Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: church

Psalms Saturday #10 – His Steadfast Love Endures Forever – Psalms 100

wpid-downloadfile-4.jpeg

Psalms Saturday #10 – His Steadfast Love Endures Forever – Psalms 100 – 03/12/2016

A Psalm for giving thanks

Psalms 100:1 (ESV) Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

This verse even although it is only a few words long really speaks to me on a personal level. One of my personality faults is that I am like Chandler in the TV series Friends and I apply nervous humor to situations and one of my “common jokes” is my inability to sing in a manner that is beautiful to others. I often joke that I “make a joyful noise!” and I will give you an example of this below…

The church I attend on a Sunday had a real worship leader problem due to the Senior Pastor being unavailable, one of the worship leaders being sick and another was out of town and my wife, even although she was getting over sickness stepped into help, when she texted the Assistant Pastor she joked that I could sing and it was met with much hilarity.

We have to realize with worship that God care more about the heart of the worshipper than the exterior package. One of the things that put me off church when I was a young seeker bouncing between churches (see my testimony page for a fuller description) is one church I went to which was described as a “Charismatic church” where the ones who were held us as the “best worshippers” or “so full of the spirit” were also the ones who could turn on the “joyful noise” like a faucet (tap) and usually lived the most worldly lives outside the church and only came for the experience and were not deeply grounded in any faith as they all left within a few years and lived in the world, never to return to Jesus.

I say this not in a judgmental tone but one of concern for those folks, I did likewise but I also returned. I say it also because we have to check our hearts that we are not doing what Jesus accused the Pharisees or religious people of…

Matthew 6:1 (ESV) Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Yes Jesus speaks about giving and praying but he also touches on practicing your righteousness before other people and we have to be genuine in our worship to God and if we are weeping we are weeping, if we have our hands up and look worshipful then let us be worshipful in the inside too because we all need honesty and transparency and really need not to be fake and I pray for us all that we are the same through the week as we are on a Sunday morning when all the people we worship with see us being “worshipful”. It should be a life of worship as opposed to an hour a week and the Psalmist goes on to talk about how we should serve the LORD.

V2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

How should we serve the LORD? With gladness of course! I would go so far as to say that if you are serving the LORD with grumpiness or with a less than stellar attitude then I would ask for the good of yourself and the people you are serving then please take a time out from serving. Often time’s people are called to serving and I know from personal experience from when I was trying to “trudge on” and becoming “burned out” that folks were not volunteering to take my place because they saw that that ministry was covered. So you may very well be doing harm to yourself but also to the ministry at large.

If that continues then you will get what I call the “cataloguing Christian” where they start to list the ministries they have been involved in to puff themselves up, make themselves feel good and justify why they are griping about their present circumstances that in many cases they have volunteered for. This leads to the ones who people are relying on not actually wanting to come to church and you will rarely see these people coming into the presence of the LORD with singing! If you are reading this and questing what I am saying then please take a look at your own church and have a look at how many folks are shouldering most of the burden and that will give you an idea where you can help.

How do we avoid this? Well it can be two fold…

Leaders

We should not be just looking to “fill spots in a roster” and we should be looking to fill positions with people who are suited to what we are asking for, a decent example you would not ask someone who is horrible with kids to take a class of 6-8 year old screaming kids.

We should also look for willing but capable people to fill spots and train then up well by giving them decent support and while they are learning have a safety net where they can “fail on a small scale” as a learning curve.

We need to be observant for “burn out” and if someone is doing six months in a row doing Children’s ministry and not getting any fellowship then they may very well get burned out.

We can’t be pressuring people into doing something, whether it’s doing a task, giving or making someone feel like they are being pressured into doing something.

Volunteers

Be honest about your callings, don’t be pressured into something and be willing to help and try things out, if it is not for you then be honest about it and help to find someone to replace you.

V3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

He deserves our songs of praise because he is good, he is God and he really has that divine right to worship, it is what we were created for and this is also why the Psalmist calls us “his people and the sheep of his pasture”.

The Psalmist also states that “he made us” and that is true. If you have been following along in our bible studies in the book of Genesis you will know that we were literally made from the dust of the ground. We have to realize that the very breath in our bodies is a gift from God. When we fail to acknowledge this and give God the true place he deserves it leads to a self-worship that is unfulfilling and often leads to disappointment.

Who do you live for? Is it you or is it God? We are his people and we are the sheep of his pasture and like any good shepherd he knows his flock. Everything we have been provided has come from God. We read in Psalm 24 the following…

Psalms 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, does that change the way you view your surroundings? The meat you eat were made my animals created by God, the plants you eat were made by God, the water you drink was made by…you guessed it. Is it any wonder the Psalmist continues with…

V4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Feel like a benefits or a welfare case yet? That is not my intention but we are like the 30 something who still lives at home because Mom and Dad are cheaper than the real world! Then if we get a bump in the road we whine like a 3 year old! Often times when we get mad in our own first world problems it is not due to a major catastrophe it is due to something that has upset us that we will not even remember in five years!

On the flip side we should enter his courts with praise and here is why! Even if you are the poorest person in your church, living from paycheck to paycheck but just paying your bills, you are being provided for and God has seen you through it. You are still much wealthier than many are in developing countries.

V5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

And this is why we praise the LORD, because he is good, he loves us, his faithfulness is forever and his love endures forever. This is all from the father of truth so you can be guaranteed of the validity and truth of what is said.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. 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

Advertisements

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

image

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

Those crazy Canadians

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

Back to the Great Commission

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

Unified evangelism

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

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

Reinvent the wheel?

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

Cheap as chips?

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

Align with those on the same mission

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

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

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

Families on and in mission

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

What about the concert?

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

What flavor of Christ are you?

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

Quantity or quality?

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

Closing benediction

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

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

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

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

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

See also

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

image

Qualifications for Overseers

image

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Overseers

1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Paul starts again by stating that right after he introduces that he will be speaking about the qualifications of an overseer, he establishes in the very first word that it will be a “he”. Paul states that it has to be a he, however that not all men are qualified and he will list qualifications below to help those who are called with finding suitable people in their task.

Episkopos

The Greek word (episkopos) which is translated as “bishop” or “overseer” means over – watcher literally someone God has charged to watch over the assembly, our closest English word is “overseer” nowadays it is not uncommon to see more than one “minister” or “pastor” in a larger assembly and some will fulfil different roles, some will be shepherds, some will be counsellors, some will be teachers and some will be evangelists, todays modern pastor will have to do many of these roles.

Timothy is reminded that the person who wants to do this does desire a good work; therefore he had to look for good guys that fulfil the criteria. It is not about elevation it is more about stepping up as an act of service and by taking this task on, you are willing to state that you are willing to serve more and do more work.

Careful of the “title chasers”

Conversely Timothy had not to look for those who chased titles, self-glory or individual honor. That is not service at all (perhaps self-service) which is why there were very steep qualifications in order to qualify.

I won’t get too deep into this but it does sadden me when major denominations with millions of Christian followers deviate from the word of God go away from the word of God and ordain women when there are perfectly able men to do the job.

Let’s look at the qualifications

1) Above reproach – Blameless, nothing in his life would cause attacks to the church, one who lives a righteous life. Really what you are looking at here is a man who cannot reasonably be accused and does not create wonder about why he is in that position. (many of these criteria’s will merge into each other)

2) The husband of one wife – Someone who is committed to his wife, a one woman man. Not someone prone to affairs, someone prone to straying, someone his wife can trust. Someone who is devoted to that one woman and not deviated to others, including fantasies such as pornography.

3) Sober-minded – someone who thinks with clarity, not given to going to extremes and is reliable. Someone who is trustworthy and knows how to handle difficult situations. Ministry can sometimes be difficult and you would not sent someone into a situation where someone was grieving that would constantly be joking and coming out with all manners of ill-timed and inappropriate conversation. Really we are looking at the man’s behavior that he would give a good counsel and not disqualify himself due to foolish conduct.

4) Self-controlled – Is as you would expect someone who controls himself, is trustworthy, is upright and does not rage or “lose it” at the slightest miniscule thing. Self-control is a rare gift in a man.

5) Respectable – Can also be translated as “modest”, “dignified” or “orderly” any of these definitions would give a good example of the type of man that Paul is speaking of.

6) Hospitable – Willing to open their home to strangers and friends, their house is a house of ministry where people are always welcome and their house is an extension to the church where real ministry can happen in a smaller setting.

7) Able to teach – He has to be able to lead the assembly in sound doctrine. Notice it doesn’t state eloquence or be “society friendly” (unlike today when the first concern is how it looks) just the ability to break down doctrine and be skilled to teach either in a large group, small group or individual setting.

8) Not a drunkard – This is quite a hotly debated subject as to whether an overseer should drink wine. Personally, from my history and to err on the side of caution as to not stumble a weaker believer, it would be better to sacrifice personal comfort in order to not cause another to sin. 

Paul states “not a drunkard” and for me this goes hand in hand with “above reproach”, “sober minded” and “self-controlled”. I don’t know about you but if I was to see a man falling about and not in control of himself due to being drunk, those words would be the furthest from my mind!

Whilst it is not a “banned substance” I have seen folks who have been encouraged to drink by leadership in churches “go too far with their liberty” and having sin issues because of it. Not really good leadership and a steep price to pay for “liberty”. Paul certainly discourages choosing someone who has an unresolved issue with alcohol.

9) Not violent but gentle – not a brawler, can you imagine an assembly where a man who led it wanted to be involved in fist fights? Doesn’t really show Jesus gentle side as appears to be involved in whatever the latest battle is. Not quite the same as someone who wished to argue all the time, which comes next!

10) Not quarrelsome – Similar to the violent man, this one is violent of speech! Always contentious, always splitting people up, always fighting, always conflict. Why would you do that to your assembly?

11) Not a lover of money – We see this a lot in today’s church, the “career Pastors” or the ones who are in the ministry for the money that it generates. You can see these men’s hearts if you ask them to give up their lavishness for a 2 year ministry in the 3rd world. They would not be lining up to bear another’s burdens with the least of these. Another issue is that these men become covetous, always looking for the next big thing, keep up to date on the pulse of the newest movements to get new people in and he is never satisfied and always looking for more, bigger or better.

By being anchored in the temporary things such as money, the heavenly things are bound to be neglected. How can the man counsel others about the riches of heaven if he is focused on the riches in his own wallet?

12) He must manage his own household well – God has given the man a training environment in his own home. Paul states that those who wish to be leaders have to be effective leaders in their own homes. They have to lead their family in devotions; they have to lead the family in prayer.

13) He must not be a recent convert – One of the dangers of leadership is choosing the wrong man, too quickly. Perhaps he is a likeable man and appears good for leadership with one issue – He hasn’t been saved all that long!

Paul warns against doing this. I have seen this happen and I also have seen someone remove themselves out of ministry due to issues concerning this. Being in ministry is tough and it is not fair to an assembly or the person themselves to put them into a position they are not equipped to handle.

Obviously if it is an obvious calling from God and that would be acceptable, but Paul is speaking about a brand new believer, they can be swayed with erroneous doctrines and fall into errors that a more mature believer would not fall into.

Lastly in extreme cases you can burn a new believer out, cause them to doubt even their faith and you could lose him to the faith. It is always best to be cautious and cover any new appointments with care.

I have been in a missions church where I was perhaps given more than I should have been because it was “all hands on deck” but any training, any teaching, were all done supervised and careful care was taken before I was allowed to do it on my own. That is not distrust but simply good leadership.

14) He must be well thought of by outsiders – He must have a good report, a good testimony both in and out of the church, so much so that he even has the respect and people know what kind of man he is both in the assembly and out. His life must be a positive affirmation of his faith. He must be Salt and Light to those outside and his life must be the best advert for the faith of Christ Jesus.

Steep qualifications

Quite a long list huh? Which is why I stated it the qualifications were pretty steep. I think already I have ruled myself out from ever being an overseer!

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

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

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

image

Love measured

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

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

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

Being a student again

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

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

image

Father of the year?

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

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

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

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

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

The challenge

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

image

Her future

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

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

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

I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

image

I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

Like most males based in America, I love me a little MNF (Or Monday Night Football for those who do not speak NFL) but I try to restrict myself to when my team are playing and I have it as more of a treat than a Monday night ritual. As you may have guessed by the title and picture that I have placed on the top of this article, I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I must have some sort of NFL style Stockholm syndrome by choosing a team that I have never seen live in the Superbowl (I was born in 1977) and who quite often lose in the playoffs, but I am a loyal guy and once I saw an aging Joe Montana throw snaps in the Red, white and yellow uniform, I was hooked and instantly loved the game.

A few years later in the country where I lived in Scotland we got the NFL Europe and we got a team called the “Scottish Claymores” and I continued to like this “foreign sport” along with about 10,000 other die hards until the team ceased operations in 2004.

When I moved to the US I continued to like the game and although I live no-where near KC, I have kept up with what is going on with a team that I have formed an association with and a team that has given me a great deal of joy, a great deal of frustration and a great cause of my mood swings.

Last night was a good night to be a Chiefs fan and it is hard because there is a tradition that we do at Arrowhead that I am not too fond of, this may sound hypocritical as I was not born in the US or am I a US citizen, however I am not a fan of the tradition of concluding the American national anthem with “The land of the free, in the home of the CHIEFS!” I am a really big fan of my team but I do think there are some things that you shouldn’t mess with. The US is a wonderful country and one of the greatest things about this place is that they are proud to be American.

Play by play, the Chiefs played better than the Patriots, won 41-14, they set a new Guinness record for noise and despite the fact I started the game about an hour after the rest of the country. (I had errands to run and I had the game DVR’d) I still finished it about the time the rest of the US and I was getting more and more excited as the game was drawing to a close.

This made me think, imagine getting into a state about a game that I have no control over and that for half of it I was cheering after the play had occurred, (even if I was in the stadium I would have little to do with the outcome on the field) when I don’t get in a state about the things that matter, things like I wonder how many of the 76,000 seats last night were occupied by people who were assured of going to heaven by having Jesus as their Saviour.

Please do not think I am against sports and enjoying yourself, that is not the case. I love watching football and love to see my team win, however I do realize and recognize that “tribal worship” like that is not exactly a good thing. Since I have been in California, I have seen folks check their smart phones to check scores whilst in church, rush out of church to get home to see their game or in some cases (and I have done this) when the church service collides with a game, not went to church.

That’s when you have to do some examining our natural face in the glass (as James would say in his epistle) and pray about what the LORD wants you to do. This maybe an emotive subject as I know many Christians who love the NFL and I know the teams they follow but precious little else about them, that is tragic and we do tend to wear our sports teams jerseys like some sort of cultish pride.

I am not against watching football on a Sunday, Monday or whatever day you choose to, but I do have some advice, last night when I DVR’d the game, I got through it in just over an hour as opposed to the nearly 4 hours I usually set aside. This is not a guilt trip and I am as much talking to me as anyone but when was the last time you spent nearly 4 hours in prayer and worship to the one true king? (Jesus Christ)

I do not wish to get all legalistic and we are all free to make our own choices. I can no easier see your heart as I can your motives in what you do, I have no idea what your daily walk with Jesus is like, however I do like to throw up warning flares and hope that the Holy Spirit uses these writings to fulfill the will of God. There is no anti sport agenda here as I love Rugby, Soccer, Football and Baseball. In fact if my “religion” was sports results then I would have been a happy worshipper with Dundee United, Glasgow Warriors and the LA Dodgers all winning recently.

It is like most things I guess in the Christian faith, all down to your heart. If it becomes a consuming passion in your life then it is clear that you need to take a step back and a step closer to Jesus.

From this member of the Red Tribe I pray that this blog is edifying, challenging and thought provoking, please feel free to comment, like or share below, God bless you one and all
TGBTG
TTE

Westboro Baptist Church are at it again

Colossians 4:5 (ESV) Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

image

Source – Christian Today (Australia)

Regular readers to my blog will observe that yesterday I spoke of the need to pray for the family and friends of  Robin Williams,  the actor who committed suicide on Monday.

One controversial group who calls itself a Christian church does not agree. I am of course talking about the Westboro Baptist Church.

I am not one to bash fellow believers in the LORD, however I do have a hard time with these guys. I do agree that we are supposed to be willing to share the truth about our beliefs with the world,  we are commanded to be “salt” and “light”, but I do wonder if they are achieving much for the kingdom of God with their tactics.

The reason they wish to do so is that Williams played a gay man in the movie “The Birdcage” and also for the cross dressing scenes in “Mrs Doubtfire” where he dresses up as a nanny to enable him to see his kids during a messy divorce.

For those of you who are new to Westboro,  I would urge that you do not take my word for it and do a quick search engine site search on four simple words “Westboro Baptist Church protest” and you will see that the church and it’s followers are one issue radicals who march up and down the country (and sometimes go international) to spread a message that “God hates gay people” and “God hates the military”.

As most of you know, I live in Central California in an area that is very patriotic, mostly Republican voters who have an almost country style of living.  The church threatened they would picket two separate military funerals in my area,  I wandered over to see if there was anything that could be said to them, they chose not to come to the one I attended due to local community and local Sheriffs support for the family.

Here is my deal, by all means stand against the sins of this world, but picketing funerals who are packed with people who are already hurting and are not in a place to receive any message, far less a controversial one like the one you are peddling really helps no one.  Yes it gets your name in the media, perhaps that is the aim after all.

If that is the aim then Jesus addressed this when talking to the Pharisee guys who wanted to proclaim Gods name and Gods truth in public and on the street corners where they could be seen by many as “they already have their reward” which basically means that you are doing it vainly or for yourself and their is no eternal or heavenly value in what you are doing.

You do not have to believe me on this one, a quick Web search on the WBC (I do not wish to directly link to their website) will take you to their website (Even the domain name is inflammatory) where they celebrate such things as “soldiers that God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, pickets conducted by WBC,  cities that have been visited by WBC, weeks that WBC has held daily pickets on the mean streets of doomed america, people whom God has cast into hell since you loaded this page, gallons of oil that God poured in the Gulf, national debt of doomed america, people that God saved in the flood, people that God killed in the flood, Jews that will be saved in these last days and lastly nanoseconds of sleep that WBC members lose over your opinions and feeeeellllliiiiiings.” These guys are truly displaying the love of Jesus huh?

Let me correct some faulty doctrine here, God is love, God does not hate homosexuals,  military people or anyone. God hates sin however and should we choose to let our time on this earth expire and not choose to reconcile with God, then we will be apart from him forever. Take this from a guy who has most likely never met you, however has made it his life’s goal to tell you that Jesus loves you, so much that he died for you,  so you can be reconciled to God,  Nothing more, nothing less, we are the ones with a choice to make,  we can choose eternal life or not.

People who read this who are fans, family and friends of Robin Williams,  my hope is that Robin took Jesus as his Saviour prior to death, because really not much else matters beyond that. The fame, the Oscar,  the many awards, he can’t take with him and his eternal destination has already been decided, you on the other hand can still choose.

God bless you and I hope this is a blessing,  please prayerfully consider liking, sharing or commenting on the article.
TGBTG
TTE

A vision of clarity for the church (Part 1)

image

A vision of clarity for the church (Part 1)

See also

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

Titus 2:2 (ESV) Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Regular readers of my blog will know that there has been something brewing in my heart for some time, a vision that we actually become the church we are supposed to be in the bible, a place where folks can come forward in confidence that if they reveal their gifts, they will have an opportunity to use them.    

Elder (in age or maturity) teaching the younger

I got a real life visualization of this in a non-ministry setting at the weekend.  

We visited with the guy I call “my mentor” & his really awesome wife ( I am not sure about mentioning his name online so he will remain anon) & we visited a beach down in the San Diego area, he is a surfer and knows the waters of that area well so he offered to show me how to “body board” I wasn’t confident, however it did give me time to relax and see God’s vision play out for me in a literal sense on that beach.

It was a nice day so people were all in the water and many young kids had smaller boards that they raved into the water with and often times the older men were showing them the basics, getting them used to the water, letting them fail on the smaller waves before allowing them to do it themselves,  this was true quality time and I thought, that’s one way to ensure surfing (or body boarding) survives.

That is how it should be with the church dear Christian

You see my vision is not unique, and I believe that it probably is  happening in many churches, but sadly it is probably not happening in many others.

It is simple, we have to raise up our newer believers while they are still baby Christians, disciple them in the word and have them evangelize their non-Christian friends. This has two benefits to the new believer:

1) they grasp solid doctrine right from the beginning
2) lots of non-Christians are hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ from someone in their “sphere of influence”

We have to work on our established believers also, get them in, get them connected,  give them a chance to use their gifts and callings.  Then once they are solid, have them pour into others.

In my view, it is not enough to raise up a quality teacher, or to raise up a quality worship leader, or quality evangelist,  if that is the gifting of that person,  allow him to be the one who raises up many more. They may stay within your fellowship,  they may go to be used in the greater kingdom of God.

With more skilled people at the pastors disposal, suddenly the conduit is there for church growth,  but leaders have to be willing to share, share pulpits, share space on the podium where the worship leaders are.

With increased discipleship will lead to people wishing to go deeper with one another,  if the fellowship is smaller then that can be done corporately,  but as the fellowship grows, community groups. This does however require buy in from the ones chosen to be leaders.

If the buy in does not come from the top down, the average Joe in the pew (or foldable seat) will not see the importance if the leaders don’t. 

I will of course hear that “I don’t have time” that of course is tragic if you do not have time to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, you may have to defer to your elders.

I would go so far as to say that if the eldership does not have time to fulfill the duties of being an elder, they may wish to respectfully and prayerfully step down.  There should be no “honorary titles”.

Plainly put guys, we are failing this and the next generation of believers.

This is a lot to read and I am sorry, I have cut it into a few parts,  please stay tuned for another article soon (unless the LORD comes)

God bless and please share, comment or like as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

20140721-174551.jpg

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TGBTG
TTE