Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Glasgow

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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Judgment on False Teachers

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Judgment on False Teachers

Thank you for reading this Bible study on the book of Jude. This bible study is part of a series on the book of Jude, 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 Jude for other studies in this book.

Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of Jude.

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude is keen to get to the point of why he was writing the recipient of this letter. We learn from the first sentence that the people who are receiving this letter are…

1) Beloved
2) Brothers in the faith (common salvation)
3) To contend for the faith
4) Have caution against ungodly people
5) To know the reason why they were ungodly
6) Having reaffirmation who the Lord was

Jude starts the letter “Beloved” he affirms that the folks who are receiving this letter are people that he is writing to in love. The content of this short letter deals with some pretty heavy stuff so this was not your average “church newsletter” and packs quite a theological punch. This is why Jude reminds them in the first instance that they are “beloved” and when you are counselling people it is always fruitful to establish that what you say is done in love.

Those of you who know me personally know that I do a bible study in my home and my wife brought up a wonderful point when she said (and I am paraphrasing) “when she is asked for advice she has the choice of ‘making someone happy’ or giving them ‘good biblical advice’ and Jude does the latter, he is confident that the people who are receiving this letter will take this advice from him.

We go on to read “although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation” which tells us the reader that the letter he was planning to write did not happen and events at the destination of the letter necessitated a different subject matter to be written about. Reading between the lines this would be why Jude started the thought with the word “Beloved” and tells us that Jude may have been writing this with a heavy heart or to say another way, this may have been a letter that he was not looking forward to writing.

We have all been in this situation where we have had to be honest with people on a subject matter that may not go down to well. What I see from this letter is that Jude was a man of great biblical integrity and he was willing to speak the truth at the expense of feelings. Today’s church could do with a dose of this as we tend to be “seeker centric” or wishing to court “popular opinion” and our churches tend to be numbers driven and programs driven as opposed to allowing God’s word and the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives.

This letter may be small but it is a dynamic letter in the form of a sermon. Both on this blog and in person I have shared in the past that I spent over six months in this letter with a previous pastor and due to that time I rediscovered how to study the bible for the maximum benefit to my Christian walk. It is the word of God and God working through people that changes people’s lives. I was won over to the Christian faith because I saw the love of those around me, and because I knew I was accepted and loved, I took what they had to say about the errors in my life in the way that it was intended to be received.

I am grateful that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and took the “road less travelled” both in my personal development and the fact this letter made it into canonical scripture tells me that it will have impacted many more people that the intended recipients. The lesson here is that no matter how small your service in the Lord may be, it could have the profoundest effect on someone and may change the course of families for generations to come.

I am a product of this, because of the love, correction and exhortation I received at that Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland my life drastically changed (for a fuller account please check out my “testimony” page) and this helped change the life not just of me, but it helped my marriage and now my daughter is growing up in a house where Jesus Christ is of the upmost importance. That all came from a wee missions church that averaged between 20-40 people in Scotland’s largest city.

Jude goes on to say what the new subject matter is “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” And from this we understand that Jude was writing to a church (or assembly) that was on the verge of splitting due to internal strife’s and divisions. Jude is preaching against practices (or doctrines) that were toxic in that church. I am sure many of you could make modern day applications based on individual experiences.

The word contend also means to strive, to agonize, to really reach for it is in the context of an athletic competition where all competitors are extracting every last ounce of everything they have to struggle for that prize, likewise our Christian struggle is continuous and that contending for the faith may not be a one-time deal.

Jude starts this thought with advising the necessity to write and the written correspondence was an appeal for them to contend for the faith. This is obviously written to the leaders of that assembly and the content alludes that it was for general distribution and we are aware that Jude wishes to get the doctrine straight before he deals with more “secondary issues”. I love this as Jude is showing great wisdom as this is not always how we problem solve in the fellowship today and it is to the detriment of our fellowships.

Jude writes to believers and we know this because of the term “common salvation” is used; it is common that they have this in common, that they are likeminded in who they believe is the Messiah and who they have put their faith in. Their Salvation is what they have in common and they have understood and believed that which was said in John 14:6…

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We all get saved in the same way, there is no VIP lounge or Captains table for people who earn a certain amount or have been that better a Christian. It all starts with brokenness and individual contrition as well as a desire to no longer be at odds with your creator. Jesus stated that you “must be born again” you have to make that individual commitment and despite how much I love my daughter, my brother or whomever I cannot be saved for them. If it isn’t a “common salvation” then I would go so far as to say that it isn’t salvation at all.

There is contention that is true, but if we do not do what Jude does and set a standard for the theology and get the “doctrinal ducks in a row” then we solve nothing by just solving the individual contention and “smoothing things over” We have to keep the main thing, the main thing. The reason and purpose for the letter is firstly correcting the doctrine, and Jude understands the importance of getting this basic, but yet foundational part of the assembly correct. One cannot underestimate the importance of getting the doctrine correct especially as it relates to Jesus. We have also to be careful who we allow to dominate the doctrinal conversation. Jude goes on in verse 4 to say the following…

V4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is worrying that these people have crept in and crept in un-noticed, if they were that ungodly then surely they would have been noticed and they were the classic “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to give the folks in the fellowship the benefit of the doubt, they may have been fine actors, they may have not been picked up as quickly because they were likeable or they may just have been able to be a “man to all the people” and let folks hear what they wanted to hear in order to “fit in”.

People like the folks who are “man for all the people” or accepted due to “likability” are difficult to deal with from a personal respect as people do tend to be respecter of persons towards those folks and personally I have been passed over for ministry due to situations like this and it was hard when it all went south. (As inevitably it does)  Jude when he is talking about these people he is not talking about the “Sunday only Christians” who turn up like sheep and don’t do a great deal, he is talking about the guys who are involved and are like a nuclear bomb going off in the heart of the fellowship because they are in the “in crowd”

These guys may look “picture perfect” but they disregard God on the inside, the advice they give sounds Godly but leads people away from God and they go as far as to deny the messiah himself Jesus Christ. Like the analogy I gave before, the truth will win out, it will eventually go south. I say with no boasting that I have seen quite a few “likely lads” that were rated by men to do great things and they all went the same way. Most aren’t even attending any fellowship, this is why it is important to be honest with who you are and what you are, church is not a career and it is not a ladder to climb, your ambition maybe delaying someone who is called to something of you barge in to get “a job” or “a position”.

We read that these men had both doctrinal problems as well as moral problems; they really were a cancer on the fabric of a thriving church. They should be in the gallery learning, being counselled and helped instead or at the front making a mockery of the leadership and leading people away and astray. This is not to say that we should not show grace to those who error, Jude is not stating this in the slightest and what Jude is stating that if the heart remains corrupt and unrepentant then there is a bigger problem at hand. These people were not simply in honest error, they were leading folks away with deliberate malice. We have to be careful when we use the comparison of how great God’s grace is as opposed to the corruptness and wickedness of an unrepentant human heart. This is why they go on to deny who the messiah is, we are not specifically told how they did it but we do know that they did. These people need prayer as God will give them an opportunity to repent, although based on what we read here I have no idea if they will or not.

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.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

Hey Jude, are you a bondservant?

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Thank you for reading our Bible study on the book of Jude. This bible study is part of a series on the book of Jude, 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 Jude for other studies in this book.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Jude.

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

I have quite the history with the book of Jude, when I first rededicated my life back to Jesus I went into a discipleship program with my then pastor Matt McGoldrick at Calvary Chapel Glasgow and we spent the best part of 7/8 months on the book of Jude learning how to study the bible in an inductive way.

In the Christian church today we either have one of two camps; we either have “lack of knowledge” or “Pharisee like knowledge” with very little balance. It is an issue in the church today that we have such wide chasms of knowledge.

Lack of Knowledge 

We see the lack of knowledge on one hand you have what we read in the book of Hosea…

Hosea 4:6 (ESV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Being Gentiles we should have learned from the mistakes that the Jewish people have done before us, but regrettably we have not. Many folks who call themselves Christian have not studied the word and do not have a decent foundational knowledge of what they represent and therefore are ineffective at winning souls for the kingdom of God. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we read… 

2nd Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Some translations have the phrase “study to show yourself approved” and it is important to be spiritually fed enough in order to grow in your relationship with Jesus. You see, conversion should not be the end of the story, but merely the beginning of a new chapter.

It does sadden me when I hear of some testimonies that culminate in the believer being saved. I once heard a great sermon by Pastor Martin Tatton of Calvary Glasgow City (link in the sidebar) which asked that very question and made me question my own testimony because I used to do the same. It is truly an injustice to the life that has been changed by Jesus Christ as it sounds like life was a party and then it all stopped when I became a Christian.

Truth be told I am not (I still am DNA wise) the man I was before and my life is a lot better than it used to be when I used to drink myself senseless and party and waste copious amounts of money of selfish pursuits. I have a great wife, a lovely daughter and a marriage that I could never have wished for.

If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would be leading a bible study in my home, happily married, a father and being blessed beyond all measure by a God that I had rejected but he never gave up on me it moves me to happy tears. I have this pursuit for knowledge on his word and a thirst to know more of him, but I pray that it is not a “Pharisee like knowledge”.

Pharisee like Knowledge

So it is fair to say that I know the book well, but like everything in the Christian life it is not enough to simply have head knowledge, the Pharisees in Jesus day knew the scriptures so well that they could look at a parchment paper of a Torah and let you know if a stroke was out of place. However they did not let the words pierce their heart.

It is possible to know the theology and have such head knowledge that it becomes cold facts and therefore it is not living, it is cold, dry and dead. It is with great lament that I read of people who teach theology and wax lyrical about great and mighty things of God, know way more than I do and could out debate me and are way smarter than I ever will be but have missed the point of the whole thing. They are atheists!

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

Jude describes himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” and in that statement shows his humility, he could have written “a servant of our messiah and my half-brother Jesus” and been accurate, however he chose to address himself as a servant.

This shows great humility on the behalf of Jude. Can any of us honestly state that if they were a blood relation to Jesus they would not speak of it? But to give himself that lower place shows great character of a man and reminds me of what I read in the book of Proverbs…

Proverbs 25:6 (ESV) Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, 7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble

And also spoken by Jesus in the book of Luke… (The parable of the wedding feast) 

Luke 14:7 (ESV) Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jude does exactly this; he humbles himself by choice to the role of servant. The word servant is also translated as “bondservant” in this case one who has given up his own will to take up the role of a servant (or slave) for his master. So Jude is a slave to the gospel of Jesus Christ by his own free will and is completely subservient to his master and will follow the will of him as opposed to his own.

An application for that for us would be “how much of a bondservant are we?” I must admit that there are still things in my life that I have not given over fully to God and that is not a boast but an admission of guilt.

Also Jesus did call into question the importance of earthly brethren in Mark 3 and Luke 11, perhaps this was part of the reason why Jude did not feel the need to introduce himself as the brother (or blood relation) of Christ. Jude calls himself instead “the brother of James” James was an important leader in the Jerusalem church and author of an epistle.

Jude is mentioned in the gospels in the books of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 13 & Mark 6) as the brother of Jesus, Jude did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. (John 7:5 & Acts 1:14)

Jude addresses this letter “to those who are called” and this letter is still addressed to Christians everywhere. Jude will deal with issues that are not easy to hear and he categorizes them in 3 ways. 

1) Those who are called – Jude addresses it to the called, God has placed a calling on our lives, we have that choice as people to answer that calling, for some it will be into ministry, some it will be evangelism but whatever our calling we have to get to it and do it with all our hearts.

2) Beloved in God the Father – John 3:16 starts with the words “For God so loved the world” and that is a truth of the gospel, God loved us that much that he would give up his son Jesus to die on the cross for us to buy our salvation.

3) Kept for Jesus Christ – some versions say preserved in Jesus, and that we have protection in Christ and we are his children.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, we can choose to go with God’s plan for our life, accept the free gift that is Salvation and live after his will or don’t. One way leads to eternal life, the other leads to the lake of fire, simple huh?

V2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude greets the recipient with three wishes and that the three wishes are multiplied unto them. This shows Jude’s heart to the recipient that even although what he writes would be painful to swallow; he is doing it in love.

1) Mercy – We all have a need for mercy, for we all have fallen short of the glory of God due to our sinful nature.

2) Peace – This life is tough but we do not have to bear it alone we have access to an unlimited supply of the most perfect peace that a man can ask for, often times we do not ask and try to bear Gods burdens instead of our own.

3) Love – We are called to love, this letter is a love letter, doesn’t seem like it but sometimes the most loving thing we can do is be honest with someone.

Jude asks not just for theses blessing but he asks that they be multiplied unto them. What a heart that guy has for his recipients.

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 seven – My parents

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Thanksgiving week – Day seven – My parents

This is the seventh and final article in what I am thankful for, this one is dedicated to my parents.

In 1977 on the 12th day of the 12th month I was born in a hospital in Scotland in the UK. But the truth of the matter is that I shouldn’t be here. I was born a preemie baby and massively under weight. Nowadays that wouldn’t be a problem but in 1977 this was a big deal.

My parents were not Christian at that point, however they had folks in from the local Presbyterian,  Brethren & Catholic churches and my grandfather had folks come in from his church (Apostolic)

How is this relevant?

Well that baby you read about is a fully grown man who is still alive and writing to you today. God saved and preserved my life that day and despite the fact I should not be here, my parents learned a valuable lesson on the power of prayer.

Fast forward a few years

About thirty to be precise, and Mom and Dad begin to miss their son who went to love in the USA. They begin to go to the church we attended in Glasgow, Scotland. 
Dad gets saved and then Mom does, I attended Dads baptism four years ago. The change in Dad is unbelievable and a true example of Jesus saving grace.

From then on in we had another thing in common. Jesus Christ!  Dad is very much a changed person to where he was previously. 

Dad would be the first to admit that he made mistakes as a dad, but now that I am a father I also realize how much he sacrificed and how many balls he juggled in order to be a parent.

Dad & Mom, I love you and appreciate you more than you know. My prayer is I take the good parenting you did with me and do likewise with my daughter.

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

Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

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Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

Firstly, I should begin with how thankful I am that you are reading this, this series was started a few days later than I was hoping but I had committed to a week of blogs and content. (The days were switched round of course)

Secondly, if you like what you read then please share any articles, pages or the links to any content that you may find useful to your newsgroups.

Why Calvary Chapel? 

Well to be honest with you, it is what I like. Plain and simple. I have done the denomination deal when I was exploring Christianity when I was younger. I attended Charismatic,  Presbyterian, Baptist,  Episcopalian and Brethren at some.point in my life. In this experiment I would have to say I liked the lively worship of the charismatic church but needed more word focused studies.

I left the church for many years (see my testimony page for more information) and when I was dating my wife, she suggested we attend the local Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland.

Church should be like life, in balance, different people find different levels of balance and although I recommend Calvary chapels,  I would not take you away from a church that is healthy that you are plugged into.

Are all Calvary Chapel churches the same?

Very much not, Calvary Chapel churches tend to reflect their pastor in many was, they all adhere to the Word of God,  they all share the same distinctives,  they all have a lead pastor, but I have never been in two that are identical.

Here’s to you

Here is a shout out to those Calvary Chapel churches in my area, you have all been a positive influence in my walk and you have all encouraged me.

Vision CC of Porterville – attended between 2007-2014 large church in Porterville,  California. These guys have a huge heart for lost in the area God has placed them. They reach out many times a year to the local apartments with food, Christmas presents and dinners for thanksgiving. Last year they did a service in the courtyard of the apartments.

They also have active women and mens ministries to help equip.the saints for the work of the ministry. Here’s to you – Pastor Ryan, Kurt and Bob.

They meet at the Veterans Memorial Building on West Olive Street at 10 am every Sunday.

Calvary Chapel Tulare – awesome church in Tulare, smaller in numbers than Porterville but a real community church where everyone is family.

They have an awesome youth and childrens ministry, a great seniors ministry at a local rehab hospital,  the men meet on a Wednesday for coffee, exhortation and koinonia.

Recently they have had a pastor change so here’s to you Pastor Jake (who departed) and Pastor John.

They meet on O Street in Tulare every Sunday at 10 am and Thursday at 7 pm.

Calvary Chapel Visalia

The biggest Calvary Chapel in the area and has been around for about as long as I have been born. I know these guys from men’s events, bible studies, services I have attended, VBS I have sent my kid to and quality time spent with the Pastors here, both verbal and even shared meals with them.

These guys have so many programs it would would be impossible to talk about them in one article.  Here’s to you Pastor Bob & Mike.

They meet on a Sunday, Avenue 264, Visalia at 8.30 am and 10.30 am and Wednesday night at 6.30pm

Calvary Chapel Hanford

This is one I have been in closer contact from this year on. The pastors there Geno, Gene and Jacob are awesome, such an encouragement.

They also meet Sunday and Wednesday.

The reason I talk about Calvary Chapel today is that I was an atheist who really didn’t live a Christian life prior to being brought into a Calvary Chapel where I heard the bible being taught verse by verse and precept upon precept. It changed my life and I pray that it will change yours too.

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

Ladies – win them without a word

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Ladies – win them without a word

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

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

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

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

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

Will they be won over by your conduct?

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

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

Missionary dating

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

Outward adornment

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

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

Vicious cycle

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

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

Call him LORD

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

Do not hinder your prayers

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

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

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

Love your wives by doing more

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

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

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

The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

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The Autumn rain and the Spring rain

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

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

2 messages, 2 rains

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

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

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

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

Which rain are you under?

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

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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

Why good koinonia is required for sustained Christian growth

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Iron sharpens Iron

I have been blessed to have been strengthened recently by two friends that I met around February time and they have been a constant source of encouragement. We are three busy guys and often times the encouragement is in the form of a text message here there and a wee exhortation.

I have to admit that I am not all that complete at encouragement, I love to be encouraging but my follow up and follow through with people leaves a lot to be desired. This is regrettable as when I was helping out at a mission’s church plant at Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, I was “Mr. Let’s get together” or “Mr. Koinonia” and I was always keen to either have folks over or trample on others hospitality. In short I loved being around believers who were a blessing to my soul.

When I arrived in America this was not the case, the homeland (US) churches are not set up that way. People have lives, people have jobs, people have families, spending time with their Christian brothers and sisters slides further and further down the priority list.

The need for Koinonia

Not all Christians have it easy, we all struggle with different things! When I was a “baby Christian” I used to say all the time “Why do they struggle with that?” and then it came to me (I believed that it was revealed by God) that perhaps the stuff that I had issues with they didn’t and vice versa.

This is why I believe that good quality koinonia is really important, you have to find people not only that you can disciple to, but we all need to be ministered too. Even Pastors go to conferences to be ministered to so why shouldn’t I as a layperson require any less.

My psyche is such that I need to be challenged, need to have a goal to aim towards so I look and seek out men that can help me, talk things over and grow in God. I am blessed to have found two such men in “Bob” and “Chris” (I hope they won’t mind that I mention them by name) but the three of us have taken upon ourselves to encourage one another and Bob set a challenge this month to have memorized the three following verses:

Romans 6:7 (ESV) – For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Romans 6:14 (ESV) – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 8:12 (ESV) – So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

The idea of going through scripture together is a good one, it gives a scriptural point of order to talk from, we can share viewpoints that will both challenge us and help us grow. Growing together is good because of the bond it creates. Fellowships that grow together are more likely to have committed serving members that will go that extra mile to evangelize and bring the Word of God to more and more people.

What I get out of this

Well I get two different things from both guys, Chris is simply inspirational, he is slow to speak, but when he does it is well thought out and he is much more mature than I am, he has a shedload of knowledge but more importantly, he has wisdom. Chris is a worship leader and he has a worship leader’s heart. Bob on the other hand is simply an inspiration, this guy is an evangelist, and he is a walking, talking billboard for Jesus. He is not boastful but he spreads inspiration wherever he goes. he can’t meet a stranger without trying to introduce them to Jesus. He has this bag which is chock full of stuff that he uses to share the gospel! Awesome stuff

What they get out of me?

I don’t actually know! Funny stories maybe? I hope that I bring something to the proverbial table, but they seem to like me for who I am which is awesome! I have truly missed the great koinonia since being in a close knit fellowship where we were bummed if we didn’t spend time with each other as often as possible.

In the book of Proverbs we are told that “iron sharpens iron” and we were never meant to walk the Christian life alone, I have my wonderful wife who is way more than I deserve, but sometime I need some “guy time” (My wife feels the same with “girl time”) as it is good for the soul.

If you are a guy that is leading his home properly as a good and Godly leader of the home then the stresses of leadership will wear on you, sometimes you need that “peer refreshment” and it can be anything, can be a baseball game, can be hunting, can be Starbucks, could even be through text messages, but sometimes you just need to open the word with the boys. (Or girls if you are a lady)

I don’t have anyone

If you don’t then don’t be a lone wolf! The scriptures advise that “where two or three are gathered” not “when someone goes it alone” we all have issues, we all have struggles so let’s be accountable to one another and lets be real at church. That is the one place where we should be confident of not being judged and being loved.

God bless and I hope that this was a blessing, please feel free to share and comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE