Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Social Media in spreading the Word of Jesus Christ

20140729-150329.jpg

Social Media in spreading the Word of Jesus Christ

2 Timothy 4:1 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

At the most recent #CCSPC14 (or Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference 2014 if you do not speak hashtag) the need and call was made for pastors to be relevant and engage people where they spend quite a bit of their time, on social media. Whilst I agree this is paramount, it probably won’t be the Pastors but the general ethos is there, we need to as believers as a collective be where we need to be in order to meet people, minister to people, show them the real Jesus and help them into a relationship with the living God.

Truth be told, not all Christians like social media, and I can see why, it is easy to get sucked in, especially if you are proud of a certain post you have made and you wish to see how well that “played to the crowd”. In that case and scenario then you can find yourself checking it more than you should.

We have to use all opportunities and technology that science has allowed us, in order to further the gospel. This blog is a great example of this, I can reach people on a worldwide basis and they can learn the Word of God in comfortable, non-threatening surroundings. I also use social media to promote these articles and you may be reading it because you saw it on one of those platforms.

We have to be ready, as the verse states, to preach the word, in and out of season. We have to be open to the opportunities that technology has afforded us. Personally I am on this blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I do not boast that I try to get as much of the Word of God out there as I can. I do not mind that I am a “Fundy Wing nut” to use the terminology of those who would question what I do.

We have to be honest, sometimes the truth hurts, sometimes we don’t do things as well as we should. We have to reprove, rebuke and exhort. (Some folks leave it there) The cruncher in this verse states we have to do all of this with complete patience and teaching. I have had some blogs in the past where I have prayed “God is this really what you want me to say?” but we must check our motives at the door also, are we doing it to be mean or are we doing it because we want to encourage or perhaps help. The terminology used is “complete patience and teaching” which tells you that it is not a knee jerk reaction; it is something that has been meditated on and being covered in prayer.

This whole deal is a process:

Teach and evangelize (some say use apologetics) until conversion
Nurture and disciple as long as the new believer needs
Send out and make more disciples
If in error then correct, rebuke and exhort

Of course, some of you will go on to become teachers, evangelists or Pastors and will go for more discipleship/training. But that is a whole new scenario.

I have never courted being the “big name” and I balk at the idea of my name even being read out in church, there have been occasions where I have been getting kudos when I would rather have remained anonymous. I have kind of sunk down in my seat, not really enjoyed the spotlight being on me. When I started this blog, I tried my hardest to not list my name. I want Gods word to be front and center, not mine.

We have to nail the basics as far as our doctrine goes because on social media, much like anywhere else, we have the false teachers, the name it and claim it guys, the spiritual circus roadshows, the health, wealth and prosperity doctrines that on the face of it seem harmless, but really have as much poison as they do nutrient.

We are warned to avoid “ear tickling preachers” I am blessed that in my life I have had Godly men, I have friends that are actually glad to see me, will exhort, love on me and encourage me, I have friends who are pastors, friends who are youth leaders, worship leaders and friends who are in the ministry of encouragement. I am glad that the pastors God has allowed me to learn from have been men with a desire to teach the whole counsel of God, line by line, verse by verse, word by word in context and in order, if they link a scripture it is to make a doctrinal point based on good solid theology.

For me we can get into a lot of pointless debates on Facebook (Wander into myths) and other social media’s, we have to use the tools to evangelize, convict, convert and disciple. I love social media as folks who have been in ministry with me have always have had doubts about whether folks could understand me if I was to preach, so in the text driven world I have a level playing field with everyone else. It is not a substitute for day to day discipleship but it can open a door.

Also when someone becomes your friend, or likes you on social media, they are giving you an invite into their life. You can see the mistakes they choose to put online, you can organize your prayer strategy, perhaps find some common ground to develop that relationship to introduce Jesus. My wife is awesome at connecting with people virtually.

Lastly we are called to be “long suffering”, be an evangelist, be sober minded and fulfill our ministry, we all have different callings and ministries, in my opinion none are more important than others, and the guy who cleans the bathrooms is every bit as pivotal as the guy who preaches the sermon.

This life is not easy, even as a Christian we are still going to have money problems, life issues, relationship issues, ourselves coming through as our personalities. The church is no different, we have a collection of people as different as can be, all with different back stories (some more tragic than others) and all with different baggage and most times we make that work.

A bit like social media really!

I hope this was a blessing, a challenge and please share, like and comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

P.S. If you are a little Social Media “un-savvy” then contact me and I would be happy to help you and your ministry out.

Advertisements

The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

20140729-123726.jpg

The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

James 5:7 (ESV) Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

(For the American readers – the season I call “Autumn” is the same as your “fall”)

2 messages, 2 rains

Let me get all charismatic on you and declare “I LOVE THE LORD” and how he sends me the same message over and over again because sometimes I can be a knucklehead and not quite get it the first time. The message that I have had confirmed was regarding the term “latter rain”.

I am a city guy and I will be honest with you, despite me questioning God why I am here, I have learned a lot in my time in California. Coming from the biggest city in Scotland called Glasgow I had very little experience with farming, in fact in my whole experience mixing with folks in my little commuter town for the big city I only know one family who was agricultural. (They were dairy farmers) I didn’t think much about where crops, fruit and vegetables came from, I just bought what I needed when I needed, I did not notice prices and had no idea how that area of life worked.

On Sunday I attended a fellowship in the South Valley in a city called Porterville, California. As you drive into Porterville you will see Orange Groves, Wine Vineyards, Nut orchards and various fruit and vegetables growing in the vast abundance of fields in that area, it is fair to say, these people know agriculture. The pastor gave an illustration based on “the former rain and latter rain” based on the passage in Isaiah that he was teaching, I thought it was a great illustration based on who a large percentage of his audience was. I didn’t think much of it, until Monday evening.

On Monday I went to a church in Hanford for a men’s event called “Meat on Monday’s” Hanford is a different type of agriculture as you drive into that city, you smell the unmistakable smell of dairy farming and the fun smell of cows rear ends. (Much like the first time I drove into Tulare also) and the Pastor who taught (ironically teaches at the Tulare church) again talked about this latter rain.

Which rain are you under?

He taught on the above verse and I thought it was ideal to reprise on this blog, (This is not one I came up with myself and this was taught by a chap called Pastor Jake) I tried to take notes as quickly as I could on my iPhone. But the main points were about the following

Being patient in our TEMPTATIONS – Tests approve us to be ministers of God, be in contrast to what the world does, God does not tempt us but may allow us to be tempted in order to have lives of integrity and character.

Being patient with other BELIEVERS – I know that I have ticked many people off in my life, gave Paul as an example, how he loved in spite of all the wicked things that were said about him. How he chose to minister and admonish the ones who spoke evil of him.

Being patient in our PERSECUTIONS – We have to look at our heritage (Hebrews 11:33-38) and take courage and strength from those who have gone on before us. Take an example from the prophets and how they ended up, but still strived on for the LORD.

Being patient in our CIRCUMSTANCES – We have to endure like Job, yes, he wrestled with his trials, but I know that searching within my heart. I would be wrestling under much less strain. It is hard when you see your material wealth go, but it is heard to say it is all temporary.

Application

In this I learned that in order to mature, the crops need both the former rain and the latter rain, they need the former rain to grow from a seedling into the plant that they were created to be, they need to be allowed to be nurtured, to be pruned, to be allowed to grow and then along comes the latter rain, which allows them to mature and allows them to become ripe for picking.

Much is the same with the Christian life, we could all do with a little more “latter rain:” I know I am not going to be fully done with learning until I am done perfecting (when I draw my last breath) but one thing is for sure, the LORD of the harvest knows what we need in order to mature.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, please comment or share as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

If you want to reach your city…

20140728-160935.jpg

…ride the bus!

See what the common people see, and then you will see things from a different perspective and possibly enrich your understanding of what they are going through. Then and only then can you look at developing enough of a relationship to introduce Jesus into their lives.

I will admit it, I am a people watcher, I may be casually reading my bible or playing on my cell phone, but I would have to say that I have one eye on what is around me. Where I live these days, there is not as much issues at what I am used to from riding the bus in the city of Glasgow. I have rode on trains after soccer games when bottles have been flying, people being assaulted (or much worse) all based on the result of a mixture of alcohol, people’s behaviour and the result of a sporting event.

So when I rode the bus on Monday morning (I had an event I had to attend that I was carpooling to so it made good economical sense to just ride the bus and allow my wife a vehicle for the day) I knew I was not stepping onto a vehicle that was in the middle of a drunken war, I knew that there would be about 6-8 people the whole duration of the journey and I could more of less guess where these creatures of habit would alight this vehicle.

But it gave me a heart for them, a heart that I have not had before. You may have remarked that I have commented on the leadership of the church in a previous blog, however today I would like to address us laypeople, those who have not accepted a call to leadership, have not been asked or for one reason or another we are not held to that same standard.

Blog articles like this are few and far between because each church differs how they handle the discipleship process between the altar call and being co-opted into ministry. But as soon as we enter the war torn vehicle that I have described in the earlier paragraph, we sign on to an Army that will be hated in this lifetime. It took an action as simple as what is described in the lyrics of this Sunday school song:

“I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back”

Once we “sign on” and we get our “part one orders” (British Army terminology there) we find out our mission is simple, grow in God (Sanctification) and reach others (Witnessing) and herein lies the problem.

WE ARE DEAR CHRISTIAN!

We have to be evangelists, we have to reach people where they are because we sure are not going to have them battering our doors to come in. We have to be real, be “urban evangelists” have the courage to talk to strangers that we have just had cordial chats with before. I learned from a great missionary couple in Glasgow, Scotland where the wife would use the same store, try to talk to the same checkers, develop relationships and then invite them over to chat.

People buy in from friends my dear friends. We have to be real, admit we don’t have it all flat packed and allow folks to be affected by our lives and how they see Jesus moving within us. The “Great Commission” in the gospel of Matthew tells us that we are supposed to “go forth and make disciples” (not converts) so that tells us once we have saved them from the lake of fire, we continue to invest until they are ready to go out and do likewise. That is our job as the folks who are out there on a day by day, month by month basis.

20140728-161354.jpg

…check your dosage of tablets

About a year ago I came across something that was rather interesting, but at the same time a little disturbing. I am very much a gadget guy as anyone who has met me personally will attest to, I love playing with apps, love finding out how things work, love the latest in technology so I can keep up with trends.

Anyways, I went into my local Target store in the city of Visalia, California and picked up one of the nook tablets, as it was Saturday I was curious about the Scottish soccer results, so I clicked on the internet explorer icon, and you can guess what had been looked at before I got there, quite a few choice websites.

So if you want to do a spiritual barometer of your city, go into an electronics store and have a look at what people are looking at in a public place and you can only imagine what they are looking at in private.

These people need prayer, both the ones on the bus and the ones on the tablets, they need Jesus and they need to be counselled and discipled. They need to be introduced to the prince of peace and a life that involves a new eternal destination.

That is your mission, do you chose to accept it?

I pray this message was a blessing and please feel free to comment, share and link as the LORD leads.
TGBTG
TTE

Careful who you put in charge

20140728-074950.jpg

Careful who you put in charge

This has been on my heart for a while, today the LORD has me write about this subject.

This is not aimed at one particular church and pull examples from several I have witnessed, of you see your situation below then pray thanks if you are in the “what you should be” and pray also if you see any of the “what you should not” category.

Titus 1:5 (ESV) This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

A lot has been said of church leadership, especially in the movement that I belong to where a leader can yield quite a bit of power locally.

I love that Paul was called by God to write on this subject in his letters to both Titus and Timothy. It is as if God had the foreknowledge (which we know that he did) that society and the standards of society would change.

What must a leader be?

We read from both passages that a leader (some texts say Bishop, some say overseer) must be the following:

THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE – not a man into polygamy, not a man who is in a series of lewd relationships, not a man given to same sex attraction.

This also discounts women leaders.

ABOVE REPROACH – not subject to questions about how he could possibly have been chosen as a leader, this one gets cloudy in our modern day church, we have people getting positions they were never called into and people serving in areas that they either do not wish to or feel obligated to because they were just honoured to be asked in the first place. (Or because they are in a certain family or legacy)

I am not referring to the missionary church or the church plant as in many cases, people help out based on need and gradually develop their calling from there. This happened to me as I was able to teach small group bible studies as developed a will and a calling to learn and later to teach.

This goes hand in hand with what is said in Timothy about the leader not being a recent convert, I have seen folks be elevated too quickly, become proud of their new status and fall from grace, truly sad and both parties (both leadership and the man who fell) need prayer in that situation.

ARROGANT – The leader should be someone you come to for counsel and should be of a gentle spirit.

We all all fallen creatures who ALL have an issue with pride, (if you say you don’t then you also have a problem with lying) one of the hardest parts of leadership is to not exalt yourself as an example when someone is bearing their soul to you. We are commanded to be humble, to treat that person with the gentleness that Jesus has treated our many sins.

SOBER – the text says “not given to much wine” I would go further and link the verses in Romans about not causing a brother to stumble.

In the Western world we have a culture of excess, we claim poverty but have riches that 30% of the world will never see in ten lifetimes. When we get into something and make it into a demi-God, like the almighty bottle (take it from a guy who used to bow at its altar at least 4 times a week) that grabs you slowly, entices you in with the taste and by the time you realise it has you, you are already too far gone down the path to ever enjoy it responsibly again.

If you can do it, then more power to you, if you are drunk or buzzed a lot, then you have the beginning of a problem, if you got to my stage and was annoyed he had to defer my first drink long enough to do a days work, then you are in idolatry and God does not want his leaders serving two Gods.

HOSPITABLE – if you are going to lead people then you have to get to know them. You have to be willing to show your home and your lives as an example to those you wish to serve in leadership.

Also, in order to give good counsel and not to bear false witness or give options that are not factual about believers in your body that you know little about. I have had this happen to me and it leads to your estimation of that leader as well as the reliability of his facts with other leadership members called into question.

Lastly, if you are not hospitable to all then how will you know who requires extra prayer, who requires more from you, we have a culture of just “skating through” and it does not cut it anymore.

GREEDY – he has to be temperate, not after money, he has to be honest. Can you imagine trying to respect someone in leadership in your fellowship who has a wide reputation for being a crook. It just does not add up.

HOLY – his life must show a “set apart” for Jesus Christ nature, he cannot be the one in the cheap seats telling off colour jokes during the lesson.

He must be an example to the newer believers, one who attracts folks coming to him for discipleship.

SELF-CONTROLLED/DISCIPLINED – is probably the hardest one (as if there is an easy one) as when you are a leader, you have so many more eyes on you than before, you have other leaders and also church members.

What I am trying to say is, it is not just the appearance of these things, it’s the actual living them out on a day by day basis.

ABLE TO TEACH – you will notice this is the last one on my list, but when people try to make themselves available for leadership positions in the church, this is usually top of mind for them.

In my mind it was the last thing I wanted, I love to teach, however I don’t want it to be about me as in the man, I want it to be Jesus being centre stage and like being refreshed on a hot day, you don’t thank the LORD for the jug, simply the water.

1 Timothy 3:1 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

What he shouldn’t be.

(Here is where people get upset)

INVISIBLE – he should be attending things that the church puts on, have folks over (not just the ones he likes) and actually wish to find out where the prayer points are.

CONNECTED – Pastors need to be connected with others in their movement in order to identify trends and share from the wisdom of their peers.

Elders/Deacons need to be the conduit for connection between the body and upper leadership, this whole Sunday facade that has become commonplace really needs to stop.

The facade goes as follows 1) Shake laypersons hand 2) give warm greeting 3) smile a lot 4) advise that you will see them next week.

TOO BUSY – if you are too busy to do what someone has asked you then you need to pray about stepping down. Leadership is a calling, not just a kudos point or a way to show you are holy, so if you are there because of who you know or because you like seeing your name on the bulletin, then it perhaps should be time to prayerfully back out.

The layperson in the church buys into what the leadership are doing and there is only so much that folks without position can do, if the leadership by in large does not show a certain element of buy in, then the church as a whole wont either.

An example of this is hospitality, if the boots on the ground don’t see the ones who are called to lead see it as a priority, then they won’t either. End result is the church remains fragmented and never grows together as it is harder to break up clicks once they have started. Many churches in the US today are just a gathering of groups under the one building.

This spreads like a cancer, and it starts from leadership down. in the end you end up with falsehoods such as the smile on a Sunday/but secretly hate you the rest if the week mentality. We are supposed to be one body, can you imagine the state of your body if the brain didn’t talk to the hands or feet.

How do you measure up?

Now you have read all about leadership in the church and what the bible states that it should be, how is your ministry application coming along? Has it developed prayer points? If you have anything you would like to add then please let us know below

Thanks for reading and please share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Prayer is the answer

20140726-233813.jpg

Prayer is the answer

Philippians 4:5 (ESV) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Before we begin I have to explain one thing! I am a guy! I never learn anything the first time over, I usually have to go over or go through something at least three times before I have it in the memory banks as a lesson learned.

It is not that I wish to go through the same things over and over again it is just one of my many character flaws. No one is prefect and I most certainly am not. (For independent adjudication of that fact you need go no further than my wife’s testimony)

So why is it that I have to go through the prayer test over and over? I am sure that I am not the only one (and I would love to hear from you if you do this also) that knows that in trials the first port of call is prayer with a reverent heart and a contrite spirit, however after passing it to God I still want to hold on to it as if God cannot handle my little request that while it is monumental in size for me, it is but a vapor in Gods eyes.

We should heed the words of Paul to the Philippian church, that we should not be anxious, that when we take it to the LORD in prayer we realize that he has got this, one way or another. He will always answer our prayer, might not be in the way we want but we will get an answer.

If we do this properly, let go and let God do his will and have faith that Gods plan is the best one for our lives. What I mean is truly let go and accept Gods peace then we will be where God wants us to be.

Application

I recently was in this place, perhaps this is why this is top of my mind at present. My family had a need and we were fervently praying about a way out from that need, we thought we had a way out but for a long time that wasn’t happening. God showed up in a big way, in his own timing and if this was a test of my resolve or belief that God had this, then u am not so sure I passed.

When I was rescued, I was joyful, but also floored on what a gracious God I serve (sometimes better than other times) I was in awe how yesterday’s mountain was nowhere to be seen disappearing in my rear view mirror.

I am not saying this because one situation went the way I was hoping for, often times I don’t realise I have been rescued until much much later when the crisis is a distant memory and the waves that threatened to sink my ship have subsided and calm is restored and I realise that like I do with my daughter when she is scared, my Abba father is holding my hand through the trials and pain.

This is not health, wealth and prosperity teaching, just simple faith that whatever your burdens, prayer is the answer I have found to instilled peace in my wretched and worrying heart.

Find out what Gods will is for your life and pray for that will to be done, then he will do much more exceedingly more through you than you ever would have done alone.

I pray this was a blessing and please share, comment or like as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

A fathers advice

20140726-015823.jpg

A fathers advice

Ephesians 6:1 (ESV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Let me begin by saying I am very much a family man. I love my wife very much and my daughter is my princess and very much a daddy’s girl.

I wasn’t always a Christian and I have seen enough of the world to realize that children with no strong male role model have what is called “daddy issues” and I never wanted that for my child.

I am especially grateful for my daughter because of how she came about, we had been trying for just over three years when we found out that my wife was pregnant. What a joy that was and my wife was overjoyed also.

I want my children to obey me, but I want to be the kind of man who should be obeyed and respected.

As I was putting my child to bed last night, I do what I am prone to do, I kneeled and prayed, for rest for her and us, a few other prayer requests that were on my heart and I was thankful for a few things that had blessed us that week. Fathers if you do not do so already, pray with your kids, show them why you pray, invest in their spiritual as well as their earthly lives.

Children need to know they are important, when my child doesn’t think I am paying attention (even if I am) she tells me to “look into my eyes Daddy”

There is nothing finer than the hug you get when you walk through that door and it is announced by a loud “Dadddddddy”. LORD help me to be the kind of man my kid thinks I am.

As a prayer point, my wife and I are going through adoption process at the moment so please keep us in prayer as we prayerfully consider our next steps.

I love these verses and keep them close to my heart, I hope you do to!

Thanks for reading this blog article and please feel free to share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Why good koinonia is required for sustained Christian growth

20140724-211258.jpg

Iron sharpens Iron

I have been blessed to have been strengthened recently by two friends that I met around February time and they have been a constant source of encouragement. We are three busy guys and often times the encouragement is in the form of a text message here there and a wee exhortation.

I have to admit that I am not all that complete at encouragement, I love to be encouraging but my follow up and follow through with people leaves a lot to be desired. This is regrettable as when I was helping out at a mission’s church plant at Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, I was “Mr. Let’s get together” or “Mr. Koinonia” and I was always keen to either have folks over or trample on others hospitality. In short I loved being around believers who were a blessing to my soul.

When I arrived in America this was not the case, the homeland (US) churches are not set up that way. People have lives, people have jobs, people have families, spending time with their Christian brothers and sisters slides further and further down the priority list.

The need for Koinonia

Not all Christians have it easy, we all struggle with different things! When I was a “baby Christian” I used to say all the time “Why do they struggle with that?” and then it came to me (I believed that it was revealed by God) that perhaps the stuff that I had issues with they didn’t and vice versa.

This is why I believe that good quality koinonia is really important, you have to find people not only that you can disciple to, but we all need to be ministered too. Even Pastors go to conferences to be ministered to so why shouldn’t I as a layperson require any less.

My psyche is such that I need to be challenged, need to have a goal to aim towards so I look and seek out men that can help me, talk things over and grow in God. I am blessed to have found two such men in “Bob” and “Chris” (I hope they won’t mind that I mention them by name) but the three of us have taken upon ourselves to encourage one another and Bob set a challenge this month to have memorized the three following verses:

Romans 6:7 (ESV) – For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:14 (ESV) – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 8:12 (ESV) – So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

The idea of going through scripture together is a good one, it gives a scriptural point of order to talk from, we can share viewpoints that will both challenge us and help us grow. Growing together is good because of the bond it creates. Fellowships that grow together are more likely to have committed serving members that will go that extra mile to evangelize and bring the Word of God to more and more people.

What I get out of this

Well I get two different things from both guys, Chris is simply inspirational, he is slow to speak, but when he does it is well thought out and he is much more mature than I am, he has a shedload of knowledge but more importantly, he has wisdom. Chris is a worship leader and he has a worship leader’s heart. Bob on the other hand is simply an inspiration, this guy is an evangelist, and he is a walking, talking billboard for Jesus. He is not boastful but he spreads inspiration wherever he goes. he can’t meet a stranger without trying to introduce them to Jesus. He has this bag which is chock full of stuff that he uses to share the gospel! Awesome stuff

What they get out of me?

I don’t actually know! Funny stories maybe? I hope that I bring something to the proverbial table, but they seem to like me for who I am which is awesome! I have truly missed the great koinonia since being in a close knit fellowship where we were bummed if we didn’t spend time with each other as often as possible.

In the book of Proverbs we are told that “iron sharpens iron” and we were never meant to walk the Christian life alone, I have my wonderful wife who is way more than I deserve, but sometime I need some “guy time” (My wife feels the same with “girl time”) as it is good for the soul.

If you are a guy that is leading his home properly as a good and Godly leader of the home then the stresses of leadership will wear on you, sometimes you need that “peer refreshment” and it can be anything, can be a baseball game, can be hunting, can be Starbucks, could even be through text messages, but sometimes you just need to open the word with the boys. (Or girls if you are a lady)

I don’t have anyone

If you don’t then don’t be a lone wolf! The scriptures advise that “where two or three are gathered” not “when someone goes it alone” we all have issues, we all have struggles so let’s be accountable to one another and lets be real at church. That is the one place where we should be confident of not being judged and being loved.

God bless and I hope that this was a blessing, please feel free to share and comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

No other gospel

20140723-122436.jpg

No other Gospel

Galatians 1:6 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Oh Foolish Galatians!

When people think of the Galatian church the first thing that people think of is the verse “Oh foolish Galatians” it is easy to think that as this letter to this church is very heavy on teaching and also very loving. Paul exhorts the church; he corrects and gives great instruction that is still applicable some 2000 years later.

The reason this is so prevalent today is that Paul marvels/is astonished (depends on the version of the Bible you read) that the Galatians have fallen into theology that is not correct. This is not a minor theological contention such as whether we sprinkle or fully immerse in baptism, whether we have one cup or many cups at communion or whether we wear suits or come as you are to church. They are turning away from the basic beliefs and tenets on the Christian faith, the building blocks of what makes them Christian.

They were embracing heresy based on confusion. Like so many of todays cults, they were trying to do “Jesus plus” what I mean was that Jesus was not enough, they had to do Jesus plus the law, Jesus plus something else, like the blood on the cross was not enough to atone for the sins of the world.

Works are good

Don’t get me wrong, as a guy who is very point by point, line by line, precept upon precept in my Bible studies, I find it beneficial to have certain works listed as good to do, but they should not be kept in the same line or same vein as what is required to be saved. Many of the things that we contend with each other these days are not Salvation issues, many are not even heretical, many are based on theological stances that attempt to help, but sometimes cause frustration.

Traditionally, (and my wife Chelsea would be the first to confirm this) I have been “works orientated” where I try to “tick the boxes” and try to (in Gods will and his power) live in a way that would befitting the title Christian. This is good, if you are a flaky person and need structure in your life then this is a good way to get some structure and have some way to grow as a Christian.

You have to be careful though, we have a tendency as humans to elevate the structure that we have as high as the reason we are doing this in the first place. Please do not allow the ritual to become the main thing and also by the same token do not worship the ritual, this leads to resentment of your mind on when you think of all the other stuff you could be doing with your time and then it leads to you dragging your feet and “going through the motions” with minimum effort.

God knows this, God knows your heart, he knows who has their heart in it and who does not.

If I don’t feel like it should I not worship God?

In the words of the Apostle Paul, God forbid. I read a really cool graphic on Facebook yesterday that read “There are two times to worship God, 1) When you feel like it 2) When you don’t.

I think this is an awesome reminder that worshipping God should be as natural as eating or drinking water, we were created to do so and if we allow our emotions to drive how we feel about God, it stands to reason that when things go badly, we will not be in a mood to worship God.

Paradoxically, when some people are in their deepest hole and when they have exhausted all other alternatives, that is when they find God. Those of whom are literally at the bottom of their “pit of despair”.

What if the hosts of heaven appear to me?

Paul states quite clearly, “if he or even an angel preaches any other gospel” and the instructions to go with that. This even happens today; I am sure you will remember about 6 years ago we had a guy called Todd Bentley who had his “Lakeland revival” in Florida. Part of this guy’s testimony was he was visited by an Angel called “Emma” who gave “new revelation” and advised that he was to do a spiritual outpouring and declare revival in the Florida area and beyond.

I am all for revival, however this testimony sounds like it is in contradiction to what is stated in Galatians. It is similar to the testimony by the founder of the LDS (Mormon) Church called Joseph Smith Junior, he was visited by an angel called “Moroni” and given golden tablets (that disappeared as soon as he translated them) in an ancient and forgotten language that he was given supernatural powers to translate into what is now called the “Book of Mormon”.

So what is the problem?

We are told that if they give a gospel contrary to the one of Jesus Christ, what Paul calls “no gospel at all” he will be “eternally condemned” If you want a picture of what that looks like, have a quick read of Revelation 20:7-10, doesn’t look like fun huh?

Trying to please men

Paul finishes by stating that what he states will not be popular among men and that if he had desired to be popular with men he would have stayed as Saul, the Jewish zealot who was a career persecutor and very popular hatchet man of the Jewish faith. Instead he had a zealous heart for what God wanted in his life, so when he was face to face with Christ (not angels as you notice) he followed what God wanted with scant regard for his own life!

LORD MAKE ME LIKE THAT PLEASE!

I hope and pray this was a blessing and please share this article and leave any comments as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?

20140722-112252.jpg

Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?

1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Can I say this once to begin with, God wants his people to be pure. He designed a framework for us to work in because as he made us in the image of God, he knows our DNA, he knows what makes us tick, he knows what is inside of our heart. He sees the evil thoughts, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of our life. The crazy thing is – He loves us anyway!

Have you ever had that one friend that you baulked at being around, they drove your spirit down, they rubbed off on you, their humour was crass, you felt dirty after spending time in their presence. I can only imagine that God must be like with us, however, unlike us he has compassion on us and wants us to get better and become more like him.

Purity is important, the reason I write this is that sin starts always in the same way, it starts in the same way a flower does, it blossoms a seed, now the seed is your sinful thoughts, your desires, unless they are fed, watered they will wither and die (much like a flower) however if you feed it, it will grow.

Thoughts are thoughts; it is what you do with them that counts! You have one of two choices; you can dwell on them, crave them and then start sliding on that muddy slope to eventually begin to act upon them. Or you can extinguish the fire while it is still kindling. Coming from a state which is known for its forest wildfires, it is far easier to extinguish a smolder than a 15 acre fire.

What is love?

We have to be careful with the word “love” because in many cases, when we are fed things from the media machine that gives us our information, love actually means lust. Modern day love quits when the going gets tough, when the thrill is gone or when it just gets too tough.

Let me be clear, it can happen but does not happen often, we won’t often find love in our current culture called the “hook up” culture, where it is “free love” on steroids, it is all down to what floats your boat at the time, self-gratifying, self-pleasing, erotica where they may disguise it as seeing each other for dates, but it really is about what they do for each other’s lusts.

But I have never cheated, I am ok right?

Depends on your heart, Jesus states to the “righteous in deed” crowd called the Pharisees that if you “lust after a woman with your eyes, you have committed sin with her in your own heart”. This is not a Bill Clinton moment, there is no opportunity to ask us to “define what we mean by relations” It is cut and dried. It is down to your heart and what is currently churning through there.

We are asked to control our own body, (let me just say that women are not exempt even although it states “his”, women have lusts, desires and all that fun stuff to!) both internal and external, our eyes, our thoughts, our actions, our reproductive organs (yes I mean what you think I mean) which is the reason for my title “Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?”

What I mean by this is that God gave us those desires, they are natural desires. he also gave us a way to fulfill those desires by ordaining the union of marriage between one man and a woman in order that we may fulfil those needs in each other.

Lust like most sins is an appetite, if you are married and you know you have a good home cooked meal ahead of you, would you drive thru and get dollar menu knowing this will make you not eat what your loving wife has prepared for you? Why would you do likewise with your other appetites?

What about us singles? Are we off the hook?

No, not really. As singles you are commanded to be pure! If there is something that helps or empowers you to stumble, then don’t do it. If you can’t be left alone on the internet then do go on it, if there is a TV show that causes you to stumble then don’t watch it. If there is a book that inspires a thought life that will lead you to burn, then don’t do it.

TV shows and movies are dangerous if you fail in this area, you have to analyze why you watch some shows, is it because of a certain actor? If you are in a relationship and you start to compare your partner (spouse or dating) to that person, the real person will never shape up to the airbrushed person on the screen.

I always tend to avert my eyes (and I get teased for it) if there is something questionable on the screen, I want my wife to be the object of my affection and desires. I fail in so many other ways, I don’t need to add another to my pile of faults.

On Sunday, I was reminded that you can burn thirty years of good solid Godly ministry service with one indiscretion that is brought to light. People will not remember all of the things that you did to advance the kingdom of God, they will always see you due to that one act (or more if there was more)

We have not to be consumed with our lusts, so that it possesses us. We cannot be “called to holiness” if we are semi filled with our lusts. Light cannot dwell with darkness; there is no “Ying/Yang” in a hunger for holiness.

We are reminded at the end of this passage that should we continue in our sin, we set ourselves against God and not man! Personally, I find that a scary place to be! I would not wish to set myself against the one who created the earth and universe in 6 days. Makes me feel how small I am compared to God.

God will not be mocked, he knows our hearts, and he knows the ones who are trying to skirt his laws, to get as close to sinning but not actually sin. To push the envelope (usually in the name of exercising their “liberty in Christ”) and will have grace on those who genuinely try to live a life in holiness.

God bless and I hope this a blessing, a challenge and please comment with any views you may have
TGBTG
TTE

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

20140721-174551.jpg

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto they Lord, and not unto men

I see different variations of this story from time to time where a new pastor will come into a church that has not been introduced to him. The announcement is made to all the church family, this announcement has really been promoted so that lapsed members, people who only come on Christmas and Easter can get the chance to be there for the “new guys” first sermon, create a good impression and let’s try to get a full house.i

Anyways, just before (maybe about 20 minutes) the service starts, a down and out homeless figure appears on the steps to the church, stinking of urine and alcohol. The church elders, rather than helping the guy, maybe help him to sober up, maybe invite him to church? They try to shoo him off. Maybe the sight of him may upset the folks who don’t often come, or maybe the new pastor. The homeless guy hangs around, tries to speak to the folks coming in, not begging, just saying hello, and passing the time, out on the street, outside the church gates.

The people by in large don’t talk to him, seem embarrassed to be there. Some are nasty, some cross over the street to avoid even passing by the smell coming off this guy. Everyone fills into the church; he maybe has had a kind look from about maybe 1% of the congregation. (Never mind some actual dialogue)

He shuffles up the steps in his broken shoes and shuffles towards the door of the church, the briefest of handshakes happen between the elder to tried to escort him off the premises, decides not to cause a scene and tries to sit him at the back out of the way with about 2 benches segregating him from the nearest “God-fearing” parishioner. The man decides he wishes to sit with the people in the middle of the church. Again, not wishing to cause a scene, the elders allow the man to not be impeded.

The final insult occurs when he sits next to this well dressed family, who when they smelled what was coming off his clothes, got up and moved elsewhere. The church is getting rather anxious, the previous pastor used to be behind the lectern prior to the first hymn beginning. An elder (who wasn’t involved in the door issue) leads the congregation in the first hymn.

The same elder asks the congregation to give a round of applause for the new pastor who shocks the congregation by standing up in the body of the church, the “new guy” is the homeless man, the new pastor walks to the front of the church, takes off the stained clothes to reveal a shirt, tie and clean trousers. He replaces his “homeless shoes’ with his own shoes and begins to address the crowd.

He teaches on “The Good Samaritan” and also on forgiveness, because he saw the “non-Church” “non-Sunday” side of many of his new parishioners, they viewed him through societies eyes, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. There was no love, no compassion and he knew what word God had sent him to do there as a new pastor.

Before we all get on our moral high horse and state “I would never do that!” We all have our hot buttons, we all have our areas that we put barriers up to help people, maybe people are in a sin that you find worse than others? Maybe people are drinking themselves to death? Maybe people are dependent on substances? Maybe people are in a job where they sell themselves? NO-ONE should be beyond help! We weren’t with our multitude of sins.

I say this as someone who has been an outsider most of my life, as the song goes “everybody needs compassion” and I am not perfect in this area, instead of praying “LORD get me outta this” pray “LORD give me the words to help this person” We should do it as if we were serving the LORD.

Matthew 25:31 (ESV) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We should go all “Downtown Abbey” on the least of these; we should serve them as if we are serving Jesus Christ, the King of Glory himself. If the LORD moves us to help these people, we should do it with all of our heart, not just with our scraps. I am sure the guy who is really destitute will be overjoyed at you throwing a quarter at him (or to him) but if you could help him with $5 without hurting yourself financially, how much more of a blessing would that be to the recipient.

God bless and i pray this was a blessing, help, encouragement or challenge, please comment below.

TGBTG
TTE