that blood to go back where it should have been while still trying to sing and act natural about the whole thing. I do not recommend this as a way to act natural. Thankfully, my wife caught me when I went down. When I woke up I saw sympathetic eyes glancing away from me. I guess most people don’t have a category for how to react to the guy who just collapsed publicly on stage in front of them. Fair enough.
Today is the day! Dream Small is now officially released and available wherever good books are sold. You can find out more on the book page. I’d also like to share with you a trailer for the book from The Good Book Company:
In 1998, Eva Cassidy recorded an old spiritual called “Wade in the water”. I was listening to her sing it in my car just recently:
Wade in the water Wade in the water, children Wade in the water God’s gonna trouble the water
The lyrics are simple, but this water runs deep. As you’d expect from a spiritual, the reference is biblical. The rest of the song speaks of the children of Israel on the banks of the Jordan river, ready to cross into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 3, God tells the priests of Israel to carry the ark of the covenant, the symbol of his relationship with his people and presence with them, to the edge of the flooded river and stand in the water. They obeyed, and as soon as their feet got wet, God began to stop the flow of a mighty river and clear a path for his people to walk across on dry land.
One of the most stunning realities in the Bible is that the God of the whole universe calls his people his children. Though we have all turned against him in sin, he not only stoops down to bring salvation (at great cost to himself), he goes much further—lifting those he saves to the heights of honour and privilege as the adopted members of his own family. He simply asks us to stop running away and come, like children running back into the arms of a loving father. As Paul says in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father.’” When Charles Spurgeon preached on this verse, he took time to focus on one word in particular: “crying”—a word that shows the intimacy and security of how the children of God relate to their Father. This is what he said:
One of the reasons I love poetry is because of the power it has to make ordinary language come alive in new and different ways. But of course, when I say “come alive” that’s only a poetic phrase—I don’t actually mean that poems could ever really live. Or could they?