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The donkey in the room

The donkey in the room.

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Result of NATO’s expedition to Afghanistan: Worse than a Defeat

It is interesting to know that you are being manipulated but this article is exceptional in showing how far people go in pulling the wool over the eyes.

Fabius Maximus website

Summary: NATO’s expedition to Afghanistan returns, having accomplished nothing but adding another chapter to the destruction of that sad region. Now begins the next phase: to induce amnesia, so that we learn as little from it as we did from Vietnam. James Meek reviews four books about the insurgency at home, people fighting the government’s narrative to help us remember and so do better in the future. Much depends on this. No matter how powerful, a people who cannot learn from experience have no good future.  (1st of 2 posts today)

Afghanistan war

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Excerpt from “Worse than a Defeat

Review by James Meek

London Review of Books

18 December 2014 issue

Posted with the permission of the author and the LRB.

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Books Reviewed

  • The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan by Jack Fairweather
  • Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain’s…

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Chuck Spinney asks why we choose to lose at 4GW

For a while I have been following this site and find it more than interesting. I find it stimulating .

Fabius Maximus website

Summary: 25 years ago 5 men published one of the seminal articles in modern military theory, introducing the concept of 4th generation war. They did so at the start of a new cycle of conflicts for America. America would be much stronger today had we listened. As we start new wars, it’s vital that we understand (better late than never) what is now the dominate form of war, why we failed to listen, how we (and other nations) fail fighting foreign 4GW foes, and how we can do better. We’ll be running articles on this theme during the next month.

Kicking off this series is a note by Chuck Spinney, one of our most acute observers of the US military.

4GW Source: Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid

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Is the Nation State Obsolete?

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney

From his website, The Blaster
21 September 2104

Posted with his generous permission

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Uri Avnery’s…

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Conspiring knee caps.

Why don’t you pick yourself up? You just lie all over the key board. We could be a lot faster if you could just wake up.

I am awake.

So then why do you keep making the little colour man run all over the writing?

My fingers think that there is a little man with different coloured pencils that runs around inside the screen underlining the mistakes that my fingers make on the screen.

I don’t make mistakes; I am merely practicing my Armenian script.

What do you mean, you don’t know Armenian.

Of course I do, I went to Armenia when I was single in my bachelor days.

Fingers can get a little sensitive when they make a hash of things.    

My ring finger on the left hand can get a little naasty with the little finger on the saame haand. I think that they have spent too much time in close proximity. The problems reaaaaally only staaarted with the onset of my disease in my haands. The left pinkie has not been working aaat aall well which means that the ring finger has to work a lot harder than it is used to. Typing is a case in point if I caan demonstrate what happens without the benefit of corrections. The thing that really worries the ring finger is that he has the faint suspicion that he is next in line for the dreaded lurgy.

I have to step in every now and remind them thaaaaat when it is time for bed we really have to concentrate very hard or the little man in the screen will be out of coloured pencils and exhausted in the morning.

Another interesting conversation that is regularly heard in my area of the woods is the one that my legs have one with the other. Actually it’s my knees. I might be bending down in the shower to pick up a piece of soap that pinkie has let slip when I hear my right knee ssay to my left. You leaaan on me. Despite the faact that he is the shaaakey one and more likely to give way in a tough situation he hangs out tough. You lean on me and we can form a triaangle of strength with the ground. As I strain to bend down their voices get louder. Hold it, hold it, he’s leaaaaaning to the left. I’m leaning to the left because old loud mouth is so busy talking that he has forgotten to move. I jam my bum against the wall of the shower just in time to save the triangle of strength from letting the whole team fall into the plughole. The hot taap thaaat leaks down the wall sends aa messaaaage to my braaain ….. Fire in the rear!

They have great consideration for one another as they get going. You go first. No old chap you first. No I absolutely insist you first, I could not think of taking the place of precedence. The two of them rested like two old men on a park bench in the sun. Neither willing to take the plunge. I stepped in to saay that I wanted to move and that my left leg should move first. He called up the reinforcements and my right hand reached down to pull my left leg closer. Then I got hold of the back of the bench with my left hand rocked my body back and forth , the critical stage had been reached, I launch my body , legs and arms. Come on guys all together and I am up. My right knee is so exited that he starts to shout and at the same time forgets to lock himself into position. Back on the bench I encouraged them all again, have a little break in the sun and we can give it a go in a couple of minutes. I did not tell them that there are only so many laaaunches in a day

Once I was up and heaaded back to the house my knees staaart being polite. Every now and then one of them stops and gives the other a turn. Go again. You have been doing so well you have aaaanother go.

No please I don’t want to go out of turn.

No problem at all old fellow you have another two turns.

But that’s hopping isn’t it? I haven’t hopped since I was little.

I stepped in and saaid that’s enough from you two! Just get us all in to the house aand then we can sit down and have a break. I should not haaave spoken so firmly

No sense of aadventure that’s what I say I heard old loudmouth saaaaay. Now as you know the average person has a brain and that brain controls the rest of the body. I have brains in each part of my body and they all work independently. Today the brains in my feet were very keen to go for a walk; the only problem wass that they had not discussed the route and were going to opposite ends of the garden. The knees those two old conspiratorial spies were putting their heads together and I could not hear a word thaaat they were saaying under their caaaps but I knew enough to know that they were not saying the same things as the feet were saying. Just atop I heard myself mutter as the two of them daaaaaaaaaashed off down the hill. He waaants to move, he wants to go, now we are going and he is getting scaaaaaaaared.

They were right of course I waas scaared the fence waas coming up and they knew that the fence was a lot harder thaan the graaaass that they were heading for.

No spirit of adventure thaats the problem with him he has not had his head in the bottlebrush or the compost heaaaap.

As Miraaaanda walks up; I heaaaar her saying ‘Roo come and help me get dad out of the bushes’.

 

Trip to the PO.

I opened my one eye to the sight of an old woman with purple hair peering down at me at an odd angle.

You’re a bloody disgrace, that’s what you are. She then leant down stiffly and pointed her stick at me and said ‘You are lucky that I am not younger or I would give you a jolly good thrashing.’

‘Kick the old bat Flatty.’ This was my one leg to the other.

‘Why don’t you kick her; you’re just lying there, I’m trapped under you. Get off me.’

‘You should be ashamed of yourself, imagine, drunk at this time of day.’ Poking me in the chest with the point of her stick, she obviously felt secure that I could not get at her.

I took charge as my leg lashed out at the old bird. ‘Stop it you two!’ ‘We are already in trouble enough without getting into more’

Now the belligerent old girl turned to a younger woman holding her arm. ‘You see Rose, this is what red wine does to you.’ ‘Did you see his leg twitching and shaking?’ ‘That is what they all the DT’s.’

‘Flatty you really scared her with your last kick, give her another DT you virile thing.’ This from my other leg who enjoyed giving his partner a rip if it got the chance.

Once again I had to step in and keep the peace: ‘Just lie still and try to rest.’

‘Rose, they lie here hoping for a handout from us and then they go to the bottle store and get drunk.’ ‘We should call the police and have him taken away.’

My mouth was opening to defend my honour and I felt my brain shouting to my mouth ‘stay shut, don’t say a word’, but it was too late.

My lethargic voice echoed under the cloistered portico of the Post office, ‘Isss notss shrunk’ ‘Iss got Mosssherss Neusssho Sshisse.’

‘Totally drunk as I said, listen to him and falling around the place, he can’t even sit up against the wall.’

The two waddled into the Post office and I tried to get up onto my elbow.

‘Can you rock a bit and then I will be able to get myself under him.’

My elbow was trying to encourage the rest of my trunk to get it moving in the hope of propping me up.

‘One, two, three my elbow said, common rock and roll and then I will get up.’

Let me explain what had happened: We, I mean I had been going along the post office wall, one hand on the wall the other on my stick.

I had had to leave my electric wheel chair because it could not make it up the curb to the Post Office.

‘Sorry guys I forgot to tell you earlier but…’ my bladder spoke up.

As I was saying, I had gone about ten steps when…

‘That is all we need, why didn’t you tell us earlier?’

‘Well I did tell Flatty and Archie but they cut me off and told me to clamp.’

As I was saying… I was going well until I hit the ice cream patch, and then everything went flop.’ ‘My hand slipped and I heard my brain saying ‘testing, testing’. ‘Dual test being conducted… testing gravity and indestructibility… prepare for drop test.’

‘From there it was as the saying goes ‘all down hill’.’

I heard brain saying to the hands. ‘Stop the slide, stop the slide, reach out, NOW! ‘

My hands were still saying ‘got it, got it.’ When my brain was saying ‘test complete.’ Access the damage, damage reports everyone.’

‘At least we know that gravity still works.’

‘Guys, hey guys!’ ‘Willie and I want you to know that this is not a false alarm.’ This from Blass my bladder. ‘If you don’t take Willie and I for a walk you will be in more than trouble.’

‘How desperate is it?’

‘Sort of urgent, frightfully urgent; when you get down to it it is trickelingly desperate,’

‘Come on big mouth now is the chance for you to perform.’ Said my brain. ‘Clear yourself and try as hard as you can.’

A large kind looking lady was approaching me from the car park…

Mouth opened and clearly said with a bit of a slur… ‘Please can you help me?’

But it came out slow and low. Blllleessss daaaag muuu hellll mgg.

She was so large and firm that she would have easily jerked me to my feet, but what I got was…

‘Now I don’t give money to people as it only encourages You Know What!!!’

‘You just wait there an Ill get you a packet of beans.’

Where did she think we were going to run off to?

With that she trotted off to her car and hurried back with her packet of beans which she laid down next to me. ‘I made some holes in the bag so that they won’t be refunded for You Know What!!!’

I felt my heart warm to this kind misguided soul.

‘Great now we have a packet of beans all we need is a fire and a pot and we can stay here forever.’ This from Blass.

I hate to remind you but I’m still here and this cold stone floor is not helping at all’

Common you ouens, lets all try together first try and roll over onto the knees and then hands try to pull him up against the post office boxes and then we can take Blass and Willie for a walk in the bush. This from my brain.

I separated my knee caps which had been clashing with each other all week like two six year olds.

‘Pull me up under Willie, this from Archie to Handy.’ ‘Pull, pull, a little more.’

‘Don’t crush me, I’m warning you all down there, I’m going to hang on as long as I can but then I will promise you…

‘No, get hold of Flatty and pull him up under Butt and then get those two capped fools to be ready!’ ‘Pull Handy pull.’

We were making good progress; my left hand had caught hold of the long brass door handle that stretched down the length of the door from dwarf to basketball player’s height and locked. With Butt planted on P.O. Box 39. All wrinkled in concentration under their caps my knees were ready to go. ‘You know what you all have to do… now do it.’

‘Bounce on me Butt.’ This from my calves.

It started with a type of bounce and a flex and another bounce a DT that sent my back sliding up the P.O. boxes. Thank God for the lubrication of the ice cream between me and the boxes.

‘Big push fellas.’ This from my thighs.

You wrinkled skollies be ready to lock when we are straight, do you hear?’

My knees trembling were just going to back chat when they locked and then could not say a word.

I was at my most stable, locked against the Post Office. My butt clamped against the wall and my knees with their mouths shut holding me leaning against the wall.

I was up. Now all I needed was a stick that lay at my feet.

‘Hullo Houston we have a problem!’

A pyramid of strength does not go far without the stick that props it up and while I could stand there for a while…

Well that was not quite true because Blass piped up from below.

‘Hey Boss, Willie and me we’re still here when you get it all together and don’t forget my beans!’

‘My left leg was telling my right knee… ‘It feels quite lekker when it starts… all warm and comforting and then it goes into your socks and then it is not so lekker because it gets cold and runs all over the floor.’

Don’t go there I said! We are not going that route we have already had one run in with the blue rinse lady and we can’t afford another.

‘Hoesit my laanie, js lekke getreek.’ A at last a kindred spirit; the tramp lent down and picked up my stick.

In a flash of aluminum my stick was in my hand and a hand on my elbow led me round the corner to the drain and relief.

Tribulation, tribulated, tribulant.

 Are you a tribulant?

I have been looking up literally thousands of scriptures on the various forms of tribulation such as fear, betrayal, loneliness, suffering, pain, separation, besieging and so on and what I find is that many of them occur with the enemy outside the ‘gates’ either literally as in a city in Nehemiah or figuratively as in Job or Psalms As a consequence I am dreaming tribulation, tribulation is oozing from the pores of my mind.

I woke in the early hours and had the curious thought; why did Jesus tell us to love our enemies? Pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you? In effect he is saying open the gates, invite the enemy in and feed him, make the enemy strong in your life. Then it occurred to me the tribulant has nothing to fear from the enemy… the enemy is an experience on the road to eternity an enriching adventure much like visiting a foreign land.

Imagine having to learn Icelandic and eat raw herring in order to understand the culture and get the full experience of the country. The average person would say, ‘No way that’s a pain in the arse that’s a grind that I’m not prepared to go through for the authentic travel experience.’ The knowledgeable traveller knows that with no knowledge of the language you are cut off in a bubble, an armchair traveller.

The reality is that without the tribulation we are going to arrive on the other side poverty stricken. The more we embrace suffering the more we gain, we are richer, much like Lazarus and the rich man.

We are so grown into the life of now that we have no concept of eternity.

That’s my uplifting thought for today for the tribulated.

Weakness.

We choose our heroes in the monochrome light of the moon and when they emerge into the bright light of the sun we find that they are men like us. We then go and look for a new Nixon or Mohammed Ali and find that we have found a Clinton or a Mike Tyson. Gods of our own making they are bound to crumble and fall. Scripture is far more honest when dealing with the heroes of the faith. Abraham, Noah, and Job are painted in full colour warts and all. The heroes and wise men are brave and fickle, wise and at the same time dumb. They fall into the same traps that we do and in the end we get a picture of fallen man who needs a perfect God. None of our heroes is more clearly painted in the colours of weakness than Paul the apostle. Left to ourselves we end up with idols, statues on a pedestals when we are looking for a living, breathing, perfect God. We are fortunate that scripture lets us learn from the real men and light to walk by.

God makes it clear in scripture that where are no perfect men only a perfect God; no way to reach perfection by being a man. The weak and the strong are all imperfect, they all need salvation and even when they are saved their weaknesses and strengths are obvious to all round them. The man who is strong in faith, morals, ethics, and will is in need of the same God as the man that is weak in Christ.

We find weakness and strength shown clearly in scripture: Adam and Eve perfection in the making, created by God, turn out to be made of the earth, sinful, corrupt and deceitful spawning a line after their own kind. Gold and clay mixed is projected down through the ages. Noah the man of great faith hops off the ark, drunk and incestuous. Abraham father of faith, too scared to admit that his wife is Sarah. Sampson of great physical strength, so meek and weak that he loses the fight to a woman. David and Solomon, brave and wise turn out mere mortals lusting after women. We are not meant to worship and revere men no matter how strong or weak; they are to be viewed in the full daylight of perfection, the perfection of Almighty God.

God has a heart for the weak: those who need care, protection who are vulnerable, who have no recourse to justice, who need an intercessor a helper, a friend, a provider.                                                                                             Who are the weak in God’s eyes? Those physically weak; sick, diseased, blind and lame, who can simply not cope with the pressures of the physical world. Then there are the weak who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, those sidelined in the economic world, the powerless, the folk who are without power or advocacy; widows, [1] have a particular place in God’ s heart. He recognises that they are lonely [2] their status has changed, they are cut off from the land, food, provision and as we can see in Ruth they were open to molestation and abuse. Without the protection of their husbands they were likely to starve. Orphans and the fatherless [3] too were vulnerable, deprived of protection and guidance they were likely to be abused and even sold into slavery for the family’s debt. Another class of the weak was the poor. [4] There was no safety net for the poor. The poor had their strong backs and when these gave out they starved. Aliens and strangers [5] had even a worse time. As in Africa today they had no recourse to the law; abused, exploited and sold into slavery [6] they were at the bottom of the heap barely above the slave. They didn’t belong and were a burden to the land unless they could work long hours for little. Ownership of land at least gave the opportunity to grow something to be able to eat; the Levite [7] who didn’t own land and was dependant on the gifts of others. Those who are mentally not coping who are depressed, afflicted,[8] and downtrodden; God makes provision for them all. Even the animals are on God’s heart, no SPCA but God. God has a compassionate heart for them all and asks us to have the same attitude. He spends time encouraging the weak and expects us to do as he does.[9]

Paul takes time repeatedly to show us that he is weak. He puts the shipwreck [10] of his life on display for all to see. He does not hide the weakness, sickness and frailty of his body.[11] [12] What he says is that physically ‘I can not cope, I am not in charge, sick, frail, fragile and unable to deal with the great demands my body and soul can not deliver’. Paul tells us that his flesh has been pierced continually by a thorn sent by Satan.[13] This was not something he could just shake off with a ‘be gone in the name of Jesus’, this was a real, intractable, physical reminder of his mortality. [14] He shows us this form of weakness and in the humiliation [15]  [16] of the false accusations of imposters trying to make an easy buck living off the church.[17] [18] Betrayed by his fellow countrymen, fearful of robbers,[19]  he illustrates what it means to be without, deprived of the necessities; sleep, [20] [21] food, clothing and shelter.[22]  [23] Squeezed [24] [25] to the point where life itself is being pressed out like oil in a press, [26] [27] [28] circumstances like walls pressing him into a narrow channel from which there is no escape. Persecuted [29] harried and chased,  [30] [31] thrown down, [32] [33]  by forces both physical and spiritual, blind terror, [34] running like an abused animal, confused, [35] [36] ill-treated, beaten, stoned, [37] trembling in fear; Paul experienced all of this.[38] [39]  This distress was not just physical: Paul is popularly depicted as a cool man full of faith who though persecuted on the outside in the physical, was a man of steel who with the ramrod of faith up his backside marched on in perfect logic and heroism into difficult situations. This is not true; Paul was a man like us who didn’t understand, [40] felt the pain on the outside and was depressed and distracted,[41][42] he was in the same narrow place you and I find ourselves; every alternative a bad choice with no way out. The more you wriggle the worse it gets, forcing despair in life itself. [43]

Anguish is not a word we use much nowadays; Paul experienced true anguish and emotional torment [44] and angst. Weak, incapable and unable to cope[45] [46]  he found it normal and put his weakness out for all to see.[47]

Loneliness, abandonment, failures, destitution and wretched poverty, [48] [49] [50]

suffering [51] [52] [53] [54]and persecution; the hammer blows of abandonment and betrayal; [55] he experienced them all. He put his weakness and powerlessness on display; not hiding the conflict that he had inside of him; the fight inside himself, the assaying, the fiery trial of the metal [56] [57] [58]  within. [59] [60] He glories in his frailty, weakness, sickness feebleness and infirmities. He takes pride in his powerlessness: [61] [62]

Firstly why would someone glory in their weakness and why would they tell us to emulate them? [63] Surely the great apostle would tell us that his life is ‘A OK as a Christian, rich and increased I have need of nothing’ and tell us to ‘just trust in the Lord’. He tells us his sorrowful, pitiful story for a good reason. Firstly to show us that he Paul the grand apostle with amazing revelation and insight, was and is just a man like us. Secondly he is showing us that he like us is weak and in need of strength. He demonstrates that only when we are weak and acknowledge our weakness and inability to do anything can we rest in the strength that is in Christ: for when I am weak, then am I strong. [64] When we are capable and coping and managing on our own we are just that; on our own and very weak. When we are weak and in tribulation we are comforted, kept and able to comfort others with the comfort that we have received. [65]

Paul also demonstrates that although the weakness of suffering is debilitating it does not separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.[66]

Furthermore suffering and weakness is temporary but the fruit produced is permanent. [67] You are not in this situation of trial for fun it is your faith that is being exposed to the fire. There is purpose to the assaying process. The fire burns off the dross and leaves the gold of faith tried in the fire for eternity. We tend to making the trial the big deal whereas this is a transitory blip that will fade into nothingness in eternity. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in the weakness of ‘enosh’ . [68] [69] [70] [71]

Bear with me as this study takes a curious turn; I was surprised to find a passage that I still don’t know how to wrap my logical mind around. Having read and reread it many times, understanding the words, I still find myself puzzled. It cuts across my nature and contradicts much of what I believe.

In Romans 14 (please read it as it helps my inadequate explanation) Paul introduces us to a class of the weak that is not described in the O.T. the weak in the faith.

 (Note that this is the weak in the faith and not the weak in faith, there is a vast difference.[72]  [73]) They are described as weak because they have not appreciated the liberty that we have in Christ.  [74] [75]

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. [76] —Literally, “not to judgments of reasonings,” or, as the margin reads, “not for divisions of doubts.” The brother who is weak, is not to be received with the purpose of judging his reasonings; the reception is to be unreserved. There is to be no setting up of oneself as a judge of the weak brother’s scruples.[77] Who are the weak in faith? Presumably a visiting group of believers or new converts to faith in Christ. When you read Romans 14 look for the solicitous regard and consideration that the writer expresses regarding the feelings of believers. These believers are not being welcomed for a meal which is prepared for the ‘visiting vegan’ this is a welcome of permanence, receiving someone into the body, taking them in as your own. [78] This accommodation of the believer is done in the light of your knowing better, of your knowing that he is a victim of superstition and religious bondage. It means giving up while you associate with your brothers in Christ, not just the meat offered to idols, all meats, giving up wine, the blood of Christ, at your feasts, giving up the special Sunday worship and worshipping on the day that they are used to. This is the extent of the consideration shown for the new additions to the faith. It involves your hiding the liberty that you have in Christ, knowing all the while that Paul says and is persuaded in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself but at the same time not putting a stumbling block in the way of your weak brother. I am still trying to get my judgmental mind round this …

Romans 14 is particularly significant because it gives us an insight into not only the weak but also into the nature of sin and grace in Christ our salvation.

Paul is not so much concerned about who is right or wrong; eating or drinking, holy days or grasp of scriptural truths.[79] [80] What he finds vital is the attitude of believers. Paul looks at the subject from a side that I have had difficulty with because of my narrow minded view of the love and grace of God. Paul’s approach is that:

  1. 1.    Mutual love has been stressed, [81] in prior chapters; the weak and the strong are to view each other in this light. Love covers a multitude of sins and so viewing the other in the light of love produces a different character.
  2. 2.    The imminence of the day of Christ is emphasized. Accordingly the strong and the weak are to remember that all have to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.[82] Realizing that we too will appear before the judgment seat of Christ gives us a far more accommodating attitude to our brother. We realize that we are not perfect and not the judge of what is right to wrong. We are as reliant on the grace and mercy of Christ as the most mixed up newbie.
  3. 3.    The apostle expresses no disapproval of either the position of the strong or the weak. It is the heart attitude that is important not the theology. Faith and obedience to conscience is what matters, the ‘right or wrong of the matter is left an open question. He is concerned with the feelings involved. Since what he does is a matter of faith What Paul opposes here, then, is not scrupulousness itself, but scrupulousness which produces Pharisaism’.  [83] The strong are not to adopt a superior and judgmental attitude toward the weak, attributing superstition and narrow-mindedness to them.[84]
  4. 4.    It is only in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ  [85] that we escape the judgmental influence of self righteousness and hand over to the coming judgment of Christ [86] and are then able to present Christ as the pattern for believers. [87]
  5. 5.    It is a matter of faith (v. 2). The strong and the weak will stand according to their integrity through the power of their Lord.
  6. 6.    The weak in turn are not to judge the strong for the liberty they enjoy in Christ.[88] [89] What is in view here is, not that the strong man will fall and be restored, but that Christ is able to maintain him in spite of what his liberty may involve  Let every man be persuaded in his own mind. [90] [91] The weak man is not maintained in his standing in Christ in his restraint, it is Christ alone that saves both the strong and the weak brother.
  7. 7.    In either case it is to the Lord that they stand or fall. [92] The enjoyment of liberty is morally successful only through the grace and power of Christ. [93]
  8. But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? Such judgment is both a usurpation of the prerogative of Christ and inconsistent with the relationship of believers to one another.[94] In pulling one another apart we stand the chance of division and destruction.[95]We are not to be divisive. [96]It is because we love one another that there are no divisions. [97]

Vine seems to think that there are exceptions to correcting a brother on moral grounds but Paul says: I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemed any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  [98] This raises a couple of questions in my mind. Firstly how far does this principal extend? Does it cover moral questions?                                     

Is the Animist justified through ignorance?

Is everything done in Christ according to the dictates of conscience justified and covered by grace? We know that conscience alone is not a foolproof guarantee of correctness but Paul seems to suggest that in the albescence of teaching this is acceptable.

We are to welcome and receive one another without disputing just as Christ received us in sin and confusion.

As you see I have many questions but for now I see the error of my ways and hopefully will be more accepting and less argumentative.

This study has taught me a lot about grace, sin, compassion and relationships between the weak and the strong but it has been useful in another way too; it has shown me up to myself as a bigoted, self satisfied, proud, ill informed, intolerant person who is more interested in mechanical religion than in love. Keen to be right I lose sight of the big picture that righteousness, justice and love are more important than theological correctness. In the monochrome of right and wrong, theologically correct or incorrect I have lost sight of the wonder of grace the full colour of mercy. One does not just lose out on the revelation but the rich stream of people and relationships that stem from the revelation and that is the real loss. I have missed out on the warmth of human contact through fear. Through this study I have had my eyes opened; I knew before but was never able to accept or acknowledge; that I am poor with people, inarticulate, fearful and this fearfulness has made me unable to receive correction. This in turn has resulted in defensive attitudes that have isolated and alienated me, leading me to try to justify indefensible positions; talking over, interrupting and shouting down the truth to prop up a convenient lie. I am guilty, I see it very clearly now… Lack of grace firstly with myself and so with others has led to condemnation of myself and others. The lack of grace in my faith has severely limited me, I have wanted to be right, black or white, not accepting my own limited understanding and the imperfections of others I have become stilted, small and isolated.

The number of people that have been put off Christ because of my self righteous correctness, the number of souls who I have turned from the way because of my belligerence; embarrassing and shameful.

I now see in part and realize the obvious, nobody has the right to all the truth and that is why grace and forgiveness is available. We all see in part not just in our view of scripture but in life itself.

Fortunately with the teaching from this study there is the opportunity to confess and ask for forgiveness. There is the chance to accept the grace and forgiveness of God and move on in the light of knowledge. Trying to break a lifetime of negative habit is going to be difficult at my age but I commit to you Lord, you are able to do the impossible. I am able in Christ Jesus.

Thank you Lord.

This study goes a little further than this because when we look at the weak in the OT we found the widow, orphan and fatherless, the stranger and alien, the prisoner and leper, the sick, decrepit, afflicted and incapable, those who were unable to cope and had gone off the rails. If we are honest, truly honest we like to institutionalize weakness. We want the church to feed the widows, we want the social welfare to take care of the orphans and we fob off the fatherless with platitudes and handouts. The stranger and the alien are xenophobically dealt with; pack them up, put them on their boats and send them home. The sick are packed off to a hospital and the aged, incapable and mentally afflicted are packed off to a ‘home’. We don’t want to deal with the weak and are prepared to pay tithes and tax to have others make the problem go away.

Truth is the widow, orphan, fatherless, sick, decrepit, lame, afflicted, the landless, homeless stranger and alien are within you. The weak and the strong are within and god does not want the strong or the weak to live as though the other does not exist. Him that is weak in the faith receives ye… [99] The next passage has a world with… My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [100] Rather than running from weakness in fear embrace the weakness within and accept the grace; no weakness; no grace. Glory in your weakness and have the power of Christ manifest in your heart.

 


[1] Ex 22:22-24;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 14:29;

Deuteronomy 16:11;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Jeremiah 49:11;

Job 31:16;

Psalm 68:5;

Psalm 94:6;

Psalm 146:9;

Proverbs 15:25;

Jeremiah 7:6;

Jeremiah 49:11;

Malachi 3:5;

James 1:27;

[2] Lamentations 1:1

[3] Ex 22:22-24.;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 10:18;

Deuteronomy 14:29;

Deuteronomy 16:11;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Job 31:16-21;

Psalm 10:14;

Psalm 68:5;

Psalm 82:3;

Psalm 94:6;

Psalm 146:9;

Jeremiah 7:6;

Hosea 14:3;

Malachi 3:5;

James 1:27;

[4] Job 31:19;

Psalm 10:14;

Psalm 82:3;

Psalm 146:7;

Malachi 3:5;

[5] Genesis 23:4;

Exodus 12:48;

Deuteronomy 10:18, 19;

Deuteronomy 27:19;

Psalm 39:12;

Psalm 94:6

Psalm 119:19;

Psalm 146:9;

Jeremiah 7:6;

[6] Deuteronomy 16:11;

[7] Deuteronomy 16:11;

[8] Psalm 82:3;

[9] James 1:2;

[10] 2 Corinthians 11:25;

[11] 2 Corinthians 10:10;

[12] 769 astheneia { as-then’-i-ah}

from 772; TDNT – 1:490, 83; n f

AV – infirmity 17, weakness 5, disease 1, sickness 1, 24

GK – 819 { ajsqevneia }

1)  want of strength, weakness, infirmity

1a)  of the body

1a1) its native weakness and frailty

1a2) feebleness of health or sickness

1b)  of the soul

1b1) want of strength and capacity requisite

1b1a)  to understand a thing

1b1b)  to do things great and glorious

1b1c)  to restrain corrupt desires

1b1d)  to bear trials and troubles.

[13] 2 Corinthians 12:7;

[14] 2 Corinthians 12:8;

[15] 1 Thessalonians 2:2;

[16] 818 atimazo { at-im-ad’-zo}

from 820;; v

AV – dishonour 3, entreat shamefully 1, suffer shame 1, despise 1; 6

GK – 869 { ajtimavzw } & 870 { ajtimavw }

1)  to dishonour, insult, treat with contempt

1a)     whether in word, deed or thought.

[17] 2 Corinthians 12:10;

[18] 5196 hubris { hoo’-bris}

from 5228; TDNT – 8:295, 1200; n f

AV – hurt 1, harm 1, reproach 1; 3

GK – 5615 { u{bri” }

1)  insolence

1a)  impudence, pride, haughtiness

2)  a wrong springing from insolence, an injury, affront, insult

3)  mental injury and wantonness of its infliction being prominent

4)       injury inflicted by the violence of a tempest

[19] 2 Corinthians 11:26;

[20] 2 Corinthians 11:27;

[21] 70 agrupnia { ag-roop-nee’-ah}

from 69;; n f

AV – watching 2; 2

GK – 71 { ajgrupniva }

1)       sleeplessness, watching.

[22] 2 Corinthians 11:27;

[23] 318 anagke { an-ang-kay’}

from 303 and the base of 43; TDNT – 1:344, 55; n f

AV – necessity 7, must needs 3, distress 3, must of necessity 2, need + 2192 1, necessary 1, needful 1; 18

GK – 340 { ajnavgkh }

1)  necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, argument

2)       calamity, distress, straits.

 

[24] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

 

[25] 2346 thlibo { thlee’-bo}

akin to the base of 5147; TDNT – 3:139, 334; v

AV – trouble 4, afflict 3, narrow 1, throng 1, suffer tribulation 1; 10

GK – 2567 { qlivbw }

1)  to press (as grapes), press hard upon

2)  a compressed way

2a)  narrow straitened, contracted

3)       metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress[25]

 

[26] Romans 5:3

 

[27] 2347 thlipsis { thlip’-sis}

from 2346; TDNT – 3:139, 334; n f

AV – tribulation 21, affliction 17, trouble 3, anguish 1, persecution 1, burdened 1, to be afflicted + 1519 1; 45

GK – 2568 { qli`yi” }*

1)  a pressing, pressing together, pressure

2)       metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.

 

[28] 2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

[29] 1375 diogmos { dee-ogue-mos’}

from 1377;; n m

AV – persecution 10; 10

GK – 1501 { diwgmov” }

1)     persecution.

 

[30] 1 Thessalonians 2:15;

[31] 1559 ekdioko { ek-dee-o’-ko}

from 1537 and 1377;; v

AV – persecute 2; 2

GK – 1691 { ejkdiwvkw }

1)  to drive out, banish

2)  to pursue

2a)     to persecute, oppress with calamities.

 

[32] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

[33] 2598 kataballo { kat-ab-al’-lo}

from 2596 and 906;; v

AV – cast down 2, lay 1; 3

GK – 2850 { katabavllw }

1)  to cast down

1a)  to throw to the ground, prostate

2)  to put in a lower place

2a)     to lay (down) a foundation.

 

[34] 2794 kindunos { kin’-doo-nos}

of uncertain derivation;; n m

AV – peril 9; 9

GK – 3074 { kivnduno” }

1)     a danger, a peril.

 

[35] 639 aporeo { ap-or-eh’-o}

from a compound of 1 (as a negative particle) and the base of 4198;; v

AV – doubt 2, be perplexed 1, stand in doubt 1; 4

GK – 679 { ajporevw }

1)  to be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn

2)  to be at a loss with one’s self, be in doubt

3)       not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed.

 

[36] 2 Corinthians 4:8;

[37] 2 Corinthians 11:25;

[38] 5401 phobos { fob’-os}

from a primary phebomai (to be put in fear); TDNT – 9:189, 1272; n m

AV – fear 41, terror 3, misc 3; 47

GK – 5832 { fovbo” }

1)  fear, dread, terror

1a)  that which strikes terror

2)       reverence for one’s husband.

[39] 1 Corinthians 2:3;

[40]  2 Corinthians 4:8;

[41] Acts 18:5;

[42] 4912 sunecho { soon-ekh’-o}

from 4862 and 2192; TDNT – 7:877, 1117; v

AV – be taken with 3, throng 1, straiten 1, keep in 1, hold 1, stop 1, press 1, lie sick of 1, constrain 1, be in a strait 1; 12

GK – 5309 { sunevcw }

1)  to hold together

1a)  any whole, lest it fall to pieces or something  fall away from it

2)  to hold together with constraint, to compress

2a)  to press together with the hand

2a)  to hold one’s ears, to shut the heavens that it may not rain

2b)  to press on every side

2b1) of a besieged city

2b2) of a strait, that forces a ship into a narrow channel

2b3) of a cattle squeeze, that pushing in on each side, forcing the beast into a position where it cannot move so the farmer can administer medication

3)  to hold completely

3a)  to hold fast

3a1) of a prisoner

3b)  metaph.

3b1) to be held by, closely occupied with any business

3b2) in teaching the word

3b3) to constrain, oppress, of ills laying hold of one and distressing him

3b4) to be held with, afflicted with, suffering from

3b5) to urge, impel

3b51)  of the soul.

[43] 4730 stenochoria { sten-okh-o-ree’-ah}

from a compound of 4728 and 5561; TDNT – 7:604, 1077; n f

AV – distress 3, anguish 1; 4

GK – 5103 { stenocwriva }

1)  narrowness of place, a narrow place

2)       metaph. dire calamity, extreme affliction.

 

[44] 3449 mochthos { mokh’-thos}

from the base of 3425;; n m

AV – travail 2, painfulness 1; 3

GK – 3677 { movcqo” }

1)  a hard and difficult labour, toil, travail, hardship, distress

For synonyms see entries 2873, kopos; and 4192, ponos.

See entry 5860 for comparison of synonyms.

[45] 1 Thessalonians 3:1:

[46] 4722 stego { steg’-o}

from 4721; TDNT – 7:585, 1073; v

AV – can forbear 2, bear 1, suffer 1; 4

GK – 5095 { stevgw }

1)  deck, thatch, to cover

1a)  to protect or keep by covering, to preserve

2)  to cover over with silence

2a)  to keep secret

2b)  to hide, conceal

2b1) of the errors and faults of others

3)       by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear.

[47] 1 Corinthians 2:3;

 

[48] Romans 8:35;

[49] 1132 gumnotes { goom-not’-ace}

from 1131; TDNT – 1:775, 133; n f

AV – nakedness 3; 3

GK – 1219 { gumnovth” }

1)     nakedness of the body.

 

[50] 3042 limos { lee-mos’}

probably from 3007 (through the idea of destitution);TDNT – 6:12, 820; n m

AV – famine 7, hunger 3, dearth 2; 12

GK – 3350 { limov” }

scarcity of harvest, famine.

[51] Philippians 1:29, 30;

[52] 3804 pathema { path’-ay-mah}

from a presumed derivative of 3806; TDNT – 5:930, 798; n n

AV – suffering 11, affliction 3, affection 1, motion 1; 16

GK – 4077 { pavqhma }

1)  that which one suffers or has suffered

1a)  externally, a suffering, misfortune, calamity, evil, affliction

1a1) of the sufferings of Christ

1a2) also the afflictions which Christians must undergo in behalf of the same cause which Christ patiently endured

1b)  of an inward state, an affliction, passion

2)       an enduring, undergoing, suffering.

[53] Colossians 1:24;

[54] 3958 pascho { pas’-kho}  (including the forms) patho { path’-o}  and pentho { pen’-tho} , (used only in certain tenses for it)

apparently a root word; TDNT – 5:904, 798; v

AV – suffer 39, be vexed 1, passion + 3588 1, feel 1; 42

GK – 4248 { pavscw }

1)  to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo

1a)  in a good sense, to be well off, in good case

1b)  in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

1b1)    of a sick person.

[55] 2 Corinthians 11:26;

[56] 1 Peter 4:12, 13;

[57] 4451 purosis { poo’-ro-sis}

from 4448; TDNT – 6:950, 975; n f

AV – burning 2, fiery trial 1; 3

GK – 4796 { puvrwsi” }

1)  a burning

1a)  the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced

1b)  by a figure drawn from a refiners fire

1b1)    calamities or trials that test the character.

[58] 3986 peirasmos { pi-ras-mos’}

from 3985; TDNT – 6:23, 822; n m

AV – temptation 19, temptations 1, try 1; 21

GK – 4280 { peirasmov” }

1)  an experiment, attempt, trial, proving

1a)  trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul (Gal. 4:14)

1b)  the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy

1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances

1b2)    an internal temptation to sin.

 

[59] Philippians 1:29, 30;

[60] 73 agon { ag-one’}

from 71; TDNT – 1:135, 20; n m

AV – conflict 2, fight 2, contention 1, race 1; 6

GK – 74 { ajgwvn }

1)  an assembly,

1a)  a place of assembly: especially an assembly met to see games

1b)  the place of contest, the arena or stadium

2)  the assembly of the Greeks at their national games

2a)  hence the contest for a prize at their games

2b)  generally, any struggle or contest

2c)  a battle

2d)     an action at law, trial.

[61] Colossians 1:24;

[62] 2 Corinthians 12:10;

[63] 1 Peter 4:12, 13;

[64] Romans 5:3-5;

[65] 2 Corinthians 1:4;

[66] Romans 8:35-39Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[67] 1 Peter 1:6-71;

[68] 605 Õanash { aw-nash’}

a primitive root; TWOT – 135; v

AV – incurable 5, desperate 1, desperately wicked 1, woeful 1, sick; 9

GK – 631 { vWna;

 }* & 653 { vn”a;

1)  to be weak, sick, frail

1a)  (Qal)

1a1) to be incurable

1a2) to be sick

1a3) desperate, incurable, desperately wicked, woeful, very sick (pass participle) (metaph.)

1b)     (Niphal) to be sick

[69] Isaiah 56:2;

[70] Enosh may connote “men” as weak but not necessarily morally weak: “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold of it” (Isa. 56:2).

[71]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[72] Weak in faith not weak in the faith as the AV translates it as can be seen from Romans 14:23; The form of the word rendered “weak” (the present continuous tense of the verb) suggests that the trouble is not an inherent characteristic, but a condition into which a brother has been brought by outward influence. W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[73] Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 

[74] 1 Corinthians 8:9

[75] ‘Trusting in Christ alone, the strong are delivered from all bondage and finds freedom in serving the will of Christ as Lord of the life. The weakness is the effect of scruples about details that lie outside the scope of those things which the Christian faith demands. His danger lies in judging the brother who is strong, and in a liability to take offense. The “strong” is one who, while acting conscientiously toward God, is not fettered by scruples of that sort. His danger is twofold, namely, of despising the weak brother, and of setting a stumbling block before him. [75]

[76] Romans 14:1

[77]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[78] 4355 proslambano { pros-lam-ban’-o}

from 4314 and 2983; TDNT – 4:15, 495; v

AV – receive 7, take 5, take unto 2; 14

GK – 4647 { prosanalambavnw }* & 4689 { proslambavnw }

1)  to take to, take in addition, to take to one’s self

1a)  to take as one’s companion

1b)  to take by the hand in order to lead aside

1c)  to take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness

1d)  to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart

1d1) to take into friendship and intercourse

1e)     to take to one’s self, to take: i.e. food.

[79] Galatians 4:9,10;

[80] Romans 14:1;

[81] Romans 12:9, 10; 13:8–10;

[82] Romans 14:10-13;

[83]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[84]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[85] Romans 13:14;

[86] Romans 14:6-9;

[87] Romans 15:14;

[88] Romans 14:3;

[89] Romans 14:10-13;

[90] Romans 15:1

[91] W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[92] Romans 14:4;

[93] W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[94]W.E. Vine, Collected writings of W.E. Vine [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996 by W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England.

[95] Romans 12:9, 10; 13:8–10;

[96] Romans 16:17;

1 Corinthians 1:11-13;

1 Corinthians 3:3;

1 Corinthians 12:24-27;

Jude18,19;

[97] John 3:14;

[98] Romans 14:14;

[99] Romans 14:1;

[100] 2 Corinthians 12:9;

Darkness.

Darkness: An introduction to light.

(If you want the backing for what you read follow the links.)

 

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Use your imagination if you will: you are out walking and just about lunch time  you come across a strange wild man standing on a street corner shouting ‘Give glory to the Lord before its too late’…  you think to yourself, these guys are an embarrassment to proper Christians who preach in church. Suddenly  your footsteps lead you down a path you had not realise was there,  you find yourself slipping and sliding and bump down into a place of darkness;  Hearing a voice behind you turn round and a mack on the side of your head sends you heading deeper into the darkness, ‘don’t look at me, move, deeper into darkness, move.’  A land of darkness, as darkness itself, covered in the shadow of death, without any order;  light is as darkness.  

A land where darkness reigns, a kingdom of darkness.   A pit, the type of pit that Jeremiah  was lowered into or perhaps the one that Joseph’s brothers threw him into.  It is a quagmire of slime, smelly, slippery, there is no way out.  Your get up and go has left you and dullness and inactivity pervades.   You are slack kneed and weak armed without will,  your eye has lost its luster  trapped by circumstance you throw yourself at the walls only to slither down again and again.  Groping about like a blind man at noonday  feeling for something firm to cling to and all you feel is darkness, darkness that is tangible.  It‘s as if the sky is wrapped in black, burned, sacking.  You stumble across the dead in the dim light like a drunk.  You call  and no one answers,  you cry and nobody cares. Friends and family have abandoned you and even the love of your life has left you in the dark.  You cry out to God in your anguish   and know that he hears but does not answer.   More frightening is the fact that you don’t expect an answer, all you are waiting for is the inevitable. In your helpless state you expect rejection destruction and death.  

You are filled with darkness, horror and terror,  sinking lower and lower in the stinking, cloying slime of a pit  lower than you have ever been.  you realize that it is not just the corruption of the place that smells but the corruption of the people, the stench of death and decay is overpowering.  Surrounded by the inner lie, murder, adultery and theft you flee.  You imagine that you will wake and this will be a dream, a nightmare but this sleep this horror of deep darkness is yours for eternity unless someone leads you out. Strangling  is preferable to this living hell but even death can not hide you. You run from one terror only to find a worse one pursuing you,   

You are struck by a strange sound more a grinding vibration that fills your head. you glance around in the outer darkness and realising that it comes from inside your head you taste the blood, your blood an realise that you have been chewing your tongue and now your teeth are splintering against one another as they are ground and gnashed.

You realize that your mind and reason are on a slippery slope too, the darkness you are running from is within you, there is no light within you.You know that you are on a walled in way where you will be crushed and broken;  pressed,  a way where the future is dim. You regret that you were ever born.

Corruption within and without darkness that can not be seen with the eye   darkness of the soul,  darkness at noonday, darkness that is secret. The gloominess of the place spills over from the physical to your every thought.  Soulical darkness pervades your innermost being and depression settles on you soul.  Everything you were sure of is fluid, moral relativity you heard about out in the world is in you, the ethics you based your being on are shaky. Reason abandons you and madness invades you,  confusion and chaos reign in your world suddenly, everything is formless and void of meaning.  As if you are the inhabitant of a destroyed city in the wilderness, shell shocked, confused you wander looking for some purpose.  Shame,  guilt and the fear of living, the fear of dying terrify you.  Dread and the shadow of death flow over you like a cloying disease, overshadowing, a wet blanket pulled over your faith.  It is a place of blindness, stumbling, astonishment of heart.  Reliable judgment has left, nothing is certain. You realize that this is your fault; you have abandoned the faith, forgotten your God and turned away from the light, screwed and twisted away from the very light that would lead you to safety… a darkness of unbelief and rebellion.  This knowledge drives you further into a wasteland; grief, regret, unforgiveness and condemnation stalk you. Hope is extinguished, the snuffer has been slipped over the last candle.  Haunted and pursued by forces you don’t understand and can not see, abused, broken, diseased,  beaten and bound you are despairing, friendless, fearful.  Surrounded by evil and endless toil, the lash of the taskmaster flicking out to cause pain and annoyance.

All around and within you, you encounter pain, misery, woe, affliction, death, sorrow, wrath and sickness.  It is as if the cruel have made this their home,  millions and millions trampling upon one another…  abusing each other, verbally, physically and mentally, cursing the living and the dead, blasphemy and backstabbing , they even curse the demons and God himself, spewing corruption like a flood wrung out of them.  

Why so much suffering, you ask yourself and those in the darkness near you. Why? You have no answer and neither do they… Inarticulate they can not speak. Job 37:19;

You realize that this is not someone else’s decay you are experiencing this is you; this is your heart that you are looking into. Imagine if you could see into the deepest recesses of your heart? The realization forces you to ask God for justice.  

A demon speaks from within the darkness: ‘This is not the place to hide from God;  to him the darkness and the light are the same. In fact he created the darkness and the evil.’   ‘God speaks from darkness.’
‘God dwells in the darkness and the darkness form pavilions round him, he has the darkness under his feet.’  

Sure that he is wrong but rather than disagree you couch your reply in the form of a question. ‘Why would he do that?’

He takes you by the arm and leads on; ‘Come with me and I will show you a place that will interest you… he leads you to a dark pit and there are a large number of saints.  Some curled up into balls on the floors are surrounded by crowds poking them with sharp sticks and knives.  They are being mocked, spat on and abused. Some of them are being martyred and tortured. Faced with beheading and being sawn in two some of them refuse to be released in order to gain a better resurrection. they cry out in thanks and praise The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

David,  Job and Ezekiel are there. Job  and Jeremiah  sit with puddles of tears under them and David’s couch is wet with tears.     Looking down you see a stream, a river of tears flowing, being fed by the steady flow from the eyes of the saints.   Tormented heroes of the faith are here.  Some are bound and many are shackled.  You ask why they are there and the guide answers, ‘because God brings treasures out of the darkness  and deep things are revealed out of the darkness.’ ‘Do you mean that God uses darkness for his own purposes?’

‘Yes for his purposes and for those sitting in darkness.’ ‘Where do you think the gold, silver    and the precious gems come from?’   ‘the hay, wood and stubble are gathered in the sunlight but God digs for the precious metals in the darkness.’ The fire of affliction burns off the dross leaving purity.    Mysteries that can not be discovered by any other means, secrets of the heart are allowed to rise to the surface, to be dealt with, the scum can be scooped off.  ‘God uses darkness and the suffering that men endure in order to separate.’    In this place where men’s spirits are overwhelmed  they commune with their own hearts  and meditate on their lives allowing their spirits to diligently search the deepest recesses of their beings.  

Job says; ‘This will end and then you will be able to say I was punished in the place of dragons but I did not call out to another God.’  ‘This is the place where great men achieve great things.  Even the blind that are being led by crooked paths have hope…  All-round is death and even in death there is hope.’  there are those who are rejected and lie round like the scrapings from a furnace, tangled, frothy, misshapen and cold… The wicked are locked up for ever  and ever never seeing light.

The only way to escape from this black hell hole is to receive light and eternal life.

Separation by Trial and Testing.(Part 6)

Another word that comes up repeatedly in the study of separation by trial is: Bachan. Strong’s once again rides to the rescue of the illiterate; a primitive root; translated in the AV as try, prove, examine, tempt, trial and adds:

1) to examine, try, prove

1a) (Qal)

1a1) to examine, scrutinise

1a2) to test, prove, try (of gold, persons, the heart, man of God)

1b) (Niphal) to be tried, proved

1c) (Pual) to make a trial

1 Chronicles 29:17 I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. The heart is the area that the Lord is interested in trying.

Job 7:18 And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? Job was separated for special testing because of who he was and because God wanted to reveal himself to him. In Job’s case the trial was progressive, repeated and sustained. This is what it feels like when you are being tried; there is no respite, even when you lie down to sleep it feels as though you are being chased. Those who are closest to you in your days of trial turn out to be your tormentors rather than your comforters. The people around Job wanted to help; that is what they came for yet they caused as much pain as the trial. It is often a wise thing to shut up when around those who you see suffering. It may be that you will learn from their pain. I think that the sufferers are there as much for our sake as for theirs, to see our reaction and our response. The beggar at your door is there for food and to allow the Lord to see your heart respons to his request.

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Job had an insight, a revelation into the purpose that God had in trying him. It was not to punish but to bring him forth as gold, refined and pure. Job knew that his death was not the end, that there was an objective beyond the grave: Job 19:23-28 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!  24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.  This is a vital component to the armory of any serious believer to prevent the attack of the frightening enemy; self pity and purposelessness; the road is now but leads to eternity, remember not to get off the road now or you may jeopardize your eternal journey.

Job 34:36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. Our job is not to try anybody else as our trial is deceitful and harsh.

Psalm 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. The righteous and the wicked are tested in heart and mind by a righteous and holy God.

Psalm 11:4-5 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. It as fascinating to see that trying is a response of God to righteousness. God tries the righteous but hates the wicked.

Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Those who are going though a trial will tell you that the nights are often the very worst because there is no escape from yourself into busyness.   

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. This is the third time that this passage has come up: the three words: examined, prove and try are connected in this short and powerful scripture. When this line of scripture is read with understanding, David’s warrior spirit and his relentless pursuit of righteousness emerges.  

Psalm 81:7 Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.  This is not just a reference to the incident in the wilderness where thee people were thirsty and sinned. This is a pointer along with the reference to thunder to the times in our lives when strife and discord is with us. Meribah means strife and discord. It is easy to be a good little Christian when everything is going well. When strife and discord are in the heart then we realise that the test is on in our lives. Here the psalmist is told how God answered when he called and the intimation is that God will answer when we are in trouble and call. What happens when we are in trouble and call and there is no answer?

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Again a cry goes up from the heart to be discovered and to be examined by God. This is not the response of a worldly Christian; this is a deep cry from someone who wants to go on for God no matter what the price. This is a cry for truth. There is a deep desire to know God and to be known that will stop at nothing.

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. Again the word speaks to us in the language of the master craftsman bringing the metal to the point of destruction to bring forth gold and silver fit for the master’s use.

Jeremiah 6:27 I have set thee for a tower (an assayer, a tester of metals) and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. Today an assayer is still someone who tests metals by chemical, electrical or heating methods. The object is to find out by assaying the metal what can not be seen with the naked eye by a casual observer. In this case the prophet Jeremiah has been appointed as the refiner and tester of Israel’s metal. In your life the very person who is over you in the Lord, the person who is there to bring comfort and insight from the Lord, could be the person to refine you in the fire.

Jeremiah 11:20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. Again God is the tester of the heart and the mind. There is a revelation to both God and man that takes place when trial has been undergone. It is interesting that the reins are mentioned as it is a chill in the kidney area that strikes when you realize that God has your number.

Jeremiah 12:3 But thou, O LORD, knowest me: thou hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward thee: pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter.  

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Here again we see that God is the tester of the heart and the mind to the purpose of rewarding man according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause. Jeremiah realizes that the righteous are tried, it is not punishment, it is God’s mercy, his grace towards those righteous in Christ that allows for trials leading to revelation.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. We have come upon this scripture with one of the other words we looked at.

Proverbs 27:21-22

After looking at the scriptures I have no doubt that trials and testing are part of our lives as Christians; the real question is what we are to do when we are tried? My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I can not see into the future, I do not know what plans my Master has for me. But I know His character is faultless. He is absolutely trustworthy. His plans for me are perfect.

 

If you make it down as far as this well done; I would be interested to hear what you think.

We are on the final run in to the end of all things; now is the time to be like the widows that Paul is talking to: in Timothy.  5 She who is a real widow, and is left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; 6 whereas she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

In answer to you query about embracing suffering and not running from it: (You didn’t know you had asked it did you) I would like you to look at Hebrews 11:35. Take your time and look at the second half of this verse. It is amazing and quite unexpected don’t you think? It opens up a whole chain of thinking that is well worth pursuing.

There is a strong link in scripture between those who suffer in this present age and the level of glory that they are raised to in the age to come.

Luke 16:25. This is a prime example.

Luke 6:24-26.

Job 21:13-14. And so James can say in James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I am not preaching at you I am just answering your question (you didn’t know that you had asked one) and at the same time learning. You see it is an attitude of mind to the journey that you are on. Your attitude should be one of; good I am going through this trial and it is going to produce something.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So you rejoice in your trial because it is producing something that is kept in heaven for you.

Read it again and then thank God for the testing and trial that you are experiencing. That is embracing suffering. Thanking God is the right attitude.

But it is also an attitude of mind: Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a tough attitude! It is an attitude that says I am off to war. They would hitch up or gird up their loins in order to run a race or to go to war.

The next thing that happens when you suffer is that you move into another realm in terms of compromise; when you are suffering who cares about the stupid things like going out and getting drunk and watching movies? 1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. 3 Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.

Out of the suffering you reap a reward of soberness; I can see this in you already. But this soberness is there for a reason. The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Your prayer life is improved and you draw closer to the Lord. What a blessing. Thank God for your suffering. That is embracing suffering and not running away from it.

Hey don’t be surprised that you are suffering. Listen to this: 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings. When Christ went to the cross and in the garden he suffered every form of suffering that we experience today. We are sharing in that suffering in our fear, loneliness and shame. We think of it as unique and ours but it is part of the suffering of Christ.

You have the choice of running away or  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 7 Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.

I hope that this is an answer that speaks to you and is not just words.

Have you ever read Psalm 139 and related it to where you are today?

 

Another word that I looked at was:

6504 parad { paw-rad’}

 

a primitive root; TWOT – 1806; v

 

AV – separate 12, part 4, divided 3, scattered abroad 1, dispersed 1, joint 1, scattered 1, severed 1, stretched 1, sundered 1; 26

 

GK – 7233 { dr’P;

1) to separate, divide

1a) (Qal) to divide

1b) (Niphal)

1b1) to divide, separate

1b2) to be divided, be separated

1c) (Piel) to be separated

1d) (Pual) to be divided

1e) (Hiphil)

1e1) to divide, separate

1e2) to make a division, make a separation

1f) (Hithpael) to be divided, be separated, get separated

Abraham is separated from Lot and Jacob is separated from this brothers. Gen 13:9, 49:26.

Jacob separated the speckled sheep and goats from the rest. Gen 30:40.

Aaron had to separate himself and his sons from the rest of the people Lev 22.2.

The separation to a Nazarite vow. Num 6:2,3.

The separation of the Levites from the people and the separation of Moses ad Aaron from the people. Num 8:14, 16:1.

Separation by Trial and Testing. (Part 4)

Another fascinating word that is associated with testing is: tsaraph Strong’s tells us that it is a primitive root; translated in the AV as try, founder, goldsmith, refine, refiner, melt, pure, purge away, casteth, finer and adds the following:

1) to smelt, refine, test

1a) (Qal)

1a1) to smelt, refine

1a2) to test

1a3) to test (and prove true)

1a4) smelter, refiner, goldsmith (participle)

1b) (Niphal) to be refined

1c) (Piel) to be a refiner

1c1) refiner (participle)

Judges 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. The base metal is smelted to separate the various component materials from the desired metal. The principle is that there is a remnant that God wishes to take out from the main body of believers for special service and these are separated by trial and testing.

Psalm 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. David is confident that after God has tested and proved his heart that there will be no problem with what comes out of his mouth. David like Abraham was tried and separated for a task by God.

Psalm 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. Why would anyone ask God to examine them and to prove them in the way that the psalmist does? The only conclusion that I can come to is that there is a journey of self discovery that has to be made in all of us. Without testing and trial there can be no true assessment of who we really are. The simple truth is that it is easy for our heart and our mind to lie to us. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Only in the experiential world of trial by fire is the truth arrived at.

Psalm 66:10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. The overwhelming language that comes from Strong’s for this word is that of the refining yard where metal is heated, dross scooped off and the metal cooled bashed and then reheated so as to repeat the process. The repetition of the smelting process refines the metal producing a pure product fit for use. Without the refining process the metal whether gold or silver will be substandard; filled with impurities that will tarnish, rust, pit and corrode.

Silver and gold is tried in the fire and only by being heated and cooled is the dross cooked off and the silver left in the crucible to be used by the craftsman of our lives. The principle is that there is a separation that can only be achieved through the fire of God being applied to our lives. The dross of our lives will not be driven off by any other means.

Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. God wants a useful vessel that he can use and fill with himself both here and in eternity.

Isaiah 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:  God in his mercy allows the fire in our lives to purge away the dross. It is not to give us a hard time but to allow the beauty of the silver and the gold to come to the fore and shine as they were intended.

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.  Israel is chosen in the furnace of affliction from all the other peoples on earth but not for its own sake; God allows Israel to go through the fire so that the name of God is not polluted by them. Israel is the type of the believer’s heart.

Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Again it is the Lord in his mercy that brings Israel to the meltdown point for her good.

Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. There is something about the refiner’s fire that drives out the insincerity that is so prevalent in the church of God. Again in this passage there is the image of a reduction process leaving a remnant that is pure.

Malachi 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Here again there is a separation that takes place this time between the Levites who are to serve the Lord in the temple and the rest of Israel. With the privilege of intimacy comes the responsibility and the separation by trial that purifies. What is fascinating is that God takes the Israelite from the nations of the world and then further refining takes place for the refined; the sons of Levi.

Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: There is a separation to leadership that is sometimes not at all pleasant. Simon Peter was being chosen for special service and Jesus was allowing him to be tested. Again and again in our present time the leaders are separated and tried often using the trappings of the world: Sexual and financial temptation. The names of the fallen are not remembered long but the residue of their scummy lives clings to the name of God and the church. People reject Christ because we pollute the Name.

At the end of John 13 from around verse 31 we find Jesus telling the disciples that he is going to leave them to be glorified. Then he moves on to tell them that they are going to look for him and that they will not find him because, they can not follow him where he is going.

Then He gives them a new commandment to love one another. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is as if Peter has not even heard what Jesus has said.                                                                     Simon Peter then makes his famous boast; “I will lay down my life for you.” And of course Jesus gives him the fateful message, “Will you really lay down your life for me?” “I tell you the truth, before the cockcrows, you will disown me three times!” First verse of 15 “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  “Trust in God trust also in me.”                                                                                          The thing that strikes me is the enormous compassion of our Lord Jesus. He realizes that Peter has not a clue what he is talking about when he promises to lay down his life for him. He looks past this and comforts Peter and the other disciples knowing that they will betray him. He gives them the assurance that he has not abandoned them in their betrayal.                                               My Lord Jesus Christ and yours looks at the Peter within Me and you and sees the heart of the matter: We say that we have laid down our lives to take up the life of Christ.                                                                                                The demonstration of our internal diseased state of heart is exposed by our actions under pressure, the betrayal, the denial of the Christ within by the reality of our lives. The lack of trust in the Lord through our taking the burdens of the world on ourselves and worrying and fretting about things that we can not change, things that he alone can alter. Do you think that the Lord was surprised that Peter betrays him: He knew before and he told Peter to expect it. It was Peter who had the shock of discovering what he actually was. In the same way it is not the Lord who has the revelation of what lies within my heart it is I that have the benefit of the realization.

The manifestation of the deceit is for our benefit.                                                                It allows us to see what the Lord knew all along.                                                                                       It allows us to come to Christ to repent.                                                                It allows us to move on from self-reliance to “Trust in God, Trust also in me.”                          

The same compassion that Peter experienced reaches out to me. Jesus says to me, “Here is the way, walk in it.” “Trust in God, trust also in me”                  

Thank you Lord that you know me better than I know myself.                              Thank you Lord for your enormous compassion in exposing my frailty before the cross.                                                                                                           Thank you Lord for the mercy that you demonstrate day by day.                          Lord we can only praise you for the way that your word speaks to us fresh and new every morning like manna in the desert.                                                      You raise up the bronze serpent in the desert of our hearts, saying look on it!                     

You alone bring healing from the plague in the camp.