Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving week – Day seven – My parents

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Thanksgiving week – Day seven – My parents

This is the seventh and final article in what I am thankful for, this one is dedicated to my parents.

In 1977 on the 12th day of the 12th month I was born in a hospital in Scotland in the UK. But the truth of the matter is that I shouldn’t be here. I was born a preemie baby and massively under weight. Nowadays that wouldn’t be a problem but in 1977 this was a big deal.

My parents were not Christian at that point, however they had folks in from the local Presbyterian,  Brethren & Catholic churches and my grandfather had folks come in from his church (Apostolic)

How is this relevant?

Well that baby you read about is a fully grown man who is still alive and writing to you today. God saved and preserved my life that day and despite the fact I should not be here, my parents learned a valuable lesson on the power of prayer.

Fast forward a few years

About thirty to be precise, and Mom and Dad begin to miss their son who went to love in the USA. They begin to go to the church we attended in Glasgow, Scotland. 
Dad gets saved and then Mom does, I attended Dads baptism four years ago. The change in Dad is unbelievable and a true example of Jesus saving grace.

From then on in we had another thing in common. Jesus Christ!  Dad is very much a changed person to where he was previously. 

Dad would be the first to admit that he made mistakes as a dad, but now that I am a father I also realize how much he sacrificed and how many balls he juggled in order to be a parent.

Dad & Mom, I love you and appreciate you more than you know. My prayer is I take the good parenting you did with me and do likewise with my daughter.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

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Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

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Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

Firstly, I should begin with how thankful I am that you are reading this, this series was started a few days later than I was hoping but I had committed to a week of blogs and content. (The days were switched round of course)

Secondly, if you like what you read then please share any articles, pages or the links to any content that you may find useful to your newsgroups.

Why Calvary Chapel? 

Well to be honest with you, it is what I like. Plain and simple. I have done the denomination deal when I was exploring Christianity when I was younger. I attended Charismatic,  Presbyterian, Baptist,  Episcopalian and Brethren at some.point in my life. In this experiment I would have to say I liked the lively worship of the charismatic church but needed more word focused studies.

I left the church for many years (see my testimony page for more information) and when I was dating my wife, she suggested we attend the local Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland.

Church should be like life, in balance, different people find different levels of balance and although I recommend Calvary chapels,  I would not take you away from a church that is healthy that you are plugged into.

Are all Calvary Chapel churches the same?

Very much not, Calvary Chapel churches tend to reflect their pastor in many was, they all adhere to the Word of God,  they all share the same distinctives,  they all have a lead pastor, but I have never been in two that are identical.

Here’s to you

Here is a shout out to those Calvary Chapel churches in my area, you have all been a positive influence in my walk and you have all encouraged me.

Vision CC of Porterville – attended between 2007-2014 large church in Porterville,  California. These guys have a huge heart for lost in the area God has placed them. They reach out many times a year to the local apartments with food, Christmas presents and dinners for thanksgiving. Last year they did a service in the courtyard of the apartments.

They also have active women and mens ministries to help equip.the saints for the work of the ministry. Here’s to you – Pastor Ryan, Kurt and Bob.

They meet at the Veterans Memorial Building on West Olive Street at 10 am every Sunday.

Calvary Chapel Tulare – awesome church in Tulare, smaller in numbers than Porterville but a real community church where everyone is family.

They have an awesome youth and childrens ministry, a great seniors ministry at a local rehab hospital,  the men meet on a Wednesday for coffee, exhortation and koinonia.

Recently they have had a pastor change so here’s to you Pastor Jake (who departed) and Pastor John.

They meet on O Street in Tulare every Sunday at 10 am and Thursday at 7 pm.

Calvary Chapel Visalia

The biggest Calvary Chapel in the area and has been around for about as long as I have been born. I know these guys from men’s events, bible studies, services I have attended, VBS I have sent my kid to and quality time spent with the Pastors here, both verbal and even shared meals with them.

These guys have so many programs it would would be impossible to talk about them in one article.  Here’s to you Pastor Bob & Mike.

They meet on a Sunday, Avenue 264, Visalia at 8.30 am and 10.30 am and Wednesday night at 6.30pm

Calvary Chapel Hanford

This is one I have been in closer contact from this year on. The pastors there Geno, Gene and Jacob are awesome, such an encouragement.

They also meet Sunday and Wednesday.

The reason I talk about Calvary Chapel today is that I was an atheist who really didn’t live a Christian life prior to being brought into a Calvary Chapel where I heard the bible being taught verse by verse and precept upon precept. It changed my life and I pray that it will change yours too.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Thanksgiving week – Day five – my wealth and a look at Black Friday

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Thanksgiving week – Day five – my riches

It is no coincidence that the LORD has guided me to write this article and to have it published on what is the most commercial day for the American people.  The day we call “Black Friday”.

The notion of getting up at crazy o’clock to save a few bucks on an item that often times is a convenience item is not a new fad or craze. People have been doing it before I arrived in America and LORD willing they will he doing it long after I am gone. (Either by movement of God or graduating to after posthumous state)

Legalism

Let me begin by saying, I am not a legalist, I have participated in both Black Friday sales and on one occasion I even went out in Thanksgiving night. So i and fully aware of the beam in my own eye and I am certainly not without sin in this area so please don’t think I am lining up to stone you.

Go beyond the ticket price and question the true value

That being said however, we have to go beyond the ticket price and ask “is this the best use of our time? ”

I know what you are thinking, “what about the poor person who, if they don’t shop then it may mean the difference between their kid getting one present instead of two?”

My answer to this is well everyone’s situation is different, the single parent lady with 5 kids that only has $50 to spend on everyone’s Christmas, I see why she is shopping frugally,  but this is not usually the case. This lady is the exception rather than the rule.

Greed not need

The ones who are usually head of the lines in these places are normally buying the big ticket items such as TVs, electronic devices etc. Some are spending thousands of dollars in single purchases. Let me tell you of my Thanksgiving shopping experience a few years back.

My wife and I decided to try it out the first year and made a beeline for a huge department store with a bullseye logo. The doors were just opening and we joined the line midway round the corner of the building, as we got in folks were checking out with TV’s and other huge items, the associate was handing out carts and keeping the stream of people coming in at a slow but safe pace.

The lady pushed a cart (no more than maybe a yard) towards me to keep things moving and as I was about to lay my hand on it the lady in front of me grabbed it announcing “she needed two carts”

Inside were scenes that would invoke PTSD, it was like like a cross between Little Big Horn and a looting, with the only difference being these folks intended to pay at the end. Many customers were glum, shelves were emptying fast, employees were tired, lines got longer and it was at melting pot of negative emotions. I wondered where it all had gone wrong.

I saw mass purchases, a lot of excess and on one occasion I heard and lady tell someone else at the end of the phone (sounded like a conference call at one point) to stay at the places they had been sent to until that lady arrived with her debit card. Sounds like that lady (this is just my reading on the situation) had stationed her kids/family members at stores all over town to maximize the opportunity of getting commercially what everyone wanted for Christmas and satisfy everyone’s material whims.

Let me tell you something crazy, I don’t even remember what we were shopping for that year, (must have been important huh?)

One thing I do remember however is that when when I put back back a crock pot that we decided not to purchase, there was a lady circling the area and swooped in like a vulture and had it in her cart like it was the last crock pot that we was ever going to be made, why do we allow ourselves to get into such a state and I do wonder what Jesus would have made of this stramash?  (To use a Scottish phrase)

Where is my redeemer?

Sadly, I seen little evidence of people preparing to celebrate the redeemer of the world. Yes, maybe one in twenty of the songs playing on the in store radio was a hymn or a song about Jesus and not banging on about winter or Santa.

We certainly were not acting like Christians, the first certainly wasn’t the last, we were pushy, moody, grumpy and greedy. I left the store unhappy with the experience but I didn’t learn the lesson until much later.

You see I should have a burden for those who materialism is what Christmas is all about, those who don’t have about redeemer and Christmas is about maintenance of a quality of life through the giving of gifts that will eventually not last forever. Sometimes in order to make those commercial dreams come true you have to sacrifice a little of your mental health.

How much are you worth?

Make no mistake about it, my kid will get presents, some I will have paid full price for, some I will have got on sale, I will be in shops today when I wake up. I won’t be first in line at midnight or whatever crazy hour the shop I chose to go to opens but I will go, maybe I will spend, maybe not.

You see, I say this with the greatest respect to anyone who reads this,  my time is worth far more and time with family is worth far more than getting 25% off the toy that is the favourite thing of my five year old. (Which will most likely change next month) and most certainly in saying that,  I doubt I will ever rush away from a Thanksgiving dinner to enter “Retail Hades” ever again.

Lastly, some perspective

We are affluent, all of us! The brokest of us still have much more than many others in other countries.  Being the time of year it is I often here the Bob Geldof song “Do they know it’s Christmas time”. That song in the mid 80’s was sold to raise money to feed starving people in countries such as Ethiopia. We have so much, even if we gave away the stuff we were going to trash, blessings would abound.

It is not all doom and gloom, I passed by a clothing recycling station yesterday and was immediately thankful as I saw the station was overflowing,  people do want to help and recycle to help the needy.

How can I help?

Pray, ask God to put someone on your heart to help, you probably know of of a family who are going without, it may even be as drastic as not being able to feed everyone. Never mind get a gift at Christmas.

You are rich, put your wealth where it really matters

(Jesus speaking) Matthew 6:19 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Despite your bank balance, you are rich, I am not as concerned with your checking account as your heavenly account with God. Has that been settled yet? Do you know where you are going beyond this life? You can’t take your Black Friday bargains with you.

The Pharaohs of old used to get buried with their wealth and the things that meant the most to them, however, archaeologists will tell you, the treasures did not go with them, it is as simple as that.

What about me?

Personally,  my riches are in my relationship with Jesus Christ, my love for my wife and lastly my love for my daughter. Yes I am spoiled,  I get enough to eat, my birthday and other special days are celebrated.

Let’s be honest, we all get greedy, you should see some of the stuff that I have got bent out of shape over and you would laugh, but we have to get our priorities straight.

Truth be told, if I had only my wife beside me and my child was the only one getting presents,  I would still be a rich man, wealthy in heaven and rich in love.

The other Black Friday

Happened when Jesus died to become your redeemer,  there is more to Christmas than retail craziness and spending lots of money, it is the celebration if the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth who died for the sins of the world, please contact us if you wish to know more.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Thanksgiving week – Day four – my extended family

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Thanksgiving week – Day four – my extended family

Psalm 107:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

As you may have noticed, the last few days I have been posting reasons that I am thankful on this thanksgiving week. On Monday I posted about my daughter, on Tuesday I posted about my wife, yesterday I posted about my faith in Jesus Christ. Today I wish to be thankful for extended family.

Thanksgiving is a time to get round the table and have fun and fellowship with those who you love, in my case what normally happens is that we all converge on a member of my eternal family’s house, (We all live within 20 miles of each other so it is easy to do so) spend several hours together, eat a lot, watch a little football and have fun as a family.

The external family I am speaking of is my wife’s brothers, their families and her mother. This year the shindig is at the Mother in laws house, but we are having some family sickness so we may or may not be there. This is sad to say the least. I am hoping that this is not the case and we are able to do so, but I have a nephew with a low immune system who is very susceptible to getting infections and in his case it would require a visit to the hospital, so you can understand my concern.

I am grateful to them as they have emancipated me into the family with much love and kindness. I am grateful to the LORD for the love and support they provide, especially to my wife.

Getting used to the concept of an extended family

My wife has always did the “big family” thing, my parents, not so much, they did celebrate New Year’s by socializing with other folks and we did visit relations from time to time, but in Scotland we so not celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas was usually done with just my parents (I don’t think I have ever celebrated a Christmas meal with my brother and his family) so it was a bit of a culture change coming over here.

As extended families go, I certainly have been blessed, there are quite the mix of people, different humours, different temperaments, in my case a different culture, but deep down they are good people, we tick each other off sometimes but deep down there is love there. I know that in most instances that I would back them up and they would have my back also.

Memories

I have only been a part of that family for a short time, married 9 years to my wife but there are just some things that you do, I have memories of rescuing folks from things that have happened and being rescued myself. I have accounted these times as a blessing to the LORD the times I have been able to help and serve and also the times that we had that I have been served.

Thanksgiving

As stated before, in my country we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving and I was asked earlier this week “What do we call Thanksgiving in Scotland?” I answered as best I could so my reply was “Thursday”.

I am of course being flippant, but despite knowing very little about the day itself and why we celebrate it, I am thankful for the ability to come together (whether it is just with my wife and daughter or if it done with the extended family) I will count it as reason to praise him.

Misery lacks company

I hope that if you don’t have a place to go this thanksgiving that someone reaches out to you, my hope is that everyone is surrounded by family and friends and folks that love them. If you know someone who is going to be alone and you have enough to share (let’s face it, many of us have more than enough) then pull an extra seat at your table for that person.

James talks about this in his epistle…

James 1:27 (ESV) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Get those who have no-one and show them the love of Jesus. Be that example of Christ’s love, which is more powerful to someone who is alone than the best orated and smoothly delivered sermon.

Actions like that back up what you are preaching is also what you are living. This is intentional Christianity, not just meeting a need but bringing Christ front and center in your service.

Be thankful in the small things

Don’t focus on the bickering, the fights or whatever will steal your joy from that day. Focus on the laughing, the sounds of the kids chasing each other and the positive memories. Also be thankful for the LORD, who created the harvest. This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

This article is a series on being thankful. LORD willing I hope to do one every day this week. Other blogs in this series include:

Day one – My daughter
Day two – My wife
Day three – My faith

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Thanksgiving week – Day three – My faith in Jesus

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Thanksgiving week – Day three – my faith in Jesus

As you may have noticed, the last few days I have been posting reasons that I am thankful on this thanksgiving week. On Monday I posted about my daughter, yesterday I posted about my wife and today I am posting about the thing I am possibly most grateful for. My faith in Jesus Christ.

Some of you know my history, some of you don’t, if you do not know my testimony then I would urge you to check out my testimony page. I say this as it will give a little background to the person I was and what I defaulted to prior to becoming a Christian.

I usually have avoided the idea of a testimony though as many folks see a testimony as a barometer to show how bad they were BC (Before Christ) but really the story finished at the point of conversion. Our lives are not a Hollywood movie and don’t conclude when it is a happy ending, I wish it was the case, but our testimony is an ongoing relationship with Christ.

Giants of the faith (many years ago)

If your days of being a Giant in the faith are many years ago, or you start stories with “back then, I …” or “In the (Insert decade) I did…”. What I am saying is that if your stories of your faith in Christ Jesus are steeped in nostalgia then you may have to re-evaluate your current input in the kingdom of God.

My faith

Faith untested is no true faith at all it is by the trying, refining and burning off the dross then you find something beautiful. My first job after I left high school was in a steel works in Lanarkshire in Scotland, I trained to be a welder and learned the basics of fillet welding.

Looking back at those days I see that the process to get a weld to join two pieces of metal is much the same as what I described in the previous sentence. When you do the weld, you guard your eyes, you use a welding rod into the groove, when it connects and tests the metal it sparks, if you stay the course and go in the direction you intend it to you will get a “join”. The join will crust over and if you knock off that skin you will see the weld. If you have done it correctly it will have a circular pattern that looks like a fish fillet. (Hence the name “fillet weld”)

In this life we are going to be tested, we are told this in the book of James chapter one which reads…

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Stay the course

Like I said in the “welding parable” you have to stay the course, there are many ways to mess up a weld, the temperatures used in the apparatus can easily burn a hole through what you are trying to weld if you are not careful, you could go too far to the left or the right and the joint may not be strong, or you could not get the mix correct and spark and splutter and cause a mess.

Let’s be real here, life is hard, there are mornings I don’t feel blessed, kids get sick, bills come in, stresses happen in even the best of lives. But I learned a while ago to “Let go and let God”. What I mean by this is I know that God has got this. My trivial small problems are nothing to the creator God who created everything in a week.

Faith not reliant on our faithfulness

Thankfully God is much more faithful than I am. God knew that we as humans are flawed; he created us and knew that we not equal partners in this deal. This makes me think of Gods covenant with Abraham (or Abram as he was known then) in Genesis 15, we read that…

Genesis 15:1 (ESV) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

Abraham is like anyone else, he had doubts and fears. God promises him that his descendants (remember that Abram means “father of many” what a name for a guy with no kids!) Abram knew that when God gave him that list, he was to do a sacrifice, he kept the animals for God, God provided fire to seal the covenant. Like most contracts it requires endorsement, but this was a one sided contract, only God placed himself and his word on the line. It was not based on Abram, but God being faithful.

We serve a faithful God; I just wish that I was as faithful. My prayer for me and I pray that you hold me in prayer is that I will continue to lead the folks God has entrusted to me, lead my home as a Godly home, be that example to my wife and children and not just teach good theological lessons and write truthful articles that challenge people. I want to radiate Jesus so much that people come to me and ask “what’s up”.

Growth?

I still have room to grow, I think we all do but I will trust in the LORD to do so. I want to spend more time in prayer, both individually and corporately. Am I grateful and thankful for a loving, everlasting, faithful God? You bet I am, I am grateful for the bible that I have in my house and I am grateful for the eternal life that I am assured after this life.

This article is a series on being thankful. LORD willing I hope to do one every day this week.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Thanksgiving week – Day two – thankful for my Keeper of His Home

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Thanksgiving week – Day two – thankful for my Keeper of His Home

 

Proverbs 31:10 (ESV)  An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

As you may have guessed I am grateful to my wife, I call her “Keeper of His Home” as my wife is an author and this is the title of her first book.

Sent by God

Really I don’t know what I have done to deserve such a woman as this, I certainly have been blessed by the LORD.  Of course I say this in the most positive sense.

Yesterday I spoke of my thankfulness of my daughter, my wife has blessed me with such a beautiful blessing after God opened her womb to give us our greatest gift.

In the last ten years, I have been blessed more than I could type in ten volumes of an encyclopedia. She showed me what a real relationship with Jesus was. Paul talks about the wife’s role in the family in the letter to the Ephesians.

In the family

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV)  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

I have learned so much from this “Keeper of His home” in her own way she has allowed me to be in my role in the home, it is difficult sometimes when you have two people of differing cultures as well as the “head if the home” who has less years as a Christian.

I have relied on my wife’s counsel many times and she, whilst submitting has participated fully in the running of our home.

She is a fantastic wife,  mother and I love spending time with her both on a “hot date” or “family time”.

Forgiving when it’s not fair

Matthew 18:22 (ESV)  Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

My wife is tremendously forgiving,  I mean I am a really tough guy to love with and she is faithful, loving and an encouragement.

Lets be real here! Do I tick her off? Probably,  however she knows that what we have is much more than whatever got us sidetracked.  Do I love her like Christ loves the church? I try but I am flawed. Can you tell I am thankful for her.

This article is a series on being thankful. LORD willing I hope to do one every day this week.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Thanksgiving week – Day one – Oh thanksgiving tree, meant so much to my princess and me

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Day one – Oh thanksgiving tree, meant so much to my princess and me

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I wish to start by stating that I have the best kid in the world…

…every parent says that huh? In my view my kid is, partly because in some way she resembles me so much, and in some other ways she is a mini Chelsea.

What inspired this series of blogs was a brainwave of my wife, she truly is the brains of this operation. Yesterday (Sunday) my child had contracted the sickness that my wife and I had had for the previous week, so my wife and I decided to do shifts and both stay up half the night to look after her.

In our sleep deprived state we were in no fit state to do church, so I read from Ephesians,  my wife read from Psalms and we had a great time of prayer, praise and worship. Lastly we took time as a family to do a “thanksgiving tree” and let our five year old princess chose what she was thankful for.

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Love measured

I don’t tend to measure my love for her when everything is going well, but rather when the chips are down like Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Not to toot my own horn but it was an honour to be able to care for her, gave me a brief glimpse of how God cares for us. When your kid is sick in a bathroom and they are helpless without you, it truly is humbling to be able to serve and help.

The rewards are not for the present time but she loves her Daddy,  knows that when she is in a pickle then Daddy will be there. To have that level of trust placed on you is quite a responsibility. But one I love as much as I do her.

Being a student again

Being as daddy of a wee princess I have had to learn many things outside of my comfort zone. I have had to study things that she likes. I could probably answer questions on subjects such as My little pony and littlest pet shop.

She is the coolest little girl I know, her personality is unique and I would not swap her for anyone in the world. I also try to help with her homeschooling but her mom is the real teacher there. But I spend hours staring and studying her to be the best daddy I can be.

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Father of the year?

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

I am most certainly not, I have so many flaws, imperfections and defects that I am amazed my kid is so normal. I of course attribute this to my wife, but the princess surprised me with her choices of what she was thankful for.

Let me just say she is a kid of five years old so things such as a presents and money were always going to somewhat near the top of the list,  however I was surprised by just how much she picks up when she gave deeper answers than I would ever have given her credit for.

She chose this craft to explain she was grateful for her dogs,  her parents, grandparents, family,  church, Jesus and her bible.

This excited me but grieved me at the same time, there are times she has witnessed her mom and I being faithful, but there are other times where we have not. She is at the age where she should think that her parents “got this” and if we don’t then God does.

The challenge

Is to be faithful in and out of season, to give everything unto the LORD.  To put my daughter before me, to be grateful for Gods gift, to remember what a miracle she is (for the full story check my wife’s blog) and when I am with her, be actually with her. Not just in the same room but be grateful for the small time the LORD has trusted me to be her custodian.

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Her future

Should the LORD tarry, she would probably want to marry someone like her daddy.  I would be against that,  I want someone much better than that for my daughter.

This article is a series on being thankful. LORD willing I hope to do one every day this week.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:17 (ESV) But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

For me this is a super exciting piece of Scripture. Not because my predecessors in the faith suffered, but more that it is proof that once you become a Christian, it is not all light, airy and fairy, that God will act like some big genie in the sky and grant all of our wishes because we are “the real ones”, there are 2 reasons why God won’t do that:

1)    The heart (even the Christian one) is deceitfully wicked and we would be corrupted easily if that were the arrangement.
2)    We really have no idea what we want and what is best for us. I liken it to a toddler who is throwing a fit because there is no apple in the fridge and the store is closed, we may want it but it will not be fulfilled.

Which is why, for me at least, (and hopefully for you also) that the “name it and claim it” preachers are wrong, you know the guys, the ones who promote a prosperity driven gospel, a gospel that is good when you are making bank from it. The type of messages that contain notions such as “whatever you give God, he will give you TEN TIMES back” (I think they mean a super spiritual reverse tithing celestial building society account with the creator)

Now I am of the belief that you cannot out give God, however my faith is not dependent on me owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing Nike trainers, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a pair of Levi Jeans. Such faith will see very quickly your mettle. To quote a good old Scottish saying you would disappear like “snow off a dyke” (means when it gets hot the snow will not endure the change in conditions and melt on the top of a wall not built by cement)

This is something we are still learning in the Western church, the mission church, where we quite literally have to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (otherwise the Pastor would do everything) with the possible exception of small churches/house churches and smaller church plants, people are hiding in plain sight, either not serving or not having their gifts used by inept leadership at the local church level.

Now I have a confession to make, I stink at evangelism! I can quite literally talk someone’s ear off for hours on end about topics that will not matter and have no eternal relevance (or relevance in the next five minutes) but if you had me cold call on a person to discuss eternal life, I try hard but I am not relevant, unless they have similar struggles to what I have had. I understand the pull of addiction, I understand what a sinful life is, I understand what it is like to have your brain think the dishonest route is the primary route, I have been through that and I emphasize with those people. I get what they are going through,

Lets get to the passage huh?

Apologies for the random thoughts, but as I look at my Mac Book and see the time on the top right hand corner it currently reads 02:33 AM, I am currently writing this while caring for my sick child, I have been sick all this week and I think that I gave it to her. This article will either be one of the best I have written, or one of the worst.

As I ponder this I am reminded of an account that I heard when listening to a radio program I catch most days on my way home from work, the radio host said that a prominent preacher that he respected was having a conversation with him and he reminded him of a poignant truth.

He said “Remember the Donkey” to which the host replied “The Donkey?” and the preacher said, “Even the Donkey knew the celebration and palm leaves were for the one he was escorting into the city”

We have to remember that! As much as we may get kudos, or thanks for a message delivered, we are simply the vessels that God chooses to use. In the same way I can do most jobs around my house far quicker and far easier flying solo, it is so much fun to show your kids how to do stuff. That is why God uses us to do his work!

Point by point through this passage

Can you imagine the scenes in this story, lets break it down.

1)    Religious people get jealous, they are not getting the kudos (maybe not being seen as the holy ones anymore)
2)    Prison time for the Apostles, if we can’t shut them up then we will lock them up.
3)    Heavenly jailbreak, doors flung open and they are told from above to keep preaching.
4)    Obedience, they went out and preached again
5)    Brought back before the religious rulers and accused
6)    God or man? Whom should I follow?
7)    Jesus is proclaimed and the full counsel of the gospel is delivered
8)    Religious leaders consider their options, jail cannot hold them
9)    If it is of man it will fail, if it is of God it will not
10)  Went from house to house proclaiming Jesus is LORD

Why it is encouraging to me

Because I don’t face a religious court for proclaiming Jesus Christ is LORD. No one has sued me for my opinions or what God has put on my heart for me to say. I stick to Conservative Christian theology mainly so I doubt I will ever end up in the situation of these apostles.

I kind of wish I did though, in the Western church we have lost our edge, I feel that although we are called to a battle, perhaps a heavenly war as it were. I do wonder about the urgency we have to save souls. I am not tarring all Christians with the same brush, I do think that sometimes we blow it unintentionally, but there are times when we are missing clear open doors to help someone and talk to them about Jesus. (I am talking to me first)

What is stopping you dear Christian?

In this historical account, the apostles are tried, convicted, jailed, released, threatened, beaten and then they continue on with their mission. Have you faced any of that in the last year? I know I sure haven’t, I haven’t even been mocked for having the beliefs I have. So really, with no gun to my head or knife on my throat, I have erred in this task.

Please be reminded (or if you did not know then please be aware) these are not educated men, they are tradesmen from Galilee, some fishermen, a physician and a tax collector. Jesus did not choose 12 Pharisee best of the best scholars who were brave men and fantastic orators. He chose the man in the street, the coward, the wimp, the doubter, most famously he chose the betrayer and then much later he chose the former persecutor to evangelize the Gentiles.

What I am saying is that despite the reputation you believe you have or the ways you have excused yourself from service with God. God wants you to do your part, when Moses tried to use the “slow of speech” argument, God had none of that! Pray about what you are called to and get in there and get dirty doing the LORD’s work.

I love how the last verse is worded. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” No breaks, no me time, no reassessment of priorities, every single day, wherever they were, temple, market, street, whoever’s house they were allowed into they had one purpose and one purpose only:

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

I really need to reevaluate how I spend my time, how about you? That’s the challenge in this 2000 word article should you chose to accept it. Some will see it as good words and pass over it, some will ponder it a little while and have no resolve to implement it, but others will pray, meditate on these words. They will look for application and seek God’s will how they too can be teaching and preaching as often as possible. I pray you are in the third category.

God bless you one and all and I pray that this was a blessing for you, please like, share or comment below and please share this article on any social media platforms that the LORD leads you too. If you have any comments about this or any other article then I would commend you to use the comment function at the bottom of the page.
TGBTG
TTE

Church of England draws link between Christianity and proper money management

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Church of England draws link between Christianity and proper money management

Link – BBC

Proverbs 22:7 (KJV) The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

I spotted this as I was going to bed last night on my Twitter feed, I read the article but waited until this morning to make some comments on the below news release from the CofE. I do this as an Ex-Episcopal (Scottish Anglican) congregant with no particular axe to grind and generally a favourable opinion of the denomination as a whole.

I think it is awesome that the CofE are addressing social issues such as poverty and attempting to help people help themselves. It is an introduction to the church in a friendlier tone than many I am sure are used to. (Being seen as a bunch of “rulemakers” and the Bible being a book that kills any fun that you would have)

The idea of encouraging good sound biblical handling of money run by institutions that will encourage the patrons that debt is not the only answer. (In many cases it is the root problem in cases of poverty, when people are desperate they turn to folks like finance companies or loan sharks and pay 35-400% interest)

They also learn life skills such as accountability, wealth building, financial awareness and basic skills to be able to manage money effectively. Money is such an emotive issue in the Christian walk and there are many heresies attached to how we deal with money.

What about “The rich young ruler?

Matthew 19:20. (KJV) The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

People use this text a lot to talk about how evil money is and how having too much is “not holy”, I dispute that as I have read about people who walk a strong Christian walk, have much money in the bank and give generously.

In my opinion the lesson here is about Lordship and not about the money. The rich young ruler had in his heart his wealth before serving the LORD, yes he kept the commandments, he followed the rules, he ticked the holy boxes but when he was asked to do something directly for the LORD, he declined and went away heavy in heart.

What about “you shall not serve God and money?”

True, Matthews gospel chapter 6 verse 24 has these words, but note the word “SERVE” (Capitalized for effect) If money (or anything else for that matter) is your God, then you are going to have issues walking a fulfilled Christian life.

In the 10 commandments is states Serve ___ and ___ _____. (Serve me and me alone) the command is not a funky interpretation on what God has said; it is stated quite clearly in both texts. (Both in Exodus 20 and Matthew 6)

What is too much?

When it becomes your God, plain and simple. I have seen people who are regarded on the Governments poverty line covet money as much as the “evil rich man” and in many cases the man (or woman) who has abundance is also the generous one. Many folks judge “too much” as just a little more than they have. (Ridiculous huh?)

For me I don’t judge the guy who has a nicer car than me, the guy who has a nice pool, the guy who has nice furniture, nice large house. He may have his priorities correct, he may not but that is not my call. I am not his Holy Spirit. If I am moved by God to talk to him in a Matthew 18 way about something in his life privately then so be it, but I don’t use his wealth or the fruits of his hard work as a stick to beat him with.

Usually the ones who do this also have a judgmental attitude to those who are struggling financially, who plug away in a low paying job, (or more than one low paying job) trying to provide for their families, some are at different levels of education and some are still paying off prior mistakes, they get beaten with the “why don’t you give/tithe more” stick.

Show them how to give

Giving is a vital part of the Christian walk, Jesus exalted the widow with two mites because even although her donation was small in the grand scheme of monetary contributions for the Jerusalem synagogue, the gift was all that she had in the world and she quite literally gave it all to God.

Taking Governments out of the equation

In my view as people we have become too dependent on the Government to solve our problems. Yes, people need assistance from time to time, but we as Christians are supposed to be charitable. In the book of James we are told to “look after the widows and orphans” (basically to look after those who do not have the means to look after themselves) we should be doing all we can for those on hard times.

Show them Jesus

This is all well and good showing them how to look after earthly wealth that is going to decay and essentially “all going to burn”. Jesus tells us to “not store treasures on earth, but store treasures in heaven”. I think that this is a great social scheme, but there has to be evangelism as well.

It is all well and good showing them love by getting them out of material poverty, but we should be showing them love also to get them out of spiritual poverty. We have to love them enough to show them eternal life and gift them a gift far more profitable than a savings account.

I do conceded that this opens the door to a relationship with the communities, so I pray that the church uses the open doors that God has provided to spark revival in “England’s green and pleasant land” (To quote from the hymn “Jerusalem”)

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, please feel free to comment, like or share below. Also please check out our other articles.
TGBTG
TTE

Iron sharpens Iron

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Iron sharpens Iron

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)

Why I go to Starbucks every Wednesday

I was going to name this blog article “Why I go to Starbucks every Wednesday” but I was unsure of the use of a corporations name in blog articles so I decided not to do so. Also the venue itself is not as important as what is going on during that time, so I elected to omit the company name as we could have gone anywhere for what we do there.

Every Wednesday (apart from once recently) I have been meeting with some good Christian brothers in the LORD for a time of fellowship and growing together in the LORD, we do memory verses and have edifying chat about issues that affect us and bounce ideas off each other about ministry.

From this gathering two of the guys go out to a local shopping place and talk to folks about Jesus. So ministry is growing from what started out as me and a buddy getting together as a casual deal as he was ministering to me, another got invited and we have between 3/5 guys on a weekly basis meeting and growing.

Why do we need this?

We all need this! Despite how much our natural man thinks we can “go it alone” (In my younger days I was the sensitive loner, had very few close friends and was probably being voted “most likely to be a uni-bomber”) But I had real issues deferring to other people and I still find that when I am in conversations one of my faults is that I dominate the talking.

Really I wasn’t as socialized as most others and even in this late stage of my life I am playing “catch up” as far as etiquette goes. I am grateful for those who love me, especially my wife who is super patient with me, but I have learned when I am going too far (sometimes)

We all need friends and good mentors to bounce things off and allow ourselves to be “sharpened” we have to remember that as Christians we are tools of the LORD to be used as the LORD wills, who would choose a blunt sword to go into battle with?

We have to get out of our comfort zone for the LORD, we can’t allow ourselves to become like King David at the end of his life, not fit for the battle and have to be rescued. We have to strengthen our homes and foundation so that when spiritual attacks happen, our homes will be strong and united against the slings and arrows that occur.

For the married folks

For the married folks, we also need to make sure we are going into battle as a team, I do not want to go into battle without the one I have pledged to live my life beside. When you marry you become a missionary team, whichever partner is doing unto the LORD, the other should be supporting them 110%.

I would love to say I have this down, but my wife would tell you otherwise. In my devotions recently I am learning about not loading my plate too high and designating appropriate time for the important people in my life. This is hard and here is why.

In my flesh I want to help everyone, serve everyone and I would be busy 24/7, but I have a wife and child. So my daughter needs quality time with her daddy and I have only a short time to help my wife mold her into a young woman who will serve the LORD. As for my wife, she needs a Godly husband as well as someone to lighten the load in the house.

Circle the wagons

Family devotions are the most overlooked area (and I am not faultless here too) in the home. This is really important that we do these as if we are serious about professing Christ then it must start in the home, I am ashamed when I think of the time I have wasted when I could be investing in my family.

When I am talking of wasted time I don’t mean time spent with family doing other stuff. I mean selfish pursuits, like in my case checking my phone every 5 minutes. Everyone has things they waste time on and I will not speculate further, but possible things could be internet usage, TV and movie time or whatever takes you away from quality time with family and with God. (Not an excuse to not help with the laundry or do the dishes)

Be called unto his purpose

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)

We have to follow God’s calling wherever it may lead. God will work it to his glory. But we have to be sure of our calling. We cannot elevate ourselves or interpret the will of God to our benefit. I have seen many folks turn the will of God into “deified versions of their will” and it turns into “My will be done” instead of “Thy will be done”.

A good example of this was an analogy given to me by a good friend who planted a church in London, England when he said “there are Go people and No people” folks who God has to hold back and ones that God has to send a loudhailer to move.

We have to be praying to find out what our calling is. Our lives will not have as much meaning if we are not being used by the LORD. (We will also feel something missing) I hope this 1000 or so words is a blessing to you and please feel free to check out our other articles.

I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE