I saw this video recently of a deer caught in a rope swing out in the woods. As a few men approach with the camera, you can see that the buck’s antlers are caught in the rope, and as he runs back and forth, reacting in fear, his whole body swings up into the air, his feet leaving solid ground to soar into the air, only for him to come crashing back to the ground and run the other direction. Like some frantic, doomed pendulum that could annoy moment prove to be a hangman’s noose, he kept running from his would be helpers.
I shared this video on Facebook, and my discerning mother immediately replied:
“Kind of like some people, insisting they don’t need any help, insisting they can do it all on their own…..” – Jean Edge Ballinger
Yep. Nailed it. Word received loud and clear.
And she didn’t say that as some passive aggressive attack aimed at me in a snide comment on my post. She looked at this living parable set before her eyes and saw something in the video, that reminded her of something in herself (and in our family of hard headed folks) that struck a chord.
The good news is that even though that buck tried hard to fight against these men — struggling out of fear, confusion, and lack of understanding of what was there to kill him and what was there to help him — the fear of the buck was not enough to overcome the persistence of the men to rescue him, to save him, to set him free. The buck probably thought they were there to capture him, to trap him, to use him for their own purposes. He probably thought that their kind words during his moment of vulnerability were just a trap so the mei’m could get their hands on him, so he resisted them, and with each wild swing up into the air, and with each crash back to the ground, it was him that was putting himself in greater danger.
I love my mother’s insight into this video. She didn’t just see some sweet men helping a deer and experience a heartfelt moment. She didn’t look at the situation, trying to find things to complain about and criticize that she thought should have been done better. She didn’t brag and tru to one up with a story about a circumstance she read in that put her in a similar proposition as these men. No, she saw herself as the helpless deer that found herself in need and fighting against the help right beside her.
We are like this many times, Christian. Refusing to share our struggles with others who could help us, who could encourage us, who could live u.s and pray for us — because out of fear and lack of trust, we expect that they are there to hurt us in our time of vulnerability and need — or even worse, we might think that we are fine and don’t need any help at all.
We see in James 5 that we are supposed to do both suffer and sing TOGETHER — not in isolation:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James 5:13-20 ESV
And as we go out to share this Word of God with a lost and dying world, we mustn’t listen to fear that tells us that the trapped and dying addict or drug dealer or criminal might kill us, the fear that wants to keep us from bringing this Good News of Jesus Christ to them. Just like the men in this video, we must be calm, loving, patient and persistent — not rough with the animal, not demeaning, not angry with it for damaging our children’s swing, but eager to see it live and not die.
We must not get angry and impatient with the lost for the foolish things they are doing out of fear and confusion to seek vengeance on them because their foolish flailing about could have killed us.
Sometimes we can be zealous and lose sight of this and go out seeking to “drive out the evil amongst us”, thinking that we are doing “the work of God” just because we have worked up some idea in our own minds and gathered people around “a just cause”. Sometimes we can find ourselves going into battle under our own battle cry — not because God truly prompted us in that moment and time to say, “Go fight for me and take the land and I will give you victory.”
This is how Saul justified in his mind killing Christians, how the temple priests and guards justified in their minds arresting and torturing Jesus, and this is how Peter justified cutting off ther guard’s ear — but each time, Jesus showed the way of a humble, suffering servant who is president and gentle and brings healing.
Some of us have at times said to ourselves foolishly “God has done it before, He will do it again.” Some of us may have even prayed and inquired of the Lord, but because of our own selfish desires, and the answer we received of “who should go first into battle” wasn’t a humble attitude of following God’s spirit wherever He goes or stays — but a prideful telling God what we are going to do while “giving God the side action of choosing the order it will be done in”.
We see the result of such things in Joshua 20:18-25 when the children of Israel “inquired of the Lord” twice and saw defeat twice.
The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.” Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed on that day 22,000 men of the Israelites. But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening. And they inquired of the Lord , “Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Go up against them.” So the people of Israel came near against the people of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword. Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord .
Judges 20:18-26 ESV
God’s will has been proven to be and time again to resist the proud — so when we are prideful people with our minds already made up to do it our own way, we may find, even when we “inquire of God”, that it is God’s will that we be defeated and humbled so that we can be set free.
The Good News for the children of Israel in Joshua 20, and for us today, is that God has preordained the victory for us who are children of God, He has won it all on Calvary, and just need to humble ourselves, understand that we deserve the correction and discipline for our sinful, prideful, self-seeking ways, but that victory with God is only a surrender away. It wasn’t the outward acts of fasting and prayer that the Israelites participated in that mattered — some might have been acting that way already beforehand — but the genuine worship, awe, reverence and reliance upon GOD ALONE TO BRING VICTORY, this is the story of Joshua 20, of the cross, of us as that helpless dear caught in a rope swing.
Lord, help us to humbly see our utter need and be willing to accept it from you, in whatever form it comes in this season, and through whatever vessels you use to bring it to us. Teach us to rest in you, too go where you go, to stay where you stay, to surrender wholly to your leadership, your lordship, your discipline and your blessing. Amen.
My wife told me about “a weird dream” that she had last night. She explained that we were “in our bedroom but it wasn’t ours, it was somewhere else” and she said there was “this huge spider web hanging from the ceiling fan, with a huge spider on it” but that I wouldn’t let her kill it “because the web was so beautiful”.
As a recurring temptation, I deal with lust. I deal with situations and circumstances that seemingly are an open invitation to step into “bedrooms that aren’t mine” — sometimes they are very real invitations where a woman is flirting with the idea of some kind of romantic interaction, and sometimes it is just a fantastic temptation that may just be in my mind and nowhere else.
I used to love these types of fantasies, not even as “guilty secrets”, but as opportunities that I would intentionally seek out to make a reality of infidelity, and that I would also use as reoccurring fantasies to stimulate my mind and body. Even though I knew on some level that it was wrong, it just “felt so right” that I didn’t care about right and wrong, and I found ways to justify this behavior. Let’s call it what it is, justifying sinful behavior.
And this justification of sinful behavior didn’t just affect me, but it clearly impacted others through my actions. It affected marriages, it caused unnatural ties between me and ladies who should have only had those ties with their rightful husband. It even drew me into relationships where sex was the centrally unifying component, which were doomed to fail.
And even my thoughts, my fantasy life, impacted others — even when I wasn’t acting upon them with outward actions — because my heart wasn’t right towards God and towards those I should have been loving and serving. I was only interested in my own enjoyment and pleasure. I would even lie to myself saying that I enjoyed pleasing “them”, but even that was a source of fulfillment for myself as I could be “proud” of my ability to woo, to captivate, to enthrall, to excite, to fulfill, through things these ladies should only be sharing with their husbands. So opportunities for real love and service and ministry were missed, and opportunities for growth and character and integrity were missed. So even my sinful “thought life” had a “real cost” even when I wasn’t “acting” upon my temptations — because I wasn’t resisting, I wasn’t letting them be killed, instead I was getting comfortable and familiar with these beautiful demons that I didn’t mind letting hang around.
As I think about recent temptations, I wonder if I have not confessed them to my wife often enough to join with her in prayer and see these things killed? I say that I wonder, but even that is a lie — I know that I haven’t been eager enough to see them killed and their beautiful webs removed from my mind.
Spiders craft beautiful webs, but the purpose is to trap, to ensnare, to kill. There is another that sets traps to ensnare and to kill.
I look to you for help, O Sovereign Lord . You are my refuge; don’t let them kill me. Keep me from the traps they have set for me, from the snares of those who do wrong. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, but let me escape.
Psalms 141:8-10 NLT
My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned. For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path to life. She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t realize it. So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved. Strangers will consume your wealth, and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor. In the end you will groan in anguish when disease consumes your body. You will say, “How I hated discipline! If only I had not ignored all the warnings! Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers? Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? I have come to the brink of utter ruin, and now I must face public disgrace.” Drink water from your own well— share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman, or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman? For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.
Proverbs 5:1-23 NLT
I’ve spent too much of my life being foolishly led away into captivity to my desires. I want the spider killed.
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye —causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Matthew 5:27-30 NLT
I’ve committed way too much adultery in my life and in my heart, and I’m ready to be free from that captivity. I’ve seen the cost of laying down with Bathsheba like David did, and it is only curses and death and cost in the end. I don’t wish that all you other women were cursed to be ugly, and I don’t want my wife to have to fret about her looks or age or weight to make her an enticement to another man. No, I love my wife dearly, and she is beautifully and wonderfully made perfectly for me, but I have too often been distracted by beautiful webs.
I’m done. I’m finished. I will not trade my beautiful doe for an ugly spider with a beautiful web. Lord help me. Friends, pray for me. Love rise up in me for my wife, and disgust rise up in me towards lust, that demon spawn of satan that tempts and seeks to devour. Set my feet upon solid ground and lead me not into temptation, oh Lord, because I am weak and prone to wander, but you are a good shepherd who will not let me be devoured. Amen.
I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts of the Apostles 20:21 NLT
With no partiality…
The NEED for:
1) repenting from sin and turning to God
2) having faith in our Lord Jesus
Paul lays out in the book of Galatians the gospel of “Christ alone” and that the Holy Spirit alive in us is the key. And he warns about any other gospel that is based on works, traditions, etc.
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Galatians 1:6-9 NLT
So there is One Truth, not up for debate or twisting, or denial without consequences:
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 NLT
Paul lays out in Romans that God does not show favoritism or partiality – that our blood lines, our church participation, even our own works (which are filthy rags in the eyes of a holy and righteous God), are not going to win us undue favoritism or preferential treatment from God — and that He is just that the wicked are punished and those that seek him will be given eternal life.
Those who seek the wages of sin (death) will receive death, and those who seek the glory and honor of God will receive life.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
Romans 2:4-11 NLT
Psalm 116:6 ESV
The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
We are nothing without the Lord, so why do we presume upon ourselves to look down upon others — wicked man, selfish prideful me, repent and fall humble before your maker!
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord .
Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord , who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.
O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, “Look, I have come. As is written about me in the Scriptures: I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.”
I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord , well know. I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.
Lord , don’t hold back your tender mercies from me. Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me. For troubles surround me— too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. Please, Lord , rescue me! Come quickly, Lord , and help me.
May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace. Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, “Aha! We’ve got him now!” But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.
Psalms 40:1-17 NLT
You don’t need to be afraid a a man that carries a gun lawfully,
You don’t need to be afraid of a terrorist that sneaks in a bomb illegally,
You don’t even need to be afraid of the man with duct tape, picture hanging wire, pliers, baseball bat, serrated and filet knives, roll of plastic, coveralls, gloves, gallon of bleach, gallon of muriatic acid, and a pad of paper with your name and address in the trunk of his car,
But you ought to give thought to Almighty God who you will once day stand in front of to give account account for your every word and every deed. That’s a court room you don’t want to go into without someone to speak on your behalf.
He might not have commercials running constantly with a catchy jingle and memorable phone number, but you’re going to want to go ahead and give Jesus a call now, because your court date has already been set.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:28-31 ESV
Sometimes we can be bold, zealous and passionate in our own minds about what we think is “right” and when someone else just as passionate stands in front of us with a different perspective on the moment, we can tend to go to war against them instead of seeking peace.
For many of us, there is this tendency to seek fault in others in an effort to defend our own position and justify our own hurtful words or excuse our own improper actions towards others. This is not right, it is not helpful, and it is so centered upon self, like a spoiled little child demanding their own way, instead of being a patient, pensive, humble and mature adult that might step outside the situation, consider what is happening in this moment, in this interaction, in this relationship between two people and seek what brings healing and will most glorify God, not what makes us walk away feeling glorified ourselves.
In debates and in wars, men and women alike seek to walk away having won. By nature, we want to stand against our brother or sister to prove them wrong and prove ourselves right, so that we can walk away unchanged and they can stumble away hurt and defeated as proof that “I was right”. But this is not the purpose of confrontation, Christian.
Confrontation offers the opportunity for us to trust in a few of God’s explanations about how He works. A few that are helpful to me when I encounter a confrontation:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, SO ARE MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOUR WAYS and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For WE DO NOT WRESTLE AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Ephesians 6:11-18 ESV
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be called sons of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:6-12 ESV
If possible, SO FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:18-21 ESV
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And THE LORD’S SERVANT MUST NOT BE QUARRELSOME BUT KIND TO EVERYONE, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 ESV
I can be hard headed, stubborn, demanding my own way, and quarrelsome by nature, because I can be prideful and insistent upon “getting my own way” le a spoiled, rotten little child. But I have someone who walks with me now that teaches and gives me along a path of healing, when I am willing to listen. And when I do listen and let Him bring healing into the confrontation to see peace and joy fall upon the circumstances, my eyes are opened to joyfully gain a brother and a friend, instead of us blindly thinking that we are each other’s enemies.
Let’s pray today that this Word of God will be written upon our hearts, that our minds will be renewed by it, that the Holy Spirit of God will manifest greater in our lives than our own weaknesses, that peace, patience, kindness, and all those things of His nature will be evident in our confrontations to the point that we will always surrender to His higher ways, so that God gets the victory and the glory. And when we do, the riches of what is built up is so much greater than the spoils left after tearing things down in battle. Thank you, Lord for living us first. Please teach us even more how to love you and serve you by loving one another. Amen.
It’s so funny how I’ll post something on social media and someone will think that I’m reacting/ responding to one of their posts in some kind of passive aggressive manner, when I haven’t even read their post in the first place. And then, I’ll see someone else’s post later and wonder if one of my own posts triggered or inspired them. But I think the real issue that is demonstrated in all of this is just how vain we can be.
Most of my friends aren’t cowards. If they have something to say to me, or about something I’ve said, most of them respect me enough to reply honestly to my posts. And those who grumble and gossip and make up unfounded rumors in their heads about me instead of talking with me probably aren’t my friends anyway, right? But does that mean I’m not their friend when I’m tempted to do the same in my own mind?
Yes, we can be very vain, acting as if everything had to be about “me” — as if everything centers around “me”. Oh how foolish we can be!
The next time that we’re ready to be offended over something on social media that is just another person sharing honestly what is on their best and mind — maybe we will remember how vain it is for us to assume that was aimed at us intentionally. Maybe we might listen, consider, and ask whether or not there is any value in what they are saying.
As Christians, maybe we should be aware of that lion waiting to devour us who has names like vanity, pride, offense, etc pinned to him that aren’t ours to bear.
Proverbs 19:11 ESV
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
Luke 17:3-4 ESV
Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews 7:25 NLT
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
1 John 2:1 NLT
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:33-39 NLT
I encourage you to read this related article: https://www.biblword.net/jesus-intercedes-for-us/