Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Life

Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

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Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

First of all this article is not a complaint, I love my wife and I am doing this to increase awareness of something that has been difficult to overcome. I write this in the spirit of honesty and to try to increase awareness of Lyme as a whole. I urge you if you know someone who suffers from Lyme or want to increase awareness of this disease then please share this article and the articles that are linked to this one.

Who am I?

You don’t know me, chances are we have never met and had it not been for this blog article I doubt you would ever have read any words I have written. Normally I write articles of a devotional type length about different parts of the bible but this has been on my heart because this is my daily life because of the woman I love. If you want an introduction to me then check out my “about” or “testimony” page if at all interested in the person writing the article. (I do warn you, I am rather beige!)

My wife wrote a beautiful blog of the same name at the following link (Keeper ministries) and I am not going to repeat much of what she said, she is a much more powerful written and oral communicator than I am as I tend to write with my heart on my sleeve and let my passion go before allowing my common sense and ability to tidy up the verbiage. You probably do know my wife, a beautiful dynamic lady who despite what this incredible but terrible illness has done to her still manages to keep her head held high with a decent amount of dignity.

To give you an introduction I married my wife on a beautiful sunny day in California in 2005 and the lady I married was an outgoing wonderful friendly person who is the strongest person I ever met (she still is all of these things and more) but over the last few years my wife has been cut down with an illness that whilst we are still diagnosing the full extent of what she has we are fairly sure that it is Lyme or at the very least a co-infection of Lyme that has literally zapped the life out of my good lady. Obviously this is a labor of love and an exercise in knowledge sharing and any comment that would be posted below I would be happy to reply as they come in.

What is the point of this?

The point of the article is to try and get some dialogue going, whether that be on the comments part here or on the various Facebook pages or social media pages that Lyme sufferers go to for support. You see, whilst I have seen the effects first hand I have no idea what you are going through. I can’t feel the pain and despite the facts that I can see the results of the pain I can only sympathize as opposed to empathize because really I do not have a clue. Honestly, I wish I could give my wife a “pain vacation” because she could really do with a day off.

Why is this happening?

Who knows? Only God can really answer that one. I trust Him even although I do not understand and I know that God can do miraculous healing and rather selfishly it is what I ask most for in my prayer life mainly because my wife has been through so much and it truly has opened my eyes to a world where you cannot diagnostically see the effects of the illness but you understand that it has taken so much from the victim and the first thing I noticed when checking out who was affected by this illness is that it is not discriminatory, it does not choose based on ethnicity, obesity, skin pigmentation or any other factor. It could quite literally happen to anyone and why it happened to my dear Chelsea I have no idea. Maybe I prayed too hard for an opportunity to show my love, who knows?

Where and when did this happen?

We have no idea, it could have been a tick, it could have been anytime, all I know is my wife has been sick for years and have progressively been getting worst and I could give you a phone book of doctors that have passed her off to the next guy because they couldn’t diagnose her. Chelsea felt like she was being passed on and passed over, I was getting frustrated because I wanted some kind of answer as to what was going on with her and I wanted to start a road to trying to get her better or if that was not possible get us on the road to getting the symptoms to a manageable level.

I also wanted (for my wife’s sake) some validation that she was ill because I was starting to feel like very few people were attempting to understand that she was actually sick! It is difficult to cancel things at the last minute like bible studies, parties we were meant to attend or even something as simple as having folks over for dinner becomes that more challenging if the paid is too much to bear.

How do I feel?

Honestly? I am a mixture of emotions and if I was being selfish and could have all of my prayers answered I would want her to be well and I would wish for us not to have all of these crazy medical bills and I wish we could carry on with our hopes and dreams. My wife has such a talent for music and whilst I am amazed at what she has managed to accomplish before collapsing in an exhausted heap I wish she had the ability to enjoy what she loves. Myself I have always desired to be teaching the Word of God and I wish I could get back to that but I am fortunate in that I have a good job (3 actually) I still have my wife and we have been blessed with a beautiful daughter who is wonderful and truly is the other love of my life.

Do I need to do more?

Of course! My wife does what she can however I do not like asking her because she still homeschools and does other stuff that most other Lyme sufferers would not even attempt. We have no defined roles and if I want to be leader of my home I have had to learn that I can do that as well by being in front of the washing machine, sink, cooker, vacuum cleaner or whatever people would say are not “men’s jobs” in a chauvinistic manner, truth be told it is a team effort and I do what I can but I also admit I get lazy sometimes. I am not perfect and if you have advice, life hacks, shortcuts or anything that could make our lives not as complicated then I would be grateful if you would share. Whether that be planning meals so we don’t have to eat out or just ways to get a more fluid process then I would be grateful.

She doesn’t like to ask me to do things and I am learning slowly when things are getting too much for her. Don’t get me wrong I often get it wrong and I am grateful for the patience she shows me. This is not a short term scenario and I know what I signed up for, I promised on my wedding day that I was going to love her “in sickness and in health” and I often joke with her “when do we get the healthy part?” and it truly is a test of love because the girl I fell in love with was vibrant, outgoing and such a servant. She won me over without a word and has shown me such an example of Jesus that it turned my life around.

Isn’t Lyme covered by most doctors and insurances?

Actually no, most are reading from out of date statistics and often times if your insurance plan covers anything at all they will usually only cover antibiotics for a certain time and whilst that works in some cases it does not work in all. Lyme doctors often have to go out of network and personally my wife and I travel three hours to see a Lyme specialist who is about 200 miles away from where we live and that is a fortunate situation as we have someone who will see us in the same state as often times people have a way worse commute than we do. I have found that most Lyme doctors are out of the insurance networks and because of this it can be a very costly exercise to go and visit these specialists. You can’t put a cost on healthcare and I would gladly empty everything I own to have my wife treated.

How long will this go on?

You are in it for the long haul and I truly am, if I have to be a full time carer for my wife I am prepared to do so should things go south. It is not always roses in the garden and sometimes there has to be some hard graft put in but my number one priority is my wife and then my child. I am called to serve them first and foremost and then afterwards do whatever externally I am called to do. We see the following said about love in 1st Corinthians 13 (Our family chapter)

1st Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is a high calling to bear all things, believes all things, hopes and endures all things. Problem is, I am not Superman and I fail more often than I succeed (just ask my wife) but the main part is that I am willing and my desire is to have this article spread in order to try and advance the cause of Lyme and maybe make some contacts who are in the same boat as me.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

 

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An unpopular view on the Christian boycott of Target?

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An unpopular view on the Christian boycott of Target?

I read with interest on social media of a supposed Christians boycotting of Target because of the bathroom policy that was set out recently allowing men who identify as women being allowed to enter the women’s bathrooms and as shown by some test cases, people are not even being questioned if they used a facility that was previously banned from use. (to date there is a petition of 50,000 signatures) To do this I plan to look at this and I know that this will be controversial but I have never been shy to stay away from controversy and I really doubt that I ever will.

My view as a Christian man

First of all, let me say that I think that it is wrong that a domain that is reserved by sex has been alerted in this manner, both myself and the bible believe that this is a wrong move by Target and I do honestly believe that it will cost them money to be seen as culturally aware and I feel that their competition are watching this to see which way the wind blows. I understand why the Christian community as well as concerned parents would be considering a boycott and I am here to examine the pros and cons of such action.

Let me first say to the community who are reading this and would classify themselves as “gender confused” that Jesus loves you, just as you are and he desires a relationship with you. Just as I had to do, you have to realize your sins before you recognize the need for a Savior. I also recognize that there is a portion of those folks who have set themselves against God and will not seek Jesus under any circumstances and I pray for you all (not in a threatening manner but as one who is concerned and wants everyone go find Jesus as their Savior!)

What was the policy?

The Target website released the following statement through many news outlets…link

“Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests.

Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.

We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.

In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.

We regularly assess issues and consider many factors such as impact to our business, guests and team members. Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position.

Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”

What does it mean for me as the father of a six year old daughter?

Absolutely nothing, if I am taking my child to the restroom I will do as I do now and enter the men’s room with her, enclose her in a cubicle and be between her and the other patrons at all times.

However I do conceded that someone with daughters older than myself will have reservations about sending their daughters into a restroom where there may not be only females especially those who are too old to go potty in front of their parents. I would ask that you use your best judgment, but think on this you were happy to send them in solo to a room where people who may be attracted to the same sex were?

Am I going to boycott?

Let me get one thing straight, I have no desire to go to Target at the best of times because I am a guy who does not like shopping so when I go it is usually because I am with my wife and child or I am there to finish up shopping for an event or I have been sent on an errand most likely for my mother in law because she uses the pharmacy there so I have no idea whether I will boycott but I certainly I am not going to get all heat up about Target enforcing a policy. I say this because when I was buying “My Little Ponies” for my daughter at Target in previous times I have visited solo I was under no illusion that I was funding a Christian company. I don’t expect Target to share my morals or my thoughts or beliefs. They are a secular company who are only looking after the bottom line and trying to keep profits at an acceptable level to their shareholders.

Truth be told, I know people who work in Targets locally and they are good folks and two of the females in my church work in a local target also. These are folks that would all be unemployed should a successful boycott take place so are you willing to but your fellow Christians (obviously Target employs people regardless of faith) out of a job? Again I am not telling you to boycott or not, whilst this is a hot topic now, I do wonder how long it will go on for?

Why not just a third bathroom?

Why not? It is a sensible idea because Walmart have done this in my local town where they have a Male/Female/Family or disabled bathroom and everyone is included and I don’t see a let’s not shop at Walmart? (Certainly not for that reason) What makes it difficult to do that now is it would be painted as a removal of rights.

When will it be policed?

Unfortunately this is being done on an honor system at present so unless someone is attacked in a bathroom and it is actively linked (I am being very careful in my terminology) to this new policy then the status quo will remain the same unless Target decides to change it’s policy (That would be difficult due the removal of rights we looked at in the last paragraph)

What I am expecting is that not everyone is honest and there will be people looking to exploit this to their own ends, we live in a fallen world and I truly hope and pray nothing bad happens however we do know that there are people in this world who would attempt to use this situation to their advantage to prey on people. I pray that Target begins to police the bathrooms at their cost before something happens.

I say the previous paragraph because in a large part of Targets heartland (the Midwest and the South) they are having a really bad PR black eye and have truly misjudged the depth of feeling by concerned patrons of their stores (not all Christians) and if something happens then that PR black eye would be even worse.

The line used to be clear now it is untenable

Remember the good old days, when a man who had male anatomy used the restroom that was assigned to him as did the female? That was easy to police and whilst it wasn’t perfect and there were lewd conduct in bathrooms long before the 19th of this month it was the rules and it at least made sense to the majority of Americans. (And for that matter this guy who was born of British blood) It was that easy we could explain it to a child and now we have exchanged the truth for a lie and are calling a man what is not a man and a woman what is not a woman using logical definitions for what those words actually mean as opposed to what culture tells us that they mean because culture will always change with public opinion.

By all means protest but make it a legitimate one

I have seen all manners of Facebook posts with silly protestations of guys being filmed walking into the ladies room in target when they have no business being there. The fact they are filming in a bathroom also makes me nervous and another who asked for the Target’s employee discount as he felt that day like he was a Target employee, others stated that they wanted to fill up their carts and make the employee cash it up and then ask the bathroom policy and then walk out leaving the goods if the employee answers honestly. I believe that such frivolous protests will make Target not take seriously the legitimate ones.

Target has opened the door to protest because as it states in their own press release “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”

What’s my angle in all of this?

I have no agenda, I prayed a lot before I wrote this and I know that by writing this I may lose a lot of followers and the day I am not prepared to do that is the day that I should just shut up about all matters. I just wish to alert Christians to an idea that they may or may not have presented to them previously. Some contrary thinking perhaps and an idea that they would not regularly hear. My desire is to see all of my readers come to faith in Christ and those who have come to a deeper understanding of God and the plan that God has for your lives. I am a heterosexual man who is happily married some 10 years and has a lovely 6 year old daughter. I teach a bible study and mentor a few folks in my neighborhood. I am a conservative Christian in the Calvary Chapel movement and I am a reluctant Target customer. (As I dislike shopping)

How does this protest win people to Jesus?

Really it doesn’t and that is my concern. It is hard enough to engage folks in a conversation about Jesus without dealing with the negative backlash from folks just waiting to whack you with the “See, intolerant Christians” brush and I am against anything that will push people further away from my messiah. We are in a spiritual battle in order to save people from eternal damnation, with that at stake I have Target waaaay down on my priority list.

Why are you being a Target apologist?

Actually I am not, If you feel led to boycott then by all means do so but as stated above it is a sideshow that distracts us from our true mission here and that is that of the great commission in Matthew 28. The actions of Christians do not really show a great deal of love and my point is to make an alternate view and give a possible dissenting voice?

Whether you boycott Target will make me no richer or poorer because I have no dog in this fight, what I will say is that if you wish to make a stand at all of those companies that have either given money to LGBT charities or organizations then you will be hard pushed to find somewhere you will not be boycotting! We all have the right to free speech and I am exercising mine here and I expect some contrary views and I am a big enough boy to handle that! I do have some legitimate concerns regarding this policy and I have stated them above…

I invite all comments and they are only moderated for profanity. If you have any questions of comments then please do so below.
TGBTG
SDG
TTE

Super Tuesday – a foreigner’s view on the US Elections

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Well it’s here, a Super Tuesday with all the whizz, bang, razzle dazzle and pomp and circumstance you would expect from a day that could either make or break a campaign. I am a foreigner and cannot vote, I was born in Scotland and I take a keen interest in the UK political scene and I thought I would try my hand across the water in the race to see who will be President #45 of these great United States of America.

I love the circus of it all and how the politicians get out there a lot more than the leaders in the UK. (Possibly with the exception of Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party) But the confusing part for a non-American is the color coding of the parties. America must be the only country in the world where the socialists are blue and the conservatives are red?

Obviously, unlike my other blogs there will be very few scriptures involved and this is mainly my opinion and I do encourage lively debate so if you think I am wrong then please call me on it and we will chat, if you belong to a group that thinks I am wrong then please share the link and whine about this article and what a mess I made of it and by the same token if you think I am right then please feel free to promote these fine words.

What is Super Tuesday?

Super Tuesday is a day that many delegates are up for grabs; in the 2016 race we have delegates up for grabs in the following states…

Alabama, Alaska, (Rep only) American Samoa, (Dem only) Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming (Rep only)

So you can see why it is a big deal huh? As far as the Republican election candidate goes it is a huge deal as 1237 delegates are up for grabs and if one candidate gets the lion share of these delegates then he will be on his way to the election ballot. As for the Democrats they have 880 up for grabs and with their race almost neck and neck then this could be a really important day for a choice to become clearer.

The Republican issue – too many candidates

Here is the issue if you are of the red persuasion, you have five candidates going into Super Tuesday and a candidate that many “traditional Republicans” would rather not have leading the pack, I am of course talking about Donald Trump.

In case you have been sleeping or not paying attention then here is the candidate list in alphabetical order so I cannot be accused of bias.

• Ben Carson
• Ted Cruz
• John Kasich
• Marco Rubio
• Donald Trump

In this pack we have three career politicians and two folks with no political experience with a successful businessman and a neurosurgeon being the non-politico candidates. At the moment it looks very much like a three horse race between Cruz, Rubio and Trump.

Trump is very much ahead at present and if you were a gambling man then you would be putting money on Trump being the nomination for President. If this is not what you want then the next section may be for you.

How do you solve a problem like Trump?

Trump is an interesting one, when I saw that he was running for President I assumed and quite wrongly that it was a PR stunt and that it would fizzle out in five minutes and we would get a more appropriate list of candidates soon. It wasn’t a PR stunt and he is playing the field rather well. The bluster that is Trump and the desire to talk a lot and not say very much may actually be his undoing if he is up against a competent Democrat candidate should he get the nomination.

So far he has captured the imagination not just of Republicans but if you believe the spin that is coming from the Trump camp then he has captures the votes of “ex-Obama Democrats” and “Reagan Democrats” and if that is the case then based on that information alone he would have the White House sown up. For me this could be a blessing or a curse as far as the Republican establishment is concerned.

Yes they want to win the White House, they have been 8 years in opposition and for the first time since George W Bush they have a candidate that appeals to the non-traditional or non-Republican voter. The worrying point as far as the Republicans are concerned is “How do you control Trump if he gets to be the party’s nomination and do the party line rather than the Trump line?

Lastly, his campaign has been a lot of bluster and he has stolen more column inches than any other candidate (even in this column) and he rarely answers a question in a concise and relevant fashion rather than how he currently answers by speaking until even he is sick of his own voice. I would love it if the answers were on point as to what was asked and answered based on honesty and how the problems can be resolved. All the candidates have been guilty of wanting to “blame the other guy” rather than take the lead and take charge of the question.

Coalition could be the Republican answer

Perhaps the Republican establishment are hoping for a solution to what I said in the second part of this article and a solution to the fact that there are just too many candidates and Trump is capitalizing on the fact that people who are similar in campaign stances (such as Carson and Cruz) have not banded together to get their people voting for the one ticket in order to try to win more delegates. In this scenario I would see the following pairings

Cruz/Carson and Rubio/Kasich

Then and only then would someone come close to matching the Trump bandwagon. In my view this should have been done at least a week before Super Tuesday to maximize the opportunity for the one who is progressing to send his voters over to his preferred candidate. I am being blunt because before Super Tuesday only Cruz or Rubio could catch him based on donations and impact in various states.

Has Trump damaged the Republican line?

There are hardline Republicans out there who are asking voters to vote anyone but Trump and I know at least one lady who is a prominent Republican who has stated that she would write in a candidate as opposed to voting for Trump if he would become the Republican nominee. That is her democratic right to do so and I do wonder if there are others out there who feel the same. This is why I ask if Trump has done more harm than good? Is a Trump presidency too high a price to pay to get your party in the White House?

The Democrats are a simpler race

The Democrats in this case have it right in that they have a two horse (or donkey as their logo suggests) race with the establishment candidate Hillary Clinton up against Bernie Sanders. Of course the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has endorsed his old friend Hillary and I believe that regardless of the will of the people I believe that there will be only one nominee.

At the moment Clinton and Sanders are neck and neck in the polls and will be very hard to split even after Super Tuesday, unless Bernie has a collapse at the polls then the will of the people will be somewhat evenly split towards the candidates. Where Clinton has the upper hand is in what the Democrats call “Super Delegates” and these delegates are separate from the ballot box and carry some weight and could tip the scales in favor of the Clinton camp.

The only way I see Clinton not getting the nomination is if criminal proceedings are started on here prior to the culmination of the nomination process or if Clinton takes a hammering at the ballot box and Bernie is the “people’s choice”, then it would be foolish to go against the wishes of the very people you will be shortly asking to vote him into office.

What are my predictions for Super Tuesday and beyond?

Super Tuesday certainly will go a long way to securing the nomination on both sides of the electoral landscape, however I believe that for the aforementioned reasons above I think that the big winners on Super Tuesday will be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and that will lead to a Trump vs Clinton battle in November.

Who will win? Who knows! I think that Trump could shade a Trump vs Clinton battle and would certainly have the upper hand if Sanders had the nomination, Clinton certainly fears Trump most as he is such a wild card. Whether that is what is best for the country, then who knows! That being said both Cruz and Rubio are capable candidates and speaking from a Christian point of view neither Democrat has lit my fire as an evangelical and of the front runners only Rubio and Cruz seem concerned with courting the evangelical vote on the Republican Party.

Please note that God is not the God or the Republican or Democrat Party and despite seeing things banded around recently questioning the faith of an individual if they vote for a certain candidate and that is ridiculous. I serve a God who is big enough to allow bad people to do good things. I don’t see that voting for a particular political party or candidate makes you any more or less Christian. (Unless of course if you are proposing a candidate that is staunchly anti-Christian)

It sure is a tough choice and I pray for you America, I love this country as my new home and I do want to see it do well. The things I look for in a candidate may not be what you look for and that is okay, the country was founded on liberty, truth and justice for all and it is your democratic right to cast your vote the way you see fit! I just plead with you as one without a voice; choose well for the rest of us!

In closing, a Scottish newspaper run an example of their thoughts on a Trump Presidency, feel free to check it out!

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Mark Driscoll launches Phoenix church and why I am okay with it!

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Introduction?

I read on several Christian themed news sites within the last 48 hours that the worst kept secret in West Coast Christianity is now official, former Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll is to set up a new church in Arizona in the Phoenix area entitling this new mission as “The Trinity Church”. I am proud to say that I have quite a wide spectrum of Christianity as far as viewpoints on my social media feeds but even I have been surprised about the veracity of criticism levelled at Pastor Mark. I thought I would add some words to the debate, these are my personal words and by no means are representative of any of the ministries that I am involved in. I am not a paid pastor and really I am speaking as myself only, but I feel led to add my voice to the mix and that I have to do so as possibly a voice that may look at some of the thinking behind the criticism of this man of God.

I am of no doubt of a few things, having heard podcasts of the man himself in his previous position as pastor of Mars Hill and as a former leader of Acts 29 I know that the man is a truly gifted teacher of the word of God. I am not all “doe eyed” and a supporter of any man or any man’s ministry because they have a name but God has certainly used Mark to reach many people and modern Christianity is a better place because of his input. Personally, I have never met the bloke but I do know him by his positive impact to others in the ministry that he was blessed to be a part of for Jesus.

Why isn’t he pastor of Mars Hill anymore?

For further clarification I had written an earlier blog on Mark Driscoll, The board at Mars Hill in the Seattle area accepted Mark’s resignation in October of 2014 after a group of former Mars Hill congregants made certain allegations about him accusing him of using his position as a Pastor wrongly and there were allegations of what could be construed as bullying.

I am not going to defend what he was accused of because I was not there and to be honest I have no idea what went on or whether 100% of the accusations were 100% true or is it a case that as emotions have ran high, have things been pulled out of context, exaggerated or possibly manipulated because let’s face it, when you mention Marks name there are folks out there with an agenda.

Type in Mark Driscoll into a popular search engine and you will already see sites that have the words “Mark Driscoll” and “Controversy” in the headers, the title, I am not saying he hasn’t flown close to the wind or ben a choirboy in the pulpit, man he had even turned so many people away because people would rather report that he used a four letter word in a sermon as opposed to any decent application or life changing message of the gospel that could be applied to someone’s life.

What was he accused of?

As covered a little bit above he is accused of the following according to Wikipedia…

“In May 2013, now former Mars Hill elder Dave Kraft filed formal charges (under Mars Hill Church bylaws) of “mistreatment” against Mark Driscoll and other leaders at Mars Hill. He specifically accused Driscoll of being “domineering, verbally violent, arrogant, and quick-tempered”. Kraft further argued that this “established pattern of… behavior” disqualified Driscoll from church leadership.[note 1] Mars Hill Church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability responded, saying that they sent one hundred letters to former elders and staff in an effort to substantiate Kraft’s charges. They received eighteen responses, which they reviewed, and determined them to be “non-disqualifying” with respect to Driscoll’s leadership position. However, the Board did initiate a “reconciliation process” to address “many offenses and hurts that are still unresolved”. Dave Kraft worked at Mars Hill from 2005 to 2013 and was Driscoll’s personal “coach” during that time.”

Other controversies include an issue with a company used by Driscoll to promote a book who used methods to manipulate sales figures on a book that would later be designated to be on the New York Times bestseller list and another book he faced accusations of plagiarism. Lastly as the controversies raged it was found that Driscoll had posted online messages under a pen name of William Wallace II and the content of those messages.

How should we react biblically?

Paul talks about these very things in the epistle of Ephesians…

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I say this because really, unless you were personally hurt by Driscoll, or any of the group that call themselves “Repentant Pastors” (They have their say here) or anyone associated with him or the Mars Hill movement then really you have no axe to grind and you may just have an agenda against a man who was popular for a wee while in Christian circles. From what I see, he is not guilty of any heresy, he is not prohibited from leadership and has taken a year out to pray, contemplate and reassess and he is starting again in a new city with a new group of people and I have no doubt that he probably will have learned so much from this on a personal level in what must have been a terribly challenging season as a pastor, but I do know that if this is truly his calling (I cannot speak for the man and do not know his heart) then he must follow Gods plan for his life.

Should you do have that axe to grind then I do urge you to do as Paul commands here and use your words to…

•       Build up
•       Not corrupt
•       Fitting for the occasion
•       Giving grace to all who will hear
•       Not grieve the Holy Spirit
•       Be kind
•       Be forgiving
•       Be tenderhearted

And the reason is stated here also “as God in Christ forgave you” and this is no great theological mystery, this is Sunday school stuff here, if you think Paul is talking nonsense then will you take it from Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew chapter 18?

And here is what we should not be…

•       Bitter
•       Filled with wrath
•       Filled with anger
•       Filled with malice

People will use words like “I am protecting the flock of Christ” or “I am being a watchman” or my personal favorite “I am exposing a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and I agree that false teachers should be exposed, however many folks who do these “exposés” are often times being divisive for the sake of being divisive. Again I wrote about that in my article “Why is division long?”

So you are okay with it?

I am okay with Mark going back into pastoral ministry because like him, I have messed up, I have been extended grace and I have extended grace to others. The main difference between me and Driscoll is I don’t have hundreds of people waiting to pounce on my every failing. For that reason I hope that I never have “a name” or “popularity” in the Christian circles because once you “make it” the knives come out.

You expect that from the world but you expect more from your Christian brothers and that works both ways in the forgiving stakes and I would hope that those who want to flame Driscoll would not wish the same on themselves. The guy is like me, a flawed sinner who is saved by grace just wanting to use the talents and giftings that God has given him for his glory and if he truly is doing it “Soli Deo Gloria” then I wish him all the best and I pray for impact in the souls that he is sent to minister to. I pray for life change, revival and Jesus name to be praised in that city; wouldn’t that be a better main story? Let’s advance the kingdom of Jesus!

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Taking the Epistle – Be thankful, forgive and love one another – Matthew 18:21-35

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Happy Thanksgiving from Taking the Epistle – Be thankful, forgive and love one another – Matthew 18:21-35

Matthew 18:21 (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. 23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,  until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

As I was praying about whether to share this thanksgiving or not I came across an old bible study that I had done for our Sunday evening “Agape bible study group” and it was entitled “forgiveness part one” and the basis of the bible study was the verses above which I am sure you can understand why I would use this as a good example when we would be speaking about forgiveness but why would I use this example or why did I receive confirmation to do these verses for a Thanksgiving post? Please let me explain…

For me this passage of scripture is in two parts…

•       The initial question from Peter regarding how often shall we forgive
•       Jesus responds with a parable, describing a situation that is recognizable to help them understand.

Peter starts this whole passage of scripture off by being Peter and lets be fair to Peter, we are all a little “Peter-like” sometimes when he starts off well by asking a question and if he had left it there then we would have commended Peter for his pursuit of knowledge, however Peter does what he does and this is why I relate to him so well by giving a “holy answer” as to appear correct. Jesus blows his mind by stating that he should not hold a standard “3 times and you are out” or an elongated “I will do it seven times” but you should do it seventy times seven, not hold an account of forgiveness but actually have that heart of forgiveness and that is why he tells the parable.

What does this have to do with Thanksgiving?

Quite a lot actually! Today we will gather together with people who we have prearranged to do so, in some cases and especially if it is a family situation you will have to forgive those who have slighted us or wronged us because let us face it, we will tick each other off occasionally. We all have folks in our lives that do things that rub us up the wrong way but on holidays such as this then we will attempt to rise above this. To achieve a sense of true thankfulness you have to forgive first. Jesus talks about the heart of forgiveness when you are going to sacrifice in the following passage of scripture…

Matthew 5:21 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

If you are being truly thankful then you must rid yourself of the things that eat you up, as Jesus says here in Matthew 5 be reconciled to your brother (whether he accepts it or not but do your part) and then with clean hands and a clean heart offer your gift at the alter (or your praises to God) and this is as true today as it was when it was written, I have experience of this as recently someone I had been ministering with was hurt by actions taken and I felt that I had to have it resolved by the following Sunday as I did not want to offer praises to God without reconciliation being offered. I wanted to resolve the issue with my spiritual brother so I could be genuinely thankful for what the Lord had done for me.

Give thanks with a grateful heart

In the Matthew 18 parable we see that the servant who had been forgiven of so much did not show the same restraint to one who owed him much less and do you think that he was thankful for his current situation? He still had his wife and children and they were not in slavery, he still was in favor by the ruler, and he had been forgiven a great debt and had you have been in the same situation would you have been praising God for all that had been done for you, having a heart of thankfulness for the blessings bestowed upon your life as you had been given a great gift and one that could not possibly repay or would you respond as he did.

The forgiven man goes out into the street and does he show thankfulness or give thanks? Do you think that as he was throttling the man who owed him a small debt he had a heart of thanksgiving? I would say of course not and we have to be careful today that we do not let the cares of this world, the slights that we think we have against folks, the gossip that we breathe against our friends or whether we are getting a big enough slice of the pie or whether we feel that someone owes us steal away the reason for this season that we are giving glory and thanks to God for all he has provided for us this far in the year and we gather the ones that we want to be around and want to spend quality time with. I lament that I will not be with my parents this year but I will give thanks for them when they are here in the New Year.

Examine what irks you about that person and establish whether that price is high enough to lose that person in your life. There is a flippant saying in Scotland that states “If you lend a friend 20 pounds and you lose that friend over it, it probably was a fair price for the friendship you had!” if the issue is money then that is easy! You either forgive or make arrangements that suit both parties to repay, or if the issue is pride then swallow it, if the issue is forgiveness then forgive them and pray for them, if they choose to be spiritually immature then that is on them. Do as much as you can, but if you forgive then do not bring it up anymore, bury it.

And thanksgiving does not have to be just one day a year and I challenge you this in this New Year give thanks to God regularly and give thanks often have love feasts on a regular basis and invest in your brothers and sisters, both family and spiritual. I am grateful for this holiday that we get to focus on God for all he has provided for us, but let us not just make it one day a year, let us be giving thanks with a grateful heart on a regular and ongoing basis. This year my wife and I had a Thanksgiving Love Feast last Sunday for 27 people in my small house and that is where the above picture comes from, what was really cool is that my wife looked up verses that spoke about giving thanks and our people read these out to set our hearts on God. We do this as well as meeting with her family (it is important to invest in your spiritual and relational family often) on the day itself and I commend you that if you know someone who will be alone this Thanksgiving then please invite them over and bless them because you know that as followers of Jesus we are to love one another and be a friend to the friendless.

Black Thursday

One of the modern trends that I hate (and this is from a guy who has done it on the first year folks were doing it) is that people swap time with the folks who made an effort to spend time with them at Thanksgiving in order to line up in the cold for the latest and greatest gadget at a rock bottom price, or to make their Christmas cheaper and that part is admirable, but instead of us using that money wisely we use it to cram one more gift into that budget and our stores on “Black Thursday” (formally known as Thanksgiving) turns from that picturesque image of people being genuinely thankful to running around to get more stuff and not actually be thankful for what we have and we end up looking like the opening scene of the movie “The Grinch that stole Christmas”.

Days like this I usually avoid as it brings out the worst in people, I have seen Target associates be verbally abused because there was a limited stock on a bargain, a woman swooping like a vulture when I put a crock pot back on the shelf, I have had carts wrestled from my hands as that lady “needed two” and lastly a lady organizing her kids at various stores like a military general on a cell phone to make the maximum impact at all the stores at the same time. It truly saddens me as a few hours after we claim to be thankful we go look to get more. At church on Sunday the pastor quoted that of all the stuff we buy, only 1% of what we buy as comfort items is still in use after 6 months, the rest are given away or stored “for future use”. (I bet you are thinking about your cupboards now)

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to. I truly wish you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving season. Love your families and pleas give thanks to the one who has given you and forgiven you of so much.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Why Christians should J’adore Paris

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Matthew 5:4 (ESV) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

It has been quite a week hasn’t it, last Friday we learned of multiple assaults on the French capital Paris that were attributed to a terrorist group called ISIS. Personally having been there I know that it is a beautiful, vibrant and a city that is very proud of whom they are and it is a city that is no stranger to being attacked in such a violent manner.

As Christians it is difficult not to get caught up in the idea that “the perpetrators must pay” and “revenge is the only option” and whilst I am not surprised nor unhappy that France chose to retaliate within 48 hours and I would never criticize their national policy, I do feel that as Christians it is as the verse above states our job to comfort the mourning.

This attack was not just an attack on France it was an attack on our way of living. It was a reminder and a reinforcement that we do have people out there who do wish to harm us and wish us harm. As Tony Blair stated on the day of 9/11 when he said “We are all Americans today” I would say that “Je suis Parisiens” (We are Parisian) And for me that is why it has hit us on a level that we have not been hit since that fateful day in September 2011 and made us remember how we felt on that day.

Jesus spoke the words above as part of a greater sermon called “The Beatitudes” where Jesus said some words that were quite revolutionary at that time of Roman occupation where the mourning were not comforted, the meek were not inheriting the earth, the merciful did not always receive mercy. Jesus spoke words directly from heaven and touched men’s hearts in a way that empty religion could not. We as Christians should do likewise.

This suffering is temporary

Romans 8:18 (ESV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paris you have been given a sucker punch right to the gut of the heart of your country and I pray for you and yours at this time. They have struck right at the heart of a city that was just beginning its weekend at the core of national pride, the national stadium where the beloved “Les Bleus” were playing an old foe Germany in an association football match to warm the team up before the big games in the same city the following year.

I grieve for those people who lost loved ones in the 129 souls that perished that night between the various places that attacks took place. My prayer is that they knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and I pray with condolence and sympathy for you oh loved ones that you may find comfort in the “great comforter”.

I take solace in that I believe there will have been more people praying for France this week than at any other time since WW2. I stated on my Twitter feed this week the truth that is pictured above that “The last time France had so many allies was WW2” and despite the great sufferings you experience and grief is a real heart wrenching thing to go through, but there is Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and I pray for the nation of France to turn to Jesus at this dark time.

I shared this week on my Facebook wall the incredible testimony of my brothers at Calvary Chapel Paris who met for a service two days after the attacks and they did not just have an increase in numbers but in the fragility of death being so close it allowed people to examine where their faith was. It really made people look at the truth of Paul’s writings in 1st Corinthians 15…

1st Corinthians 15:54 (ESV) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would urge you that behold now is the accepted time and now is God’s day of Salvation, (2nd Corinthians 6:2) and if you are not assured of your place in heaven I would urge you to either contact me to discuss or please let a pastor or minister know and we would be happy to talk you through accepting Jesus into your heart and being born again.

He heals the broken hearted

Psalm 147:3 (ESV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

And this is the truth of the whole Bible that there is no hurt, there is no valley to deep, to depths in which we can plunge to that would not be able to be healed by God. I serve a big God that created us in his image, knows our innermost parts before we were knitted in our mothers wombs one who cares about you regardless of the wrong you have done or how far you think you have travelled to God, he is willing to have a relationship with you, that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins.

This message is for the Parisian as much as it is for the ISIS terrorist that you today could be in heaven if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in the Gospel of John chapter 14 verse 6 that “he is the only way to heaven” no one comes unto the father (God) except through him. I pray for a true revival in the city in a movement that moves hearts and minds and the nation repents and follows Jesus Christ. I read the following in 2nd Chronicles 7…

2nd Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

And this is my prayer, an abundance of prayer in Paris and a healing of the land! Please know my Parisian friends I do grieve with you and lament that this had to happen to you and as a Scotsman I have a special affinity towards the French due to our shared royalty and history. Most Frenchmen I have met have been good sorts and a credit to your country and my overall opinion of your country is favorable due to time spent there and people met. I have a great love personally for Paris as a city and have my own personal feelings about the attackers.

To any Muslims looking in

Jihad is not the answer! ISIS is not the answer! Jesus Christ is! He is the Son of the one true God and he spoke about how to recognize his true disciples and that is “if you had love for one another” (John 13:35) There are no virgins awaiting you in Paradise and you do not have to kill infidels in order to be assured of celestial paradise. I would love to speak to you regarding a relationship with Jesus. I pray for you and grieve that you have not found him as your Savior.

I pray this article was a blessing, feel free to share, comment or like on whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Here is the PUNch line – Some silly humor

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We all love to laugh huh? Well in the place where I work we had some puns on our intranet in order to lighten the day, I wrote some down and researched some others to give a light hearted post for a change.

We read in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a “time to laugh and a time to cry” so I wish to spread some good cheer today. Please enjoy the humor and mirth of people much funnier than me.

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I think want a job cleaning mirrors. It’s just something I can really see myself doing.

What do you call a bear without any teeth? A gunmmy bear

What do you call a fake noodle? an impasta

I started a band called 999 megabytes. So far we haven’t got a gig.

Whats the difference between a hippo and a zippo?
One’s heavy and the other’s a little lighter

Two peanuts were walking in a bad part of town.  One was a salted

Why did the Raisin take a Plum to the movies?
He couldn’t find a Date.

Why are chicken coops required to only have 2 doors?

Because if they had 4 doors, it would be a chicken sedan!

I was wondering the other day why a frisbee gets bigger and bigger as it gets closer. Then it hit me

Did I ever mention my Stepladder? I never knew my real ladder

Two budgies on a Perch. One says “Can you smell fish?”

Did you hear about the new corduroy pillows? They’re making headlines everywhere!

What do you call a Blind Dinosaur? Doyoufinkesaurus

I said to the Gym instructor, “Can you teach me to do the splits?” He said, “How flexible are you?” I said, “I can’t make Tuesdays.”

Did you hear about the two guys who stole a calendar? They each got six months.

What did the left eye and the right eye agree on? Something between us smells!

A farmer in the field with his cows counted 196 of them, but when he rounded them up he had 200.

If you ever get cold, just stand in a corner for a bit. They’re usually around 90 degrees.

Jokes about German sausage are the Wurst.

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I pray that this post amused you and feel free to check out the other articles on the site. Please feel free to share, like or comment below.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

WE ARE EXETER – The City Harmonic Concert October 29th 2015

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WE ARE EXETER – The City Harmonic Concert October 29th 2015

Those crazy Canadians

If you ever get the chance or opportunity to go see the band “The City Harmonic” then I would advise that you please do, they are much more than four “Weird Canadians” (Their words and not mine) from Hamilton, a place that is as well known for its steel industry as it is it’s football team (Tigercats) and based on the testimony I heard last night this formed a big part of the history  of why they were touring North America with their “We Are” tour, and in the latest leg of this tour when last night they visited my home town in Exeter, CA.

Back to the Great Commission

There are not many bands that come through here (Small population of just over 10,000) so we have to give much kudos to Michael Guzman of the Church of God, Exeter for being able to make Exeter one of the stops on this great tour and for the band for making the tickets so affordable. On a personal level this confirmed so many things that God has been speaking to me that we should as Christians be working together for the glory of God and fulfilling Matthew 28 and going out and making preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ the number one priority. Michael was keen from the start that this be Exeter’s event and not a Church of God event and all of the relevant publicity spoke of “Churches together” and I find this great and I will explain the reasons why below.

Unified evangelism

The Gospel of Jesus should be brought forward in a unit as opposed to a pincer movement! I know that is Army terminology but there is an element of truth in the fact that there is “strength in numbers”. If that means further ecumenicalism then I would have to say to those who are scared of working with those outside of their particular flavor of Christianity the words of Christ himself when the disciples warned of someone who was doing the work of Christ in Jesus name but was not part of their particular group…

Luke 9:49 (ESV) John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

Reinvent the wheel?

People have issues in doing joint projects due to minor differences in theology. Here is tge thing, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, many churches will be doing similar things. Let us look at it from a non-Christian point of view; a non-Christian does not understand the subtle differences between Baptist theologies or they couldn’t pick a Lutheran out of a lineup or a Calvinist from a Catholic and all they know is that it is “Christian” in religion and in definition and they will not care what branch of Christianity that this viewpoint belongs to and will often times use something a denominational leader says as something to beat the whole of Christianity over.

Cheap as chips?

Let’s use an analogy that is a little fun but gets the point across well. Let us replace the denomination name with flavors of chips. So rather than stating I am a Baptist or Presbyterian, we will state I am Salt and Vinegar or I am Barbeque, which by definition are all potato chips but again they are different flavors. (A good question to ask would the “cult of potato chips be Cheetos or Funyins eaters?) Would we split over a chip flavor as easily as we split over a preferred order of service on a Sunday or in the case of Seventh Day Adventist the day of the week that you prefer to go to church?

Align with those on the same mission

At this point I would have to state that it is important to align ourselves with people who are on the same mission as us and not “join forces for the sake of joining forces if the ones you seek to align with are not on the same mission as you” and I have to confess that I am a big fan of the Apostle Paul, a man who started off his journey persecuting Christians to the point of death as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, then he had a blinding light and was brought to task by his Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and then spent much of his written work appealing for unity in the body. A favorite writing of mine is as follows…

1st Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)  I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

You could say the same truth lies at the door of the modern Western church as it did when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Bear with me for a second and you will see where I am going with this, replace the word “Paul”  or “Apollos” with your brand of church for example “I am a Methodist” or “I follow Calvin” and you will see how relevant this is to the modern day believer, we are instructed to be of the “same mind and judgment” and let us do that, let us preach the gospel straight from the pages of the word and let the Holy Spirit impact the lives of the people we touch. Let the revival start with me, with you the reader. Let us strengthen our homes, let us be like Joshua and let there not be a decision “As for me and my house WE WILL serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

Families on and in mission

Here is where the gloves come off and we need to read the truth that we need to be families ON mission and families IN mission. Please know that we are not perfect and we will fail, we will sin, we will fall and we will fail but we will love! John 13:35 states that this “is how we will be identified as his disciples, by our love for one another” This could be as simple as having people over, this could be mentoring people in the word, this could just be as simple as doing your job to the best of your ability and being a Christian in the workplace in every transaction you do. There will be times where the mission of Christ is strong and there are times that you have to focus more on the family but we should be “working at it all to the Lord heartily and not to a human master” (Colossians 3:23) We have to use the skills that God has blessed us with and use it all to the glory of God. My wife is a gifted musician and leads our house in worship on a Sunday evening and I love that she has the heart to do so, I know that I am stronger when I am doing what I am called to do by the Lord, I have the gifts of encouragement, teaching and mentoring.

What about the concert?

Getting back to the concert, it was beautiful to see the great local choir made up from many local churches, great to hear of the pastors and leaders who met together to coordinate to help move the needle for Jesus in our small community and was great to see the three pastors who came up and prayed over the community that this not just be a concert but actually be a small part of an ongoing movement to spark revival in the City of Exeter and beyond. And that is my heart, like these Canadians I come from a “Steel town” in that beautiful land called Scotland and my first job was an apprentice welder in a place very close to the original Hamilton in Scotland. I recognized the place that they came from and the heart that they had to get the churches and the people of God together and get all of us Christians pointing in the same way as regards to evangelizing our local area. When Jesus stated the great commission and gave us the task to “go out unto the world and preach the gospel” there was no caveat that stated “only if they have the same eschatology or hermeneutics”. The music was wonderful and most definitely a joyful noise to our Lord. The words were impactful and certainly pierced any remaining hardness in my heart and swept away any inhibitions that I had about being on mission in my small town. I genuinely felt God speaking to me and it was a true oasis in the desert as it was a break from real life and a good opportunity to have that mountaintop experience and realign priorities that may have got messed up otherwise. The question I have is why are we not on that mountaintop more? Let us get back on point with what God is trying to do in our lives and be that blessing to others and let the Lord replenish us from that stream of endless living water.

What flavor of Christ are you?

I find it such a shame that we lead into conversations about our faith by stating our particular branch of Christianity (and example would be I am a Presbyterian) before we identify ourselves as Christians and because we have become so entrenched in our differences we do not even think that the church across the road may be willing to pull our resources and do a community outreach. We have to start thinking in terms of changed hearts as opposed trying to get people in the doors on a Sunday. These are words of lamentation and I am working through my own issues and my own baggage that I have self-loaded in this area.

Quantity or quality?

Personally if I was a pastor, I would rather have 40 committed, connected family like believers in my church than 400 folks who barely knew each other and do not operate in any small groups, individual ministry or mentoring in order to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” because that 40 who are reaching out and being missional, teaching the converts and then sending them out to witness to others will be much more efficient in the work of the ministry in the area where God has planted them. I love small groups, so much so that I have one in my house on a Sunday evening, we go between 3 and 17 dependent on what night it is. We follow the example of our Messiah Jesus who had a small group of 12 disciples which he invested in, he mentored for three years and sent them out to change the world, as his disciples we should do likewise.

Closing benediction

My prayer is that you read this and get excited to partner with me to change my small town; I would still like to partner with you if you live in a different town. My priority is revival in three places…

My home – I want to be like Joshua, my house will serve the Lord
My neighborhood – I want to be a light to my neighborhood and preach the gospel to whomever God sends my way
My town – Exeter is a lovely place but imagine Exeter on fire for Jesus? Wow what a thought and I want to be a good and faithful servant to the mission the Lord has given me.

Exeter is where I live now and I would go so far as to say it is my home town, Scotland will always be where I grew up but the Lord has given me Exeter as a mission field. I have no idea why I landed here except through God’s will but I know there are people who share my desire to make a change in my city.

One thing I know is that my Christian brothers and sisters in Exeter is that we are more similar than we are different, it is right that we should be praying for our brothers and sisters regardless of where they congregate on a Sunday, we all have the same Savior and WE ARE ONE. WE ARE ALL ON THE SIDE OF JESUS and WE ARE EXETER.

I pray this was a blessing, an exhortation and I have no desire to lead a movement, simply be a motivator or facilitator in moving the needle towards helping my town find Jesus Christ. If you find this a blessing, like, share or comment on this article or feel free to publicize this on whatever social media platforms you use. I love you all and want to see my small city on fore for Jesus.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

See also

A vision of clarity for the church (part 1)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 3)

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I swear to God!

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I swear to God!

Occasionally I get questions posed to me by different people from time to time to ask what the bible says about certain aspects of modern day life, this blog article is designed to give a longer answer to the question I was asked. I was asked by a lady who attends my Sunday evening bible study called “Agape” (I will not name her here but she will be aware of this articles presence) the following question…

What does the bible say about the use of “I swear to God”? (To give you a background the lady was uneasy as people she loved used the term and not her)

Are you taking the LORD’s name in vain?

Well there were two places in the New Testament part of the bible that I felt dealt with this rather well, but let us first look at a deeper issue. The deeper issue here from a doctrinal standpoint is, are they using the name of God in a flippant or vain way? Are they respecting the name of the living God? If they are using God’s name to justify a flimsy position that would seem shaky in an argument without it then I would suggest that they are. Or secondly, if they seem to be telling something that does not appear to be accurate and they move their argument towards truthfulness by using God’s name as a standard (because even if you do not believe in God, God’s name is associated with truth) but not meaning the reverence in their hearts to the very holy name of God then that is also problematic.

Where do I find biblical evidence for this problem?

In the Ten Commandments we are warned against this very thing. Let’s look at Exodus chapter 20…

Exodus 20:7 (ESV) “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Heavy stuff huh? In the third commandment you will be held guiltless by the one true God and only just judge of the world! The name of God is holy, and in some Jewish and Hebrew circles they do not spell the name of God in case they misspell it (replacing it with G_d in many cases) such is the reverence for God’s name.

So I think we have established that it is a no-no from the 10 Commandments!

Is there anything in the New Testament? I want to follow that too!

Remember I said there were two places in the New Testament that dealt with this rather well, let’s look at these. As this blog is called “Taking the Epistle” let us first look at the Epistle of James chapter 5…

James 5:12 (ESV) But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

James commends us not to invoke the name of God in our arguments, he commends us to be men and women of our word, he said “let your yes be yes and your no be no!” let us not use words flippantly like “I believe that may be true” (when we know it is not) and we justify in our minds that we are not “technically” lying. He does not want us to be losing an argument or having a discussion and attach God’s name to something it has no business being in.

And lastly Jesus Christ himself said not too

Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Matthew chapter 5…

Matthew 5:33 (ESV) “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

And he goes a little further than James said and said “anything added unto this comes from evil” and do you believe that God wants his name attached to something that is attributed to evil? God is a righteous and just God. He does not lie; he is truth, light and the epicenter of all that is good. His name is worthy of praise and honor, not derision and defaming. This is the beginning of a slippery slope that will end in blasphemy and that is a road you do not wish to travel dear Christian.

Conclusion

There are many things in the bible that are unclear or could be left up for interpretation, but in my view and my belief in the holy scriptures is that if we are warned against doing something three times and told that it is a no-no in a clear fashion, (not something that can be twisted or really debated without perverting the meaning behind the scriptures) then perhaps God is telling you, this is important to me, please do not do it.

I hope that I stated the case well of why it is problematic from a biblical point of view to “swear to God” and if this is an issue in your life then please seek clarification from the scriptures and pray about it, always check out what the teacher is saying and I look forward to you sharing, liking and commenting on this article here or elsewhere on social media as the LORD leads you to. I pray this was a blessing!
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

On Mother’s day spare spare a thought for the childless mothers

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On Mother’s day spare spare a thought for the childless mothers

DISCLAIMER:- This blog contains details pertaining to infertility, if you are sensitive to such subjects then please proceed with caution. My intent is to help and not cause hurt. Thank you for reading.

First of all I wish to say as a man who by God’s grace has been allowed to be a father – Happy Mothers Day!

Psalms 113:9 (ESV) He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD

God’s Provision

Those of you who know my wife and I will know that this verse is a very special verse in our testimony of God’s provision in our life. 

In my wife’s own words

The link (Keeper Ministries) I quote from will tell you in my wife’s own words why this verse is important to us so please understand that my intent is not to hog the limelight or give a “look at me” account, I write as someone who has half an idea of what I am talking about in this area.

The area I speak of is that of infertility, I  reminded in a daily basis due to the job I do that people just can’t get pregnant for whatever reason. I believe that God is the opener and closer of wombs and regardless of what science tells us people get pregnant when there is no scientific hope.

I get where you are coming from

I always feel for these people as I know the hours I put in praying for always the same thing. Lord please just give me a child and in God’s time we did have one. (You see the evidence in the picture above) My message is one of hope and encouragement as I have been there. People mean well but if you have been in this situation you will know and perhaps have fielded questions like this…

…Things you don’t say to folks who may not have disclosed issues in this area

1) why don’t you have more kids?
2) do you guys not want a family?
3) is there a reason you only have one child?
4) _____ (child’s name) is great but shouldn’t she have a brother by now?
5) (playfully) your wife not pregnant yet?

Improved prayer life

Everyone has different situations and you may be suffering from infertility and you don’t have that constant reminder that others are having kids. You may have that inner hurt that you feel that you are missing out, you may be in the situation that my wife and I are in where we have a child and are not pregnant with the second one. (Called secondary infertility) Let me say that is as hard as the first and It sure improves your prayer life.

Please spare spare thought for these ladies who may not celebrate mother’s day but certainly want to. Be in prayer for their needs and pray for their comfort. If you are the husband don’t say “Am I not better to you than 10 children?”

The Lord blessed us with three years of just us and a country move prior to answering our prayers and granting us our “Princess” who truly is the jewel in our crown, but I still remember the pain and longing for what I believed that God had witheld from me. It truly was a test of my faith.

The man goes through it too

I write this because the man goes through infertility just ashes hard as the lady does and I love my wife and always wish to honor, love and cherish her. My hope is that our testimony will help strengthen you the readers where you are.

If you are that person or know that person, love on them today, bear their burdens, seek help, be in prayer, get in contact especially the men, I have always thought there is a gap in ministry for those men who go through infertility and counseling and help for them.

If this is not you then please pass this on to someone that may benefit,  if you wish to talk more then use the contact details on the contact page.

Thank you for reading this article and I pray these words are a blessing to you and please share, like or comment below as the LORD leads you to.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE