10 Quotes From The “Necessity Of An Enemy”

I was intrigued by the title of the book: The Necessity Of An Enemy. But I was even more intrigued by what I read in Ron Carpenter’s thought-provoking book. You can read my full review by clicking here.

Here are 10 quotes that caught my eye from this book:

“You will never be an exceptional person if you only fight ordinary battles.”

“Because you have a God-given purpose, this means the devil’s painted a bull’s-eye on your back. …It’s good to have enemies and the trouble they bring—it means you’re in the game.”

“When Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians that ‘we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory’ (Ephesians 1:12), he didn’t tell them to just give God praise. He urged them to be a praise. … In New Testament terminology, glory actually means ‘likeness’ or ‘to resemble.’ In other words, for you to bring glory to God means that God is hard at work making you become something that resembles Him, something that more clearly bears His image. It comes as no surprise that this reality makes someone very upset: The devil isn’t concerned with fighting something that you’re doing; he fights who you’re becoming.”

“God’s definition of winning is fulfilled when you fight the battle and, after it’s over, you are even more established in the identity He designed for you.”

“God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). … So the fact that He started the area of your life where you’re now facing a challenge from an enemy is the very evidence that He’ll bring you through the battle to complete the thing.”

“A good teacher does not use a test to teach you something…a test measures what you already know.”

“Negative people, allowed to speak into your life, will become agents of destruction of your purpose. An enemy will always try to weaken your passion for your dream.”

“Sometimes it’s easier to super-spiritualize something and blame the devil than to understand a need or personal flaw and take ownership for it.”

“An enemy is someone who increases, strengthens, encourages, or enables an area of weakness in you that God wants to remove from your life.”

“In your progress toward God’s purpose for you, anything you hang onto that God wants you to drop is an enemy.”

The Scriptures Foresaw

Check out this passage from Galatians 3:8-9—

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

God’s Word is a living Word. They are not merely ink on a page. They are the very words of God.

God’s Word never stops working. God made a promise to Abraham 3000 years before Paul saw it being fulfilled in the Galatian believers. And now, another 2000 years after that, it’s still being fulfilled in ALL who come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ!

These words are not past tensethose who have faith ARE blessed. They apply to me, today, now, just as much as the day they were spoken by God 5000 years ago! And they apply to you too.

Let this soak in…

Not one promise in the Bible will expire. 

Not one command will become irrelevant. 

Not one precept will ever be out-of-date.

Living. Active. Personal. Real. Present tense. Now!

Do you believe it?

Do you live like you believe it?

The Necessity Of An Enemy (book review)

Have you ever wished that all of your enemies were totally defeated? Have you ever prayed to ask God to defeat all of your enemies? I’ll be honest with you: I have. But according to Ron Carpenter, Jr. that may not be the best prayer for you. In fact, his book might say the exact opposite; it’s called The Necessity Of An Enemy.

Ron uses his personal story of being attacked and personally vilified to show us—as the subtitle states—how the battle you face is your best opportunity. Near the beginning of the book, Ron states:

“I have some important news for you: to fulfill your purpose and stay true to your calling, you’ll need to understand the reason for enemies. If you do that, then when they rise up against you, you will quickly recognize what’s happening.” 

Many of the enemies we face are to prepare us for the greater purpose for which God created us. We cannot simply run away from every battle or ask God to subdue every enemy we face, because those battles and enemies may be preparing us for something greater. Think about David: before he fought Goliath, he had to learn his stone-slinging skills by fighting off a lion and a bear. What if he had asked God to simply scare away the lion, or strike the bear dead? What would David had learned from that?

This book is divided into several sections, and each section has several very short chapters. This format, combined with the study guide at the back of the book, makes it ideal for applying the principles slowly in your life, or for having a great small group discussion with others.

God wants you to be victorious, but He doesn’t want you to take shortcuts to get there. He allows enemies to help build your spiritual skills, and The Necessity Of An Enemy can be a great part of your battle strategy as well.

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

Reading The Bible Isn’t Enough

I had to give my congregation a heads-up that I was going to say something that sounded a little like heresy, so they wouldn’t throw me out of the church. So I’m giving you a similar heads-up now: Read this all the way through before you label me a heretic.

Our P119 spiritual workout relies heavily on the Word of God. If we are going to grow as Christians, here’s what I believe:

There is no substitute for the Bible, but the Bible is not enough.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day knew the Scriptures better than anyone, but they misapplied those Scriptures, using them as billy clubs wielded by the sin police. When we read the Scripture, we must respond to what we read. Prayer is an indispensable part of our spiritual workout because prayer is how we properly respond to God’s Word.

Check this out—

In the He section of Psalm 119 (verses 33-40), you will read words that sound more like a prayer than any of the sections before it. You will hear the psalmist crying out to God as he is confronted by his lack of proper application of God’s Word. As he reads the Scriptures, he asks God to:

  • Teach him what the Scriptures are saying
  • Help him discern the truths found in God’s Word
  • Lead him in the right path
  • Turn his heart away from his natural selfish bent
  • Allow him to see the futility of pursuing earthly possessions
  • Give him boldness in standing up for God’s glory
  • Remove the fear of man that would paralyze his pursuit of God

The last verse of this section is the cycle of read the word → respond in prayer in miniature. How I long for Your precepts! Preserve my life in Your righteousness. Do you see the reading of the Word (Your precepts), and the prayerful response (preserve my life)?

The Bible can be an incredible prayer book for us! Get into the Word, and let the Holy Spirit get the Word into you. You will then be able to respond back to God in His own words! And then I think you will be astounded at how your spiritual life grows!

If you have missed any of the messages in our P119 series, you can access them all by clicking here.

“Prayer Is Irksome”

I shared this quote from C.S. Lewis this morning—

“Well, let’s now at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome. An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. When it is over, this casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us…. Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend on intercourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?… The painful effort which prayer involves is not proof that we are doing something we were not created to do. If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”

Why don’t we pray more? Why does it seem like prayer is not a regular part of our lives?

Perhaps… We don’t know what to pray. The Bible is an amazing prayer book! Just use the words of Scripture to form your prayers. You can use the psalms, or go to the New Testament where Jesus or the other New Testament writers say something like, “This is my prayer….” Borrow their words, personalize them, and it will be an incredible prayer.

Maybe… We don’t have time to pray. We always have the Holy Spirit with us, and He reminds us of the Word and helps us pray. So we can pray anytime, anywhere, no matter what we are doing.

It could be… We run out of things to say. The Bible gives us so many things on which to meditate. This word means to mull over, or to even talk to ourselves. Combining Bible reading and prayer helps us continue to talk to God all throughout the day.

Try these simple steps and you will begin to realize, as C.S. Lewis said: “If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Someday, please God, it will be.”

Getting Out Of A Pit

This guy was having a bad day (or maybe a bad week, a bad month, a bad year…). The bottom line: he was in a pit, and it appears he had been in it for some time.

Nothing was going right.

And it didn’t appear things would turn around anytime soon.

He cried out, “My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:3)

Ever been there?

Are you there now?

If so, follow the example of this psalmist as he began to talk to himself…

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God! (v. 5)

Why could he put his hope in God at such a dark time in his life? Consider these wise words from Charles Spurgeon—

“Speak to thy soul thus, ‘If I were dealing with a man’s promise, I should carefully consider the ability and the character of the man who had covenanted with me. So with the promise of God; my eye must not be so much fixed upon the greatness of the mercy—that may stagger me; as upon the greatness of the Promiser—that will cheer me. My soul, it is God, even thy God, God that cannot lie, Who speaks to thee. This word of His which thou art now considering is as true as His own existence. He is a God unchangeable. He has not altered the thing which has gone out of His mouth, nor called back one single consolatory sentence. Nor doth He lack any power; it is the God that made the heavens and the earth who has spoken thus. Nor can He fail in wisdom as to the time when He will bestow the favors, for He knoweth when it is best to give and when better to withhold. Therefore, seeing that it is the word of a God so true, so immutable, so powerful, so wise, I will and must believe the promise.’ If we thus meditate upon the promises, and consider the Promiser, we shall experience their sweetness, and obtain their fulfillment.”

If you are in a pit, begin to recall the promises listed in God’s Word.

Pray them.

Meditate on them.

Speak them out loud.

Hang on to them.

“If we thus meditate upon the promises, and consider the Promiser, we shall experience their sweetness, and obtain their fulfillment.”

Pastoral Insights From “Golden Mouth”

John Chrysostom was a reluctant pastor. It took him a while to surrender to the call of God on his life to serve as a priest. But once he stepped into that role, his God-given talents were used mightily. He was such an incredible speaker that his sermons often moved his audience to tears or applause. Thus, he was given the nickname “Golden Mouth.”

Here are some great pastoral insights from Golden Mouth which are just as applicable today…

“Thus then must the Priest behave towards those in his charge, as a father would behave to his very young children; and as such are not disturbed either by their insults or their blows, or their lamentations, nor even if they laugh and rejoice with us, do we take much account of it; so should we neither be puffed up by the promises of these persons nor cast down at their censure, when it comes from them unseasonably.”

“Let, therefore, the man who undertakes the strain of teaching never give heed to the good opinion of the outside world, nor be dejected in soul on account of such persons; but laboring at his sermons so that he may please God, (For let this alone be his rule and determination, in discharging this best kind of workmanship, not acclamation, nor good opinions,) if, indeed, he be praised by men, let him not repudiate their applause, and when his hearers do not offer this, let him not seek it, let him not be grieved. For a sufficient consolation in his labors, and one greater than all, is when he is able to be conscious of arranging and ordering his teaching with a view to pleasing God.” 

“For the soul of the Priest ought to be purer than the very sunbeams, in order that the Holy Spirit may not leave him desolate, in order that he may be able to say, ‘Now I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me….’ For he has need of far greater purity than they; and whoever has need of greater purity, he too is subject to more pressing temptations than they, which are able to defile him, unless by using constant self-denial and much labor, he renders his soul inaccessible to them.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Spiritual Perception

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Spiritual Perception 

     The characteristic of a man without the Spirit of God is that he has no power of perception, he cannot perceive God at work in the ordinary occurrences. The marvelous, uncrushable characteristic of a saint is that he does discern God. You may put a saint in tribulation, amid an onslaught of principalities and powers, in peril, pestilence or under the sword, you may put a saint anywhere you like, and he is “more than a conqueror” [Romans 8:31-39] every time. Why? Because his heart being filled with the love of God, he has the power to perceive and understand that behind all these things is God making them “work together for good.” 

From Biblical Psychology

God says, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). So I cannot understand what God is doing if I only use my own powers of perception.

To truly discern what God is doing, I must rely on the Holy Spirit within me.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

Oh, how I need the Holy Spirit’s help!

Conformed To His Image (book review)

Oswald Chambers challenges my thinking about the Christian walk like few other authors can. His insights are always so profound, and yet at the same time awaken me to the realization that I am the one who makes the Christian walk something complex. In Conformed To His Image, I was yet again challenged to simply follow Jesus.

Chambers brilliantly turns secular psychology upside down. He takes what psychology wants to ascribe to our minds and emotions, and brings it back to a Scriptural basis that puts these things where they are supposed to be: in the soul.

The thought of being “conformed” rubs against the human desire to be free and in charge of our own destiny. Somehow being “conformed” feels like being controlled and giving up our unique personality. So Chambers contrasts the natural human tendencies for freedom and calling our own shots with what the Bible says about surrendering to God.

Chambers presents Jesus not as some superhuman, extraordinary Man. But He shows the life of Jesus to be what we should all be able to live out daily. Jesus was perfectly conformed and submitted to the will of His Father. And, he says, if we will submit as well, the Holy Spirit will conform us into the image of Jesus.

Beware: this book is not light reading. This is a heavy-duty, confrontational book that will challenge you to submit to the Holy Spirit as perhaps you never have before in your Christian walk. However, if you are ready to take the plunge into a much deeper, more intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father, Conformed To His Image is the resource for you. 


The Apostle Paul asked the Christians in Galatia an important question:

How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? (Galatians 4:9)

The two words together in the Greek—weak and miserable—imply things that impoverish us and reduce us to lowly paupers and beggars. That’s not a pretty picture!

Look at the contrast between the princely life and the pauper’s life.

Those who follow Christ:

  • Are called sons of God (Galatians 4:6a)
  • Experience Abba Father’s favor (4:6b)
  • Are heirs to God’s Kingdom (4:7)

Those who don’t follow Christ:

  • Live as slaves (4:7)
  • Are separated from God’s favor (4:1-3)
  • Live as miserable beggars (4:9)

Why would anyone choose the miserable beggar’s life?

Here’s the principle: Everyone serves someone! I will either serve God and be called His son, or I will serve myself (my desires, my passions, my way of doing things) and be called a stranger to God.

Do I want to be in control, or do I want to let God be in control? When I try to control my own life, not only am I not in control, but I actually become a slave to my own passions. Ironic, isn’t it?

The choice is simple, but the choice must be made every day. I must choose to serve God in every moment of every day. It’s the only way to avoid the miserable life, and live the blessed life God has for me.

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