Tag Archive: enemy


i’d love to make this sound like the cool kind of parable Jesus would have used, but i don’t think i can.

a rock

but if it was a fairy-tale type story it would begin with something sounding like ‘Once upon a time…’ and very quickly end up at the place of ‘Brett looked at the path and it was blocked by the giant obstacle. He didn’t know what to do next.’

and depending on your perspective on life and God and big obstacles, Brett might do very different things next.

if you’re a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person, you might see the obstacle as a sign that God placed the obstacle in your path so you wouldn’t choose that particular path. go and find another easier path, Brett. [this could be Balaam’s donkey warning you off the path, it could be Paul being blocked from going to Asia in Acts 16, it could be the angel with the sword keeping Adam and Eve from re-entering the garden]

if you’re a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, you might see the obstacle as a sign that the devil is worried about the work you are doing and is trying to stop you. keep on, Brett, find a way around or through the obstacle because that is the path you are meant to be walking. [this could be the Israelites crossing the sea, Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac, Daniel deciding to continue to pray and being thrown in the lion’s den]

the main problem is that in either case the obstacle looks the same. it’s not like obstacles are divided into ‘push through because it’s the enemy placing it there’ kinds of obstacles and ‘turn around because God is trying to tell you to go a different way’ kinds of obstacles… they both simply appear as an obstacle and if you get counsel from wise friends of yours, you might find yourself listening to both opposing pieces of advice [both of which are an understandable reading of the scenario]

and so the key has to be the Holy Spirit – being in touch with and in tune with God so He can reveal to you which one it is? do i stay or do i go?

easy, huh? unless of course you are having a bit of trouble hearing God on the matter and then it goes back to making a hopeful choice…

this is a scenario that plays out often in our lives and happened again this morning [well, over the last few days] as we have had such issues trying to book a flight for Val:

GHE: It’s a sign from God – don’t do this Relational Tithe thing – you are meant to pull out of it and stay here!
GHF: It’s an attack from the enemy – God wants you to push through and defeat the obstacle and He is allowing it to be there to strengthen your faith.

ah okay got it, this could go either way, so which is it God?

[sound of crickets]

and so there lies the dilemma – i do think the solution lies somewhere in making sure we’ve taken enough time to ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ [psalm 46.10] and then also to invite the wisdom [and listening] of Jesus following friends – maybe as we listen together, someone will be able to make out the quiet whisper of God…

if not, though, we will have to make a call and follow the path of whichever one we choose, knowing full well that we serve both a Loving and Faithful God who knows our hearts and gets that we have done everything we thought of to try and ascertain which path it was… a God who, if we get it wrong while honestly trying to get it right, is so much full of Grace and Love and Forgiveness and Compassion that He will not leave us treading water in the after effects of a decision gone wrong…

therein lies a lot of the confidence i have in God… that He is able to make Himself heard when necessary, that He is able to direct and guide and beckon, that He is so quick to rush in and help out when things go wrong, that His bride, the church, has been created with a role of helping to ensure that we don’t fall face first on the ground and lie there, wounded and bleeding, without doing something about it.

and so Brett has some paths, and some obstacles, and a beautiful Valerie alongside him… and he is listening and asking and waiting… trying to figure out which is God and which is the enemy and which is just plain life…

and he is not TOO worried at all.

[i would LOVE to hear your perspective and thoughts on the two ways an obstacle can be looked at and maybe an experience you have had in that]

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As we look at Mark chapter 3 verse 20-27 i take a bit of a reverse glimpse of it by looking at denominations vs denominationalism [or as i sometimes refer to them in talks as demonisations which is what we make of denominations when we start worshipping them or who they are] and encourage each of us, whether we belong to a denomination or not [don’t get me started on “non-denominational”], to be keeping the kingdom of God and the greater church in mind as we live out our Jesus-following lives…

Take a look at Mark 3 vs 20-27

denom

to continue to the next one and see Jesus’ thoughts on family, click here.

‘Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.’ [vs. 1-4]

Um, wait, what? This must be one of those other psalms, right, the psalms not written by david?… Nope, says it right there, a psalm of david, a petition…

Hm.

something must have happened.

the “them” became the “me” perhaps…?

which i have been alluding to as from psalm to psalm we have been seeing this gung ho “kill the bastards” type attitude from david towards “those who sin” giving the strong impression that he was not part of that team… and now suddenly, he has fallen, and not just a little [popular opinion places this psalm after the bathsheba incident] and now suddenly he is the prodigal shamefully crawling home with his tail between his legs and no longer the older brother indignantly declaring his worth and deservement of reward.

how quickly the tables turn.

i wonder how differently david would write most of the psalms we have looked at already now that he finds himself on the other side – do you think his “smite the enemy” and “decimate those who sin” calls might be more grace-filled restoration focused petitions?

how does this affect the way i view the people who i don’t like or who have hurt me [maybe really deeply and painfully] when i start to get how someone maybe doesn’t have to be a complete schmunglehead to do complete schmunglehead things? because i did those things so it can’t be SO bad, right?

‘Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God.
Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.’ [vs. 21-22]

while it is a good thing to call on God in your time of need and brokenness, once has to ask the question of whether david might have had a lot more people to call on as well and to have gather around him [dispensing grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, compassion] if he had shown a lot more of it to others in his previous writings…

i hope this psalm in some small way is a reminder to us that God has shown us incredible grace and mercy [love, forgiveness, compassion] in sending Jesus to die in our place. How dare we not extend the same kind to those around us, whose sins against us will not likely compare with God’s need to pour His wrath on His very Son.

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

my good buddy rob lloyd just got me a new bible because my old one was literally falling apart and i like the idea of starting again in a sense – rediscovering old favourite passages, underlining new ones, breaking the bible in so to speak…

and as i sat and thought where to begin i decided to start with the psalms, and i don’t know that i will necessarily read one per day but i am going to start today and see how it goes and i thought it might be nice to bring other people with me, or maybe you were looking for a new place to read and want to read along with me – i am going to read a psalm and write a comment or a thought or reflection and would love it if you wanted to write yours in the comments below so together we can learn from what God is saying to us as we take this journey…

so today, starting with psalm 1, what jumps out at you? what don’t you understand? what has God whispered as you read it? what is one idea you just really enjoyed? i would love to hear what you got out of it…

this is a great psalm – first thing that jumped out at me was line 1 ‘blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked’ – and to be honest i think i always read that as ‘council’ as in meeting-place or gathering, instead of counsel which surely means ‘being advised/counselled by’ which changes it completely… complete tie-in to one of my favourite proverbs ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses’ [27.6] or ‘they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear’ [2 Timothy 4.3] and a reminder that even though it might look strongly appealing to have yes-people around us, it will be a blessing and better life choice to not live life being advised/counselled by these people but rather people who will speak truth in love.

and then verse 3 which talks about being ‘planted by streams of water’ – the result being that whatever you do will prosper – echoes of being firmly rooted like in the story of the house built on the rock [Matthew 7.24] or the need to be in constant connection to the vine which is God [John 15] and how as a result the fruit will naturally happen – not so much by work or effort but by inviting God to work it through you as you stay holding on to Him.

so that’s a good start to this journey – the reminder that as a Christ follower my number one focus must be on being nourished by my Father in heaven and that i should look to surround myself with people [at least in terms of those who advise/bring counsel to me] who actively follow Christ and will unashamedly speak truth in love to me [even if sometimes that might be hard for me to receive]

[To continue to Psalm 2, click here]

[To return to the start of this series on Psalms as well as some other Bible things, click here]

so i meant to post this short one this morning on the back of ‘unaccounted for’ which a lot of people have read and some of you have commented on.

and it was this thort that i had the other day as i was walking down the street post rugby world cup ‘tragedy’ – that when we talk about the biblical concept of iron sharpening iron, it is not a pleasant, comfortable process although it does lead to positive, growth-enducing results

the way iron sharpens iron is by hitting it. hard enough to bend it. to mold it. to shape it into a new and better thing.

or as i just tweeted on the twitter, “When iron sharpens iron it doesn’t happen by means of a group hug.”

i imagine everyone, or at least most people, want to be better people – we want to be sharpened – we want to love better, to live better, to be more effective at this life thing… but most of us want to skip the ‘this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me’ bit and jump straight to the result…

we want the great teeth but without the pain of the dentist’s needle.

and i guess the main problem with that is that it doesn’t work that way. well not a lot of the time anyways.

iron sharpening iron requires some hitting and some shaping and some heatening of the context of the iron and i believe accountability [of word, action and facebook status for starters] is a huge part of that process.

but the reality is this – that accountability is not taken [well not successfully, not usually, i have the bumps and bruises and unfriendings to prove it] it is given. i invite you to speak into my life, to caution when i appear to be heading down the wrong road, to intervene when i seem to have lost it completely. and the kind of people i invite to hold me strongly accountable [because as a Christ follower i see myself directly accountable to everyone, both Christ-followers and those who don’t have right to speak into my life because i am claiming to at least pursue a certain standard – but then there are significant people i extend a bonus invitation to actively hold me there] are those who i know will do it in love. which is key to how effective that accountability is.

‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27.6

so if you’re really seeking to be a better person, to live more effectively, to have a greater significance in the world, then you need to invite the sharpening that only iron can bring… being reminded that it won’t always be fun, or feel nice… and sometimes it may even be painful and involve your pride being battered and your reputation being dented, but it is so worth it.

so won’t you please hand me the iron…

so it seems my last post caused some confusion amongst some people and no confusion amongst some other people [group hug] – my beautiful wife suggests it may have been my title saying one thing and the article saying another thing which i can see a little bit – on the one hand the title was meant to be a bit of an attention-grabber but on the other hand the title is a lot of people’s response to the original story (apparently since the story aired, people have been sending korans to the church to burn) and the article was my response to that which is in complete opposition

the bottom line is that i think terry jones and his church are missing the point completely and that burning other religions religious books are not the appropriate Jesus-following response to the terror attacks on 9/11

the radical alternative response i would suggest [or i would suggest we have no alternative to] is love

love, or maybe more correctly, Love, is a radical response to an attack of terror

it is what Jesus taught – “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” [Matthew 5.39] and “But I tell you, Love your enemies,and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” [Matthew 5.44-45]

it is what Jesus lived – ‘When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23.33-34]

Paul went on to teach that Love, among other things, ‘is not easily angered’ and ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ – ‘it does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth’ – ‘it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ [1 Corinthians 13, selected verses]

as a Christ-follower i have to stand against what that church is attempting to do – i cannot see it displaying God’s love and heart or drawing anyone in – God doesn’t hate muslims and want us to burn their stuff – He loves muslims and wants to be in loving relationship with them…

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