Tag Archive: Peter

If you have never understood the Transfiguration of Jesus properly then I strongly encourage you to watch this clip. At the end of it you may not understand the Transfiguration any more, but you just might have a softer spot for Peter the disciple. Worth a shot, right?

Join us as we look at Mark chapter 9 from verse 2 to 13.

[For the next passage which looks at that great statement of “I BELIEVE! Help me overcome my disbelief.” click here]

aslan“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

A great example of this, which is recorded in at least 3 of the Gospels, so clearly someones thought this was significant, is the story of Jesus clearing out the temple.

Here are the accounts found in John and Matthew:

John 2

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Matthew 21 

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Clearly Jesus was good. But these two accounts of His actions when He got to the point of “Enough is enough” show that He was not all that safe either.

Remembering at the same time, the account recorded in Luke 22 of Jesus refusing to resists arrest and going so far as to heal one of the men who had come to arrest him [that swashbuckling Peter took an ear off of], Jesus shows that He wasn’t as concerned with His own safety. But this was an account of the House of God. And people were being ripped off. And robbed. And that was too much for Jesus.

This reminds me of the Old Testament story of the Israelites and the golden calf in Exodus 32. First Moses loses it and breaks the commandments, grinds the idol into dust and makes them drink it. But God commands an even harsher consequence and 3000 people are killed that day and a plague affects a whole bunch more.

This reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira withholding money from the church while saying they had given it all to them. Once again God answers with “Enough is enough” and both of them are struck down and fear seizes the church.

I know stories like this cause some people to struggle with the view of God as loving and good. So we’d rather gloss over those stories or pretend like they don’t exist and focus on the ones with the nice comfortable happy God promises. But I don’t think that gives a clear and honest picture of God. And if you read the story of Israel in the first half of the bible you get to see just how patient and forgiving God is with their constant adultery towards Him.

He is a good God. But He is also Holy. And Divine. And there is the sense that as much as He welcomes us as friends and even children, it is important that we remember just Who we are dealing with and show Him the respect and devotion He deserves.

Does this mean we have to live in fear that if we accidentally have a bad day and step out of line that He is going to send down a lightning bolt to take us out? Of course not. But when we are deliberately turning away and worshipping other Gods or when we are bleeding the poor [on the doorstep of the house of God] for our own gain or when we are actively deceiving the people of God for reputation, then we may need to be a little bit more careful. When we are producing teaching that is leading children astray [Matthe 18] or not looking after those who are viewed as the least of these [Matthew 25] then we had better realise once more… that yes, He is good. But He is definitely not tame. This is His story. Not ours.

He is definitely not safe for us when we are turning our back on Him and heading in the opposite direction. The stories of Jonah and King David and Peter and others demonstrate – it can be painful and involve loss and the need for humility and some extent of brokenness to have to happen within us. But when we turn back and face Him and direct our lives back towards Him, then much like the Father in the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15] He is already facing us, and heading in our direction, and running towards us and calling for the celebration to be prepared.

Safe? Nah, but then we don’t always need safe.

Good? Undoubtably.

[To read the next part of this series, titled Life backing up profession of faith, click here]

A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.

We’ve all heard that one. Well, you have at least now.

It is King David speaking and you can find the quote in Psalm chapter 14 verse 1.

You can also find it in psalm 53 which I just realised is pretty much the same psalm – strange.

Anyways, that’s not really the point of this post. I was thinking about that line on the bus the other day when I came up with this:

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

The idea that we can look at someone else and judge whether or not God is at work or living in their heart.

It has been said before that many people might be surprised one day not so much by who is not in heaven, but by who is.

[This, of course, excludes the Universalists who will just be surprised if anyone is not there]

The church has for too long focused too much energy on the whole “who is in and who is out” vibe.

And this is nothing new. The disciples were at it in Mark 9:

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Whoever is not against us is for us. I’m sure many theologians have had many issues with this one.

And it is at times like these that I am reminded of the two foundational rules of life:

I. There is only one God.

II. It is NOT me. 

Get that one right and you’ll be golden. Because you know what, it is God who is going to take a look at our lives and our commitments and how we spent out time and energy and money one day and He is going to make a call on it.

I am fairly confident that the sole provision for ‘making it’ into heaven one day is not going to be ‘Did you raise your hand and say a prayer at some holiday meeting when you were a child?’ Beyond that, well I’m happy for it to be up to God.

I do think Jesus spoke quite strongly and clearly about it [take a read of Matthew 7 for example] and I think there can be a lot of evidence in play that might suggest that someone is not following [active] God.

But sometimes we just can’t tell. Sometimes the Jesus followers look a little rough around the edges like a fisherman Peter or a tent-maker Paul [you know? the guy who went around killing them]. And we should take absolute joy in the fact that it is going to be God who makes the choice.

We’d be foolish to spend our time judging the unjudgeable surely?

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

What we can do in the meantime is focus on our life, our walk, our talk, the consistency with which we live and follow and bring in the kingdom. [There’s usually a lot of work to be done there]


And then lead others towards Jesus. Point them towards God or else grab their hands and say, “Hey, let’s go check this thing out!” and walk and lead and direct and wrestle and give them opportunity to doubt and disbelieve and question and be angry or incredulous or skeptical.

Just don’t let them not be loved.

i think the first very interesting thing to note with this psalm is the intro:

‘For the director of music. A maskil  of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”’

if you read the first seven verses you see David’s response to basically ‘being told on’ and he is not amused. should we learn from that example of David and go to ourselves, ‘ah cool, so that makes it okay to rant publically about someone?’

i would suggest no. i don’t think this is a teaching passage that ends in ‘Go and do likewise!’ – but i do think we can take some kind of relief at seeing how this ‘man after God’s own heart’ still got really annoyed with people and even lost it to some extent in a public way. David lost his cool. does that mean i should lose mine? no, but it makes me feel so much better when i do. i am in good company.

we see this later with the disciples trying to get rid of the kids that ‘are bothering Jesus’, we witness this as Peter valiantly pulls out his dagger and removes the ear of one of the guards come to arrest Jesus and we have seen this in Moses smashing the tablets with the ten commandments on them because he is so pissed off by the Israelites actions.

it’s not the right way to behave… but we ‘get’ it.

and then it’s like he manages to pull himself together right at the end and finishes with a focus on God. kind of like he is saying, ‘I am mightily pissed off right now, i’m so angry, i’ve been so hard done by… but God is faithful. This too shall pass. And what does any of it really matter because i have God on my side and He is loving and faithful.

‘But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.’ [vs. 8-9]

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

psalm 11:

‘In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.”‘ [vs.1]

i love it. i have spoken on this very topic on many occasions. i call it – “Trust God, but have a backup plan.”

and it is how i see so many christians living their lives… say you are trusting God but just in case God doesn’t come through, make sure you have a backup plan ready just in case… so Peter, you and the disciples go and feed this crowd of people, but i am sending a runner to the local supermarket, just on the off chance that you get it wrong…

one place where i think differently from the majority of people it seems is in the area of insurance and medical plans and things like that which i personally have always viewed as ‘trust God, but have a backup plan’ mentality, but i do realise that because so many people think differently that it is worth not assuming that i am right and everyone else is wrong on the matter and so it is something i return to think about more often. the simple way community we live in has links with a thing called ‘Relational Tithe’ which works on the idea of a bunch of people pooling money together and then using it to meet the needs of the group and i definitely like the idea of that more because it adds community into the mix. but just wary, for the most part, on things i see as potentially ‘storing up treasures in heaven.’

and again like with Peter stepping out of the boat on to the water when Jesus called him, that was a risk but completely a valid one to take BECAUSE JESUS HAD CALLED HIM TO. for any of us to try and walk on water is stupid because we have not been given the go ahead to. but taking time to listen to the impossible things God calls us to [one such example being uThando leNkosi house of safety for kids which is a miracle born out of a number of different very risky steps of obedient faith] and then responding in obedience WITHOUT HAVING A BACKUP PLAN [because if God calls you to do something, you won’t need one] is an incredible way to live.

one of the hardest things to stomach during this process is that often the loudest voices trying to get you to quit or make backup plans are christian people, it’s not the atheists or agnostics – it is your church or your family or friends and probably out of good motivation of not wanting you to be hurt or embarrassed but misguided understanding of how trustworthy this God really is or that He has told you to do that particular thing. making sure it was God’s voice telling you rather than just a great crazy stupid idea you had by your own self is also key.

so if i am taking refuge in God, then i don’t need to be fleeing like a bird to the mountain.

or to put it another way, having a backup plan very likely means that i am not trusting God in the first place at all.

so for the last little while the question “so when are you and the beautiful val having kids?” [and the shock, gasp, horror when we say we’re not particularly planning to, ever, at the moment] has evolved into the question “so what are your plans for next year?”

i’ve contemplated getting the answers to these questions tattoo’d onto my face but i just don’t know if i can justify the expense [to anyone else]

so i thort i’d write it in a blog. this is that blog. the one that answers the question about next year and oh you got it. moving right along then.

i told someone on saturday that we didn’t have a plan for next year. we are just waiting on God for the next thing. and he responded by saying “that’s a plan” and i said “i know it is, but most people just don’t get it”

so, in the shell of a nut [and it is purely accidental that every second paragraph in this particular blog is starting with the word “so” – it’s not an intentionally grammatical teaserment by me at all] i have resigned my job at the stellenbosch vineyard church at the end of the year and we are waiting on God for the next thing.

and that’s our plan. and it is a concrete one. and it is both very exciting and a little bit may-need-a-fresh-pair-of-pants-anytime-soon’ing.

so [okay that one was on purpose, i actually needed to use the word “and”] i am not recommending this as a how-to -decide-what-to-do-next-in-life model at all – i think to stop doing what you’re doing and just hoping something will pitch up (all in the name of God) is a crazy thing to do… as is stepping on to water and hoping you won’t sink.

you see Jesus says to Peter that he can get out of the boat and walk on water. Peter does, and he does. Jesus never told me to walk on water and so every time i have tried, it has not worked.

in a similiar way, i believe about next year that it is a God-led thing (specifically for me and val) to wait on Him and trust for the next thing – i really believe He is going to pitch up (maybe not personally, but He will be involved) and show us what that thing is.

however (here comes the but) i could have gotten it wrong. and that’s okay. if you never step out the boat, you will never know whether or not you will walk on water or not.

this goes firmly against the traditional church ‘trust God….. but have a backup plan’ philosophy that so many people hold furiously to (without ever admitting it) – this is a situation, that if God doesn’t pitch up and present something, we are pretty much screwed (well egg on our faces and a bit of serious scrambling anyways)

when i finished school, i used to live like that, year at a time, trusting God and being led by Him and usually at the very last minute (which freaked out most people around me) but since being at this job for the last six years it has been comfortable in one sense as i’ve always known what the next year holds (or have had the comfort and security of knowing i have a job) and i really believe that God is wanting to take me (and we’re an ‘us’ now – val is completely in this with me, which is great, and so necessary) back to the place of faith and trusting Him

that, and it’s time for a change – new season, very possibly a new surrounding, and a new thing to do i would imagine…

what do i want you to do? offer me a job? give me money? hand out some ‘wise’ advice? nah, i don’t need any of that – i would like you to pray for us if you feel that way inclined – for patience and trust and the next thing God has got planned for us to do… ‘Trust in the Lord…’ [Proverbs 3.5-6]

[laughed the boy]

a friend of mine from the Malaysian Younger Leaders Gathering i attended in 2006 asked me the question and so i did my best to answer it, or to at least look at some of the aspects of the question – thort it was worth posting my thorts here…

hey Debbie

greetings in the amazing name of Jesus!

thankx for the email and the encouragement and hopefully this gets to you in time altho not sure how much help it will be…

i like your ‘out of the box but still in line with scripture thinking’ line – thankx – will do my best:

“I am involved in a Bible Study and we had a very great debate last week about whether it is actually possible for Christians to get to a point in their relationship with God where they no longer sin. On one side, we had those who believe that we are never free from the sinful nature while we are on earth, so there is always the possibility that we might ‘fall into sin’. On the other side, of which I am the ringleader, we believe that “if you live by the Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature – Gal 5:16″ and this means that you will not sin: not that you will not be tempted to sin, but you will not give in to it because your desire to please God is greater than your desire to please yourself. But the others believe that only God is capable of being without sin.”

i would imagine this is a question that not so many people here have asked as generally we christians accept the fact that we are sinful as something that goes without saying and so because we are SO sinful just assume it must be the norm, but in fact i have asked this very question – i remember clearly when i was on my Youth With A Mission DTS (Discipleship training school) in Holland i wrote a thort for the week on it that i don’t think went down very well (wish i could go back and find it but not even sure if it is in the yahoo archive cos might have been still when i sent TFTW via hotmail) and sadly i don’t really have a clear answer but perhaps i can give some of my thorts… on the plus side it does seem as if there are some statements that back up the idea – there is one at the beginning of one of the peters that says we have been given everything we need for righteous and holiness or something like that – maybe it should stop being so lazy and get my Bible – one sec –

ah here – 2 peter 1.3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” – then it goes on to talk about participating in the divine nature and a little further down gives a list of add to your faith goodness and to your goodness knowledge and self-control and perseverance and so on – so for me (in maybe a frustrating kind of way) it seems to back up both sides of the answer – we have been given everything we need for godliness but keep adding this and this and this – so the potential for perfection is in our hands, but it’s a journey and there is always adding to be done… make sense?

i think Jesus came to demonstrate that it is potentially possibly to live a sinless life – if He only achieved sinlessness because He was God then does it count as being able to be representative of man? and would it be fair for God to say ‘walk perfectly but oh you can’t sorry’ – i think the Bible definitely calls us to walk in perfection in terms of what we are meant to be aiming at but then you see the example of Paul in Corinthians i think it is where he says what i want to do i dont do and what i dont want to do i do and so even he seems to be caught up in the sinful life – we see Peter after he is filled with the Spirit and doing amazing things having to be rebuked by Paul for living hypocracy in a situation with the jews and gentiles (galatians 2.11) and we see king David a man after God’s own heart sinning horrendously and losing a son because of it – so it seems as if those who walked before us didn’t manage that easily which increases the likelihood of us being the same – and i can testify from my life that i still completely mess it up in terms of priority and time usage and a lot of not doing what i should be doing and still a bunch of doing what i should not be doing – so my mind says it is possible or should be but my body and experience keeps testifying that it is still far away for me at least

i think for me the basic premise was this – if it is possible for me not to sin for 5 seconds then the 5 seconds before i die i can be said to have been living sinlessly and if i can manage 5 seconds then surely i can manage ten and then maybe 30 and then maybe two minutes and so unless i sin every moment of my life there has to be some short period where i am sinless in thort and deed – and so can’t we extend that to an hour, a number of hours, a day? etc etc – that was where i started my dts thort and so surely we can get to a place where for an x period of time we don’t sin at all and surely for some people that is days and maybe months and years – but ja there is no way of testing that and it is a bit of a silly theory i guess – the one thing i was thinking in the car last nite after reading your email and driving to vals folks house where we slept over was that maybe the moment you reach that perfection and are aware of it then pride naturally steps in cos the moment you take joy in how sinless you are (even by just realising it and smiling quietly to yourself) then that is the moment when sin has already struck? i don’t know…

i think at the end of the day it is not for us to look at ourselves and go ‘ooh look i have no sin’ or to look at others and go ‘ooh look no sin’ but it is for us to strive towards sinlessness by submitting to God and the Holy Spirit and continuing on the journey of adding to your faith goodnessand knowledge and love and perseverance etc and loving God, loving people and looking after those who need help and so at the end of the day the question of whether we can or cannot achieve it becomes largely if not completely irrelevant because it is the direction in which our compass is always aimed and that is what matters most…

hope there is some help in there – maybe just more questions than answers
much love and all the best for cell – if either side of the argument starts loving the other side of the argument less or getting heated then i think that will just prove the lack of perfection so argue nice, fight well, love harder

God bless you my friend
love brett fish