Poverty, Ignorance and Total Depravity.

 

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My recent trip to South Africa has opened my eyes to issues such as Poverty, ignorance and the theology of Total depravity.

I’m going to look at these three things briefly today and look at them in more depth in the next few blogs.

So why look at these things? Why care?

Well let’s start with Poverty.

First off Poverty is a big problem. Fact. Some people will quite often try to dismiss claims poverty worldwide and locally is on a decline. Quite often in England they will release statistics suggesting that poverty is decreasing when in reality all they do is lower the poverty line so less people are included in that bracket. Mostly single parent households with large families are now being drawn to food banks and relying on hand outs to survive. This is the same problem I encountered in South Africa. But worse. Living conditions, health care even relying on local government all worse.  In South Africa you rely on the goodness of those who are willing to help. Who regardless of their situation are willing to help, regardless of the conditions that you come to them in, those seek to help only because the love they have. Driven on by the Love of God and the peace he brings to the hectic and unpredictable life in South Africa. These people are like the Care workers at the care points. These amazing ladies are driven to care and love the children and their carers by the love of God. For them Poverty is a reality even for some of them themselves, but they continue to volunteer to help make other peoples lives better. They help to in still the hope of God in peoples lives. More about them in the blog post on Poverty.

Moving on to ignorance.

You may wonder what this section will be about. Well for me this is a section all about our ignorance. Before I went to South Africa I think I had a selfish heart, an ignorant heart, that some one will help the people stricken by poverty, afflicted by famine and disease. I soon realised after arriving in South Africa that poverty is everyone’s problem. That it should be everyone’s concern. We particularly in the west are ignorant to the fact that someone else is helping out. On Facebook or Twitter we see someone else has been to Africa to help so therefore I don’t need to or an advert on the TV so someone else will donate. But we can not allow this to go on. We must let God open our eyes to our own ignorance and the ignorance not just of the western world but also of those who live with poverty all around them. We do this in England and because of my visit to South Africa it has opened my eyes to the poverty in my own country.

Now finally Total Depravity.

You may wonder why the first point of Calvinism has found it’s way into a post on South Africa and Poverty. Well it all came about after a fellow team member and I had a conversation. You see when you are in a place of so little and yet you come from a place of plenty. When you then realise that across the world we live in plenty alongside those who have little, we walk by, we don’t blink and eye and instead complain about our own lives, we only choose to see the problems in our own lives instead of helping others. Now there will always be poverty, the Bible makes that clear but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t walk alongside those who live through it. Pride, Ignorance and sins of omission prevent us from helping stem the flow of Poverty. Our totally depraved state is how poverty is at the state it is. In the UK, the US and Africa.

I will over the next few weeks be going into these three topics in a more in depth way.

God bless

Gareth

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The Virgin Mary and Speedometers

 

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Do you throw salt over your shoulder when you knock salt over, Do you avoid walking underneath ladders, and do you avoid the same path as a black cat. All of these superstitions may sound silly, but have some of the superstitions slipped into Christianity. Walking around town earlier the other day, I noticed someone heard in the car and icon of the Virgin Mary In front of their speedometer. This got me thinking, how often do we look to other things or other people protection how often do we cling to superstition and silly myths, Instead of clinging to the Lord Jesus. See this Virgin Mary icon in the car. Is a common aspect for many Orthodox Christians and Catholics. They use these icons to remind them or to even help them to pray to the Virgin Mary. They may defend these arguments by claiming that they are praying to Jesus through the Virgin Mary. They claim that it is because they are not good enough to pray to Jesus himself water the father because of their fallen sinfulness and gods holy perfection. We’re going to look at a couple of things which Show that this idea is wrong and that Jesus not only welcomes us to believe in him and to trust in his salvation, buddy also welcomes us into an intimate relationship with him and God the Father. So why is it that we turn to these silly superstition and icons, and turned to believe and trust in the Virgin Mary instead of trusting in the Lord Jesus. Well it’s what we’ve always done, look at the quote from

 

Exodus chapter 32:
“When people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him up make us gods who shall go before as for this Moses the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt we do not know what has become of him. So Aaron said to them, take off the rings of gold that are in the years of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me. So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in the various and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from the hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden car. And they said these are your gods oh Israel who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! When Aaron saw this it built an altar before an error in a proclamation and said, tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early the next day and offered Burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

 

As we can see from this passage, it did not take the people of Israel long to turn our backs on God. This is the people who recently the Lord himself redeemed from the hands of the Egyptians. This is the people who the Lord himself had opened the waters of the red sea so that they may walk on dry land. This is the people who the Lord himself and rain bread and manna from heaven so that they may eat. This is the people who are Lord himself had brought water from a rock so that they may drink in the middle of the desert. Yet because the Lord delayed in talking to Moses, They soon turn their back on the Lord. It does not take as long when we are struggling or seem to struggle to see God in our lives, that we may turn away from him and turned to other things instead. This is where we start to seek something else that we can worship in glorified. This is idolatry. And we replace God and the worship and glory that is Quite rightly his, We are and have become idolaters. This can come in many shapes and sizes different forms, This can be a false religion, devil worship, money, fame, or appearance. All of these things can take our eye off God, And lead us to worship other things instead of worshipping the creator. As Paul says in Romans we end up worshipping the created not the creator. So what can we do about this? We need to focus our hearts and minds and all that we are on God. We cannot use the same argument that certain Catholics and Orthodox Christians may use, That we cannot approach God because of his Holiness. Because is the author of the letter to the Hebrews says, We have a high priest who can sympathise with us in every way. The high priest in the offer is talking about here is Jesus. Jesus continually says to the gospels pray through me pay any think in my name. Jesus does not take a high pious ground, He commands us to pray through him to him seeking his guidance, As we know that we can approach him as God as our God, That he knows the struggles the issues that we may face in life and he can help by the power of his holy spirit. This means, We do not have the excuse of not being able to approach our God, God is not in some distant place unapproachable by man, where we need to use other mediators to approach him through prayer but where we can approach him directly through the link that we have with the Lord Jesus by his holy spirit and the gifts that that May bring. Can we now know to immerse ourselves with the Lord Jesus mediating through him to our Lord of God.

But how else can we protect ourselves from leading into the strange superstitions? By protecting yourself from situations that may lead to you being exposed to superstitions. If someone tells you that it’s okay to believe those things, if someone tells you that Christian tarot cards are okay, In fact if anybody tells you something that is contrary to the Word of God you must avoid that situation. Protect yourself with God’s holy word that is part of its purpose, As Paul says is useful for teaching and rebuking. Therefore do not just learned from it shape your life around it. Allow yourself to be formed by the word and by the holy spirit, In doing so over time you find yourself no longer relying on the superstitions and idols, But begin to find yourself relying on Jesus the bread of life you when you drink of the water that he gives you never get thirsty. You begin to realise that all you need in life is the Lord Jesus. Jesus is Enough.

 

If you have a question that wasn’t covered by this blog post, Feel free to comment or message the Facebook page, Asking your question I can then write a blog post in response to that question or record a video for the YouTube channel As part of the series word to life answered.

 

Check out the Facebook and twitter page for more.

 

God bless
Gareth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

20 Real things every woman should realise about men: A Christian view on Love and Relationships.

 

So I was recently linked to an awful page that tried to make men out to women as lustful stupid beasts.  Well my aim in this post is to change that view. I want to encourage especially Christian couples, that is not the way a man and a woman should view each other. But if you are a non-believer, I want you to see that is not good enough either.

So here are the 20 points coming up:

1. He Loves you as Christ loved the Church.

Every man in a Christian relationship should love you as Christ loved the Church that means, that with every fibre in his being and even to the point of giving his life for you, that should be how much he loves you. This does not mean you don’t love him. You love him back just as much, that is the key to love in the Christian relationship.

2. Be subject to him.

I know you have instantly gasped or may even have thought of not reading anymore, but this point does not give your partner the right to dominate you or abuse you. You need to be there for him, be a support for him. He too needs to support you, show him how to support by being there for him.

3. Worship together.

You can not underestimate the power of worshipping together, attending church together. This is a key aspect to the relationship, keep your worship relationship with God good and you will find the relationship between you is good as well.

4. Pray with him.

Praying together is so important, sometimes it may feel like the world is against your relationship or you are going through tough times, remember that as Christians you can take it to the Lord and he will help you. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Together.

5. Enjoy each others company.

You are Christians but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time together, you do not need to always be doing things for the Church, or trying to convert thousands together, if you want to stay at home and watch a Rom-Com, you do it. This is especially true for Newly weds.

6. Sex is not evil.

Sex is an important part of a Christian marriage, and only marriage. That is what makes it so special, when you find the person you are to spend the rest of your life with them and you get to spend the most intimate time together. Cherish that. It is not evil but instead a gift from God.

7. Do not feel forced to have sex.

However do not feel that you need to obey your husbands command for sex. Remember, submit to your husband but do not allow yourself to be abused. No does mean no, especially in a Christian relationship. Make sure if you are to have sex that you both consent. Love should be at the heart of sex, not the lustful desires of one side being fulfilled.

8. Read the Bible with him.

The Bible is the Word of God. It is our way of hearing from God’s word when we read together. Therefore it is important to do it together, as you learn as you read it on your own, so you learn as a couple when you read together.

9. Be careful who you take advice from.

Do not allow too many people into the relationship. If you have an argument or a fall out, try to work it out together. If not bring in trusted friends preferably one man and one woman, maybe your Pastor and his wife.

10. Pray about children.

Not all couples want children, and it is certainly not a requirement for a Christian relationship but it may be something that you need to pray on and prepare for. Then seek that God would bless you with Children.

11. It is not ok for him to cheat.

Do not accept if he has cheated on you. You are worth more through Christ. You should be the only woman in his life, he should act that way towards you, respect you by only loving you.

12. Help him if he is addicted to pornography

If you come across a website or dodgy subscriptions which suggest a porn addiction, do not dismiss him straight away. Help him. Support him. It is as addictive as a drug. Help in anyway you can. Do not feel guilty, you have not done anything wrong. Only walk away, if he refuses to change, or he is has crossed a line in the things he views.

13. It is ok for you to have different friends.

Unlike the movies that suggest Christian couples are connected by the hip, you can and should have different friends. It is good for your social life but also relives some of the pressure that come with being around your partner.

14. Be prepared to rebuke.

Men don’t always get it right. Sometimes it will be your responsibility to stand up and tell him what he is doing or saying is wrong. Do not however do this in a proud and arrogant way. Do it with love and desire to care for him, in preventing him from doing wrong.

15. Trust is crucial.

As in any relationship trust is key. You need to trust him as he needs to trust you. As a couple you should work on this together, do not allow things to get between you and discuss together if anything troubles you.

16. Do not try to overpower him.

It is not good for you to try overpower and undermine him as person. This is only because it creates rifts in the relationship and puts barriers up. Understand that you can rebuke him, but do not try to make him feel worthless. He is loved by Christ as much as you.

17. Always have faith in his abilities.

Always trust and have faith that he will do well. Trust that God will bless him and all he does. This does not mean sit back, watch and laugh at the times he may fail, but instead pray for him and be there to help him up from a fall.

18. Stand next to him through good and bad.

Eve was created from Adams side. These means you need to stand side by side with your partner. Not just through the smooth and good times but when it is hard and tough. You need to support him, as he does you. You support best when standing next to him.

19. Do not judge his past.

All Christians have a past. He may have had a sexual history. But do not hold that against him. Jesus doesn’t so neither should you. Remember that you too will have done things that you may have done wrong and you may not like it if he starts to judge you for that.

20. Remember he is a sinner too.

He will make mistakes. But then so will you. You are sinners and certainly not perfect. Make reasonable allowances for this. Do not bite his head off for every little thing, instead walk alongside him and help him from stumbling into sin, as he should do the same for you.

I hope this has helped, Please find the link to the original blog post here: http://wallstreetinsanity.com/50-things-every-woman-should-realize-about-men/

 

Any questions feel free to comment.

Check out the Facebook and Twitter page as well.
God bless

Gareth

Moments to remember- The life of one Perfect man.

 

 

I noticed on Twitter today a daily challenge to write a blog on three memorable moments in your life. I thought,  “I know I could do something like this, but with a slight twist”.

Not my life, but three memorable moments based on three experiences of people from the Bible.

So let’s begin shall we.

We begin our first memory with a young girl called Mary. Her memory begins as a girl soon to be married to a carpenter called Joseph. Both devout Jews, waiting to consummate their marriage. One night in the tiny village of Nazareth, Mary was asleep in her room when all of a sudden she was greeted by an angel in her room. (I promise you it may sound a scary moment but this is a happy memory!) The angel woke her by calling out “O, Favoured one”, Who thinks of a teenage village girl as a favoured one. Confused by this she tried to test the angels greeting. However before she could get a word in the angel interrupted her. “ Do not be afraid” (See told you, not scary) The angel tells her not to be afraid and that she is favoured by God! Quite a thing that! But not just that continued the angel, “But you will have a son! and you will call him Jesus. He will be great and the son of the most high. He will reign over His kingdom forever!” Naturally confused Mary says to the angel “ How can this be, I’m a virgin?” The angel describes how it will come about of how the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of God himself will overshadow you and unto you a child will be born. The angel just before leaving proclaims “That nothing is impossible with God!” So Mary in excitement and happiness proclaims that she will obey, as a servant of the Lord.

So that’s first of these memories a happy one don’t you think? But who does this boy become? Is this the only memory we have of him?

No.

Not by a long shot. Our second memory however you may think is a bit of an anti climax though.

Our second memory is from a guy called John. John was a good friend of this boy mentioned in the first memory. This boy was of course Jesus as the angel had said it would be. John was one of Jesus’ closest followers. Every where Jesus went there was John. Even in this memory. This is the sad one. How can they have arrested him John thought. John had just seen his closest friend be taken away. Taken to the local Roman governor. He hoped that would mean he would just want to get rid of him. John was right, the governor was going to leave it up to the people to decide Jesus’ fate. John though, think of all the good he has done. They won’t want to kill him. Think of the miracles, But no! “Crucify! Crucify!” That was the only cry John heard. Death. That was the only thing ahead of Jesus now. John now had to witness Jesus, his closest friend, his dearest friend be beaten, humiliated made to carry a cross on his shoulder out of the city. Charged for a crime he did not commit. Then as Jesus, his friend made it to an outcrop just outside the city, the one that looks like a skull, he was made to stretch his arms out on the wood. Then John standing next to Jesus’ mother, Mary, had to witness nails be hammered into his hands and his feet, then to see him lifted as he faced them. Darkness covered the land, people continued to mock. John witnessed as he saw his friend take his final breath. “It is finished!” Jesus cried. John did not understand at the time. Then they pierced Jesus’ side, blood and water fell from his side, proofing. Jesus, Johns friend, Johns teacher. Was dead.

Our third and final memory that we will be looking at is another happy/ good one. We have followed one mans journey through these memory’s and we will continue you to with this last one.

Our final memory is from a lady called Mary Magdalene. She like John was a follower of Jesus. In our last memory we saw that Jesus died having been crucified. Now because of Jewish tradition they could not finish all the correct rituals after his death. So Mary went to go and pray and mourn for the loss of her teacher. Jesus. She arrives to a shocking sight! The stone that covered the entrance to the tomb. Has been moved. How? That stone weighed a ton. Mary looked in to see the burial clothes. But they were in a pile who could have done this? She thought? As if all they had put Jesus through, could they not just leave him now he had died? Mary heard a voice behind her. She turned presuming it was the gardener. He asked her why she was crying. She wept saying “they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him.” She then asked if he had taken the body. If so where? The man looked at her and said “Mary”. Then as though a blind was lifted from her eyes, she said “Teacher”. Mary was delighted to see that Jesus! He was alive. She didn’t care how, but just that he was. Jesus told her soon he would ascend to heaven soon to be with his father. Mary delighted that Jesus was alive could not contain herself, so she ran to tell the others.

These are the memories of a man called Jesus seen through the experiences of three people. This amazing life, a life that even death could not stop is a perfect life of one man. This man is Jesus Christ. I hope the true memories that you have heard here will make you explore more of the life of this man Jesus.

Feel free to comment below if you want to know more or message the Facebook or Twitter.

God bless

Gareth

Valentine’s day: a day of love.

Valentine’s day. What can you say really. Fluffy teddies with love hearts everywhere. Every husband or boyfriend believes he has become Michael Buble with their song writing skills. But should Christians celebrate it? Is there anything to celebrate?

I am going to stick my neck out on the line and say that it is ok for Christians to celebrate it. It is a day of celebrating love between two people. It is  a day where married couples may snuggle up on the sofa and remember the day they pledged their vows to each other. It is a day of being thankful for the love that couples share. Now the problem is, how much do we celebrate? Is it right for Christians to be buying love hearts and buying a tonne of Chocolate?

We have to make sure we are only celebrating the love not idolising it.

In the Bible love is a gift from God. Our love for each other, our partners and spouses is a reflection of that love. We need to remember that love comes from God. So on Valentine’s day we should remember to thank God for the love we share. Then we remove the risk of idolising love. I think because of the reason that love is a gift from God and bearing in mind Paul says we have nothing if we don’t have love it is right that we give thanks for it. The joy it brings, the happiness it brings to peoples life’s. So we should give thanks thanks that God has given us love.

The day could also be a reminder especially those who are married to think over their commitment to their partner. To think if they love their spouse as the Bible calls them to love, to love self-sacrificially, giving all to their partner. In doing this also praising God that He has blessed them with the love that they share with each other.

So I hope whatever you are doing for Valentine’s you are thanking God for those you love in your life and those who love you, remembering that the love that you share is a gift from God. You are blessed.

I hope you have enjoyed this short message on Valentine’s day.

God bless,

Gareth

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