Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

This is an unusual blog for me to talk about such a non-Christian issue as the upcoming election. I try not to get involved in side issues like this because they usually only cause division but I feel that as a first generation immigrant from Scotland who really has no say in the ballot box, this is really the only outlet for me to have my voice so please bear with me.

First – a piece of humor!

Politics is a combination of the following

“Poly” – Many
“Tics” – Blood sucking creatures

Makes sense now huh?

What is my bias?

I am a Brit abroad, deep in California and commenting on a legal immigrant basis who if you knew my history of my paternal grandfather voting all of his days for the Socialist Labour Party and my maternal grandfather being an active campaigner for the Labour party and a member of the NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) my father was also a union representative in the steelworks where he worked, I too had a union card in places where I have worked in Scotland so your first inclination is that I would favor the DNC nomination. If that is the case then read on…

I am not in fact in favor of the DNC nomination as I am actually more Conservative in my political views in the US. In Scotland I campaigned for the Scottish National Party in an effort to secure Scottish Independence and in the US if I was polled based on the beliefs of what would work best for America as a country I would state that I was Republican in nature.

Let me say at this point that neither party is exclusively the party of God (Again I could be funny and quote Psalm 12 – “the wicked walk on every side”) nor does either party represent uniquely “Godly politics” or I understand why people dependent on conscience would favor either party and I am more commonly seeing politicians no longer catering to my demographic, as the world has got more worldly we see the parties following what the popular tide is. It is no longer stating what you believe would be best for the country; it is more about what sells at the box office and will get your elected. The bill of sale for the souls of those involved has long since been redeemed.

Why do I care in the first place?

Because this is my home, the home country of my wife and the love of my life and also the home country of my daughter. Whilst I cannot truthfully be called an “American” as I was born in Britain I regard myself as a “New American” because I pay taxes here, contribute here and I have a heart for seeing America become great again.

What do I mean by American becoming great again?

I am not criticizing I truly am not, however if we look introspectively we know that things could be better and speaking uniquely from a Christian point of view I doubt very much whether Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will make all that much of a difference in our country because we as a nation need a revival where our hearts are turned to Jesus and I hold neither of these “political saviors” up as someone who will suddenly make America the greatest nation to live in again. There is a quote from the musical Evita that says “eventually we get the Government we deserve!” and you can make your own application from that!

I don’t want Trump and I don’t want Hillary!

As a Brit I really should start a “revokation of independence” petition due to your choice of nominees to be your leaders! (That was humor) However…

I am sorry Bernie but it is not likely you will get the DNC nod!

For me it is a two horse (or donkey) race for the White House and unless Donald Trump does something crazy like appoint Ted Cruz as his VP then I doubt the GOP will be united against him but let us look at the candidates one by one.

TRUMP – Not at all popular among many grass roots long term supporters of the GOP, this may be to his advantage or it may work against him, conversely some long term Republicans that I never in a million years would have thought were going to support him have thrown their weight behind Trump.

His supporters are caricatured as unknowledgeable, fed directly from Fox news and RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) and has polarized a group called “NeverTrump” supporters. Folks who would normally have voted for a lamppost if it was up for nomination for the GOP ticket and should he win he would need to do so and convince those NeverTrump folks as well as a percentage of swing voters that he was the lesser of two evils between him and Clinton.

One thing is for sure, if you would rather “anyone but Clinton” then whilst he may not be your first choice, a vote for any other than Trump is most likely to result in a Clinton victory. She may very well win anyway but if the Republican base as a whole will not vote for the guy the party aligned themselves to then it will hand victory to the opponents because there is no organized replacement and if there remains none then it will split a vote and default victory will be a Democrat one.

CLINTON- Everyone knows the former First Lady and wife of the 42nd President William (Bill) Clinton and everyone knows her experience in a political setting in both State and National politics. She is not without controversy and she is a long standing “anti-Republican” and in my view would be the Republicans worst nightmare on Election Day should she be elected.

She knows the system, is very much part of Washington and also knows that as long as she debates above mediocre against Trump then the raging dumpster fire that is the split in the GOP vote will lead her to victory all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironically if she does get convicted (highly unlikely I know) of wrongdoing through the email scandal before the elections would Bernie get a consolation prize of being allowed to run or would the nomination fall to Hillary’s VP nomination?

The problem as I see it

Is that I can no longer tell the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties! The Republicans are no longer the party that elected Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Regan (in beliefs or the fruit of those beliefs) has certainly not been great with their choice of nomination. I said in my last blog on this subject that if the GOP did not thin out the herd from the five candidates that were running at that point that a Trump victory was assured. Below is a quote from that article…

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

Cruz/Carson and Rubio/Kasich

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

They have elected candidates that are more similar than they are different and I have not seen anything like this since 1997 in the British Elections for the Westminster Parliament where Tony Blair swept to victory as the UK fell for “New Labour” when they decided to abandon their formally socialist principles and out Conservative the Conservatives. It certainly worked as they were seen as the most viable alternative but since then they have been more alike to the Conservatives than they have been separate. Perhaps it is not just an American phenomenon maybe it is worldwide?

I chose to abstain or “no” vote

That is your democratic right as an American (or qualified citizen) and I would not condemn you for doing so because it is your right to use your vote in whatever fashion you wish. I do say though that in such a tight race this may be the few times where your vote may actually count. I would say this would be the same as when you change to Libertarian or Green from GOP or DNC as neither of those two parties really have a shot of getting the top job so you may be letting a candidate that you disagree more with getting in.

The choice as I see it

Is either Trump or Clinton, it is down to which one you despise least and honestly I see the dilemma because they are certainly not my choices and the DNC will favor Clinton because for the last 8 years we knew this was coming however the GOP have done this to themselves and due to that it may find itself unelectable in this election and America needs a balance. It needs a strong Republican Party (or at least a Conservative party) that will stand up for America. I hope this is not the beginning of the end for the GOP.

The only way to “make America great” again

Is TRUE REVIVAL, America needs to do what it says in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and “humble themselves and pray, then God will see from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land” We need redemption in this land, a true turning from our sins and accepting of the free gift that is our salvation through Jesus Christ and a true repentance from the wrongs we have done. We need to pray individually, as families, as communities and as cities from the lowest paid man in the city to the most affluent business man. From the homeless man who has nothing to the President who has everything, we need to all get right with the Lord and then we will become the greatest nation in the world again. The verse quoted is below…

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

For me…that is waaaaay more important than who America elects to be the 45th President.

In closing

I am truly grateful I am not allowed to vote, I pray for you America because I know this is temporary and regardless of who is in the Oval Office I know that my King is Jesus.

God bless you all
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4

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I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4 – 05/05/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

2nd Corinthians 1:23 (ESV) But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

2nd Corinthians 2:1 (ESV) For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

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 twenty three of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.

In the last article we looked at pain and Paul continues that thought here. Paul continues as if he is presenting his case before a legal court and calls his next witness, Paul is not messing about when he calls upon the name of the Lord and I have heard people question this in relation to what Jesus said in Matthew 5.

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

This is not a contradiction between Jesus and Paul as Jesus is referring to how we live our lives and to not make frivolous oaths and attaching God’s name where it has no business being attached as if to add credence to an argument that would not stand up on its own. Jesus was doing a lesson on Christian conduct and to avoid leading or misleading phrases and let your answers be definite and say what you mean and mean what you say. Paul is not doing anything wrong by saying this, he is merely showing how serious he is that he would be willing to have God testify against him and to demonstrate that he is being honest.

He did not come to Corinth because he was concerned for the people of Corinth. We do this today that if we have our own “version of things” based on a rumor or an innuendo that may have a small grain of truth in it but it has been blown all out of proportion. The assumption was that Paul had been avoiding Corinth or not coming for some other undisclosed selfish reason or perhaps Paul did not want to spend time with them. Paul sets the record straight by stating that it was for their own good that he did not come and we read why in verse 24 through verse 4 of chapter 2.

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Paul states clearly that as an apostle he is not the lord over them. Instead he gives a decent example of what he was to them, he was a worker, a fellow worker and desired to see the people having joy in the Lord and for them to stand firm in their faith and again it does seem obvious to point out but that was why he was writing to them and some of the best leaders I have seen in the modern day church are the ones who are excited about discipleship and mentoring because they understand the value of a good sermon as the most poignant sermon you will ever teach is the witness of your life to someone else, that will have more power than a thousand sermons with the best exegesis and the most correct doctrine.

Chapter 2 V1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?

Paul continues in verse one of chapter two and is still defending himself against accusations we have not seen but having read the words of Paul I see his great love and heart for those who accuse him. Yes he is defending himself but he explains that it was for their good that he made the choices he did. I get that they were disappointed and who hasn’t been bummed if something hasn’t worked out when we hoped it would but Paul is showing that he wasn’t being flaky or lying when he made his original plans, he made a conscious choice to hold himself back from Corinth at that time.

He chose to not come there because he would cause them pain which tells me that the most recent visit was uncomfortable as Paul would have had to deal with some truths that they did not want to hear and Paul did not wish to further discourage them so soon. This tells me more about the health of the church than it does about Paul. Paul wanted to allow them opportunities to deal internally with the acts that would grieve Paul.

On the flip side of this would be if Paul was to return with an iron fist and smash the spirit of the church and cause sorrow then they in turn would not be receiving of him. That more conflict or berating would really damage the ability to help them as they may not receive from him in the future and the relationship could be irrevocably damaged. There would not be much fellowship and Paul would not be energized by the fellowship from Corinth.

We could learn from that in the modern church as I have seen firsthand a heavy handed attitude from leadership in churches that have not given enough space to a believer who was in sin. They expected too much too soon and there was a real lack of grace shown and that damaged the sinner’s relationship with not just that church but many churches and that person stayed away from any fellowship and embraced the world for a period of eight years because of that one man. I speak on this from a personal level and I know it is the truth because that sinner was me!

V3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.

And this is why they are getting a letter as opposed to a visit, the letter would allow Paul the opportunity to lay out his heart behind his actions and not be interrupted as well as allow a record to be kept of what Paul was requesting that they pray about (don’t worry that is coming later in the letter) repent of and get on the right track with God. For me this shows amazing wisdom and discernment that he was concerned with what may be received better for their relationship with Jesus first and foremost and secondarily and nowhere near as important, the relationship with Paul.

The letter was good because it removes the “elephant from the room” and makes aware what is required of them by the time that he returns and get the medicine taken first in order for the spiritual recuperation to be allowed. Paul wanted to enjoy his time there and wanted to be an encouragement rather than a chastiser, this letter was hurting Paul as much to write as it would be painful to read and we see that in verse 4.

V4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

This was truly painful for Paul and he was not enjoying doing this, there are much more encouraging letters that he would rather write. We read here that it was done so with much anguish and many tears and he was trying not to grieve or cause pain but show that he loved them so much that he wanted them to get it right.

How they receive this is totally up to the recipient, they would either “take it on the chin”, pray about it and seek God’s confirmation that Paul was indeed correct as a mature Christian would do and take the correction as a learning experience that was given in the love that Paul writes to them or they would get annoyed at Paul and refuse to be taught by him, hold a grudge, spread malicious rumors or defame his name amongst the brethren. My hope and prayer is that they did the former.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at chapter two verses five through eleven where Paul continues his thought on hurt and extols the Corinthian church to be a forgiving church. 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

The LORD’s prayer – Part 4 – And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 4 – And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

Matthew 6:12 (KJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Forgiveness is a big deal in Christianity; unless we understand forgiveness then we may not see the need for a Savior. That is a bold claim I know but it is true nonetheless! We have to understand the great weight of debt that we have been forgiven by a loving God and our requirement to forgive the minuscule errors that others do either to us or sins that affect us. I say miniscule as the things that we truly get mad about often times are not things that we will remember in a few years. I try my best not to but prior to me becoming a Christian and the real me is a hot head, I did not so much have a short fuse as no fuse at all. But I praise the LORD that as I have grown as a Christian, God has worked on me and my psychological pulse has slowed right down. I now first ask the question before I get all bent out of shape “Am I going to care about this in five years?” In the majority of the situations I can say “no” to most of it so I appear to let a lot of things fly more than I used to.

That is not to say that I have nailed forgiveness, we all have our hot buttons and if it was easy you would not be reading an article written about it by this weird Scottish guy! We will all have our areas that will inflame us; we will all have our people that rub us up the wrong way. Generally speaking the biggest “blue touch paper” usually sounds the relationships that we expect most from, our family and fellow believers.

That is the hurt that hurts most, when we feel aggrieved, betrayed, slighted, and downright hurt then we will build a righteous case against that person and then execute it in an unrighteous manner. We will “protect ourselves” we will “estrange that person” and we will build walls rather than do what God wants us to in this situation, God does not wish to see conflict, no that is the work of the other guy (Satan) and often times pride plays a part in damaged relationships. We will do stupid things like demand property back that has been lent and cut people off in order to divorce ourselves from that situation and that causes a deeper hurt in the end game.

God is a God of restoration, he desires to see his people walking together and walking in truth, he desires healed relationships, he wants us focused on being an example to the world showing them by your witness and by your example what true Christianity is. How can you witness to the world and be salt and light to a fallen broken world if you are just like the world. What are we teaching our kids also if we show them that relationships and forgiveness is not important. I know we can tell them but if our actions speak louder than words, do you shout forgiveness or unforgiveness not just to the generation that is watching you, but to the generation that they will raise also.

Jesus spoke about this when he spoke about the parable of the two servants, lets look at that here…

Matthew 18:21 (KJV) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We need to remember that as stated in the prayer, we have been forgiven, but that does not mean that we do not have to have a repentant heart. This is why we ask to be forgiven or our debts but we have to pass that along to those who have wronged us. As humans we find it hardest to forgive emotional hurts and monetary hurts. I have come to the conclusion, probably because I have always been poor that money comes and goes, it is all going to burn and it really is not worth getting bent out of shape about. If we have it, then bless someone who does not, it really is as simple as that.

If you have a spare $20 in your bank account that you are not using and you know of someone who is going without dinner that night, then you have an opportunity to be used by God in a real and tangible way. Personally, I have been blessed with food when I have been broke; I have seen it as a tremendous blessing, what a blessing to be used by God to help out with the money that is not really yours anyway.

Emotionally, psychologically, physically and mentally you have to forgive those who have wronged you. We as humans were never designed to carry around the emotional baggage that many of us try to bear, which is why there are such bouts of depression, substance abuse, recovery programs and thoughts of ending it all in many folks. We have to “take it to the LORD in prayer” and then we have to be prepared to let it go.

I pray that this article has been educational, challenging, convicting and exhorting, I pray that you received it well and please feel free to like, share and comment on whatever social media you wish as the LORD leads you too.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG