My girlfriend wrote this when she was 10.

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Recently, my girlfriend stumbled upon an old piece of school work. The piece of work was done by her when she was a 10 year old. Now you may be wondering why I would put a piece of school work up on the Word to Life blog. Well I think if you read it, especially with the context of the release of the new Noah film, and the state of the worlds climate with the recent large amount of smog that hit the United Kingdom, I am sure you can see why this powerful piece written by a 10 year old is so poignant.

I do hope you appreciate some of the truths which fall from it, God created a masterpiece but through the sin of the first humans Adam and Eve we marred the broken world that we live in. God decided to try to stem the flow of the evil and trouble in the world through what he did at the time of Noah, I will leave this piece to talk for itself now:

‘Nature is the art of God’

-Dante

This is the motto that we should all live by. It says that we should respect Gods world. Like we respect Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. No one would drop rubbish on that if people lived on the amazing piece of art work which it is. But God is the greatest artist of all. So why should we spoil his creation. We are polluting the air and sea, we are destroying rain forests so one day we will starve and suffocate in our environment we call home. God creating earth has another similarity to the Mona Lisa, Leonardo first painted her without a smile so then he went through drastic measures to make her better so he gave her a smile, we can relate to these changes in the Bible, the story of Noah. God did not like one part of his creation, how bad people were. So he went to great lengths to get it right, even flooding the whole world saving only Noah and his family. Most of the famous art work of centuries ago that still ‘live’ today are priceless. The earth has been here for millions of years and it needs our respect as it is more than priceless.

Let me know what you thought of this piece of work.

I hope it has had an impact on you, as I felt it was thought provoking.

God bless
Gareth

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When does God want me to ‘pop the question’?

 

This is a question which men around the world have to wrestle with all the time. Is there a right time to pop the question, is there a set time. Do you get to so many months or years and then that’s when it is acceptable to pop the question. Well I don’t believe that to be the case. I am firm believer that when you know, you know. So for me, when you meet someone for the first time your thought should be “Is this the person I want to marry?” May seem slightly on the forward side but that should be running through your mind. Now you can test this over a number of months possibly a year to see is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I must admit I have aimed this post at men who would be thinking of popping the question but of course ladies you can read this if you are wanting to ask your boyfriend to marry you.

So what criteria are there when considering if you should ask the girl you are with if they would marry you?

1. Do you love them?

This may seem obvious and non-Christians reading this may see this as a criteria for marriage but actually the importance of this is so great. In the book of Ephesians there is a call for men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 ESV) Now I don’t know about other men reading this who may be thinking about asking their girlfriends to marry them but when you hear what Paul is saying here about the love which husbands should have for their wives it seems a bit daunting. But this is why it is the first port of call in questioning if you should marry the girl you are with. Do you love her? Love her so much you would be willing to give yourself up for her? Now I don’t think this is just that age old “would you die for her” sort of thing but, would you be willing to make sacrifices for her, give things up out of love for her. For example you may be like to go out partying every other night but that means that you don’t see much of your girlfriend, this is not a stable situation to find yourself in when it comes to marriage, so would you be willing to give up in that situation going out every other night and maybe instead only go out once every other week, or so. These are the sacrifices that Paul is talking about here.

2. Are they a Christian?

This is a topic of much debate. I would personally myself feel it most advisable to marry a Christian. I feel this is because of issues such as baptism of children, can the children go to church and so on. Not only this but there can be issues with moral standpoints and views which can lead to if not start arguments or debates. Saying this however Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says this (To the rest I say (I not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to living with her, she should not divorce him….. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know husband whether you will save you wife? 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ESV).

Now this long passage may look a bit OTT but Paul is basically saying “look you don’t know what could happen with an unbelieving partner, you never know through your marriage they could come to faith” which sounds great because if you truly love someone and they are not a believer why is the thing you want most of all? That they would be saved and know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.

3. Do they want the same things in life i.e Children?

This is admittedly more of a practical criteria really. But none the less is a very important criteria. The main example I have used for this criteria is children. The simple fact is if one of you does not want children this may lead to regret, anger or resentment. But this can be the same for any issue, such as where you want to live, what your jobs situations are like. This is obviously something which can be solved very easily with a number of conversations. You can easily discuss future plans. Obviously if you were planning a surprise of asking your partner to marry you, then make these conversations discreet but make sure you cover and think of everything.

4. Could you stand living with them?

This is also a more practical criteria. It is easy to thing someone is the most amazing person in the world when you see them for a couple of hours a day. But living with them is a completely different kettle of fish. It may be that they are loud eaters, or they snore or they are messy. Now I am not suggesting that you can not marry them if they snore. But these are things you need to take in to consideration and also have a conversation about. The most important thing to do in this new step forward in your life is to keep talking to each other.

5. Do you really love them?

Now why have I put this point you may be wondering? Well this is because as we saw in our first point you have to love your wife as Christ loved the church. But like at the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter (Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. John 21:15 ESV) Now Jesus asks this of Peter to make sure Peter is going to be willing to go that extra mile for him. Jesus is testing Peters love making sure Peter is ready to follow Jesus through thick and thin. This is the love you need to be certain you have for your soon to be wife and the love that they equally have for you. Then you will know if you are willing to through thick and thin for each other.

So there we go, we have been through five issues which I feel are grounds to think on when wondering about marriage. Are there more? probably depending on your situation with your partner. Are there less? No, I don’t think so.

I do hope if you are reading this and looking at going into marriage, that God will bless you and your future wife in all that you do together and that you will keep God the creator of marriage in the centre.

God bless
Gareth

The “behind closed door” sin.

 

We live in the 21st century where pornography is at our fingertips. It can easily be obtained and watched by millions by using the Television but mostly due to the rapid expansion and accessibility of the internet. Now I know that pornography comes with a reputation and many people do not want to discuss it. But because of that it has pushed people underground, choosing not to admit if they have a problem with it. Hence the title the “behind closed door” sin.

  • Men are 543% more likely to look at porn than females.
  • Those who are politically more liberal are 19% more likely to look at porn.
  • Those who have ever committed adultery are 218% more likely to look at porn.
  • Those who have ever engaged in paid sex are 270% more likely to look at porn.
  • Those who are happily married are 61% less likely to look at porn.
  • Those with teen children at home are 45% less likely to look at porn.
  • Regular church attenders are 26% less likely to look at porn than non-attenders, but those self-identified as “fundamentalists” are 91% more likely to look at porn.

Statistics from http://www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/

These statistics are mind boggling. We may also think that this is a problem for weirdo’s and teenagers. But the truth is that Pornography is an addictive problem. It is as addictive as drugs and like drugs it does not discriminate on who gets addictive, the rich the poor, the single the married, the adulterous and the “faithful”. Porn is an issue.

We have however already discussed that because of the taboo that comes with porn it has pushed people to go underground and not want to talk with people about it. One aspect of modern day life we haven’t looked at is the reality that now nearly everyone has a mobile phone with the ability to connect to the internet. This has opened up everyone to the danger of the temptation of Porn. It’s lure.

There is no such thing as free porn. I do not mean the financial side to porn, the adverts on the free websites bring revenue in, but the real cost I am talking about here is the cost of lives. Not only are porn actors often beaten and treated aggressively and often drugged to force them to have sex, but when you download a video, even one with no clear violent or aggressive actions, you have joined in with the shocking treatment of the actors. Normally safe sex is not carried out, so some girls are left pregnant or forced to have an abortion.

What is the cost of this sin on the viewer. Porn is a sin. Porn leads to other sins. Though the Bible does not discuss porn directly, but it discusses shocking things like porn. Fornications like porn.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reveller, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Paul says in the passage from Corinthians that Paul is urging the church in Corinth and us, to stay away from the problems of sexual sin. Porn is one of those sins. Because you are dealing with the people that make money from the immorality mentioned above. This means Paul says stay clear from porn. The way he finishes this passage of is a call to the church and us now. “purge the evil person from among you.” That is what we need to do. All of us. But if you have a problem with porn or sexual sin. Purge yourself. Clothe yourself in Christ. Protect yourself.

What does Jesus say on this topic, well Jesus goes along the line of purging yourself. Jesus says:

Matthew 18:7-9

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the fire of hell.

Jesus is saying here basically, if you have a problem with porn or any sin, put barriers up. If you are in a situation where you often use your phone to watch porn, get a phone which can’t connect to the internet. If you have a problem viewing porn on your laptop put rigorous security settings on, or use covenant eyes to let friends know if you are tempted to look at porn. If you are married, talk about the problem with your partner. If you struggle look to them to help you get through it. Pray on it, talk. Do not let it become your secret. Something you do behind closed doors. Be open about the problem like any other sin. You need to fight it. With the help of Christ you can fight it.

If you would like to discuss this further please comment below or follow the link to the Facebook page and send a message to me on there. Complete confidentially.

I hope this helped.

God bless.

Gareth.

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The great act of forgiveness.

 

Ever done something you were ashamed of? I mean something you were really ashamed of?

We have all done something wrong, this includes things like ignoring or disrespecting parents or teachers to lying, stealing to the extreme of murder and adultery and using drugs.

We have all done something bad, something which hurt somebody.

Whenever we do something bad, we always hurt someone, maybe not always directly, but when we do wrong someone always gets hurt, even if that person is ourselves.

Did it hurt someone? Has that someone forgiven you?

It’s so much harder to forgive someone when they have hurt you, when we have been hurt we realise how hard it is to forgive. But when you hurt someone and you are truly sorry we seek that persons forgiveness. From that forgiveness you know you can move on.

The Bible calls this Sin.

The Bible mentions sin a lot. Sin is the reason there is a barrier between us and God. Why so many things go wrong in the world. Why relationships fail, why there is war. Sin is the problem.

We have all done something bad in the eyes of God, were imperfect.

We all sin, we have all done wrong. “All fall short of the glory of God.” You make think, “I’m good, I haven’t killed anyone, stolen anything.” But Sin does not just mean the really bad things, it doesn’t just mean crimes. It means anything that is going against God.

We have all hurt God by doing this.

Once again, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We all sin, and when we sin it hurts God. Like we do with friends and family, we do to God. We hurt Him. We should seek to find forgiveness for the things we do against God.

But God, He forgives.

You may think God won’t forgive me, He knows how bad I am. Why would He. He is just like everyone else. But He isn’t! God forgives!

He saw all the sin of the world, all the wrongs that we commit.

God has seen all the sins we have committed and knows we will sin again. He does not turn his back though. Like people think he has. Why has he not done anything about it?

Instead of anger he showed love, instead of Wrath He showed mercy.

God could have shown anger, He could have wiped us out. That’s what He did in Genesis, only saving Noah and his family. But He didn’t. He Loved us. He could have come through full of wrath, like he showed to the Egyptians in Exodus. But God didn’t He showed mercy.

How did He show this love and mercy?

He did it by sending His only son, Jesus. He sent Him to die. To die in our place for our sins. For the sins which we commit. For when we hurt God. God placed the blame on Jesus. He showed love by not sparing even His own son to die for us. He showed mercy by forgiving all those who believe and trust in Jesus.

That’s great, but what does it mean?

It means if you trust in Jesus, if you believe that He came and died for you, that you are forgiven. You are free from the power sin. It doesn’t mean you won’t sin but the power and punishment of sin has no power over you. This is because of Jesus’ death, because of His sacrifice you are innocent.

What do I do then?

Give your life to Jesus. Pray to Him in faith. Admit your sin to Him. Meet with His people, your brothers and sisters, The Church. Grow in your relationship with Him. As a forgiven innocent redeemed person. Live a new way. His way. The way of Jesus Christ.

God bless,

Gareth

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I Could Do A Better Job Than That!

We can not avoid in the news today yet another disaster. Another killing. Another case of child abduction or abuse. This can and does put people off the idea of God. It is easy when you see these things to wonder “if there is a God, why is he idly  watching by? letting these things happen?”

The answer to this is Sin.

The effect of sin is bigger than the damage it has on humans, but also its impact on creation. We live in a fallen world. A world which could be perfect but because of sin is marred.

So where did this all start then, well in Genesis 3.

 

Genesis 3: 17-19

17And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In this passage then the key verses are 17-18. Because of the sin of taking from the tree of knowledge which God told Adam and Eve to not take from, God cuts them off from all the potential knowledge and power of the tree but also because of their sin informs them that certain things will not work in creation as well as they had done before “The Fall”. When God created the world he declared it good having made it perfect. But now, “Post Fall” the world is not so good, the word used in verse 17 “Cursed” meant the ground was now not considered good but instead fallen, broken.

The way to imagine all this is that now the world is sick from sin. It needs to be given a cure to the disease of sin.

Sin is the cause of all the pain and suffering, all the natural disasters, Pre-fall there is no sign of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and suffering and death. It is only after sin entered the world that the world becomes broken, becomes fallen and imperfect. Soon following the first sin is the first murder, so powerful is influence of sin.

So the reason for all the shocking things that we see on the news are because of the fallen world we live in, because of the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve.

But does this mean God has done nothing about it?

No… Quite the opposite.

 

 

Romans 8: 18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

God had a plan. A rescue plan for creation and for us. One in which he would give his only son up for us and creation.  God saw the effect and damage that sin had on the world. To tackle the infection of Sin, God sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He came to make us and the world right with him. Jesus came to take away the power of sin by dying on our behalf.

Jesus came to make us and creation righteous. Righteous meaning right with God.

In the passage above we see that as we look and long for the return of Christ, the one who has taken the punishment for our sins, so does creation, it “waits with eager longing”. Creation looks for a release from the bondage of sin just as much as we do.

Does all this mean then that as soon as you become a Christian there is no suffering in your life and in the world around you. Well no. Until Christ returns again there will be death, and there will be natural disasters and famine. But when Christ comes again and we are taken to Heaven we will be in a place of no more tears and no more sorrow. 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This glorious picture of what life will be like when Christ returns, shows us that there is hope. There is hope and an end to suffering. We know that through Christ and only through Christ can the world be healed more importantly only through Christ can we be forgiven “healed” of our sin.

God bless.

G.

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Marriage is not for me: It’s for Jesus!

I was struck recently by a blog that was trending on social media, about a man who had blogged on his revelation that marriage was not for him but instead it was for his wife and future family.

This seems like a romantic gesture which may make us thing “awww isn’t that sweet”. But the reality of marriage is far greater than romantic gestures. We get a sense in the New Testament that the Love between married couples should be deep and profound, but in looking a little more depth we find that the love involved in marriage is a deeper much more beautiful truth.

We are going to focus on the passage found in Ephesians chapter 5:

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

This passage which so often can be mistreated, missused or even ignored is a beautiful statement of what marriage should be.  We find in this passage, in Verse 22:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Now how many of you stopped reading right there, because that sounds terrible? Why should a wife submit to her husband? Why should she give into him as the leader?  Well that is looking at it in the negative light as is seen so often because of those who claim to be Christians who misuse this verse as an excuse to abuse their wife’s. Well this verse does not condone violence if anything later on in these verses it basically condemns that sort of behaviour. Instead the explanation of the submission that the wife should have to the husband is explained in these verses:

23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

So verse 23 suggests that the husband is the head of the family, this is a creation institution, pointing back to the time of Adam and Eve, but the key verse that defends the biblical submission of the wife to the husband is mapped out in Verse 24. If the husband is the head, that means he is like Christ (verse 23) so because of the that the wife is like The Church (verse 24). This means the Church seeks to serve and submit to Christ. Any Christian out there part of the Church wants to glorify Jesus and serve him in everyway they can. So the wife should be willing to do this because this is like Paul saying, “Look, what you do for your husband should be a mirror of what you do for Christ in the Church.” You want to serve Christ in the Church and from that should be an overflowing to serve your husband as you serve Christ. All of this is to point people to Jesus. In 1 Corinthians Paul states that if a wife who is a believer has an unbelieving husband and serves him in Biblical submission, it will help point him to Jesus. Now, I am not suggesting for a moment this means the wife does not have to love her husband. That is nonsense. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians that if you do not have Love you are useless, “like a clanging cymbal”. The wife needs to have love for her husband, so through that love she will understand the need to submit to her husband.

So that’s the verses about the wife sorted now we look at the husband.

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

So now having seen the wife’s submitting, the men reading this may think they have it easy. But I assure you the men do not have the easy task of these two commands for marriage. To truly understand the enormity of the husbands tasks we need to go back to the Greek.

25 Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς

This may look confusing but trust me this will help explain a lot of things. The word used in this command for love is  αγαπε (ag-a-pae). Two variants of this word come up in this passage. The first is the love that the husband should have for his wife, and the second is the love that Christ has for the Church. Now there are a number of words for love in the Greek language. But here Paul uses the same word. This means that husbands need to love their wife’s in exactly the same way as Christ loves the Church. What does that mean?  Well I’m sure all of you reading this know that means that like Christ who loved the Church so much he came and he died on the cross so that those who believe in him will be forgiven. Which means husbands need to love their wife’s self-sacrificially, being willing to give all they have for their wife’s. This may sound like romantic love, the kind that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, the kind which makes a good movie. But actually this love, this example of Love that we have for one another can point people to the most amazing, perfect and awesome example of Love that has ever been shown. That is Jesus. Through His sacrifice on The Cross for those who believe in Him. As the well known verse from Johns Gospel says:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So please let us see that marriage is about love yes! But Love of Biblical proportions. A love that has lead to the salvation of all who trust in Jesus.

My prayer is that your marriage, your future marriage will not only model this but also that you will come to know( if you do not already) the amazing love, the perfect love which Christ has for you!

God Bless

Gareth.

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