Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: England

When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion


When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion

For my US readers I am talking about (Soccer) football…

This blog is a strange one coming from me as I do not usually go into current affairs (with the exception of a few posts about Scottish Independence) and I am even curious whether this post will even reach the blogosphere after I type it. The reason for this is because simply that this is not the reason why God pressed on my heart to use my writing and it is not the reason for this website. The reason for this website is to do bible studies and get some doctrine out there that will help people find their messiah Jesus Christ, not to discuss something that will probably blow over in five minutes.

That being said, I am a product of the West Central Scotland where the names “Rangers” and “Celtic” are much more than football clubs. There is a traditional mentality (right or wrong) that the two sets of customers for supporting of these Scottish Football institutions should be separated by denomination. That the Rangers are only for the Protestants (or Proddies in West Scotland slang) and Celtic was “the Catholic club”. (Which I find ironic as “Catholic in its truest sense means universal”)

Why did I write this?

Celtic are coming in for criticism for their display against the Israeli team Haepol Beer Sheva where many of their most vociferous fans held up Palestinian flags and have since fell foul of the UEFA rule that states the following…

“The European governing body’s rules prohibit the use of “any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.”

And to use a phrase of my new homeland the USA “This is not their first rodeo” because they have been looked at EIGHT times and found to be wanting based on UEFA’s guidelines for supporter conduct.

I know the folks that want to diss Celtic at any costs will bring up past behaviors’ such as flying the flag of the Irish Republic, other dubious flags, singing songs of Irish history that would be classified as “rebel” or “dubious” really won’t help in this discussion and I know that people will want to draw a IRA-PLO link that may or may not be there but the nuts and bolts of it is Celtic are a business, a business that has had a drop in attendance due to Rangers being liquidated and starting again in the 4th tier.

They have had 5 years of the league not having much of a challenge and the company side of Celtic could really do with not alienating potential clients and there are many who do not have the stomach to hear terrorist songs or political displays. I know the guys in the Green Brigade could not care less about the plc’s bottom line but they would do well to remember the pre Fergus McCann days where the team was almost wound up with a crumbling stadium and mounting debts, Celtic were technically insolvent.

Fast forward to present and they now have 60,000 seats in a decent stadium that 95% of the seats offer a decent view. If they ever brought up the main stand to the same level as the rest of the stadium they would have around 80,000 (potentially more with the introduction of safe standing) and all the seats would then have an excellent view due to the offending support pillars no longer being needed. However that is unlikely to happen if the team continues in a league with no discernable title challenger. As stated previously they are not filling their current stadium so why spend millions building more seats.

It’s just banter!

Some will dismiss this as banter, such as “Argentina” chants when a Scottish team plays England but this really is not actually banter as there is a real conflict between the people who are loyal to the flag that they are taunting the Israelis with and the state of Israel. It is anti-Semitism at its core and if it was meant to be humorous then it missed the mark worse than an Anton Rogan clearance.

The “Celtic song” has the following lyrics…

“It’s a grand old team to play for, it’s a grand old team to sing, if you know your history”…

Let’s look at the history then, it is interesting they used the term “FREE PALESTINE” as this is blatantly incorrect because the state they wish to be recognized as a nation turned down the last opportunity to become a nation when it was offered by the UN in 1948. (The same time Israel became one) and the state of British Palestine actually was a flag which was sky blue and white halves with a gold Star of David. (I did not see any of them in the Green Brigade section?) Perhaps they do not “know their history?”

Celtic’s history – the poor man’s club

Celtic are known for championing causes and they have done many benevolent acts such as turning over their stadium for charity events and they were founded as a club to help those poor families in the East End of Glasgow, many of whom happened to be Irish and much like clubs in Dundee and Edinburgh, they became the club championed by the Catholic supporters and in some cases the Irish immigrants in those relevant cities. Unlike Rangers who would not proactively sign a Roman Catholic (and the first high profile signing was in 1989 when ex Celtic player Mo Johnston signed for Graeme Souness) conversely when Celtic had their greatest achievement in 1967 they had a few non-Catholics playing for them.

I really do not get the fascination with the Palestinian cause, I get that most of the Celtic fans are “cultural-Catholics” and couldn’t tell you the name of their local priest but even with the most basic of biblical knowledge they will know that God still has a special place for Israel so why are they actively choosing to go against the God that is a major part of the faith that they champion being such a big part of their identity?

Celtic or Rangers – Which one are you?

Actually neither! I come at it from a slightly unique point of view as I used to be employed by Celtic in the retail division and as hard as it may be to believe for the most ardent “Old Firm” fan but there was once upon a time someone who was known to be a “Proddy” and who used his “Sunday name” William and he answered the phone in most of Glasgow’s branches of the Celtic Shop and also the Mail Order line at some point in his Celtic career, and guess what – Celtic Park did not crumble! John Barnes was the manager around the time so the fans were preoccupied with what was unfolding (or not) on the green stuff in the middle of the stadium rather on me in the retail section.

Actually I only had an issue once and that was from two wee guys with Northern Irish accents and they were having issues spending a “Northern Bank” 20 pound note and it was a new girl on the cash desk who I had to approve this as Northern Irish money is legal tender in parts of the UK. (The girl had never seen one before so she called me over to make sure it was legit) and during the transaction they inquired why a Catholic would be called “William” to which I replied “Actually I am a Presbyterian” as I handed the kids their change, the look they gave me was priceless and symbolizes what happens if you project your prejudices on your kids.

To call myself a Protestant in those days of my life would be a slap in the face to those who set the reformation in progress, stalwarts like Knox, Wishart, Luther would not have recognized my life as “Christ like” and it was simply a cultural attachment more than an active church going/relationship with Jesus type of thing.

So how come you do a Christian blog now?

That has all changed and I am the worst type or “Proddy” as I am one of those annoying ones that is a “true believer” one that couldn’t really care what tribe you belong to on a Sunday as long as you truly worship the messiah you claim to represent. Really that is all that matters! There would be nothing to divide over if it wasn’t for that fundamental faith, if you are clinging onto that and not even attending the church you represent then you are not what you claim to be. Confusing stuff huh?

I moved passed the buildings of worship and found the reason behind it all and that was Jesus Christ, I worship at a new cathedral and that is the throne of grace. I don’t attend Scottish football anymore but that is because I live in the USA and my closest MLS franchise is some 200 miles away in Los Angeles.

You are a Zionist

Not as far as I know, I love the State of Israel because I believe that God is not finished with them yet, however many within that state have still to come to a knowledge of their Messiah. Do I think that Israel does everything right? Absolutely not as it is governed by men who make mistakes, there are faults on both sides in the Middle East conflict. I am not anti-Palestine, anti-Arab or anti-Islam because I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) but that can be resolved by finding Jesus as your Messiah.

Something to say?

I welcome debate but comments like “IRA loving” Terrorist supporting” PLO loving” or other fun stuff like that really won’t add to debate and often times I won’t even let them through! Feel free to comment otherwise though!

Please make your own application as needed.

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

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Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

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Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

In today’s Scottish newspaper the Daily Record we read about the Scottish university “The University of Dundee” introducing a “2 Pint glass” in order to reduce waiting times at the University bar. Let’s look at this further.

Ephesians 5:11 (ESV) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read the warning to “not get drunk with wine” because that is “debauchery” and I would tend to agree with this.

Where are you coming from?

If you have read my ” testimony ” page you will understand where I am coming from on this one. I have had in my past a very unhealthy attitude towards alcohol and as embarrassing as it is to admit one’s faults on such a public setting, I was and remain to this day a recovering alcoholic.

My “wild day’s” were between the ages of 18-26 and I did untold damage to my internal organs with my copious consumption of alcoholic beverages. Please do not think that because I write this article from California, USA that I have no concept of what the drinking culture is like in the UK (or more specifically Scotland).

The reason I write that is that you may dismiss the article after seeing the ethos of what this website is about and skimming the headline as some “out of touch temperate bible thumper” with an axe to grind over the “demon drink”. That is not the case.

Please drink responsibly

My issue was not one of supply and demand but one of greed and lack of moderation. If I had the money then I was out on the town. If I had the opportunity to shovel a two pint tumbler down my gullet I would be dead now, no questions asked.

The problem in Scotland is that there are two camps of drinkers. Let’s look at them both:

Responsible imbibers

A rare breed I assure you, the ones who take one or two beers and do not damage themselves or others. Usually are folks who are into home brewing and craft beers. This is not really the crowd this news are aiming for. This crowd usually don’t drink their liver to oblivion and usually remember the nights,  the tastes of the beers and would not thank you for basing volume over quality.

Binge drinkers

That’s the category I fell into (sometimes literally) where I would drink 12-14 UK pints a night, lose hours, nights and in some case have very few recollections of the night outs that I had.

The crowd I hung around with, we were all the same, drinking alcohol was just another way to show off and be a pre version of “YOLO”. I ran with rugby fans, football (soccer) and NFL fans and a large part of what we did was done in bars.

I was the crowd this is aimed at and I did lament when when I did this that the largest glass I could get was a pint (568ml) but I know that if I was drinking a 2 Pint glass my night would be over in an a few hours.

For this crowd, quantity over price price is king, you have places like Weatherspoons and the Pound Pint bar in Manchester England is the crowd they are going after.

Poor Students

It is a student bar, it I was known for cheap beer, up and coming bands and a clientele mainly of medical students who will have less beer money than your average adult in Dundee. Certainly drinking in there would be less expensive than drinking on the Perth Road or the City Centre. (Even although I am a Glaswegian, I support one one of the city clubs called Dundee United)

Having been there, all I can say is it is a bar, beer is bought, beer is consumed, sometimes there is music, sometimes not, people drink a lot and sometimes make bad decisions there. The language you here is much the same as any other bar in the city. Really I am not singling the University for criticism for selling beer, I just question if this is a good idea for the well being of their students.

Sober for a decade,  what are my thoughts on alcohol?

I am very much a live and let live person and as long as you are not doing it to get drunk or buzzed then I have no issue with you having a beer.

Do I do it? I don’t as I have had an issue prior. As I don’t drink alcohol I will not hang about in bars anymore because let’s face it, drunk people are annoying when you are sober!

Although I have chosen abstinence,  I would never preach that it it’s the only way to go, I still get tempted at things like family parties or formal occasions but have learned that it is best for all concerned if I do not.

One of the reasons I don’t is that I never know if I was going to cause others to stumble, you never know what someone’s weaknesses are and we absinthe told in the book of Romans to not stumble our weaker brother.

Other addictions, but I have the odd beer.

People with a personality that is weak to addiction in one area are more likely to stumble in others. If you have had issues with drugs then I would choose alcohol very carefully (if at all)

I say that as i have seen folks switch one addiction for another, really there is no sense in this as they are no better off than they would have been if they had stayed on the drugs. (Perhaps more legal in the eyes of the law)

Everyone needs a crutch

I would agree with that! We were not built to handle the stresses of this life alone. We were also not meant to use artificial stimulants like drugs or alcohol.

You see, we were created to love one another and to worship God. Check out our “Creation” and “Gospel” sections If you don’t know what i mean.

You have hope and life has meaning!  JESUS CHRIST died for your sins and wants you to spend eternity in heaven, you have a choice, choose God or not.

I don’t agree with that!

Then please comment below and let your feelings be known. Also if you agree or disagree, feel free to share this link, I am keen to get feedback from all walks of people.

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

Keep right on til the end of the road

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Keep right on til the end of the road

2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I entitled this article “Keep right on til the end of the road” as I am reminded in this verse of the song by the legendary Scottish balladeer Sir Harry Lauder who sang this song and it became an anthem for many causes. One of the most famous is that it is the anthem of the supporters of “The Blues” a team in England’s second city Birmingham. The team is called Birmingham City and their fans use the song from anything to signing messages to each other “KRO” (Keep right on) to singing the song when the team are playing at home and away.

I find it mildly amusing that a team with such a history of almost making it to the pinnacle and then faltering, and then coming back and then faltering again would have the following words in their anthem…

…”When you are tired and weary, you’ll still journey on”

I get this as football (or association football or soccer depending on where you are reading this from) is like a religion, in my deepest throws of “worship” I have been in big cathedrals dedicated to the worship of the players and our “tribe” all wear similar colours and sing the same “hymns”. I have laughed, danced and cried based on the position of a size 5 spherical object that we call a football and where it is on the field. If it enters their goal I am euphoric, it is enters our goal it could ruin my weekend. Some may object to calling it worship, but it is what it is.

Do I still enjoy the game?

I do, but as I am 4000 miles away it has less of a pull on me than it did when I was younger. The last time I was in Scotland I did check the fixture lists to see how I could get a game in and I did. But I noticed a difference that it was still my team and regardless of whether I was there or not to cheer on my team (Dundee United) the gig went on, they didn’t postpone any games because i wasn’t here, they even managed to win the Scottish cup without me being there (2010) so i would say that it is a lot healthier than it used to be.

Getting back to Paul

What does this mean in the context of the verse? Well I am brought to thinking of the song as it is a song of endurance. A song to keep your spirits up during hard times, I once looked for the song on YouTube and the song that came up had many archive pieces of footage showing victory in wars.

Which is relevant for us, we are called to a battle, a heavenly war if you will. We will be “tired and weary” we will see injustice, we will in our flesh question God’s plan. For me, that is the most difficult part of my walk with Jesus, understanding God’s “big picture”. It is hard to do so when you are in the pit and your circumstances are real.

We are told in verse 17 that “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” so I encourage you, when you can’t pay your bills, when life deals you a raw deal, when I want “My will to be done” I have to buckle and say “Thy will be done”, whatever trial, whatever temptation, whatever it is you are facing God is big enough to take this. You are praying to the God who created the universe in one single spoken sentence. (We are still finding bits of that self-same universe)

We have to get beyond the temporary, when we are in the pit, it seems so hopeless. I must confess that I try to do God’s job for him at that point and find exit routes as I don’t like being tried and tested when I should just place it at his feet and say “LORD I don’t know how you are going to do this, but I need you LORD”.

Let’s look at the life of Joseph

Last night in our bible study, we took a very high level look at the suffering of Joseph, (Genesis 37-50) Joseph had a prophetic dream that his brothers would all bow down to him and he suffered by being betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery for 20 silver coins but through it all Joseph trusted God that it was all going to work out. He was sold into slavery, imprisoned even although he was innocent, (he resisted temptation in the form of his masters wife) this allowed him to meet Pharoah’s cup bearer and when Pharoah was troubled in his dreams, God allowed Joseph to interpret the dream, save the land of Egypt from famine and rise from being an imprisoned slave to number 2 in the country. All throughout this he gave God the glory. What a lesson!

Joseph subscribed to God’s plan, even when he was in prison, even in a situation where he would have got away with sinning against his master and God, he chose the righteous path even although it meant prison time. He knew that God was working behind the scenes and even if it was at his cost he was “all in” on God’s plan.

This is the encouragement, although we may not gain temporarily, we have a promise in Paul’s letter to the Roman church…

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

Application

For me I guess it is about enduring the trials and trusting God, if there is anything you are holding back then give it to him. Lastly trusting that God has “got this” and what we are going through is temporary and there is much more eternal to consider.

I get it, it is tough! People have their faith rocked on a daily basis; personally I have questioned God when people are taken away from me most of all, especially kids and people in the prime of life. I have had doubts and I have never been in jail, never been sold as a slave, maybe I need a little persecution to make me man up at times.

All I can do is do what God has called me to do and trust God to do the rest.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Six – December 6th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day 6 – December 6th

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

In the last few days we have looked at the genealogy of the Messiah and we have found that Jesus Christ meets the criteria having being a descendent of both Abraham and Isaac, now we look at the prophetic claim that he will be of the descendent line of Jacob. We find this in the book of Numbers in chapter twenty four.

Numbers 24:17 (ESV) I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.

We know this messiah as Jesus of Nazareth, who is called the Christ. The person speaking is Balaam and we read that he could “see him, but not now”. He knew that he was coming but not in a time that he could see. Jesus is called the following:

1) A Star
2) A Scepter

Now a star is bright, it illuminates the darkness; we learn this in the creation account. A star is a glorious light, sent from afar to give light and direction where otherwise it would be dark and desolate. What a picture of a coming messiah!

The scepter is the stick with a ball that you see in places like Royal palaces, such as Buckingham Palace in England, castles where the royal ascent is present, such as Edinburgh Castle in Scotland where the Scottish Crown Jewels are present. (Can you tell I am British?)

The last place you will see a scepter is the place where decisions are made. In the British House of Parliament, between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition there is a scepter, a sign that what they are discussing in this chamber has the blessing of the current monarch of the land.

So you see, the scepter is a symbol of the messiah’s majesty, of his regal authority. (Much like it is in the UK, the Queen will not sit in every debate, she will merely open and close the parliament and her aides will leave the scepter as a symbol of her patronage of the power held within) It gives us a picture of the ruling Messiah that is Jesus Christ.

This verse goes on to say that he would go on to defeat all of the territories beyond Israel. This will happen in the book of Revelation. In the messiah’s first coming he was the suffering sacrifice, he will return to signal the end of the world. This part of the prophesy is still to come.

Who was Jacob?

In the book of Genesis we read about Jacob and his brother Esau, let’s look at Genesis chapter twenty five.

Genesis 25:19 (ESV) These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom. ) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I love the story of Jacob because it is both glorious and tragic at the same time. It is glorious because God chose him to continue the line even although he was not the first born (as was the custom at that time) and verse 23 advises that “the older shall serve the younger”. But all too soon it turns tragic.

I am encouraged though by the tragic nature as Rebekah and Jacob did not learn from Abraham and Sarah trying to “help God along”. It seems that there is a faith fault in this DNA strand. This is encouraging to me as I am a mess up a lot. My DNA strand is faulty through sin! I suffer from not trusting God enough. As good as I may read on here, I will be honest and say I don’t get it right all the time. Jacob was not chosen because he was perfect, (or Esau because he was worse than his brother) Paul confirms this in the letter to the Roman church in chapter nine:

Romans 9:10 (ESV) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

So between verses 30-34, Esau sells all that he has and all that he is going to have for a bowl of stew and some bread. (My wife makes awesome soup but i have never done that!) But the sin does not end there. Let’s look at what happens when Isaac dies:

Genesis 27:1 (ESV) When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” 14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! 28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. 39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.  If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

The nuts and the bolts of this is that Jacob being the flawed man that he is he decided to con his father into believing that he was his brother in order to steal his brothers blessing. I have no idea whether the father was ever aware that Esau had sold his birthright or not, but he was certainly expecting Esau to come in and be blessed.

When we deceive, often times we have to add deceit on top of deceit in order to cover up the original deceit. How much easier would it have been had Jacob just allowed God to fulfil his promise to him? The real encouragement to us all is that regardless how we mess up, we can still be used by God. Jacob was eventually called Israel and the nation of the same name came through him. They were literally the children of Israel.

So where do we find this genealogy in the New Testament?

We see this in the beginning of the book of Matthew chapter one.

Matthew 1:1 (ESV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,

Jesus qualifies through the genealogy of his literal mother Mary as well as his legal guardian Joseph. How very God that he made sure there was no doubt that Jesus was indeed his boy. Again God is the God of keeping his promises, regardless how much we mess up! That to me is the encouragement in these verses.

I haven’t conned my brother out of money, I haven’t stolen the family fortune, but I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 6:23) but I am forgiven for what I have done and you can be too. The answer is Jesus and co-incidentally he is also the reason for these articles and also the reason for this Christmas season.

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”

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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

Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

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The timing of this article is deliberate as to publish as the polls open on “Independence Day”. Please feel free to comment below this article regardless of your political leanings.

This is a hard article for me to write and remain somewhat impartial so unlike the British mainstream media I am going to declare my allegiances up front and will advise that had I been in Scotland and registered to vote I would have been voting for the partition of the United Kingdom. Those of you who know me know that I am in favour of the pro-Independence stance of the Scottish National Party and have also campaigned for this party in elections past when I lived in Scotland.

The reason it is hard is to remainobjective whilst giving a commentary and an appeal to the people of Scotland. My appeal is not, as one would expect for you all to vote “yes” but simply to vote. The bible states that your yes should be yes and your no should be no and I tend to agree.

Whether you choose to stay with the Union or whether you choose that Scotland would be better as an independent nation is truly a decision for you, your conscience and the arguments that have been presented to you, in many cases in a biased format by those we expected better of. Should the Yes side prevail it would be in the face of the most blatant propaganda machine that has ever been Government endorsed since the days of Goering and German National Socialism. The people of Scotland have been denied the facts, had unbalanced coverage, had programs edited to remove keynote Yes speakers, had applause muted by yes supporters in debates and manipulated coverage of the referendum to tell a story that was not balanced.

If you were to look at the evidence at the author of this article I am a prime candidate to vote no. I am a former serviceman of the Royal Engineers; my maternal grandfather figure was a staunch Labour supporter, Union spokesperson for the National Union of Railwaymen and political activist in the days of Neil Kinnock. My own father was a Union rep and I lived in a staunch Labour area for most of my life. So why am I supporting Yes?

I began to look into Scottish independence after helping Labour (I know, I know) get elected in 1997, under the Tony Blair “things can only get better campaign” as I was attracted by the promise of Scottish Devolution and the possibility of a Parliament in Edinburgh for the first time since 1707. Soon I realized how “London-centric” New Labour were and I decided not to renew my party membership in 1999.

I still classified myself as a “Labour voter” even although I was not pounding the streets in support of the campaign. It was not until 2002 that I properly looked into the SNP and their policies. I found their policies regarding Scottish self-determination were in line with where I wanted to see my country headed and I joined the SNP. I canvassed/leafleted and campaigned for the Lloyd Quinlan campaign in Motherwell when he stood against Lord Jack McConnell for the MSP seat.

I fell out of love with politics and held no party affiliation and I didn’t actually vote again until 2007 when I lived in the Glasgow Hillhead constituency. I did not campaign but voted SNP. Beyond my wildest dreams the SNP won power in the Hollyrood parliament.

Follow this up with an overall majority in 2011 and we were firmly on the journey we are on now, with probably the most astute First Minister that Scotland has ever seen, holding court against the most inept leader of Scottish Labour I have ever seen and an astute smart Tory leader with no back up in Scotland due to the way her party is remembered in the eighties and current policies by David Cameron leaves her and the Liberal Democrats with very little friends up here. He (Salmond) really has very little opposition.

Now I am a Yes voter as a guy who supported devolution, supported the new parliament, supported the Scottish Government in both Red and yellow formats and know that the Scots ARE genetically programmed to make political decisions. (Unlike what Mrs. Lamont says)

Personally and from my point of view, independence makes sense, both financially and from a decision making standpoint. I believe that decisions made in Edinburgh will have a greater opportunity to directly benefit Scottish voters than a remote parliament who is only concerned with the South West of England.

I also believe that it would help the “No true Scotsman” image that my countrymen have, where Scotland invented all the finer things in life and England is blamed for all of Scotland’s ills. The “Anti-English” chip on the shoulder that is perceived to be the case would slowly but surely cease to exist as Scotland would come of age in its own right. (For a fuller explanation of what I am meaning please see my blog “The Jacobite experiment“)

Should separation happen, I have no problem in wishing our neighbours to the south a “fare ye well” and a “fond farewell” as a joint entity. I have many cross border friends that would suddenly be in a “different country” but I doubt that it would change as far as citizenship goes. I have no “Anti-English chip on the shoulder” I just believe that we as a country can run our own affairs more beneficial to the people within our borders.

Should separation not happen, my countrymen would have the distinction of being the first country to turn down independence when it was able to be selected of one’s free will. (With no shots fired) Imagine if our cousins in Ireland in 1922 and America in 1776 could say likewise? Look at how these two countries have grown since separation from the UK. In the words of the Bard “Rabbie” Burns in the case of a No vote going through “Forward tho I canna see, I guess and fear”.

I am also praying for a resurgence in Christianity in Scotland regardless of the vote. My country has a fine tradition of following Christ and I pray for fervent revival in my land and have my land healed of its troubles. As much as I would love an independent Scotland free to run its own affairs, I would love it more to have a Scotland that was on fire for Jesus Christ living in a society where the love of Christ came down, where we love and serve one another, preferring the other before ourselves. Imagine that land? Rich in oil and God’s blessings.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, as usual please share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE

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The Jacobite experiment

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DISCLAIMER:- the views expressed are the views of the author alone, TTE does not normally comment on political issues but this is an important issue for the author. We will return to Bible studies in the next article.

The Jacobite experiment

John 1:45 (ESV) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

As most of you who know me personally will know, I am a strong advocate politically of Scottish independence and the upcoming vote in September on whether Scotland should be an independent nation and secede from the Act of Union of 1707.

That being said, should a yes vote actually happen, in my view as Scots we have to lose the “English chip on the shoulder” as a good relationship with our neighbours to the south has to happen.

Just to see how plausible that was, I did a little experiment on my Facebook wall last night. I am a passionate fan of football (soccer for the US readership) and I love seeing my club team (Dundee United) and my national team (Scotland) win every game they play.

As most of you will be aware, the World Cup is happening in Brazil at present and Scotland have been unable to qualify. Our neighbours to the south England have, but in many cases the Scots will usually cheer on ABE (Anyone but England)

So last night I did what I call “The Jacobite experiment” over the piece I have stated that as I live in the US now I would like to see them do well and that is true. I hope the USMNT get as far as they can in the tournament, however everyone assumes that I as a Scottish nationalist, will actively be cheering against England.

I actually don’t see that viewpoint, I don’t hate our neighbours in the south, we share many traits and joint history since this “marriage of convenience” began. We have fought under the same Union flag and share broadcast, newsprint, currency and telephone exchanges with them. I just believe that rather than being a 9% minority where the vote does not count and having policies foisted upon us that hinder the growth of my country, it is time to go our separate ways. Nothing personal, it is just for the good of the country.

Back to the experiment, I placed a flag of Saint George (the traditional flag of England) on my Instagram wishing England well and a Facebook post urging England to beat the Italians.

Unsurprisingly I got a few queries, but the sad part of the experiment was not on my posts, but on the posts of others gloating over a 2-1 victory for the Italians.

My hope for my nation is that we can be grown up enough to want to see our neighbours do well, that way we can get past the “No true Scot” mentality that some of us have where we blame everything on the English. We may have to actually man up and look at some of “plooks we see in the mirror”.

I am not against “banter” but these posts have a more sinister feel, the actually could be described as hatred.

This article will not be popular and I am not all that fussed if it is or isn’t! We have to get past the idea that a vote for Yes is some “get it up the English” this is a one way street with no U turns.

Think of the nations who have declared independence from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, think if all the countries that at one time had a Union flag in the top left hand corner of their flag, Britannia no longer “rules the waves” and the Empire is over! Of these countries NONE are begging to be ruled again from London.

Why did I choose the verse above? Well replace the word Nazareth with “England”, “London”, “Liverpool”, “Manchester”, “Birmingham”, “Newcastle”, wherever and you may see what I am driving at.

Like I say, I am not anti-English or even anti-European, but what I do want is for the buck to stop in Edinburgh rather than London for the constitutional decisions that affect the people of Scotland.

The Yes campaign have had it hard, they have the mainstream media being their press campaigners, the message in many cases are not going through and quite a few headlines are twisted to a pro-Union viewpoint, in some cases, headlines are created to give a view that is not present in the article.

I love my country, there are times where the Union served Scotland well in the beginning, but in more recent times it has not been beneficial to Scotland. It is time for a change, that can be achieved in a vote in September for the Yes campaign.

I don’t get involved with US politics mainly because I can’t vote for a president!

God bless and I hope this was a good read for you and please comment below should you wish too
TGBTG
TTE

Shona lá Naomh Pádraig – Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2014

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March 17th is probably the most well known day on most peoples calendar, not just in the native Ireland, but in the US and far abroad. Most people who know what day it is will know that it is the day of the patron saint of Ireland. Most associate the day with Guinness, heavy drinking and partying. (I know I did prior to becoming a Christian) but what a lot of people fail to realize is that Patrick was a dynamic Christian monk who revolutionized the island of Ireland for the Christian faith.

I do however find it funny that a temperate man of God, who is reputed to spread the gospel of Christ wherever he went, is famous for removing snakes from a land and overseen the conversion of druid kings and helped an island understand their need for a messiah called Jesus Christ, is celebrated in the way he is!

Patrick was a 5th Century Briton missionary sent by the Church of Britain to evangelize the people of Ireland. The reason for the date of celebration is the date that it is said that Patrick died was 17th March, it is celebrated as both a religious and cultural day of celebration and in both Northern and the Republic of Ireland it is a holiday day.

Where Patrick was born is uncertain, some say Cumbria in England, some say Scotland and some say Wales, one thing is for certain is that he was born in the British Isles and came to Ireland as a missionary. When Patrick arrived in Ireland the natives were pagan, around the time of the druids, he is credited with the conversion of many local kings and local lords with teaching from the land.

He is also credited as being a man of integrity, refusing to accept payment for infant baptisms, for services rendered in a clerical fashion such as reading documents and also refused bribes and payments from kings and lords. In many cases he left himself without protection in a very dangerous land.

Trinity and the shamrock

Patrick is credited with using nature to overcome doctrinal issues such as the trinity. At this time many of the natives of the island of Ireland were illiterate and reading would have been problematic. Patrick is said to have overcome this by using the common shamrock. (A 3 leafed clover) to illustrate how one could also be three. (God being also “father”, “son” and “holy spirit”)

Similar claims have been attributed to the missionaries who used the Celtic cross, citing the educational level of their converts and the use of the circle showing the son (sun) on the cross to signify the crucifixion.

Both the Celtic Cross, Shamrock and Celtic Trinity Knot are symbols that are still used today by Christians in Ireland. Sports teams representing Ireland in both Soccer and Rugby have shamrocks in their emblem.

Death

St. Patrick is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, alongside St. Brigid and St. Columba, although this has never been proven.

Legacy of St. Patrick

We all need to be a bit more like St. Patrick; we need to be beacons of light in a darkened world. Our reality is probably not as dangerous as St. Patrick’s was, we are protected by established law and order, which was not the case in his day and the very words he had that could save them were also the words that could spell his death.

Talk about a missionary huh? How does your evangelism shape up to this? I know I am convicted about my personal failings here. But The LORD is faithful and should I wake tomorrow I have another chance to share his word. That is how we can make his legacy and day really mean what Patrick would have intended.

Many “Protestants” in my land decline to celebrate this day because it is deemed “Catholic” but this message is bigger than ANY denominational issue you may have, this is about being Christians and sharing words that could save souls.

God bless and TGBTG
TTE