Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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God shows up and man is ashamed – Genesis 3:8-13

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God shows up and man is ashamed – Genesis 3:8-13 – 05/03/2016

Genesis 3:8 (ESV) And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter three verse eight…

V8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

This is it! You can hear the dramatic music playing…God has come back into the garden and the ones who were the main focus of the story have become the villains due to the sins they have committed. God who loves his creation wanted to be with them because before this man and God were together and in constant communion and they were together in a close relationship that today man could only dream of.

God is described as walking in the cool of the day in a natural familiar phrase which suggests that this was a regular occurrence and that the fellowship they shared was familiar. That God was here for his regular afternoon stroll in the garden where he knew he would find his beloved creation.

God, who knows all things, knew of the sin of Adam and Eve before he took that stroll in the garden, but God who loves his children wanted to deal with it immediately. As a parent I understand that idea and I do likewise if my daughter misbehaves and punishment is imminent.

Man’s reaction is expected, they were ashamed, they knew that the temporary coverings would give the game away that they suddenly knew that they were naked and they decided to try to hide from God. They were feeling shame, embarrassment and dread for the first time in their lives and it did not feel good. They are now realizing the full weight of their sin as the one they wanted to go to with any problems they might have is the very one that they hid from now!

V9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

God asks the question “where are you?” in a concerned tone when he cannot find them in the same manner I would had my daughter be lost from my sight for more than a few seconds (Yes I am that parent) and despite the fact that he knew exactly where they were and what they were feeling we see the very nature of God that he waited for them to come to him because he knew of their shame and dishonor.

V10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

And here we see the distance between God and man, we see from that point man hid himself from God and let’s be honest; man is still doing that today. The only ones who are not hiding as much are the ones who have taken Jesus as their Savior. Today the ones who run are those who do not want to listen to God, his Word or the plan that God has for their lives. Do you relate to any of that? Please do not think that I am not saying that we should not “fear God” but my fear of God is a healthy one which is based on the holiness and it is based on the reverence that I have for God and my desire to serve Him to the best of my ability and in the will of God.

V11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Up until this point Adam had the opportunity to appeal to the judge for “good behavior” by “fessing up” and taking ownership of what he had done and essentially broke the only rule he was given up until this point. He chose not to and God had to then ask him they question they were both dreading. This was where the conversation was going to get waaay uncomfortable for the man.

Adam had two options here…

  • Own the sin and plead mercy from God
  • Try to blame someone else

Much as none of us want to talk about it, we all sin and because of that we do “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and you notice that God wasn’t interested in what they were wearing or not wearing, the shame they felt or the fact that they hid from him. He wanted to deal with the sin. Adam shows which of the above 2 options he chose in the next verse…

V12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Like any primary schoolyard in any country you see Adam acting like any first grader who gets caught on a place that he shouldn’t be, he looks for anyone who was with him to shift the blame to. As Eve is the only candidate he decided to say “it wasn’t me, it was that woman that you gave me.

Adam blamed the following for his sin…

  • Eve for being there
  • God for sending him Eve

God addresses Adam because he is meant to be the head of the home and he was supposed to be responsible, Adam displays ineptitude in leadership and caused his whole household to sin. There is a lesson there to every man who is married and the head of a home that we have that extra responsibility and I pray for those women who have had to assume the “head of the home” role because their husbands have either left the next or have remained and been unwilling to undertake the role that God had placed them to be in. I say this as a former “Adam” as I in the past and to my shame have not always been a strong head of the home and it had an impact on my home. It was not too late for me and I pray that men who are like this read this article and repent to God and their wives and lead their home in the way God intended.

This may seem obvious but it is not appropriate for Adam to blame God for sending him the woman or blame the woman because God gave the instruction to Adam and not Eve, Eve was deceived and Adam willingly took the apple and sinned. There is a note to us today in our prayer lives that when we talk to God, do not do what Adam did and try to dress up our sin as not sin. Please know that when you pray God can see your heart as well as your words. Even if you dress it up in “holy words” He can still see your MO, your motivation and where your heart lies.

V13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

And learning from Adam we see that Eve continues the circle of blame to the serpent. Actually this is correct and whilst she may have had a point she had a certain amount of responsibility. The facts of the matter were that she was deceived but she also knew of God’s command and chose to go against the wishes and commands of God.

That is the issue of Eve that she knew better but allowed herself to be in that situation where she could be entrapped into sin. Like so many of us who allow temptation to take hold of their hearts, she edged in closer and allowed the serpent the opportunity to trick her into misquoting God, she was then entangled in her own words and caught in a situation where until she took that first bite she was still in communion with God.

When she took that action she allowed sin into the world and so started a chain of events that separated man and God, God’s original creation was no longer “very good” and many generations later we see what we have today and we also see the reason why Jesus had to come in the first place and that was to redeem man from many generations of sin by his sacrifice at Calvary. Today’s world is a very pale copy of what God had intended for his creation.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses fourteen through twenty four in chapter three when we realize that all sin has consequences and the consequences of that original sin can still be felt today. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17 – 03/16/2016

Matthew 3:13 (ESV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse thirteen of chapter three.

V13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

After John has been sufficiently introduced to us (remember Matthew was a meticulous records keeper being a tax collector) we see Jesus coming into the picture as an adult who is ready to begin his adult ministry. Jesus came of his own free will knowing what the Father wanted him to do but it is important that Jesus came of his own free will and gave a terrific example to those who should follow.

Can you imagine the discussions and dissentions or splits in the church that we would have if say had Jesus not have been baptized? Somewhere along the line we would have a group of people claiming that you should not be baptized because Jesus was not! It is human nature to be divisive but I believe that Jesus who is as timeless as the Father wanted to remove such frivolous problems.

Following that example we should also be baptized if we know what it means and have a desire to make that public declaration for Jesus Christ. If you are unsure or want to know more whether you should I would advise you to read the sixth chapter of the book of Romans, for me that is dynamite stuff and a great biblical basis for baptism. I have also done a baptism page of you are interested at the link here.

V14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew his place and stated that he was not fit to unloose the sandals of the Messiah. He also recognized that Jesus should be the one baptizing him because Jesus had no sin to repent of! John also realized that Jesus could give much more than John ever could and it was no wonder that John was perplexed by the notion that the one he knows as the Messiah is coming to him in this fashion so I do not knock him for wanting to keep his place and having a question whether this is correct, I love Jesus response in the next verse…

V15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Jesus allows himself to be baptized by John and saw John’s heart and understood why this was troubling to John. Jesus told John that is “fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” and this was because this was part of Jesus mission. Jesus saw the plan beforehand and was keen to reassure John that he was participating in the fathers plan for the Messiah. This was a step that Jesus had to take on a journey that would finish at the cross at Calvary and restart when he was resurrected three days later.

In so many ways Jesus wanted to identify with the ones he wanted to save, he dined with the poor and the sinful man, listened to their problems and identified with them, he showed them love and then taught them a sermon direct from Heaven. By the same token he was baptized in order to identify with the one who had to repent of his sin because Jesus came to earth to identify with us; he was born the same way we were and was brought up with parents just like we were and now we see that Jesus was standing in the place of a sinful man and this was very must the mission of Christ because he continued to do so until he took the punishment for sinful man at Calvary. The difference between Jesus and us is that he was the sinless Son of God!

V16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was baptized and the heavens opened and a proud Father rejoiced. The parents who are reading this get this right away because God was content to allow Jesus to be baptized but his baptism would not be like the others that the people witnessed that day. God opened the heavens to show that this baptism was special, that it was not just a sinner turning to the Father but identification direct from heaven in the person of God’s own son who came to atone for the sins of the world. There would be no confusion that Jesus had anything to atone for, this one was special because the Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, and it could be seen by those in attendance. There were no witnesses that could attest that this was not something special. In the corresponding passage in the book of Luke we read…

Luke 3:21 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

So who was this man? John the Baptist bears witness in the Gospel of John…

John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John understood what was going on and what he was witnessing, he witnessed that the Spirit descended on him and remained on him; we see the love, the cooperation and the triune nature of God vividly in this passage. This was a commission of ministry for Jesus and we see his adult ministry start from here. God shows his feelings for the situation by stating “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” God the Father was not going to stay silent on this matter and like any proud daddy he let all who were in attendance know how he felt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in the first eleven verses of chapter four studying the temptation of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

Then what becomes of our boasting? – Romans 3:27-31

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Then what becomes of our boasting? – Romans 3:27-31 – 03/06/2016

Romans 3:27 (ESV) Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse twenty seven of chapter three…

V27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Paul makes a great point here that boasting is not required and goes as far as to say that it is excluded because we are saved and justified by the grace of God, we could not earn it or be worthy of it, we have been gifted it in the same manner that we are given a birthday or Christmas gift. Paul goes at this point like a criminal prosecutor and would have made a terrific inductive bible study student, he asks the question “By what kind of law?” and whilst on the first glance it would appear the questioning may change the direction of the passage, that is not the case because Paul reaffirms his argument by the very asking of the question.

Pride is excluded (in the words of Paul) by the law of faith and it is completely foreign to the free gift of grace that we have been speaking about earlier in this article. Our grace that we have freely received is not something we can or should boast of because it was not of our doing or we were not regarded as special or pre-elected by God for this based on our merits and this is a stumbling block for many who desire a more difficult path to God, that it can’t be that simple.

It truly is that simple, we have been justified freely by his grace, and our righteous merits are described as “filthy rags” to the Holy God that we serve. This flies in the face of the pride that we want to have based on whatever righteousness we think that we have. None of it is ours and would not be possible without the love of a graceful God. Trust me folks! If I could figure it out anyone could!

V28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Think of it like a court case if you will, we are in the court of God who never has jurisdiction issues and who sees everything including our inner monologue (scared yet?) He sees our hearts, our intentions and what we did, when we did it and why we did it in a perfect system of justice. There is no legal counsel in the land that can get you off the sin that you have committed. You are as the Brits say “bang to rights” and “guilty as charged”.

That is not the end of the story however, you do have a defense and that is your redeemer Jesus Christ and should you put your faith in him and repent fully of your sins and turn your life around this defense will grant you an acquittal of the charges you face. Not because of what you have done because you are guilty (Romans 3:23 told you that already) but because of the free gift of salvation at the cross of Calvary. Luther called it “Sola Fide” (Latin – Faith alone)

Paul deals with an issue that we have seen in modern day Christianity that has led to the question “Are we justified by faith or works?” and I would conclude that we are justified by faith, however the works of the law will come as fruit of what you believe. You will be known by your works to show that you are the real deal and not a hypocrite. Paul asks how far reaching this salvation is, we see below…

V29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,

God’s righteousness goes over all boundaries, regardless of your heritage, regardless of your nationality, regardless of your sex, regardless of what tone your skin is God id the God of the whole world, of both the Jews and the Gentiles, I write this as a Gentile who has recognized his need for a redeemer and savior. I am no different to the man who is caught up in his sins and reading this other than I have humbled myself in the sight of the Lord and he has lifted me up and I am redeemed by that free gift of grace I so freely talk about.

V30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

In the same way that we ARE saved, we also RECEIVE it in the same way; the Jews have no other way to Heaven that the gentiles have no access to. Classic throwback to John 14:6 where Jesus told us that he was “THE WAY”. Whether we have completed the ritual of circumcision or not we are all justified by faith. Some Christians stop reading here but the last verse is vital to give the passage the balance that it requires.

V31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

It is a legitimate question; “if the law is not going to save us can we just get rid of it?” Or the question “Paul are you seriously going against the Law of God?” and I believe that Paul does not do that, he probably was accused of that but that is not what he was doing. Midway through this question he says the words “By no means” and he is by no means trying to contradict the law or make void the law, he is stating that the law was a means to know righteousness and no longer pointing to heaven as the messiah had come and paid that debt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we look forward to verses one through twelve where Paul explains further the full gravity of what he is talking about and that this was God’s plan all along and the law anticipated the coming of the messiah. This showing as Paul states at the end a desire to “uphold the law”. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses

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All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1 Peter 3:14 (ESV) But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This Saturday morning just past, we had a visit from some local members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was pretty much arranged from last week when the LORD gave me an opportunity to redeem myself for the first time I met these people.

Rubbish first impression

The week before I was not prepared to receive visitors, my wife was ill, lying on the couch and I saw them as an unwelcome distraction on my front porch. Really I was trying to get rid of them so I could attend to my wife. They (It was two ladies the first time) were persistent and I agreed to meet them again Saturday just passed. (3rd January)

I mention this as I wish to give a balanced account of what happened. I am not wishing to record that I did a wonderful or super theological thing and also wish to show that I didn’t do it well the first time. If this was a test from God, I most certainly flunked it the first time.

God is good all the time and he allowed me a do over and I am truly grateful. When the lady I saw the first time came back, she brought an older gentlemen who within a few minutes of discussing with him advised us that he had been a JW since 1978.

Doing what I was created for

I love it when people come to my door and ask me to talk about Jesus. (It doesn’t happen all that often so this is an opportunity made of 24 karat gold) When people from the JW’s or the LDS church come to your door and try to teach you another gospel that is contrary to the word of the LORD, take it as a tremendous opportunity to give witness to the gospel that you believe in.

Hence the feature verse. Several years ago I came across an apologetic evangelist called Charlie Campbell and his ministry called “Always Be Ready”. He spoke at the local Calvary Chapel in Visalia about the dangers of the Emergent church; I was that impressed that I checked out many of his other apologetic talks. Unsurprisingly he has one also on the Jehovah’s Witness organization.

So between the first time (the previous Saturday) they came to my door and the second I read up in what they believed, possible topics I could engage them in and we were ready.

Discussion topics

They came by and their opening line was about relevance of world topics such as the Paris attacks. They then focused in on how similar our beliefs were and tried to sound out if we read the bible. We also confirmed that we would be using a copy of their bible (New World Translation) we confirmed that we did read the bible and when they were discussing their beliefs they touched on a few areas that they have unique beliefs. (Compared to Christians)

1) A non-belief in a literal hell
2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not.
3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole
4) A belief in “soul sleep”
5) A two tier heaven

Where do I start? Well my wife was keen to use their translation of the scriptures to avoid “translation difficulties” and this allowed us to focus on the topics that mattered.

1) A non-belief in a literal hell, 2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not & 4) A belief in “soul sleep”

These three beliefs tied in together in the discussion that we had, they pushed the belief that regardless of the actions that you took in this life, you would not be separated from God, that there would not be an actual hell that you would go to.

This begs the question “why did Christ die?” if it was not for the substitution of our sins, my wife was the driver in the conversation and allowed them to state their case clearly and concisely in order to get where they were coming from.

We didn’t get to this scripture due to time constraints, however I was trying to get to John 14:6 where Jesus advises that “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the father but by me”.

This doctrine ladies and gentlemen is a lie from the pit of hell. The bible advises the existence of a literal separation from God, that those who choose to separate themselves from their creator will get their wish. Once you enter a posthumous state, time is up and the choice then has been made, there is no cooling off period (or soul sleep)

3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole

We had the most fun with this one, the gentleman hypothesized “well who can really tell when Jesus came about?” So I took him to John 1:1, albeit in the New World Translation they have changed the wording from “God” to “a god” trying to remove Jesus as the Son of God.

It is important to see where they are coming from before you enter into that discussion, I then took them to Genesis 1:1 to show that the plurality of the word used for God shows more than one entity involved in creation, the fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name and the fact that God (Father) says phrases such as “let us make man in OUR image”.

The last scripture I took them to, to show this was in the later part of the book of John (John 20) where Thomas, who originally doubted fell to his knees and stated “My LORD and my God!”

The interesting thing that they did do is they brought up Isaiah 9:6 and really tried to labor the point that he was only a “mighty God” and that “many people who were renowned in those days were known as gods” Of course my wife and I (mainly my wife at that point) were defending the position that we have a much higher view of Jesus being both God and man.

Because of their beliefs they also do not belief in a resurrection for Jesus. They believe that Jesus was a created angel as opposed to the propitiation for our sins. They do preach Jesus but not the Jesus of the bible. They attempt to remove the deity of Christ, ranking him as similar to an angel.

5) A two tier heaven

They kept referring to a “ruling class” and “everyone else” in heaven, so they do believe that there will be different zones in heaven dependent of what you believed at the time. I am assuming (this wasn’t explored due to time constraints) that the JW’s will be in the ruling class and that everyone else will be in the lower tier of the glory of God.

Perhaps I am misquoting them when I say heaven, they spoke about living on a paradise earth as opposed to a literal heaven.

So if everyone is in the presence of God at the end of the road, what is the point in what they are doing?

Well I had to look into that further as I did not explore that further at the time of the conversation. The JW’s believe that you have to be a baptized participating member of their organization in order to get a type of works based salvation. (Paul refutes this in Ephesians 2:8)

We did not get into their belief in the 144,000 also, I was hoping to but again we only had 40 minutes and we packed a lot into that time.

Treat them in LOVE

Most people try to get rid of JW’s as quickly as possible (like I did the first time) but I have learned from my error. These guys, whilst I believe that they are in error and are putting their faith in something that will not achieve what they hope it will, are still people and still require the love of Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Here is the deal, I can be as convincing as I can be by stating things that make sense to the mind but I do not have the power to save someone. I can be used by God to witness to these witnesses (see what I did there?) however it is only through belief in Jesus Christ and the individual accepting his free gift of grace can he be saved.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Follow up?

Is really up to them, they have an open invite to my door anytime, however the chap who had been in the faith since 1978 was getting a little frustrated when we stated our beliefs. My hope and prayer is that they do come back; I love situations like this as I enjoy having an open invite to state my belief in Christ Jesus and my wife really is tremendous and was literally glowing when stating her faith. She truly is a blessing and really led the line at the beginning.

They stated that they would come back and left a “Watchtower” magazine that they would discuss with us upon their return. One hopes they do, if they have to do door to door time as part of their works based theology, I would much rather that they did it with us that would give them questions to stretch their faith than someone who may become a convert.

I have a great deal of love for them and prayed a lot for them over the weekend.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty One – December 21st

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty One – December 21st

Thank you for reading our twenty first installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be pierced in his hands and feet. We read this is the book of Isaiah chapter fifty three which is an awesome piece of prophetic scripture and speaks that the messiah will be a sacrifice for sin…

Pierced for our transgressions

Isaiah 53:1 (ESV) Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

You cannot do a series on messianic prophecy and not include Isaiah 53. For a rock fan like me it would be like Queen touring and not singing “We will Rock You” or the Rolling Stones touring and not singing “Start me up” (Or for that matter The Who and “Pinball Wizard”) I was only going to quote from verse five onwards, however the whole chapter speaks of Jesus and is a wonderful look forward to the coming messiah and how that is shown to be the person known as Jesus of Nazareth who is known as the Christ.

The whole chapter tells of how the messiah will suffer for sin, we spoke a few days about the root of Jesse that he will spring from (verse 2) we spoke of how he came from Nazareth and was despised and rejected (verse 3 & 4) and now we look at how he would suffer.

10 points that Isaiah makes about the messiah

1) Messiah would be rejected
2) He would be a root from the dry ground
3) Messiah would be despised
4) Messiah would carry our sorrows
5) Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions
6) Messiah would have no deceit or violence
7) Location of his grave
8) By his knowledge his followers would be counted righteous
9) Messiah would pour his soul out to death
10) Messiah makes intercession for the transgressors

We could really end the article there but I write this article as a resource for both the skeptic and the believer, for the skeptic I write in order that you may have an answer to why I believe in the messiah and to the believer I write that it may be edifying to your faith.

The reason I post the ten reasons is that I could write 100 articles on this part of scripture and not cover it adequately. I wished to get the bullet points in case there is something that is not covered in this “broad strokes” look at this passage of scripture. The reason for this disclaimer is that in this article we are going to focus on the individual prophecy that he will be a sacrifice for sin.

Isaiah uses very graphic words that leave us in no doubt that the messiah would suffer the way Jesus suffered, reading from verse five we read words such as “pierced”, “crushed”, “chastisement”, “oppressed”, “judgment” and many more like it. Isaiah 53 clearly speaks on the first coming of the messiah where he would be the suffering servant.

This reminds me of a great old hymn which had the lyrics:

“Man of sorrows what a name, for the Son of God, who came, ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

Yesterday we spoke of the Passover lamb and how the lamb and the blood were used as a sign that the children of Israel were with God, later in the Levitical law we see the practice of laying a hand on the sacrifice to signify the sin atonement the sacrifice was making, We read in verse 4 that “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. He takes it all, our griefs our sorrows, all laid to rest at Calvary.

Verse six gives the point of the crucifixion when it states “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus died and placed himself “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (v7) He paid the price that he knew we could not. After the messiah there was no need for a temporary sacrifice. Jesus blood is enough!

Isaiah also predicts the manner of Christ’s death and how he would be buried when he states “And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death” As we read in the Gospels, he was crucified with sinners and buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich man. (Joseph of Arimathea – Matthew 27:57-60)

The reason we are Christians (those who believe) in the first place is in the next part of the verses “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” It shows what we have been saying in the last few articles that God was in control, he had ordained this sacrifice. It was not the will of the Jewish leaders, the Romans or whoever, it was God’s will and plan to redeem the world. We see that in verses 11 and 12 that Jesus was the intercession for the transgressors. Anyone who has sinned, Jesus died for!

Christ died – at the right time!

Paul writes in his Epistle to the Roman church…

Romans 5:6 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Jesus died for us, the ungodly! (v6) Regardless of how holy or righteous you think you are, without Jesus you were going to hell! Can you think of a group of people that are as undeserving? (v7) Reading through the bible it is the character of God to reach out to those and account unto them righteousness when it is barely deserved.

Jesus died for you whether you choose to accept it or not, (v8) if you don’t then that is really your choice, no one will force you into a relationship with Jesus. There are two eternal destinations at the end of your life and you can remain an “enemy of God” (v10) or be saved from the “Wrath of God”. (v9) Obviously I would love to see you become a brother or a sister and be reconciled to God (v10) and receive eternal life with the creator. That is why Jesus became a sacrifice for sin.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

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

Ladies – win them without a word

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Ladies – win them without a word

1 Peter 3:1 (ESV) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

It is not often that I get to brag on my wife, however if it was not for her beauty and her kindness, I am convinced that you would not be reading this blog today. I have reviewed the above verse over and over again in my heart and used to have it memorized. The reason for this devotion to this small chunk of scripture is simple – I have lived it!

You see, up until late 2005 I was a raging alcoholic, an impending marriage to the lady who is now my wife did not stop me from my self-destructive path. A quiet Sunday morning in a small Calvary Chapel in the west end of Glasgow, the week after I quit drinking was step one on a path to where I am today. (If you want the full story check out my “testimony” page)

My wife Chelsea also blogs, if you have not had an opportunity, then please check out her blog at this link. But she “showed me Jesus”, we made mistakes along the way for sure, but I certainly would not have the unshakable faith I have today had it not been for my wife.

This is a call to arms to all women who may or may not want to obey this scripture, the husband is meant to be the head of the home and the wife is the keeper of the home, in today’s modern families both or either partner (I use that word because marriage is a partnership) may not have to do the traditional roles. I know that in my household, both of us earn money because of our different gifts.

Will they be won over by your conduct?

I can only speak for me and say that I was. There is something so beautiful about a God fearing woman; from a man’s point of view I must not do anything to pierce that. People get very literal with this passage and mean it that if you don’t have braided hair and wear lots of jewelry that you are somehow less of a Christian. I know that such things don’t interest me and my wife is beautiful to me most when she is her, when she loses herself in the worship of the LORD. That is real beauty!

Also if you are reflecting your Savior then you will inspire discussion into where it comes from, if you are infectious for the LORD then you will have comfort in times of trial and also you will have the love and honor of your husbands.

Missionary dating

Despite the fact that my wife and I are a success story, I would not advocate missionary dating. I know that for my daughter I would like a man who is a strong Christian and an effective leader in the home. I want my daughter to have what my wife has and also all the things my wife does not have. I know no man is perfect but I do want the best for my daughter.

Outward adornment

We have to be really careful with what we hold in our hearts, the reason I say this is that we can get really discontent with all of the stuff that we do not have. This is counterproductive as we then fail to recognize the many blessings we have. If we live in the western world I can guarantee that we have more than we need, even in the most abject of poverties, but we still whine when we see others on vacation or others get new “shiny things”.

We then start to question God and question whether we are truly being blessed. It is hard because the human heart will naturally covet perishable things and things that are temporary.

Vicious cycle

This leads to chasing what others have, coveting other folk’s things in order to “get ahead” and when we get in that mindset, we get desperate. We start taking on more things, to get more stuff and life becomes far more complicated than God would ever have planned.

Then we start getting into cycles like debt, depression and un-fulfilment because there is that “God shaped hole” that we are trying to stuff our stuff into. It is all perishable; it is as good for you as eating fruit that has gone off. I know in my life I am guilty of this and need to devote more time to the finer (Godly) things in life.

Call him LORD

Maybe not literally, my wife does not call me lord and I am not sure how I would feel about it if she did. But in her heart I know that she loves and respects me. Do I tick her off? Of course I do? Do we bicker? not very often, Am I all that she needs? (Ouch) Guys this is our part! The next few verses tell us that

Do not hinder your prayers

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV) Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

We have to love our wife’s, it is not a dictatorship, it is a partnership. We have promised on our wedding day to love, honor and cherish. Every day when I come home from work, I am glad that my wife is there, sometimes she is teaching lessons and sometimes she is there to greet me, either way I would not choose anyone else.

Out of everyone I know, I pray for my wife most of all. Partly because she has to live with me, but as she is the primary educator in our family, she has a lot on her shoulders. I understand that she doesn’t have a 9-5; hers are more like 8-12 midnight.

Love your wives by doing more

Like I say guys, it is a team effort, don’t complain about the dishes, get off your butt and go do them! Same with the laundry! It won’t kill you, just do what I do and seek advice of you are not sure. (I didn’t once and I now have a pink football jersey!)

My hope is that in this blog you found something useful, edifying or challenging, as usual please share, comment or like below.
TGBTG
TTE

Coming together in love

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Coming together in love

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. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.fn 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This weekend past (13th September) I went to a wedding, it was quite unlike any other wedding I have been at. The wedding was at a local Calvary Chapel in Central California and was thrown by the church family of the bride. It truly was a labor of love for all concerned from ourselves who bought some sparkling apple cider, to the worship team who provided the music, to the ladies who served and prepared meals and to the many volunteers who made the church look wonderful for a wedding.

The bride (who I won’t name, but she is free to comment and let folks know who she is) had been going to that church for a wee while now, had professed a faith in Jesus Christ and had recently been baptized, but there was still something that she wanted to remedy. The man whom she had been living with before she became a Christian as her husband wasn’t legally her husband.

Like many in our area, they have been having a tough time of things and life has been a struggle, a lavish ceremony and the wedding was probably out of their price range, however God had a plan that was better than anyone could have predicted.

My wife suggested that we as the church, her spiritual family should throw her a wedding. After multiple discussions and a lot of love by many hands, it came together in the most wonderful way, the church came together and gave her what she wanted, a place and a wedding to marry the man she loved. It was a wonderful ceremony and reception. It was truly neat to see how God’s church and the church family as a whole just fitted in together and did what needed to be done.

We are all God’s children, we need to look after each other, rather than judge when a situation doesn’t “tick our boxes” we have to do what we can to help. The bride (and her husband now also) are our brothers and sisters, if they have a need we should be standing in the gap. We have to love as Christ loved.

The wedding reminded me of the above verse and I wanted to share this neat story about how a church loved so much that they wanted to help their new sister in the LORD.

We need to look for ways to help our brothers and sisters; we have to love them as Christ loved the church, which is the first stage to building a community. That wedding meant a lot and probably more to me than many other weddings that I have been to because of the amount of love that was in that room.

We have to be intentional and be on mission at all times, a lot of people who wouldn’t normally attend church got to see a whole bunch of “church folks” or as I call them Christians in a much different light. They saw a whole lot of love and a desire to serve and love on someone and make that persons day as memorable as possible.

Weddings don’t normally get me but this one did!

God bless and as usual please comment, share or like below
TGBTG
TTE

VBS gave me hope for tomorrow

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VBS have me hope for tomorrow

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Last week my daughter went to Calvary Chapel Visalia in Central California to do their “Weird Animals” VBS program, I will give my thoughts on that below. If you don’t know what VBS is, it means Vacation Bible School, usually it is at least a few days and sometimes as long as a week. There is normally a theme and the kids usually help out, but this one was great because it helped me confirm my philosophy on youth ministry.

A lot is said on Christian blogs and websites about how the “sky is falling” in youth ministry, where the young kids are in a “hook up club” or a “dating area” that is supervised by the church. Well whilst that may be true in some scenarios, it does not have to be that way.

I went to a youth group, we called it a “youth fellowship” and we met once a week, made contacts with other Christians but I was in one that, well to be honest, was not making me question fundamental basics about who I was and where I was going on a day by day relationship with Jesus.

Here is my deal on the whole “youth debate” My vision is that churches should have a youth program, there is few simple reasons why:

1) Not everyone comes from that perfect Christian home – I did not and I had no idea how to study the Bible, as an adolescent and then eventually a young adult, I had no idea how to read, study or question the truths I learned on a Sunday evening, I ended up with a weak faith and as soon as I removed myself from my church support system, I was toast and rolled out into the world and ended up a well worse sinner than I would have been without knowing the truth. It was only by God’s grace I came back.

Ideally, everyone would be in that home where they would be discipled by the Godly father and have their needs met that way, but I think we need to remove our “Christian nation, all is right with the world” spectacles and realize that this is the exception and not the rule. So we need the churches to have input. MOST IMPORTANTLY – We must make sure they are even saved in the first place!

How do we fix that? Well a “one size fits all” approach does not work, we have to have a program to get these kids in the door, the churches (note more than one) that I have had that don’t have that don’t keep kids very long, even the ones hungry to learn. Elder men, youth leaders or whomever, need to fill the void the parents have left and be the “spiritual parents” this is the best strategy, but we have to invoke their interest in the first place and teach then the basics first.

2) We are failing the church of today – Not the church of tomorrow, the church of today. At the age of 36, I am yesterday’s news, I fall into the idea that I should be helping equip the young guys to get their peers in the door. The church that only has older people in it is a dying church. Eventually the congregation will be posthumous, and so will all the people who knew how to do stuff.

At the VBS, we had trained young people guiding the kids, giving invaluable ministry experience and allow callings to be revealed to our young people. It also establishes trust between the leadership of the church on the maturity of the young believer and allows dialogue for the young believer to further plug in and reveal other talents that they may have, you may have the next Chris Tomlin or Billy Graham in your church and you don’t even know.

3) We are failing to train up the next teachers of the church – Don’t get me wrong, they won’t all be teachers and my time is passed in order for me to ever be a pastor, so I should be training up the next generation of pastors and begin with basic apologetics and then go onto sharing your faith, then get them to study well and then if they are willing and able get them to teach a study.

Here is the tragic truth, I taught my first bible study at the age of 27/28, the youth of today must be discipled unto being able to lead a bible study, especially the young men, we are not just making our next leaders, and we are making the next head of the homes. If we teach them in youth group how to drink Pepsi and scarf as much pizza as they can in their tiny bodies with great metabolisms or play baseball/basketball or flag football all the time, what eternal value is that?

4) The circle will stop – You think this generation that we have passed on will be bad, wait until the rot seeps in! If we don’t teach these guys well, what makes you believe they will teach who comes after them well (Assuming the LORD does not return of course?)

I missed out on a huge opportunity, my time has passed, but I wish to help the coming generation get a better deal than I did. The churches that have good programs (not just in numbers, but in lives actually changed for Jesus Christ) will make tomorrow’s leaders and send out the evangelists of today and beyond. We need to get our young people in the service of the LORD, on short term missions trips and out there on mission as soon as they are able. Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him not to be “despised because of his youth” and was encouraged to show that despite his years he was mature enough for service, the least we can do is allow our kids to do likewise.

5) I believe that children are our future – Like it or not, they will lead when we don’t! They will have our service as an example on what to either do or what not to do! (We will either serve as a good or bad example) If you chose to just go with the “tried and tested people” that were dynamic 20/30 years ago, your church will stagnate and become dead, will die a slow death and you will wonder what went wrong.

Churches have an abundance of diversity walking through their doors, (I hope that is the case in your church) we should have the same diversity helping shape the way the church progresses. Young people will have input on what the youngsters will see as appealing, we have to appeal to all in order to effectively witness the gospel to a generation that has all manner of substances available to them. (As I did)

6) Youth leaders can’t do it all – It requires “buy in” from all of the church who are genuinely interested in reaching the WHOLE community, the youth leader would assign discipleship opportunities, but he cannot effectively give 20 kids all discipleship that they might need to become todays leaders, he needs buy in from the “spiritual parents” in the church who have a desire to impact these kids’ lives.

I wish I would have had that, but I am not lamenting on the vision that I have now. Having seen what I have seen in my life gives me the urgency to ensure that it does not happen to anyone else if I can help it. I know the signs of someone fading out of church and can identify them quicker than say a guy who has had the perfect Christian life and was always destined to be a pastor; he won’t get why kids are in substance abuse or why those hurdles are just too high to get over in a single bound.

Getting back to the VBS

Anyway, the bulk of the helpers in the VBS were young adults and teenagers who were happy to give up a week of service in order to reach out to the community, many of whom did not attend that church. They were growing in God before my eyes and my prayer is that kindled a fire that the youth leadership and the leadership of the church can set into a fire and get good needs based discipleship going with that student. (Remember, it is not a one size fits all strategy)

Things like this make me excited for the future of the church, let’s make it the rule as opposed to the exception.

My heart for youth

I have a real heart for youth ever since my old (not in age but longevity away from him) Pastor who was the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Glasgow at the time asked my wife and I to go “back home” and head up the youth ministry in a missions plant church in 2010, regrettably it was a good plan but not a God plan and we never went, ever since I have been hankering for an opportunity to be involved in youth and young adult work and regrettably the church I had attended since 2007 does not do youth work I have been in limbo seeking the LORD and what vision he had for me as far as youth work goes.

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

Social Media in spreading the Word of Jesus Christ

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Social Media in spreading the Word of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

This whole deal is a process:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bit like social media really!

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

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

The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

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The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

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

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

2 messages, 2 rains

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

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

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

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

Which rain are you under?

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

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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