Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Lent – when the ashes fade!

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Lent – when the ashes fade!

Matthew 4:1 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

I was reminded the it was Lent today when I saw an obviously Catholic family come out of the store this evening with matching black thumbprint on their foreheads.

I am used to seeing this having lived in West Central Scotland for the best part of thirty years I recognize the holy days and the symbols that represent those days. (One year I made money out if it through overtime when I worked for the mainly Catholic soccer club Celtic in Glasgow to cover for those who wished to have time off to do the sacrament!)

1) What is Lent?

Today is the beginning of the 40 day festival which culminates in Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The biblical basis for this celebration comes from when the LORD Jesus was tempted in the wilderness prior to starting his public ministry. (See above verses)

2) Who celebrates it?

Traditionally it is celebrated by the Catholic Church,  Anglican Communion, Lutheran and Methodist congregations, however it has renewed popularity amongst some Non-denominational churches.

3) Is Lent a good idea?

If done properly then yes it is a great idea, the denial of the flesh in order to surrender yourself to God, renew your relationship with your creator and begin again in a closer communion to God, what is not to like about the idea?

4) What happens after Lent?

In the account listed above Jesus begins his public ministry straight after conquering the temptation to eat for those 40 days. There is an example in there folks!

There is nothing that states that repentance and seeking Gods face has to be only a 40 day event, one would hope that the true adherents of Lent would continue to draw closer to God.

5) Abuses of Lent

Because Lent is a fixture on the spiritual calendar of some churches we do see some abuses, the bulk if these abuses are to do with the persons heart and their motivation for doing this act in the first place.

You cannot judge a denomination by it’s people as we are all a mixed bag of nuts. Some of these abuses are listed below:

5a) Badge of honor Lenten flock

The ones who go to be seen out in public with their ashes on their head, like it is some spiritual badge of honor that they are the “real ones” of that denomination.

5b) Frivolous Lenten folk

You know the ones, the ones who advertise what they are giving up and it is usually something that they don’t do anyways (like a diabetic giving up chocolate for 40 days)

5c) Super Lenter

You know the guy/girl, ever present during Lent and Advent, goes missing on Easter Monday only to reappear alive and well on the first Sunday Of Advent. Speaks fluent Christianese and can discuss the finer points if denominationalism with the best of them.

During Lent there are major protestations that this has been the hardest Lent ever and they feel so much closer to God, but then once the festival is gone…so are they!

Jesus spoke about this when he was rebuking the Pharisees when he stated “they have their reward already” (Jesus was not impressed)

Do I do it?

Not recently no, in my past when when I have attended Anglican or Episcopalian churches I have. As stated above I see no real issue with it as long as it is done in the right heart.

Personally I haven’t resolved to this year, but if I was giving something up it probably would be social media. I say that as it truly is my biggest distraction on on a daily basis.

I pray this was a blessing, please share, like or comment as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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

Happy Father’s day from TTE

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Dad and I, building a fence, 2014

Happy Father’s day from TTE

3 John 1:4 (ESV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

As i begin to write this, I have to state that I am not the perfect father. I am not even a Catholic Priest (It’s a joke!) However, I do know where I have learned from, what I am still learning and hurdles I have yet to get over. My heart in this is to serve would be fathers, current fathers and prospective fathers in a Bible study on what the Bible has to say about a small part of fatherhood.

If I was to write an article on fatherhood what covered all that the Bible had said with quotes from wise Christian men, comments I have made (note I do not put myself in the former category) and a word by word study giving each word the respect and honor that each words deserve, it would be a volume that Britannica would be proud of.

I put this verse as the title verse is that I have a desire that my daughter (and any other children that the LORD blesses us with) know that they are loved, unconditionally, the same way that I am loved by God. And when my daughter sings Christian songs or “teaches me” (not really but she lets me know what she had learned either in home school or Sunday school) recent Bible verses learned, it swells my heart up in a way that is difficult to describe.

But my one desire for my daughter, is that she grows up knowing the truth about the Bible, (I fail in this area as far as regular Bible study goes with my daughter) that it is the living word of God and that it’s life changing pages are the best gift that has value far beyond the temporary things that we hold dear. Jesus said in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 7:9 (ESV) Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We have to always do well by our kids, that is not to say if they ask for candy every day they get it, but we have to be guardians for them, give them good gifts, feed them up both spiritually and physically. The beauty is, we get a new chance every day that the LORD trusts us with our children. We have to be faithful custodians.

We have signed my daughter up for dance and soccer, I want my daughter to be healthy and have all the opportunities she can have, we are also in the process of Foster/Adopt in order to try to give a child that has not had the chances our daughter has had, an opportunity to be part of a family.

I get my perspective on fatherhood based on the fatherhood I see from God the father and how loving, how faithful he is to his children, regardless of whether they love or care about his love, he is always there. We have to make the choice whether to follow him or not.

Joshua 24:15 (ESV) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

This is a verse that is on my wall in my home and as head of the home it is my job to fortify my walls against attacks. It is my responsibility to teach my daughter, disciple her and love her and show her the real Jesus. I have to keep learning what it is and how God wants me to use my life and be a living testimony that this is for real.

We should always love our kids, shouldn’t provoke them to rebel against us.

Col 3:21 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We should instill discipline (some of us need to learn it first) and instruct them in good doctrine and good theology, we must have compassion a real heart wrenching love for them that states you would do anything for them, I am tested in this when my kid won’t go to bed and it is late!

Psalm 103:13 (ESV) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Here we have to learn from the father, love as the father loved us.

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!

That is my goal for my life, walking in integrity; I want blessings for my children and my children’s children.

I hope this was a blessing for you
God bless and TGBTG
TTE