Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13

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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13 – 01/18/2016

Acts 2:5 (ESV) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this series of verses are probably the ones most quoted in a charismatic/speaking in tongues type assemblies and I have seen some great teachings on these verses and some not so great. 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 verse five…

V5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Pentecost attracted men from all parts of the earth who just had to be in Jerusalem at that appointed time. We see that they were not originally from there as they were “dwelling” and being there on a temporary basis, I would imagine they would have arrived for Passover and would leave after Pentecost, however they were there for a much more divine appointment to just celebrate a Jewish festival and this happened at the end of their time in Jerusalem. God ordained this to happen to the biggest audience possible that would disperse to their own lands with this new gospel. Look at how they were going to be touched by God…

V6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Let’s get this correct…THEY HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE! This was the Tower of Babel reversed, God opened the ears of the people there supernaturally and they heard it spoken in words that they understood. I have no idea how they were seen by a multitude, perhaps they were on elevated ground, perhaps they were on a balcony, the text is not clear what is clear is the following…

• There was a sound that made the multitude come together
• It caused bewilderment that they spoke in their native tongue

Luke goes on to explain why…

V7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

They recognized these men as Galileans, possibly by their accent, possibly their dialect. Being a Scotsman in America, I speak the same language as the people who are from here but the way that I speak identifies me as Scottish.

This does not cause bewilderment, amazement or astonishment; they realize that as a business language I also speak English, this was a supernatural occurrence that God did for his glory. Luke goes to great lengths to explain the vast nature of the amount of possible tongues that would have been heard that day in verse nine…

V9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

What glory to God that so many different tongues were spoken and so many folks understood the message that was being given to them about the praises of God’s glory, God willing we will look at Peters Sermon which begins in Acts 2:14 and see what was being said to these people. God was outreaching both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians also. Everyone that was in attendance was able to hear about this Messiah!

Isn’t it amazing that God used men who were seen as uncultured, brash and uneducated? As a Scottish guy who barely passed high school with no college level education I am buoyed by this news that if you are willing, if you are where God wants you to be then he can use even the rawest of materials and turn them into something beautiful. In my case he used a man who was brash, uncouth, a drunkard who looked after number one (I could have been Galilean) and turned him into a man who lives to study and teach the word of God, a man who loves his wife and loves his daughter, what a testimony and what a Savior!

Based on what they had witnessed here, this was not your usual Pentecost! The people began to ask questions about what was going on around them, let’s look at verse twelve…

V12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

And here is where we get our title from, I actually blagged it from a musical hero of mine called Sammy Horner and a band he played in called “The Electrics” and they had a song called “Visions and Dreams” which many of their fans (well at least 5 of us) thought this was their Sargent Pepper or Bohemian Rhapsody. Anyways, waaaaay to long an introduction as usual!

The question they asked was a legitimate question, it was obvious that something supernatural was happening so a question of “what does this mean?” is not to unreasonable a question. This was not answered at this time but should we get to Peters sermon then you will see that Peter answers the question. They were accused of being drunk but as we read it was only the third hour of the day (9am) and it is not uncommon when God moves that he is mocked. I hope and pray that we get to the next article to hear Peters sermon.

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

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Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

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Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

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

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

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

Where are you coming from?

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

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

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

Please drink responsibly

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

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

Responsible imbibers

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

Binge drinkers

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

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

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

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

Poor Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other addictions, but I have the odd beer.

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

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

Everyone needs a crutch

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

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

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

I don’t agree with that!

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

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

Keep right on til the end of the road

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Keep right on til the end of the road

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

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

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

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

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

Do I still enjoy the game?

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

Getting back to Paul

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at the life of Joseph

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

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

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

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

Application

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving week – Day two – thankful for my Keeper of His Home

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Thanksgiving week – Day two – thankful for my Keeper of His Home

 

Proverbs 31:10 (ESV)  An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

 

As you may have guessed I am grateful to my wife, I call her “Keeper of His Home” as my wife is an author and this is the title of her first book.

Sent by God

Really I don’t know what I have done to deserve such a woman as this, I certainly have been blessed by the LORD.  Of course I say this in the most positive sense.

Yesterday I spoke of my thankfulness of my daughter, my wife has blessed me with such a beautiful blessing after God opened her womb to give us our greatest gift.

In the last ten years, I have been blessed more than I could type in ten volumes of an encyclopedia. She showed me what a real relationship with Jesus was. Paul talks about the wife’s role in the family in the letter to the Ephesians.

In the family

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV)  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

I have learned so much from this “Keeper of His home” in her own way she has allowed me to be in my role in the home, it is difficult sometimes when you have two people of differing cultures as well as the “head if the home” who has less years as a Christian.

I have relied on my wife’s counsel many times and she, whilst submitting has participated fully in the running of our home.

She is a fantastic wife,  mother and I love spending time with her both on a “hot date” or “family time”.

Forgiving when it’s not fair

Matthew 18:22 (ESV)  Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

My wife is tremendously forgiving,  I mean I am a really tough guy to love with and she is faithful, loving and an encouragement.

Lets be real here! Do I tick her off? Probably,  however she knows that what we have is much more than whatever got us sidetracked.  Do I love her like Christ loves the church? I try but I am flawed. Can you tell I am thankful for her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

(A non-partisan view on the Russell Crowe movie “Noah” I do wish to say, there are spoilers in this text so please if you plan on watching the movie, certain plot lines are revealed below, please take caution if you read below and plan to be “surprised” by the film)

I do not always toe the “party line” on Christian movie reviews

Let me say first and foremost that I do not subscribe to the many blogs and sites that are Christian based but bash Christian publications and movies because of reasons such as they do not fit what their finite view of something that is either biblical, spiritual, Christian or Jewish history. If they are discussing movies or motion pictures, most of the things they pick on really do not change the plot of the production or take away the greater meaning of what the director was trying to achieve.

However, that being said I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch Noah; I paid $1.39 at Redbox because although I wanted to see it, me and my family only trek to the movies for movies we really want to see. As stated previously I was free of most of the pre conceived notions that others of my faith had of this movie. I of course have seen headlines of articles that refer to the movie, some praising the movie, others slamming the movie. When i sit down to watch a movie about the bible I ask myself two questions.

1) Did the director stick to the story?
2) How misleading were any plot twists?

Obviously both secular and religious movies have had “Hollywood makeovers” and it is not picking on the bible to change the story somewhat to make the movie more “movie friendly” I have seen movies about historical hero’s that have had little twists thrown in, little historical embellishments or even a love interest that is not written in verifiable history.

Whilst that does annoy me as a “history buff” I don’t see myself writing 3000 word blog articles about those movies, and why is that? It is because I have never built my life upon a war journal from a dead general or sketchy history of Scottish clan chiefs or whether something actually happened the way it is portrayed on the big screen. Christian history, Jewish history and ones where we have biblical interest do have my interest to “get it right” and “nail the basics” because it has an impact of peoples view of a biblical story.

I and anyone who has a decent knowledge of the Bible will spot what is wrong with the movie almost instantaneously. However, someone who is watching this because they are curious about God and really don’t know what is going on theologically, they may have an issue and may put a barrier up based on unbiblical truths that they have seen on the big screen.

I plan to answer both 1) Did the director stick to the story? & 2) How misleading were any plot twists? Hand in hand in the next few points.

A) Creation – Fail

Not really, no – within seconds the film sets itself at odds with the biblical account by stating “in the beginning there was nothing” when Genesis 1:1 states the following:

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This lie is portrayed again when they are in the Ark, and Russell Crowe again repeats that “in the beginning there was nothing” and then we see a “creation montage and creation of the earth done in a fast forward motion which incorporates subtle but compelling ideas that creation and evolution go hand in hand, with fish jumping out of the sea, next second they are walking and birds doing likewise.

The idea that in the beginning there was nothing introduces the idea of a creator and a big bang working hand in hand and tries to fit science into a somewhat biblical account.

B) Noah has no idea why he is killing everyone

I have an issue with the way Noah comes off, he meanders through the film getting loose information that “the Creator” from memory, he is never actually called God is going to wipe all humankind off the planet, he does not know why and is guided by visions and dreams that the whole story is about God wiping us all out apart from the ones that Noah chooses to go on the Ark. Biblically this does not add up as we read in Genesis 6:

Genesis 6:5 (ESV) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

In the biblical account Noah understood what God was doing because he spoke to him. Noah is told that “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

This leads to confusion as how did the Shemite and Hamite people populate? The only two other females would have been Ham and Shem’s two nieces? This is an important question as from the Shemite people the nation of Israel came into being. In all reality it is not biblical and makes very little sense.

D) The inhabitants of the ark (animal kind)

When we see the animals converge on the ark, we see many more than is stated in the biblical account. (Remember it only had to be “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.” – Two of each kind, two cats, two dogs, two snakes) we have a scene where there are literally hundreds of snakes slithering into the Ark. It just does not make sense, the idea was to get the basic survival of the species onto a boat to allow it to continue post flood.

E) Where is the dove?

Genesis 8:4 (ESV) and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. 6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

In the movie the raven is set forth before they hit land, the dove is sent after and we learn that land is ahoy.

F) Where is the vineyard?

Genesis 9:20 (ESV) Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

In the scene where Noah gets drunk, he is in a cave on a beach, it is inferred that he got naked after being drunk, we do not see Ham telling his brothers, but they come and cover him up as we read in the scriptures not wishing to expose his father’s shame.

G) Where is the covenant with God?

Genesis 8:20 (ESV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

There is no mention of a covenant with God; the closest we get is the passing on of a birthright in the last scene, inferred to be the serpent’s skin of the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve.

H) What was the point of the rainbow?

Genesis 9:13 (ESV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Again there is no mention of why the rainbow is there, it is just shown at the end of the movie. God is not mentioned and really has been removed in favor of a non-religious “Creator”

Curious moments in the movie that raised questions

In short the movie is very about the environment, the good people are vegetarians and the evil people are meat eaters and in one scene the stow away starts eating the animals (perhaps trying to account for missing species in today’s animal kingdom)

I wasn’t too happy with the way that Methuselah was present, as a somewhat pagan, magical old man that could fix Noah’s daughter in law’s barrenness by touching her, it is assumed that he dies in the flood also.

And the “Watchers” I am assuming that they were from the “Sons of God” but they state they came down and were punished by the creator, they were Transformer-lookalike stone creatures that limped around a lot and stood between the people and Noah’s family at the beginning of the flood and they exploded one by one and appeared to transcend into heaven, all very weird stuff!

What they did well

A) The fountains of the deep burst open

Genesis 7:11 (ESV) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

In the scene where the earth becomes flooded, he water comes from above and below the earth; it was a decent visualization of how the earth became underwater very quickly. I was impressed by the visualization, it is up for debate whether it happened that way, but it is conceivable that it could, so that was well done.

B) Size of the Ark

Dimension wise, the Ark looked about as close as they could have got it, I was impressed by the fact that they did not buy into the myth that the Ark was a small boat and there was not enough room on the Ark.

C) Noah being drunk

Once Noah is found drunk, the actors who play Shem and Japheth cover Noah up and it was tastefully done, he then banished Ham.

D) Death and suffering

The idea of the death and suffering is evident and that was well done, when Noah is sailing off, we can see and hear people clinging to mountain tops and screaming when they are enveloped by the floods.

Should you see this movie?

That my friend is up to you. I would not promote or slam the movie. You will get as much theological insight by watching this movie as you will any other secular movie. Special effects wise, it is a decent movie. I just wish it did not fly in the face of something that I have built my life upon.

I would ask that you read the comments above, check out other reviews if you are still undecided after reading this, I would urge you that if you do watch it, keep your eyes and ears open for any errors. I reached for my bible at least 4/5 times to check things out. These are notes I made before I went to bed so there may be more issues than I remember. I certainly have not studied the film; I watched it once and felt neither closer nor further away from God for doing so.

I hope that this article finds you well, please prayerfully consider commenting, liking or sharing as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

The Jacobite experiment

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

The Jacobite experiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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