Tag Archive: perspective


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]

To take an example: Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it.

i am continuing with my response to the ‘a nonny miss?’ email i received, because i feel there are a bunch of things to be learned from it, which relate far beyond this simple email.

the second part i want to look at is specifically that line ‘And I don’t even see the purpose in it.’ – now i really only want to use the email as a launching point because i think this point goes much deeper than the silly you tube videos i sometimes make, so let’s forget the videos and take a step back from our lives and look at them through this lens. because i think this is something i have been guilty of in the past and probably still get wrong, but have definitely observed myself getting a whole lot better at it as i get older…

so the launch point is this – someone saw something i did, didn’t understand the purpose of it and so formed a judgement and then acted on that judgement.

sound familiar yet? anyone else out there cringing just a little.

i just returned from a visit to one of my best friends, dreadlocked Mike [who was part of the duo who helped give me dreads two years ago!] and it was so good seeing him and getting to hang with him again. and to be reminded of this incredible gift that Mike has…

Mike has this amazing ability to make a strong statement about something – eg. Clowns suck! [i don’t think he thinks that] – and then when i jump in and agree with him – “You’re so right Mike, clowns are evil!” [they’re not! well, most of them] he will spend the next thirty minutes trying to convince me why clowns don’t suck and are in fact amazing.

Yes, it can be frustrating and seem hypocritical at times, but what i have witnessed through it is Mike’s ability to really put himself on both sides of an argument [especially one he feels quite strongly about] and argue the merits of both sides. I think that later he weighs it all and hopefully takes into account what i have added and comes up with a refined opinion on the matter, but i really think it can be a powerful thing in terms of being able to, to some extent, understand the reasons behind an opposing view point.

perspective

how many of us can do that? i’m not talking about agreeing with someone you disagree with. i’m talking about taking the time [and humility] to try and hear or see things the way they are. who knows? it may end up changing your opinion or mind about something… although more often than not it may just help you understand why you see things the way you do so much more strongly.

i think the older i get the less i feel i KNOW [for absolute sure fact real] but the things i do KNOW i feel i know so much more strongly and believe more deeply. i have an insane amount of incredible people in and around my life and they keep me sharpened in so may areas and i am so grateful. people who take time to move beyond the superficial and really wrestle with life and faith and relationships and poverty and world transformation and the current form of Graeme Smith.

so i made some silly videos. someone saw that and came up with an opinion and then challenged me about them [which i Love, but we’ll get to that later] but he never took time to ask me, ‘So why do you make those videos? Is there a reason?’ and so he may never know [altho i imagine i will mention it sometime during these]

the asking of that simple question, ‘Why did you do that?’ or similar ones like, ‘Why do you think that?’ ‘How come you do things that way?’can be a powerful relationship builder. You don’t have to agree with the person’s response, but it is helpful to know it.

my challenge with this post is for you to ask someone a question this week [and i would LOVE it if you came back here and gave feedback in the comments] about something you don’t understand [that they do or think or feel] – someone from a different religion [why do you pay five times a day?] or cultural group [what does family look like to you?], perhaps it could be a close friend [what is your practice in terms of saving money?] or someone in the office or school [what do you like about that particular band or song or sport?] or a hundred other things. but be on the look out for something that doesn’t make sense to you and even maybe something you have a strong opinion about and simply ask the question in a non-threatening way, and take time to really listen to their response. maybe it will prompt a question in response… maybe it will strengthen relationship… perhaps it will simply inspire a moment of, ‘Wow, i never saw it that way.’

1 Corinthians 13.7 ends with ‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ and i really love that – this feels like an aspect of Love hoping – that the person i don’t understand is not simply an idiot who has chosen an opposing view to mine, but someone who i can learn from and be encouraged by and build relationship with.

[to continue to the next post springboarded from this mail about ‘Speaking the Truth in Love’ go here]

this is one of my favourite photos of myself and it is titled “Hebiggermeless” based on the verse in John 3.30 where John the Baptist, talking about Jesus, says, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

it is the essence of Christianity and Jesus-following and problems always erupt when we forget that and this picture helps keep me grounded by reminding me how pathetically small i am compared to something relatively tiny that God spoke into being.

He is bigGER.

and prompts the chant/song i often use when i go speak at places:

God is Bigger than my box
He’s Bigger than my theology
He’s Bigger than my understanding…
He’s Bigger than me.

if all people who claimed to be Christian lived with this in mind, the world would be completely transformed.

 

i have just started reading ‘Prayer: Does it make any difference?’ by Philip Yancey which was given to me by two great friends Emiel and Philippa a while back and which i just started reading at the right time… still early days but REALLY enjoying it and highly recommend it [and it is not ‘the ten steps to really great prayer’ at all]

and while you should read the book, until you do, i thort i’d share some lines or thoughts that really stood out, from time to time as i continue to read it…

‘Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.’ [pg. 9]

‘Prayer helps correct myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget. I keep reversing roles, thinking of ways in which God should serve me, rather than vice versa. As God fiercely reminded Job, the Lord of the universe has many things to manage, and in the midst of my self-pity I would do well to contemplate for a moment God’s own point of view.’ [pg. 14]

for more thoughts on prayer, click here.

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