Is Church 2023 an “Unsolvable Problem”? Praying for open eyes and believing hearts

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. We’ve done this since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all God’s people. You have this faith and love because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You previously heard about this hope through the true message, the good news, which has come to you.

So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. But their minds were closed. 

Colossians 1:3-6, 2 Corinthians 3:12-14

I have two “shorts” today, Wednesday January 4. The first is a simple “thank you” to all my readers, especially those who share this page with others. The second is a little insight and – hopefully – inspiration around the idea of belief and expectation.

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?”

Mark 9:19

Gratifying Statistics:

One of my goals, as a writer commissioned to share the good news, is to engage people in thoughtful conversation, no matter where they/you are in the journey. Another is to reach as many people as possible, and to challenge them with the liberating truth that God’s invitation is for everyone.

– getting The Word out

This past year I was hoping to equal or exceed 2021’s exciting 180,000 views. I would have been pleased to see 181,000, but ecstatic to reach 200,000. Instead, I was blown away to witness an astounding 225,209 views at DerekMaul.blog!

That, in turn, propelled my long-term stats to 1.5 million. I believe, with your help, we can reach 250,000 in 2023 and maybe grab the interest of a publisher.

The power of expectation:

Earlier this week, listening to a 2021 episode from Shankar Vedantam’s Hidden Brain, I heard psychologist Katy Milkman share a classic story of what can happen when people are not held back by negative expectations.

A math student, lost on a big campus, arrived late for a new class and missed the professor’s welcome and opening remarks. So he copied down everything on the board – including a couple of problems he assumed to be homework.

The problems were unusually thorny; but, having arrived late, he was motivated to make a good impression. He worked hard until he solved them, then immediately turned in his paper.

What the young man did not know was that these were examples of “Unsolvable Problems” designed to illustrate a point the professor made in his introduction. And because he did not know this he was not hampered, he was not hobbled, by the expectation of futility.

So What?

This story is helpful across the broad scope of people’s lives. But it is especially apropos in this New Year’s conversation about faith, and what it means to respond to God’s invitation through Jesus.

– at church on vacation

Talking about this with Rebekah, we immediately saw one of the most common challenges faced by The Church. So many people – and, shockingly, their leaders – are stuck in the immobility of negative expectations, of unbelief, and of their consequent inability to see clearly.

The Good News of God’s wide-open love is as compelling now as it always has been! My prayer for 2023 is simply this: “Open their ears, Lord. Open their hearts. Open their eyes.”

Whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

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