Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Do you practice what you preach? – Romans 2:17-24

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Do you practice what you preach? – Romans 2:17-24 – 12/27/2015

Romans 2:17 (ESV) But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

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.

V17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—

Paul writes to the church in Rome and makes a statement that could cut at the heart of every Jew in that he strikes at the very heart of their pride – the morality of the Jew and the adherence to the law. This follows his original thought in the last article about having “possession of the law” and having the law written upon your heart.

The issue we have here is they had this thought that the law sealed their place and confirmed them as a specially chosen people of God, this was their boast. They believed that God’s good favor was hereditary because God gave his holy law to them as a nation and this is where they based their thought that salvation was found in the law; in the next few verses Paul will show them ways that this is not the case.

V21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Let’s keep it simple – Paul was asking them “You have the law, you know what it says but do you do it yourselves?” or to put it in everyday language “Do you practice what you preach?” Paul highlights the following areas…

• Teaching of the law
• Theft
• Adultery
• Idol worship

Simply put the ones who were meant to be upholding the law had heart issues. I am not saying they were suffering from physical cardiac arrest but merely spiritual cardiac arrest. They were very keen to lay down the letter of the law and judge others but they were not doing the very things that made them feel morally superior and gave them that place of “holy authority”. I discuss this today as this was common in Jesus day also; Jesus addressed the matter of keeping the law properly in Matthew 5…

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.

Jesus clarifies that you may be keeping the law by the letter but in your heart you are sinning and he mentions two of the common sins in that they may be morally clean because they have not physically committed adultery but they have lusted in their hearts and likewise they have not murdered but they have hated someone with a vengeance that they committed the sin in their hearts. This is precisely why God placed the “Do not covet” (Exodus 20:17) commandment in the Ten Commandments. These great theologians have yet to nail he basics.

Jesus had more authority than all of the Scribes, Pharisees and all of the Sanhedrin put together, he authored the law and saw the heart in which it was written, but he was keen to advise that he was not there to abolish the law…

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

What a phrase that sends chills down my spine “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Which tells me that you cannot be righteous enough to enter the kingdom of heaven in your own stead, which is precisely why Jesus died on the cross for your sins. God sees both the heart (attitude) and the actions (what everyone else sees) and whilst we can paint a pretty picture externally, God sees what is inside and sees the internal ugliness and motives behind your actions.

This is not just a Jewish problem as we have inherited this in the church today a mindset that we will judge on a “do as I say and not as I do” type of deal with what is being judged upon can also be seen in the lives of the judge. Paul concludes at the end of the original scripture that “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Isaiah 52:5) This even breaks one of the Ten Commandments that we “Should noy take the name of the LORD in vain” (Exodus 20:7) And Paul goes a little deeper into this in Romans 14 in respect to a dispute about judging based on what they eat and drink…

Romans 14:13 (ESV) Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

And here is where you have to ask “By judging am I furthering the Kingdom of God or am I causing people to be further away from God?” or “How is this furthering the Kingdom of God?” Do you really want to stumble a believer? I know in my situation, I used to abuse alcohol so I just do not do it. I do not condemn those who chose to have a beer or two as long as they are not abusing it but I also minister to many who have been through recovery programs so I don’t even have alcohol in my house. Yes I have liberty in Christ but maturity in the word tells me not to want to stumble those (including myself) who have had issues.

It is something to ponder as we need to not establish “holy street cred” by tearing others down to make ourselves morally superior. It is not just a Roman church problem or a Jewish problem. Certainly the Jews were to be an example because they had the religious genealogy and knew the law and were certainly more likely to stumble their Gentile believers who would be looking to them as stronger believers as an example. Examine your heart honestly and see if you are making the same mistakes.

Lord willing, in the next article we will look at circumcision of the heart and examine why God cares about the internal as much as the external.

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

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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

A Christian’s view on this Starbucks red cup social media campaign

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A Christian’s view on this Starbucks red cup social media campaign

Titus 3:1 (ESV) Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

I know that Starbucks don’t “rule us”

However there are some good lessons that we need to look at in the way that we look at the Starbucks Red Cup issue and how we handle this as Christians. We are commanded to do the following…

1)      Speak evil of no-one
2)      Avoid quarrelling
3)      Be gentle
4)      Show perfect courtesy toward all people
5)      Avoid foolish controversies

Anyone see where I am going here? For those of you who have not heard or are wondering what the fuss is about then please let me give you the basics. On social media there has been a lot of talk about Starbucks “Christmas cups” being a basic red cup showing a color of the holiday but there are no mentions of a “Merry Christmas” or recognition of why the cup is red.

Let me be blunt…

Starbucks are under no obligation as a secular company who have not professed Christian beliefs (unlike some others in the service industry such as Chik Fil A, In N Out and Hobby Lobby) so they are quite within their rights to mark the holiday in whatever way they see fit. I don’t see Muslims crying for a “Ramadan Cup” or Jewish people crying for a “Hanukah Cup” so I believe that the choice is simple – Either buy their coffee or not, if you choose not to I am sure there are many other coffee shops who would be glad of your business.

That, as Stone Cold Steve Austin of the WWF said is my “bottom line” and I don’t believe that Starbucks is trying to squeeze out Christmas any more than businesses that still have our patronage that put up “Happy Holidays” signs. Which is worse in the humble Christians opinion? I know that I have never based a decision to buy a coffee based on the theological position of the institution that served me, am I less of a Christian for doing so? I don’t believe so but that is down to personal conscience.

Do something different with that $5

Coffee is expensive if you buy it that way, it is around $5 for a blended drink and about $3 for a hot coffee at most of these places, if you bought two drinks a week you could easily spend $40 on Starbucks in a month, if they have offended you so much why don’t you put that $40 to good use by sponsoring a child. I would recommend Compassion international but there are many good organizations out there that would make great use of that $40 a month. 

Make them write “Merry Christmas” on it

Sharpies aren’t expensive and there is nothing to stop you “inking up your coffee cup” as you please. Failing that they will personalize it with your name so there is nothing to stop you asking for your personalization to be “Merry Christmas”.

Personally our focus is all wrong

Reading that scripture in Titus convicts me about this situation and makes me ashamed of the way that we react to situations like this one, I don’t particularly see it as “defending the faith” as I doubt that this campaign will either bring many souls to salvation or strengthen us in the faith. If we had as much focus on social and economic issues such as homelessness, abortion, all of the kids out there waiting for adoption then we would truly make a difference in this land where God has placed us.

I would use as a good measure of thumb the question “How is this advancing the kingdom of God?” or “Will my actions here cause people to investigate the claims of Christ?” Am I doing “my will be done” rather than “thy will be done?”

I am not writing that to “guilt you” and I am sure there are far better blogs written by far more eloquent writers than myself but I merely aim to do what your Pastor does on a Sunday and pose a question in order to encourage self-reflection. I pray this message encourages you, pokes at your spirit or brings you closer to God. Should you wish to like, comment or share on whatever social media platform then please do as the Lord leads.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Thank a Veteran today

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Thank a Veteran today…

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My dual contemplation part 1…the US

Today is a day of dual contemplation for me, now that I live in the US I contemplate Veterans Day and I think of those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America and who have sacrificed and given of themselves to defend something that is much greater than you or I. They defended the freedom of this great nation that is the USA. I say this as an immigrant to this great land from the UK and sometimes it takes an outsider to remind you that you have a great country that by God’s grace I am fortunate to live in. 

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My dual contemplation part 2…the UK

The second part of my contemplation goes a little further as back home in the UK it is Armistice Day, the day marked to remember the fallen of all wars from the British Armed Forces. It is no co-incidence that both fall on November 11th as it was the end of World War 1. This is the reason for the graphic symbolizing the poppy and a solemn remembrance of the ones who literally “gave all” for a cause they saw as greater than even their own lives. That to me is the ultimate definition of sacrifice, certainly some were “called up” but there are countless stories of those who volunteered to go long before they would have ever have been “drafted”.

Memorial Day versus Veterans Day

In the US we have a separate day to memorialize the fallen called Memorial Day and often times my well-meaning friends on Facebook don’t get the days correct, I don’t get bent out of shape about it as it is a genuine error rather than a malicious misrepresentation. I say this because people genuinely do get annoyed about it and on Veterans Day some folks may be taking their cues from British based social media who are honoring their fallen and dead on the same day.

Love your Veteran

A veteran is someone who took the bible verse in John 15:13 literally when Jesus advised that there was no greater love than a man who was willing to lay down his life. Whilst some Veterans are still alive, they will have been changed by their service. I do not write that lightly and we are still finding out about the horrors of such things as PTSD, Shell shock and other forms of trauma that are associated with battle type scenarios. Whilst your veteran may be holding it together on the outside that is not to say he has not been affected on a much deeper level internally.

I am not saying that all veterans are basket cases; please do not think that I am. I am just stating that you should please be aware that because someone’s body appears whole, that they may need you but have not reached out. Whilst they are hero’s they are still people and still have the same emotional needs that others have.

Honor your Veteran

I honor, revere and respect all those who have served, whether voluntarily or whether they have been compelled to by the ruling authorities these people do deserve to be honored, loved and respected while they are still with us and mourned when they have passed. I love reading about restaurants that will allow veterans to eat for free on this day and they should certainly be publicized.

I would also go further and say we must do more for our veterans who have fallen on hard times and may not have somewhere to live, may not be paying all their bills, may even not be getting enough to eat and I believe that we should be doing more to help those who have risked their lives in defense of our country. It always saddens me when I hear of stories of folks who are in this situation. 

But I am a pacifist…

(I am not) But some Christians will get their panties in a wad over a Veterans Day post here because they are anti-war or anti-Army. You don’t have to be as extreme as the Westboro Baptist Church to hold anti-Soldier sentiments and I know people who feel that way. That is your choice and you have your right to free speech. (On this article it is at the bottom of the page it is the comments section) 

I am not anti-war by any means, I am also not against your right to protest because free speech is a wonderful thing and many veterans would agree with me as they fought for your freedoms and one of those freedoms is your right to disagree with those actions. We are called in Romans 13 to be in subjection to the ruling authorities that God has placed over us whether that be the current president or the captains he has deputized to defend us and regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the actions, it is your right to freely express your opinion, which of course was fought for by those you disagree with.  

God bless America

Whilst I honor our Veterans I also pray for them and their personal salvation unto Jesus Christ, they are warriors and have fought the hardest battles in life and now I fervently pray that they come to faith (if they have not done so already) in Jesus. I pray for this whole great country we call the USA one soul at a time and my prayer is not for an end to war or violence as some request, but I desire a revival of souls and a nation that will do as requested in Isaiah 40 and be that “nation who bears his name” and that they will “humble themselves and pray” that way our land will be healed.

I pray this is not just another day off for you and I pray that you were blessed, encouraged or maybe challenged by this Veterans Day/Armistice Day blog article, please share, like or comment on social media as the LORD leads.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Duggar family scandal – think of the kids

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Duggar family scandal – think of the kids

I am sure by now you will have had time to digest the story about Josh Duggar that came out yesterday and the confession that he, in the past was guilty of child molestation.

This blog has been written with much thought on the words to use in situations like this. I am not a personal friend of the family and know them as well as any other reality TV show star. This is written with a much higher purpose in mind and that is from a concerned Christian brother who only cares about the message of the gospel and that not being hampered in progressing.

Duggar dishonesty

The main stick that people are beating the Duggar family with is the dishonest way in which the criminal element happened when it was brought to light. Jim Bob buried it for nearly a year and then when it was dealt with, it was dealt with by a friendly member of the local police and no charges were ever filed.

Whilst I understand that Jim Bob was doing what any protective father would have done and attempted to shield his son from any punishment, the fact remains that we are called as Christian leaders to be “above reproach” and Jim Bob, even although he was not on TV yet, he was still known in the State of Arkansas due to his politics.

Timeline is wrong in accusations

As alluded to in the last paragraph, Jim and Michelle were not regularly on TV and that is another stick used to beat them with is that “they wanted to protect their TV show” and that could be refuted by simply looking at the timeline, the only fame they had was Jim Bob’s political career.

Is Josh wrong?

Of course he is, he has come out and admitted his wrong doing.  It has come out that Anna, his wife and Anna’s family knew about this prior to the marriage so it was known that it was a big enough issue to bring up during courtship.

He will be criticized in three areas and rightly so…

1) He will be criticized for the act itself – let us not forget that he took advantage of people in conduct that was outside the law and then buried the act until the statute of limitations had passed.
2) He will be criticized for coming out with a confession when it looked like he was going to be “outed” – it looks like “situation management” or “political spin” where if an inconvenient truth is going to come out, you make sure you give your version of events as the “bombshell”.
3) He will be criticized for taking the job in Washington DC with the Family Research Council that he had to resign from as his position was untenable after this announcement.

Pray for the victims

I read an astounding piece yesterday that made a statement along the lines of “it is horrible that this announcement with make these victims remember” and I find that hard to read as victims of abuse do not “forget”.

A lot will be written talking about the need to have forgiveness for the Duggar family and how we need to pray for Josh and Anna and I am not negating that and I will make a similar observation at the end of this article but the victims are suddenly thrown back into a spotlight they never requested and they need prayer.

Will they still be on TV?

It is TLC we are talking about so I would imagine they will. Josh and Anna may play are lesser part and may tone down their appearance in the show, but the network who stood by the Gosselin family when John and Kate plus 8 became Kate plus 8 will not give up the cash cow that is 19 Kids and Counting franchise in DVD and other merchandise easily, to them it is a business and as long as they are publically popular then they will be on the air.

But he is meant to be a Christian?

Yes he is! Does that mean he is perfect? no it doesn’t! When we become a Christian we do not suddenly lose the ability to sin, we simply become forgiven of our sin. It also doesn’t mean that he will always make good choices. People know that Christians are called to a higher standard so when we fall off this perceived standard or code of conduct then we are called out harder than someone who is of the world.

Regrettably we are all seen in the same bag and this allegation makes it tougher for Christians as a whole as people will use it as a stick to beat the Christian faith. Truth be told abuse is as likely to happen out in a secular organization as a Christian one, it is reported less and is not as big a scandal.

In my local town one of the local churches took a body blow as it was found out that the worship leader was guilty of 4 counts of molestation and it was tough for me as I knew the guy and I am a fellow laborer in that city and when men fall like this it is ALL Christians who get tarred with that self-same brush and it makes it tougher to introduce Jesus to non-Christians when they have this perception of who Christians are.

The bell that can’t be un-rung!

It is seen as such a scandal as there is an abuse of trust from someone we held up as a “fine young man” and it does show the danger of following man rather than Jesus Christ. Men (even the fine young ones) will fail us and make mistakes.

However this particular sin is perceived as worse than all others and because of the man’s public profile will lead to the public humiliation of his and his family. The statute of limitations is passed so there is nothing legally that can be done to him, but he can be publically spoken about, maligned and gossiped about in public until it all dies down.

What’s my angle?

Well I am a Christian dad who homeschools and I know that both will be more of a challenge after announcements like this. I already get “the look” at sporting events when I am there with my kid and they ask what grade she is in and I say “first” and they ask who the teacher is and my kid points to my wife and then we have to explain that she is homeschooled and then we see it “the look” as if we are weird.

It is something we are used to as my wife has been a choir director for a local homeschooling choir for many years and we got “the look” before we were even parents. It is something that we shrug off and laugh about.

I would not say I am a “fan” of the show but I do like the content of the show, the idea that they have that many kids, are homeschoolers, are Christians and the values they represent made for good TV viewing, I have not however saw “every episode” but I have really enjoyed the ones I have watched. I have no “axe to grind” with the Duggars and before these revelations found those folks to be decent people with good God centered family values. 

I feel for both the victims as well as the Duggar family, yes they did not do well in the areas above but this really will impact their witness for Jesus Christ. Whether they carry on with their show is irrelevant, what is important is that they continue growing as a family in their relationships with Jesus Christ and continue to impact people positively for the kingdom of God.

What now for Josh and Anna

Well Josh is now looking for a new job; fortunately his kids are homeschooled so they won’t have to endure taunting from their peers at school. I would imagine that people will take it upon themselves to voice their opinion whenever they see the family in public; I pray that it doesn’t happen but situations like this bring out the worst in people.

As stated above I expect them to slip out of the public profile and play a less significant role in the show if it does continue. They will be less of a “camera draw” as people may not wish them to be there. The family will rally round them and will be a support and I hope that Josh is able to find employment and able to provide for his family.

I think this will be the tip of the iceberg and I think that some magazine (probably not People as the Duggars have previously supplied them with stories) will have a story about this and will be giving the victim “a voice” and I would imagine some more will come out as the Sun shines on this story.

People will react as people do, they will want him to pay, they will be hysterical,  they will want the show off the air! They will claim at large that all Christians and all homeschoolers are like that!

What if it was my kid?

If it was my kid I would have been angry and never allowed the story to be buried, I would certainly have had him prosecuted to the extent of the law and I would have had a hard time keeping calm about it.

That however would NEVER bring my daughter’s innocence back! I would have a hard time about it and not want to do it but I would pray for him.

Think of the kids

I come back to the original point I made when I began this blog. There are kids involved and at some point Josh, Anna, Josh’s siblings and Jim and Michelle are going to have to sit the kids down at some point and tell them about what has been written about Josh. Headlines no longer last for a day and even although this eventually will die down the story will be indexed and perhaps referenced if another story comes up about the Duggars. (How many times have you noticed “related articles” on news reports.

They are going to have to deal with this revelation about their brother/husband/daddy/uncle/in law and I am sure they will have to see the public’s reaction. I pray they don’t and that people do not behave the way people behave in these situations. Please think and remember they are the innocents in this case.

This has been tough to write and I pray that although this is challenging and tough to read, please feel free to share, like or comment below as the LORD leads.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

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

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Thanksgiving week – Day five – my riches

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

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

Legalism

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

Go beyond the ticket price and question the true value

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

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

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

Greed not need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is my redeemer?

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

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

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

How much are you worth?

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

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

Lastly, some perspective

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

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

How can I help?

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

You are rich, put your wealth where it really matters

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

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

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

What about me?

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

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

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

The other Black Friday

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

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

What is your stench?

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What is your stench?

2 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) 14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

This verse has been on my heart for the last week (verse 15) but in order for the verses to be understood appropriately then I added verses 14-17 to get Paul’s full thought as he wrote to the church in Corinth. As you may or may not be aware the Corinthian church was a very carnal church, it was very worldly and much of both of the letters written by Paul to the Corinthian believers were correction in practices that should not have been in the church in the first place. This is as relevant today as it was to the first generation of Christians.

When I think about these verses it brings me back to the early nineties and the bracelets that were popular back then such as W.W.J.D? (Which stood for What Would Jesus Do?) and was usually worn as an item of clothing such as a T-shirt or a bracelet, I liked seeing this as the wearer was reminded that his/her actions may or may not have been worthy of what they were called to as a Christian.

Mr. Short Fuse

I admit it, I am Mr. Short Fuse, I pray on a daily basis that I don’t lose it, if I am Mr. Calm to you that is due to the grace of God and a work of God in my life. Prior to becoming a Christian I was always in conflict, silly things ticked me off and often times had it not been for good friends I may have been involved in brawling situations that may have done me damage. I am fiercely loyal and if you came to hurt my friends or family, I would come out swinging. I might not always win but I would get my point across.

A time I remember was when my dad and I went to a charity football (soccer for the Americans) game between two Glasgow teams called Celtic and Rangers at the stadium that was the home stadium of Rangers. (Called Ibrox) It would take to long to do the background behind this but traditionally Rangers are known as the “Protestant club” and wear blue, Celtic are known as “the Catholic club” and wear green and white. Dad (a Rangers fan) wore a jacket that was predominantly green heading for the Rangers home end.

As we were crossing the road at a traffic light a snowball flew between me and my dad, due to the highly charged nature of the fixture, even although it was an over 35’s game or retired professionals, there were still 50,000 people in Ibrox for this fixture. Tickets were only 5 pounds and it was meant to be a family atmosphere, however traditional rivalry and tribalism took over and the thrower mistook my dad as a Celtic fan in the wrong end of the ground. I snapped and wanted to take the guy on, the red mist enveloped and I was at Defcon 1 (Highest alert status prior to a strike) in one fell swoop. Dad pulled me back and calmed me down but I was still annoyed going into the game.

What is the point of this? I wasn’t a Christian at that point of my life so I was acting based on what my flesh judged as the right thing to do. Something that is worth noting from a Christian point of view if we are talking to one who is living in sin, if they have not accepted Jesus as their saviour and being ministered to by the Holy Spirit, they will not have the same convictions as you.

However, if we are a Christian we should be looking to imitate Christ and that is really what I am trying to say. I want to act like him, I want to love like he did, I want to tell the world of his life changing power and lastly I want to stench like he does. We have to be sincere, want to immerse our whole lives in our Christian walk. This is the hard part, I have learned recently. A recent vote in my homeland did not go the way I wanted it to, but it made me realize that even although I was many thousand miles away, I was still spending too much time on things that were temporary and really had no eternal value. In heaven I doubt I will care if Scotland went independent or not.

Mr. Non-Perfect

I am also Mr. Non-Perfect, I am kind of glad that I am not, as I know me better than most folks and I would be the first to state that should I ever attain what I regard as perfection then I fear that piety and pride would sneak in. So i am quite happy to be “Mr. Non-Perfect” it keeps me humble. There are times in my life that I don’t handle things well, I don’t read situations the way one would expect and I am very prone to “brain farts”, lastly I know that I talk too much and quite often steamroller people in conversations, usually adding very little to the original points, I pray daily about things like this and we all have our inner wars.

What is a Christ like stench?

You have to have a heart transplant, you have to sort out your “kardia” (Greek word that is used in New Testament for “heart”) I was blessed to be given the opportunity to share and teach at an elderly home a week last Sunday and I shared from Romans 10 and shared about the heart of a Christian. We will not grow the way God wants us to if we are “tick the box Christians” and go through the motions in order to get things done and checked in order to get a “holy gold star”.

That is not real and genuine Christianity, real Christianity is hard, it is for me at least. It is a daily prayer life to make me more like Jesus, to love people both when it is easy and when they tick me off. To love people when I get hurt, to prefer others before myself, I am selfish and self-focused in nature and this stuff does not come easily.

Straight from the heart

It is not enough to just have the appearance of holy and to not let it escape your mouth, the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ tells us in the gospel of Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV version)

“10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

If we have a “potty heart” as I wrote earlier then eventually that will corrupt our whole walk with Jesus. We need to have daily “kardia” work. We have to be as Christ said “salt and light”. We are operating a guerrilla warfare in which we are the spiritual terrorists, (this world is no longer our home) and we have to infiltrate and show the love of Christ. We have to be different in order to show a living example of Christ. Some of the strongest and most powerful sermons that are preached are not from a pulpit.

This is a challenge as much for me as it is for you dear reader, let us go out and be the stench of Jesus.

God bless and I hope this was a challenge, please feel free to share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE 

I wanna live with abandon

I wanna live with abandon

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Who do you respect? Is it the man with qualifications coming out of his ears? Is it the man who has been through seminary? Is it the man who has been in ministry for xx years? Is it the man who has the winning smile and the easy to listen to ministry? Is it the man who is that sold out for Jesus that he is changing people’s lives in an infectious basis that his life raises questions on what he has.

Personally, the latter is what I admire most, yes credentials, qualifications and experience in ministry will open doors within the Christian world, but in my humble opinion, a heart that is changed, sold out and on fire for Jesus will change many more lives than all of the things that we look for in a “life changed”.

It is not because I am closer to being one of the latter that I relate more to that person, I don’t have the credentials, I don’t have the college degree, letters after my name or have I ever really sought after them. No seminary experience and also very little ministry experience also. But living where I live, in an area where I see criminals at all hours of the day, that I see parties that explode into violence, having to have dealt with real life such as suicides, divorce, people going to jail that you have tried to witness to for Christ. That is front line ministry.

You see, we are called to a battle, a somewhat heavenly war. We have an enemy that will attempt to steal and seed that we have planted for the LORD. He will attempt to nobble either the teacher or the student, dependent on which one is weaker at a particular time. The enemy will try to find our Achilles heel and topple us.

Audacious faith

I read a book a while back called “Sun Stands Still” and it was about the battle in which Joshua faced and he had faith enough to ask God to make the Sun to stand still and God heard his petition and essentially pressed the pause button to allow Joshua to win the battle.

In that book, they used the term a lot called “audacious faith” and I believe that is what we are missing in our lives my friends. I know sometimes I don’t like to step outside my comfort zone and do things that I would rather not for the LORD. Sometimes I think we have to let go of what is holding us back and let the LORD do what he will in us. When I think of this I am always reminded of the wrestling match in Genesis where Jacob wrestled with the LORD all night.

I am with the writer that we have to have “audacious faith” but what does that mean? I believe that we have to evaluate and sometimes re-evaluate what we are doing and what we spend our time on. Fathers are not exempt, yes your task in fatherhood may limit your time, may pull you in other directions, but there is still work to be done by you.

That is not to say you neglect your primary mission field which is of course the home, but we can get too involved and preclude ourselves from blessings that the LORD wants to do in our lives by not recognizing the open doors that the LORD is putting n front of you. Being honest here, I am speaking with myself in mind first. My mission field is my workplace, my neighbours and whomever God puts in front of me. It is hard because I do not live, work or go to church in the same city. So anyone I do reach for Christ I am relying on others to follow up for me.

Like most of my blogs, I am speaking to myself first and foremost, I put it into a blog not because I think that people should listen to me or that I have something unique or profound to bring that will be life changing. I write because it is my prayer that whatever I am going through or the words that God has given me will minister to someone at some point.

Why the title?

I chose the title of the blog because that this morning this was a song that was on the radio on my way to work. God truly gave that song because i have been evaluating/re-evaluating where I am doing things well and where I am messing up! (My mess up list is too high for my liking) If you want to know where a man messes up, ask his wife or kids!

I want to be more missional, I want my life to be simpler, I want to always be on mission, always on point. The best father and leader of my home I can be and be able to be used in whether God has in store for me, I am a frustrated teacher, I want to teach the word of God but I have no one to listen to me yet. Who knows what the LORD will bring but my desire is to be ready.

Missional/Simple Christianity

I come from a missions church, our sound system was a laptop with the “Audacity” program, a lapel mic and a proper mic for the worship sets. The equipment was not as important as the culture that was cultivated. It was a real family that could be real with one another. We held each other up in our struggles and were always there for one another.

It was simpler because it was more focused on cultivating relationships through love, once the sinner is repentant then comes the discipleship. It’s a growth relationship where both parties are growing together as well as growing in God. I have seen many lives changed this way.

Encouragement

This is meant to be encouraging, it really is! I want to look at areas where I need to “pull out the weeds” and areas where I need to “plant for the harvest”. Everyone’s life is different and we will all have unique challenges and trials, some of us will have multiple kids, some will have money trials and have to work 2 jobs to keep afloat, whatever your situation I am just asking you to do as it states in Colossians 3:23, that we do everything unto the LORD and do it heartily, with the right heart and do it unto the LORD and not unto men!

Do you weep?

I went to church on Sunday and the Pastor asked a real poignant question “When was the last time you wept for the lost?”, cared so much that there are people going to hell on a daily basis and not having Jesus as their messiah. We can’t save everyone but we have to be open to be used by the LORD.

Self application

My problem is that I am too self-focused and too insular. Do you recognize what is standing in your way? Maybe you are perfect and are a one man movement of Pentecost, I wish I was, not for me but because I want to see people’s lives changed, starting with mine!

Thank you for reading, I pray this was a challenge, a blessing and please if you have any questions, comments or feedback then please do so below as the LORD leads.
TGBTG
TTE

Have a little Compassion

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Matthew 25:35 (ESV) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, .you did it to me

Have a little compassion

I don’t normally use this blog to promote other Christian organizations (perhaps I should as we are all the body of Christ) but this is an organization that is very close to my heart as it combines the love of Jesus with the wellbeing of children that really need our help.

My wife and I have supported Compassion International since 2006, we have a sponsored child from Uganda, we first got involved with compassion after visiting visiting a booth at the Scottish Christian festival called “Frenzy”.

Compassion are an awesome charity that facilitates communication between the sponsor and the sponsored child, distributes money just not for the child’s education but also has programs that will help out the community at large.

Of course many programs do this, however what attracted me to these guys and the reason I have stayed with them (Apart from our “African daughter”) I’d the strong emphasis on honoring Jesus name in everything they do.

I do not get anything for promoting them, this is an advert which is written without prior consent of Compassion and I do not get reimbursed in any way.

Over the years I have help “Compassion Sundays” at my church and have manned and staffed Compassion booths in my local area at concerts as diverse as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Chondra Pierce.

Sponsoring a child is very easy and surprisingly affordable. (Works out to be about $38 a month/just over a $1 a day)

You can learn more about sponsoring sponsoring a child here

God bless you and I pray that you share, like or comment below
TGBTG
TTE

God’s Not Dead – Movie review

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DISCLAIMER:- This review contains some plot descriptions,  so please exercise some caution as there are some spoilers.

Introduction

I have to admit before I begin that I love the work of David AR White and Pure Flix having seen a few of his productions on the Netflix platform, so before I even watched this movie I had ha light hopes and a decent expectation of what I was going to see.

So last night (Sunday 10th August 2014) I ordered it from my local redbox (I so wanted to see it in the cinema but I was not able to) and we had a family movie night at home.

Main plot

The main plot follows a freshman university student (Shane Harper – Josh Wheaton) who enrolls in a philosophy class in order to accumulate credits for his law degree, he is warned that the lecturer that he has chosen would give him problems because of his Christian beliefs, he still enrolls.

In the first class the lecturer tells them that 30% of the or final grade rests on them completing a paper that states “God is dead”, this is complied by the wh ok let class apart from Josh, the lecturer sets him a challenge to prove Gods existence in 3 20 minute segments, he will be then graded by the rest of the class.

Sub plots

There are many sub plots in this movie and it is awesome to see how it all fits together into a cohesive story, here is a few.

The missionary pastor and Rev Dave: (played by David AR White and Benjamin Ochieng) keep popping up as somewhat central characters different pastoral roles and an ill fated, often delayed trip to Disney land.

The professor and his girlfriend (played by Kevin Sorbo and Cory Oliver) the professor hates God and his girlfriend is an ex student and is a Christian. Gives a good insight into the back story of the professor.

Josh and his girlfriend – gives a good insight into other personal relationships that Josh has.

The spiritual journey of Martin Yip, gives a good example of someone who was genuinely searching for someone more.

Ayisha the Muslim convert – gives another dimension into the bravery of some folks to come to faith in Jesus Christ from a strict Muslim background.

Amy Ryan/Mark Shelley – Amy is a humanistic, anti-Christian blogger who wishes to bring down everyone who is a Christian, she gets diagnosed with cancer and starts to evaluate what is important. Mark is a guy who is very self centered, dumps Amy when she finds out she has cancer and appears in different parts of the movie.

My thoughts on the movie

I thought it was a well made, well thought out movie. There was plenty for the Christian to enjoy but enough to challenge a non Christian to question the way they have viewed Christians in acedemia.

With appearances on screen by Dean Cain, David AR White, Willie Robertson and Korie Robertson from Duck Dynasty, Christian band The Newsboys and Kevin Sorbo it was a great cast and good storyline.

Credits

In the credits it states all of the lawsuits that gave inspiration to this movie, it lists several lawsuits where students have been bullied or marginalized due to their belief in Jesus Christ.

Would I recommend it?

I would! I am saddened when I look at the movie reviews on sites such as IMDB and see so many folks having negative reviews due to the faith content.

God bless you and I pray that this article is a blessing and I pray that you will prayerfully consider liking, sharing or commenting on this article
TGBTG
TTE