Tag Archive: Holy Spirit

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]

this week the third lausanne congress for world evangelication is happening in cape town – 4200 delegates from around the world representing church leaders, academics, theologians, marketplace people as well as men, women as well as old, young – convening for a week to discuss relevant issues facing the church – things like globalisation, pluralism, multi-faith society, relevance, integrity, response to poverty, trafficking etc etc – it is an incredible time and i am so super amped for the beautiful Val that she gets to be a part of it

in 2006 i was privileged to be a part of what was called the younger leaders gathering where 500 people from 150 churches met in malaysia for a similiar younger version of this congress – it was life-changing and i met some really amazing people who continue to be a part of my life – and this week i am involved in a global link which is a satellite conference dealing with a lot of stuff Lausanne is dealing with (watching a lot of same footage and hearing same talks and then engaging with the stuff) – last nite was the first session and went from super not amped (organisational issues in setting it up) to being completely amped (the group that arrived) and then encouraged/blown away/broken/challenged/shaken by the footage that we watched, in particular the history of the church (very very good and very very bad and a lot of persecution) from Jesus time to present day

the one phrase that came through about 6 to 8 times in that presentation was “people thort it was going to be the end of the world” (for example when the plague claimed about a third of Europe’s population or something) and as the voiceover guy said at the end – every generation thinks there’s is going to be the last, but one of them will be right

but the one message that came through again and again is that a divided church is a weak and foolish and irrelevant thing – the church is responsible for a lot of missingthepointness and violence and hypocracy and so on in terms of the past (well, not really, if you define church as God-following people cos it hasn’t been when people have been truly following God that that stuff has happened) but it has also been part of an incredible amount of good and positive and upliftment and life – when the church is a group of people who follow God and walk in the footsteps of Jesus while filled by His Spirit and living that out, then the church is a beautiful thing – that church is worth loudly proclaiming that i am a part of

if you are part of a local congregation and either you or one of your leaders ever makes any statement or claim about your specific church being the one true church or better than other churches or anything like that or speaks out against other churches then run, flee, head for the hills, leave that ‘church’ and seek out Jesus…

cool, i really enjoyed my teaspoons/socks post earlier today cos it feels like the most for me thing i’ve written on here lately – almost like i’ve slipped into writing for an audience again which is not what i wanted my blog to be – aware of the audience yes (and my responsibility there) but writing what i want to write and what is more real than just giving a lesson…

anyways i have a feeling it’s about to head more that way and that excites me.

have heard a lot about john ellis (formerly Tree63) giving up Christianity or saying things that good christians aren’t allowed to say or something like that and i don’t want to comment on that cos i haven’t had a chance to connect with him and ask him what it’s all about – but i went on to his page and saw a comment which linked me to anne rice (the author)’s facebook page with these two comments:

Anne Rice: “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

followed by this one: Anne Rice: “As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

and i think i ‘get’ it – and it may be the same kind of thing John is saying, again i don’t know at all where he stands – in terms of my own stance which has been for a while now to refer to myself as a Jesus-follower rather than a christian because there seem to be Christians who follow Jesus and christians who don’t and i don’t so much want to be associated with those who don’t as if i am part of them, because clearly i am not…

again, i am not sure exactly what she is saying or what she means by it but there does seem to be an embracing Jesus, running away from religion kind of feel to it, and yeah, that i get

altho, and this is my twist, and it’s a question, do we get to do that? is it that easy? when i look at Jesus, He persevered with His bunch of people who lived and acted and spoke time and time again completely against who He was, what He was teaching them and who He wanted them to be, and yet He stuck with them… and ultimately – one Holy Spirit filling later – He transformed them and they were the ones (not a bunch of Jesus followers getting it right the whole time, the disciples!) who went on to change the world

so i get it. but i am not convinced, yet, that it is the way to go. altho it does appear to taste very nice.

“When those who hold positions of leadership in the church of Jesus Christ stand opposed to the very heart of God and refuse to submit their lives to His Word, it is the death of life in that church.” [Erwin McManus, an unSTOPPABLE force]

that is just so true. i have seen it and i have been on the receiving end of it. and it always comes down to “me me me me ME me” – and it shouldnt be a surprise i guess because we saw it modelled thru-out the Bible – a lot in the Old Testament by Saul and David and Solomon in different ways, but then a very much lot by the disciples as Jesus tried to show them a most excellenter way – constantly vying for attention and position, they missed the point again and again.

BUT when the Holy Spirit got hold of them, this all changed and so there is hope… for even the deadest of churches and leaderships, but it is going to take God intervention for it to truly happy – no program, no book or seminar, no interventional leader is going to break-thru the rot and debris to get to the heart of the problem. only God. thru His Spirit.

which means when we encounter this knd of attitude or lifestyle or me-eadership our response has to be prayer – calling on God to rescue His church. after all, He definitely loves it more than we do.

Hs church. His mission. His problem. But our opportunity to draw alongside and cry out for Truth and Love and Hope and Life.

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