Taking the Epistle

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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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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10 – 04/11/2016

Acts 3:1 (ESV) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse one…

V1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

I have been looking forward to this passage of scripture for some time, the reason for this is that it brings back happy memories of my Sunday School days back at the Gospel Hall in Roberton Street in Chapelhall back in Scotland. In common with many Sunday Schools of that day we sang a song that was based on this passage of scripture, the lyrics were as follows…

Peter and John went to pray;
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:

“Silver and gold have I none,
but what I have give I thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Which is a simplistic approach to what happened here in this scripture and I am a simple guy so that suits me fine. (Perhaps we should stop the article here) Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and I am sure that if I went back to that hall being an adult those benches, whilst familiar would not seem as long or as large. I am also sure I would have many memories of lessons learned and happy memories of somewhere that was part of my growing up and very much a safe place for me as a child. You see, as an adult I realize what a sacrifice this family did for where they lived, the loved that generation enough to go collect them from their various homes andddliver them there and back so they could hear about Jesus. Awesome testimony!

I love the words used by Luke the Physician that states that Peter and John began this account by stating that Peter and John were still observant of the “hour of prayer” that they took every opportunity to be in communion with God. They wanted to be immersed in prayer for the mission that they were on. I don’t doubt for a second that they would have taken any opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus if the occasion arose or were questioned by the assembled leaders that were there. (If you have read ahead you will know that God was going to give them that very opportunity) I believe that these guys were truly on mission because they were going into a place that could conceivably be fairly dangerous for them. Whatever the reason they went there, we know that they did and they went there, they went to pray and they went at the ninth hour. (3pm)

V2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

Luke even narrows it down to the very gate that they entered in. This was no fable or made up account that was designed to embellish this new found faith. The veracity of the details listed tells us that this is a true account. Josephus described the self-same gate made of brass from Corinth and was over seventy feet high and was regarded as beautiful.

Back in those days there was no welfare state as the Romans would not be seen to be encouraging the idea of the Government giving money to those who could not support themselves so the ones who were unable to asked alms (donations or free will offerings) from the folks who were going to prayer and today was no different.

V3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

The poor man thought he was seeing two devout Jewish men so he decided to ask for support from those whom he thought might be able to help him. This practice was established even at the time of Jesus as he had a lot to say about the Pharisees and the way they gave alms and their hypocrisy…

Luke 11:37 (ESV) While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

And what Jesus was saying was that they loved to look religious and get the “holy kudos” from the ones whom they wanted to notice them. It was a self-congratulatory pat on the back kind of deal and these type of people were those who instituted a noise being made when a larger donation went into the temple. It was the same when they gave to the poor, there was no humility or care for the person, and it was all about how holy they looked. I am sure this man knew this but he needed the help and he had no pride left and was reduced to asking passersby for spare change in order to make sure that he could eat that day. He was hoping for some coin to fix a temporary need but look at who God put in front of him. I can only imagine how much he must have prayed to God about his infirmities and I can only imagine how soul destroying it must have been to have to do that on a daily basis, seen as the lowest of the low and being at everyone’s feet level having the dust of the world in your face day after day.

V4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He asked for something that was going to fix his immediate need however God had much bigger and better plans for that man. Peter decides to engage the man and asks for him to look at them, the man then has enough faith to know that he would be receiving something from this interaction (Imagine the level of people who just walked by him or stepped over them as they were too busy with him to get to their “religious duty”. That pricks my heart because sometimes we can be like that and be too busy with “doing things for God” to actually do the ministry that God has called us to.

Another question I have is do we have faith like this man? This man was at his bottom, you can’t get much lower than breathing in the dust of the people who view themselves as better than you and begging for scraps not much unlike a dog seeking the favors of those who God has put on their hearts to give. Pride stripped away and reliant on the good grace and mercy of God and knowing that whatever he receives really comes from God.

What do we expect from God? How strong is our faith? If we had all of our comforts stripped away and it was just you and God would you have enough faith to expect God to provide for your needs? God will and wants to bless us much more than we are often times willing to ask. This man was hoping for some small coin to maybe buy some food but God had a plan to make him whole.

Peter had no money that was true, but he did have the authority to heal the sick and that was given to him by Jesus (Luke 9:1-6) and Peter rightfully attributes the healing to the one who healed him rather than seeking an audience or claim any credit.

There are two parts to this sentence that I would like to highlight…

  • I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. – God was above the temporary cash flow issue that man required to solve this man’s problems, when we look at our issues from our elevation we often times cannot see how God would remedy our situations.
  • In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! – God was going to do a supernatural work in his life that even the most religious scholar could not explain logically. They couldn’t explain what Peter did because Peter acted in faith based on what was inside him. Peter knew how to heal the sick in Jesus name because the Holy Spirit prompted him to do it.

V7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

As soon as Peter said “rise up and walk” the man went from being lame to being whole. Strength filled his legs and God strengthened his bones and this was achieved and noticed by the man when Peter took him by the hand and had him literally standing on his own two feet. We see enormous faith in Peter in lifting him up knowing he was healing him and the man in allowing himself to stand on his own two feet when he previously had not been able too. Can you imagine what this man was feeling, the hope, the expectation and finally being able to walk and how amazing that was? Let’s see how he was reacting…

V8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Not exactly quiet about it was he? Here is how he celebrated…

  • And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, – He associated himself with the ones who had shown him Jesus.
  • Walking and leaping – He wasted no time in using this new found gift from God, how do you use your gifts from God?
  • And praising God – He attributed the praise to the one who healed him, we don’t read about him “walking and leaping and praising Peter”

V9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

What a living, breathing testimony! There was no denying who the guy was who they thought he was as they had all seen him at the gates, he was recognized (v10) as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate and we read in Acts 4:22 that he was forty years old at that point and God used that time of faithful obedience to prayer by Peter and John as a gateway to healing this man of an infirmity that he had suffered for four decades. Do not discount the simple obedience that you have to God’s will in your life, you may not see it but God may be placing you where he needs you to be to do a mighty work in His name!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses eleven through sixteen when Peter begins speaking in Solomon’s portico as people begin to ask questions about this miracle. 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 Surrounds His People – Psalms 125

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The LORD Surrounds His People – Psalms 125 – 04/09/2016

A Song of Ascents.

Psalms 125:1 (ESV) Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!

Thanks for looking at our Psalms Saturday article; I plan to go through this Psalm verse by verse starting in verse one…

V1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

This seems very basic; those who trust on the LORD are like the mountain in which Jerusalem was built. The Psalmist states that this mountain will abide forever and cannot be moved and that is correct because when the Lord Jesus comes back he will rest on the Mount of Olives and split it in two. Interestingly as regards to Mount Zion we read that in the most recent 1948 war it was he only part of the city to stay in Israeli hands for the duration of the conflict.

V2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.

Using the mountains as an example the Psalmist uses the verifiable geology of the city of Jerusalem to paint the example that the LORD is always around his people, The LORD is always watching out for his people and this is no temporary thing. It was the same from the beginning and will be until forevermore. Let’s see what the Psalmist says in Psalm 139…

Psalm 139:1 (ESV) O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

God knows us inside out, he is acquainted with our ways far better than we are and knows us better than we know ourselves. As much as we may want to at times we cannot deceive him as he perceives our motives in the purest of fashions. He wants to bless us and desires that we follow the plan he has for our lives. I am reminded of the piece of prose called “footprints” and I am reminded that during my roughest times is when there was only one set of footprints because I could not bear the journey I was on and God carried me through it. Did I do everything perfect? No, but that did not stop the LORD surrounding me. From personal experience I know that this is true.

V3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.

This verse speaks of a desire for the wickedness to pass from the land allotted to the righteous and that is an awesome prayer but I do ask and confess that “do we know what we are asking?” I too look forward to the day where the LORD will make everything right in the second coming

V4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!

And I wish this myself all the time, that those who are upright and walk according to God’s plan for their lives be extended some special blessing and I have a desire to see them really do well in their lives and I do sometimes forget what Jesus said in the book of Matthew…

Matthew 5:43 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I am convicted in my heart because it is only human nature to want the best for those who tick our wee boxes as far as our own moral conduct and theological biases and I have also seen some Christians not wish fellow believers well if they have slight differences in biblical hermeneutics. I pray only for re-correction of funky doctrine or Salvation if they are not saved. The book of Second Chronicles has the following passage…

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.

Pray for those who persecute you and pray for those who hate you, you wouldn’t believe the healing that can happen if we just submit it to God. The hearts that can be softened (on both sides) if we do what Jesus told us to do when he said in the above passage in Matthew 5 verse 44

Matthew 5:44 (ESV) “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

And that is the heart of Christ and also the heart of the father. Imagine a world where we prayed for those who hated us, served them as if they were our best friend, we all gave our tithes gladly and then gave more out of our abundance, we opened up our homes to non-believers to let them see Christ in action, imagine that impact. We could truly change the world!

V5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!

This is the truth; if people continue in their sins then they will be choosing their own eternal destination. For your afterlife you have one of two options, you can choose to go with God into heaven or the LORD will lead the others away with the evildoers. The Day of the LORD as it is called in the bible is a real event and it will happen, until that day I am committed to praying for those who stand against me and I pray for peace to be upon Israel also.

Lord willing, in our next article in the book of Psalms 127 where we look at a song of ascents of Solomon which looks at the folly of building without the LORD, it is a fantastic Psalm and one of my personal favorites so 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

This Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner media circus from a Christian point of view

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This Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner media circus from a Christian point of view

Disclaimer :- These thoughts are my own and do not represent any of the organizations, churches or bible studies I serve at.

I am sure you will be aware of the media circus that is following the surgical procedure of former Olympian and cast member of the show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” Bruce Jenner. If you are not, then the most “non-emotive” way of talking about what has happened is that he has went through an operation to present himself as a woman and he now wishes the world to know him as “Caitlyn Jenner”.

The part that is difficult for me as a Christian is seeing how other Christians are reacting to this news, I always try to approach (let me say that sometimes I do not manage it) situations in a “bigger picture” situation as if to ask “how is this bringing glory to God?” or “how are we showing ourselves to be followers of Christ?” and i have to say that I am disappointed in some of what I read from folks who profess Christ as their savior.

The basics behind this scenario

Biblically, if we strip away all the outside issues such as words like LBGT, gender confusion and all of that good stuff and strip it down to plain facts as the Christian sees it then we will realize that Bruce/Caitlyn is in the same spiritual place that we were all in at one point (some folks who read this may still be there) that “All have sinned an fallen short of God’s glory”. Let’s look at that first and realize that the primary issue is that Caitlyn (let’s call her that for the purpose of this exercise) can pay people to hack away at her body, change her appearance, have her on magazine covers, display her as a woman but if we do not deal with the soul and the eternal destination of that soul then it is just a sideshow.

Basically they need Jesus! (Do I hear an Amen?)

The error we make as Christians when we comment on these things

Is that we try to apply unequal standards on things of the world, the world is mixed in opinion on the Vanity Fair cover but most pieces I have read have been supportive of the “brave decision” to appear scantily clad in a magazine parading oneself as this new image of oneself.

Christians have been against it but have by in large missed the major point and really missed a good evangelical opportunity, they have gossiped, they have slandered, they have been guilty of name calling and they have used the story to fuel their own agendas. I get why you would feel the need to “Stand up for the cross” but using this story to club as many people with a pharisaical stick really helps no-one and makes evangelism a million times harder.

We have to be careful to not do this, I am not saying condone sin but really (much like me in this scenario) none of us know Bruce Jenner, none of us know the psychological issues he is facing, none of us know the thought process why this happened and none of us know what influence (counselling, pharmaceutical or otherwise) he was under and whether he realizes what doors he is opening to remain in the spotlight.

Is he a woman?

Legally I guess he can call himself one, however scientifically, anatomically and biologically he is not. He certainly is surgically enhanced, he certainly is taking pharmaceuticals to propitiate the lie that he is what he wants to paint him to be, but when is all said and done he will have been born a man and will die a surgically modified man that has presented himself as a woman for however many years he has left.

It’s not a new procedure!

Bruce Jenner is not the first person to have gone through this type of surgery and probably will not be the last, we as a society have become accepting of the right to “play God” and determine who we wish to be. If Bruce Jenner was a plumber from LA who decided to do this there would be no-one commenting pr even caring outside that circle of influence, what makes this newsworthy is that this man is famous for being an Olympian and latterly famous for being involved with a family who is famous for being famous – That is what makes it newsworthy! 

And perhaps that is the tragedy, perhaps some people were not made to be followed 24/7, photographed every time they appear in public and gossiped about every time they let their guard down.

How Christians should respond to Bruce/Caitlyn

Bruce needs prayer not condemnation! Pray for him, pray for his happiness and pray for his eternal destination! I fear for a future headline concerning Bruce as I fear this “transformation” will not bring him the peace and happiness that he longs for. This man was depressed as a man, he has been at the top of his game and is a true example of what Paul spoke about when he compared the life of an Olympian to the Christian life…

1st Corinthians 9:24 (ESV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Bruce has run that race literally and I fear for him, depression is the real deal and I do not approach the subject flippantly and despite the reasons or circumstances behind why someone is depressed you have to always be careful that they are looking for a way out and in the most extreme cases the “way out” may be terminal.

And that is why Bruce needs our prayers as anyone can smile for a photo-shoot but if there are “tears behind the mask” then we need to intercede on his behalf regardless of your views on his life choices.

Pray without ceasing

This may be an application for some of us in that we need to evaluate in our prayer life whether we only pray for people that we like or do we pray for those who hate and despise us. I have found that praying for those (especially the ones who are Christians) that despise and have rejected me then I find myself in a far better disposition towards them. Scripture tells me that i am heaping coals on their head, that is not my desire, I just wish for them to be civil to me.

I have no idea what Bruce thinks of Christians (if he even does) but even if he does hate us, that is all the more reason to keep him in prayer. I once went to a prayer meeting and I mentioned praying for a celebrity that was messing up their life in the public view and I heard a tut of disapproval from someone I respected and it saddens me because these people are in need of God’s grace as anyone and regardless of our status on this earth if they do not choose to follow Jesus then they will not be with him in paradise.

That is a prayer point if ever there was one!

Conclusion

Please do not think I am bashing Christians but people really need to pray before they start to comment on things with huge wide brushes of condemnation. These people are in the world, they do not adhere to the bible and they do not hold the same standards as the bible. Attempting to bring them up to biblical standards in a way that condemns, in a gossip like way which is not helpful and often times will not show them God’s love, grace and mercy. I fear that it will have the opposite effect and give them an excuse to brand Christians as “unloving” and “judgmental” and really my MO is to bring people to Jesus so that is the last thing I want to do. It is a thousand times harder to evangelize someone who has been recently “burned” by Christians.

I pray this was a blessing, a challenge and an exhortation, I know some of this will not go down well and should you wish to comment below then please do. Also please feel free to share, like or comment as the LORD leads you to.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

Pray with holy hands and women be modest

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

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

Let’s start in verse eight of the second chapter of First Timothy.

1st Timothy 2:8 (ESV) I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Constant state of prayer

Paul continues in his “conduct for the church” thought by stating that “every place the men should pray” which tells us Paul’s attitude towards prayer and how normal it should be for us as followers of Christ to be in a constant state of prayer. There is no caveats, no allowances for time, other things that the men have to do or even where the men were in the region, the expectation was that the men should pray and they should pray in every place.

Looking at this from an application standpoint I feel convicted on this area as (much like many of us) I could really be doing with spending more time in prayer. By western standards I have a fairly healthy prayer life but I do long for more time in prayer, but the biggest barrier to more prayer is me and trying to please myself.

The heart of the church service

Paul is speaking about the church as a whole also and it is imperative that prayer and communion with God are at the center (or heart) of any church service. Prayer is vital, not just for our individual communion with God, but praying corporately as a body is vital with a group of believers who have their hearts in a state of submission to God glorifies God in ways I cannot even fathom to describe.

Lift holy hands with no strife

Paul tells us that the men are to lead this; they are to lead and be “lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” this also leads us into the next chapter which talks about the qualifications for leadership in the church and Paul advises that the ones leading, the deacons, the overseers, the ones beginning the public prayers should all have one thing in common, they should all be men.

They should be raising hands that are holy, ones that are set apart for God, not prone to evil. We are all sinners and we do all sin, some greater than others and I am grateful for the grace of God that I am not deemed holy based on who I am or what I am done. I am holy because of what Christ has done for me when he died on the cross at Calvary.

We are to pray without anger or quarreling, we are human we will have and will hold grudges and we all have different “hot buttons”, something that annoys me may fly over your radar and something that irks you to the point of frustration I may have no quarrel with. We cannot use prayers to target people, especially if we are praying in a group or corporate setting. I have heard (and heard of) prayers that were so obviously aimed at another in the group and you could feel the seethe emanating from the person, this is what Paul is talking about! We may dress it up as “holy concern” or however we dress it up as, but we are not praying in a holy way and most certainly not lifting up holy hands. It may be a case you may have to check your heart to see where your true motives lie.

Pray for those who despise us

This may seem like a contradiction as we are also told to “pray for those who persecute you” but it is not really. This command was talking about praying for those who were against you, not in a vengeful way but pray for things that are both temporary and eternal for that person. I know I have in the past prayed for people who have despised me and prayed that we would have at least a civil relationship (temporary) and also as I grew in prayer for them I prayed for their salvation or for them to grow in God if they were a Christian. (Yes Christians can be jerks too!)

Women be modest

V9… likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works…

Paul is saying in laymen’s terms “Women, don’t be a distraction” now we can pull this text apart in all manners of ways that it was never intended to be pulled in. Really what Paul is stating is that the female of the species is a very attractive being, that they should show beauty in the things that really matter. Paul advises that they should be modest; they should not draw away or cause distraction from the worship which of course is the point of them being there in the first place.

They should be in respectable apparel, now people have tacked on many things to this which some are good and some are not so good, for a time in church women wore hats, (some denominations or creeds demanded the covering of heads) they wore sober business type suits, some wore long flowing dresses some wore long skirts all of these are good and acceptable but what I believe that Paul is saying is dress appropriately for the occasion, if you are spilling out of your clothes or trying to draw attention to you rather than God then you are a distraction.

Which leads us into “modesty and self-control” it is fairly obvious what Paul is driving at here. We have to be careful not to lower our standards to the world’s standards. The world would have you exposed in a heartbeat and I will be honest and state that until I had a daughter of my own, I really hadn’t pondered too much what this meant. Really we should be looking for moderation because in some ways, the way we present ourselves does give an idea into how we view ourselves and an idea what is in our hearts. If we have a heart given over to self-glory and self-gratification then that will show in the way we dress.

Paul gives two examples of how women used to dress themselves up in those days, that we shouldn’t be looking to adorn ourselves with things that draw attention to us. Costly attire is something that we even do today, we call it “designer clothes” and whilst it is not a sin to own nice things, we should not let our things be elevated to a place they should never be.

Profess godliness with good works

And then we get to the point of what Paul is saying…

V10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.

Paul states that we shouldn’t be eternally adorning ourselves, remember in that culture you could “rent” gold rings before you went into meetings or the temple to make you look more affluent than you actually were. He states what makes real beauty “godliness and good works” which unlike jewelry and temporary looks, that will not fade.

We read that the women are to learn quietly, without contention and not causing a distraction to the men chosen to lead in the church. The idea here is that they learn in a submissive nature and not try to grasp authority from the leaders. They are to learn in submission, not as second class citizens but under the respect of those chosen to lead.

Oppress the womem?

People get this impression that women are oppressed and that is not correct, it is like all forms of life. When I was in school, I had to submit to the authority of my teachers, when I joined the Territorial Army in the UK I was under the jurisdiction of the Corporals and Sergeants that were training me and when I sought employment I had managers that were above me so it is not unusual to have a ranking system. If the church allowed a melee or free for all then it would be chaos!  

Women not to exercise authority over a man

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Paul reveals a doctrine that is contentious in today’s Christian church that “women are not to teach or exercise authority over a man” Paul is being clear in what he says here and I do accept that many women are gifted teachers, my wife is one of them but I know that my wife would never go to the front of our assembly and teach a bible study and explain doctrine in a room full of men. Paul states the same in the letter to the Corinthians (1st Corinthians 11:1-12) I would take both passages side by side to show the full counsel of God’s word. Below is that text…
 

1st Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

Head of the home

Paul states in both places that the men are to be “head of the home” and the wife is to be in submission to her husband. It goes without saying that when the families come together to make up the congregation it would be out of order for the woman to then rule over the man in the assembly of God and take the place of those qualified to be overseers or deacons. (More on that in chapter 3)

Paul cites the order of creation as the reason behind his statement; God created man first and delegated authority to him. From that authority Eve then was in submission to Adam but Paul cites the fall of man and Adam is blamed for the fall of man due to the authority he had over his household. (Romans 5:12) Eve is not blamed because she was tricked, but Adam took the fruit from his wife even although he had a direct command from God not to do so. Eve was tricked and turned around; Adam rebelled against a command of God.

Romans 5:12 (ESV) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

Childbearing and the health of the church

Paul lastly talks about a role for the women through childbearing, Paul does look at the health of the church and if the women are neglecting an opportunity to grow their family by seeking offices they were never intended to be in (see chapter 3 regarding overseers and deacons)  then that is a problem. Paul reiterates that they are to be in faith, love and self-control (again speaks of the attributes discussed above)

Not all women are meant to have children and my wife and I have had issues in this area (infertility) and we have been blessed by a daughter who truly is a gift from God, but even if God had not blessed us with a child we would still have praised him.

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

Pray for kings and pray for paupers

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

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

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

Pray for All People

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Paul categorizes this point in order of importance to what Paul wished to tell Timothy, the first chapter was a general greeting and a charge to Timothy personally to stay in Ephesus. Now we get into what is of top of mind in the mind of Paul and what he wished to share with Timothy and the greater church at large.

How should we worship?

Paul deals with the way we should worship, that when we pray we should not forget anyone, that no man is too lowly to not be prayed for. Paul lists four ways of communication to God, these are:

Supplications – asking for something, let’s be honest we all do it! We shouldn’t make it all about asking but we should know that God will supply our needs, perhaps not on our timescale but God is faithful.

Prayers – is a catch all term for all of our requests and dialogue with God, both individual and on a corporate basis.

Intercessions – We are told in Galatians 6 to “bear one another’s burdens” so it is just that we should pray for others, we should always make times to intercede for others, often times non-Christians who know that I am a Christian will make request of me to pray on their behalf, it is a humbling experience and can be done either in the persons presence or far away. When we pray for our mission’s people we are interceding and partnering in prayer with them to help them in the mission God has placed them in.

Thanksgiving – Not just a day where we eat too much in North America! This is vital in our Christian walk; we have been saved of so much, it is only right that we give thanks and praise. We have been plucked out of the bowels of eternal damnation and on many occasions, when I have not been thankful; I don’t fully give gratitude and don’t attribute what I should to God.

I have never met someone I could not pray for, however how many of us do? Yes I get it, we are busy and we prioritize our prayer life but as Paul states we should be praying for “all men”, that’s right, even the ones who despise us and hate us! We have to pray for them in the same way we pray for our kids, our spouses, our family, our friends and even our pastors. I would encourage you to pray for them more!

Pray for them all in the same way

V2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

In Paul’s day Christians were often persecuted under the charge that they claimed there was someone higher than Caesar. In many cases this is the charge they would levy against Christians, and in all reality all the Christians could be tried for is trying to give the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul commends this and tells Christians to be good citizens, pay your taxes, pray for those who rule over you (much like he states in the book of Romans chapter 13) and be godly and dignified in every way. Don’t embrace the world but be a light to the world.

Pray for a revolution?

It is obvious that we would pray for calm and stability in our countries fortunes as who in their right mind would pray for anarchy and a tumultuous governmental structure? It is important to pray for the prosperity in the short and material term, but we must also pray for them spiritually, that they would turn to Jesus and that they would make decisions based on sound biblical and doctrinal standpoints.

In many cases Governments are areligious, they will not subscribe to a particular faith as to not lose a vote anywhere but we are not to conduct ourselves in a way that Christianity would become a target for government involvement. It sounds far-fetched in the western world, but there are many countries in the world today where it is illegal or restricted for people to profess a faith in Jesus Christ. My prayer for those people is that the Governments would leave them alone to practice their faith.

God is pleased when we honor those in authority.

V4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Let’s hear from Jesus

And this is why; God desires all to come to a knowledge and faith in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV) We should be doing it all in an effort to be evangelists to our leaders. Look at how Daniel conducted himself in the land of Babylon, he rose to prominence in a very pagan land but stayed true, loyal and faithful to God and lived a life that was an example to me.

God desires that all be saved but they have to come to that one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ states also in John 10:9 “I am the door. If any man enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and find pasture” (ESV) We have to make a response and accept Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus is attributed with “giving himself” he did that literally on a wooden grave for criminals in the cruelest possible way by one of the most barbaric methods of death ever devised for a criminal. He gave himself “as a ransom” because he did not deserve what he got; he became sin despite never committing one. He became a ransom in the most loving way when he paid a debt that we couldn’t in order to absolve our sins and reconcile man to God.

The reason for Paul’s position

This was the reason “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (V7) Paul preached what he preached. This was a massive U Turn in message from the man who used to persecute those who spoke of the exact same message. He was a preacher of this message and this was the reason why his life changed so dramatically.

Paul calls himself “a teacher to the Gentiles” Paul started off as a minister to both but it was a common pattern of the early church, the apostles, the believers and the new converts would attempt to reach the Jews first to confirm Jesus as their messiah, (they were still waiting for the messiah that they crucified) often times though they would not be received well and they would then go out to the Gentiles who would accept the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God as truth.

Does God want only Gentiles? Only Jews?

Truth is God wants to be reconciled to you whether you are Jew or Gentile, we are all his creation and Jesus died for the sins of the world, not just the sins of a certain tribe or continent. No-one can be saved just by being born a certain way, you have to choose to follow your messiah, Jesus Christ

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