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

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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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The greatest Christmas present.

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time again, it comes around every year, shops are packed with people, Christmas music playing everywhere and TV channels taken up mostly with Christmas films. Then someone comes along and makes a video or writes a blog saying:

Put Christ back into Christmas.

Save Christmas!

In this post I am, in a way, asking for those things… but I am not here to attack the commercialisation of Christmas. Instead, I will try to make clear some truths about Christmas. That, yes indeed we want Christ back in Christmas, but not just little baby Jesus meek and mild. We need to think of Jesus as Lord and saviour, King of kings.

I will base a lot of this post around the verse:

 
 
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost

 

Yes Jesus did come as a baby but we cannot and should not stray away or dwell on that which will take us from the real reason of Jesus’ coming and that he was to be a sacrifice, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that in his coming he would save all those who trust in him. We must remember this “oh so familiar story” of a child being born in Bethlehem but see it as the coming of a king, The King of Kings, the coming of The Lord of the Earth, the one who would come and save all those who believe in him. We must stick to this, we must not stray or focus for too long on little baby Jesus, but see what this whole event points to…

It points to the child who is a king.

It points to a child who will become a sacrifice.

If you are reading this and you are a non believer you may be sat there wondering, “What is this guy going on about?” But I am saying that to a non -believer Christmas is a time of a hope, that because we are all sinners and we all mess up, that God did not just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves but instead gave us hope.

Hope in Christ…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This child mentioned in this passage is the hope of our salvation, this child is Jesus, prophesised 400 years before Jesus was born. At Christmas time, at the time of Jesus’ birth he had the expectation of being the messiah/ the saviour resting on his shoulders. 33 years later at the cross Jesus has the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders. So that all those who trust in him will be saved. God gave this the greatest Christmas present, this amazing gift of mercy and forgiveness out of love for us.

 

John 3:16 (ESV)

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.

So to sum up if you are a believer reading this, stay steadfast and firm to this truth, that Jesus’ coming was the beginning on the steps towards salvation. But don’t sit back this Christmas, tell people about God’s greatest gift, this Christmas share this gift with others, tell others of the love that Christ has for them. If you are a non-believer reading this, please trust in the hope found in Jesus, trust that in him your sins are forgiven. In Jesus you are saved.

Trust the hope of Christ this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas.

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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So Another Week in Ministry!

Hello all, from my last post you will be able to gather i was preaching at my Home church on The Good Samaritan, which went down very well from the response i got. Certinaly was an encouragement for me, but also it challenged many people which was great. Praying that God works there. So this week ahead of me has been shaped really around a chapter from the John Piper book Pierced by the word. especailly on the disscusion of Assurance. the point that stood out to me was the following:

Assurance is a fight to the day we die.

Fight the good fight of Faith. Take Hold of the Eternal Life. (1 Timothy 6:12)

I have Fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the Faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

This is not me telling anyone i am dying, i am (praise God/God willing) a healthy 20 year old, but i will be visting people this week, who are in there 90’s and have fought the good fight and have run the race, so this means they have the assurance that they are safe in Christ. Their Lifes are testimony and as i meet with them, they may be questioning the end, i will encourage them, and i encourage you, that it is not all a mystery, it is Gods will for us to have assurance, as the point is made in Hebrews 6. But that by no means makes it easy for them, or those left behind. Because of that we need to cling to the Cross of Christ, trusting in the sacrifice on the cross, which Saves all who trust in it.

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God Bless

Gareth