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.

 

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God bless
Gareth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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True Love Is the Centre, True Love is at the heart, True Love is Jesus!

Before we begin, thanks for all the support and shares from the previous post. I hope and pray it encouraged you, as seeing people soak up what scripture says on marriage did for me.

After my last post, some people have posted certain comments suggesting that I ‘belittled’ marriage, because it was a biblical view of marriage. This post is not to recant of my previous post, but instead this post is to support it. At the end of my last post I spoke about how love is at the centre of a marriage and how love is the reason the wife is willing to submit to her husband, as the Church is willing to submit to Christ because of love. In this same way a husband is willing to sacrifice all for his wife out of love in the same way Christ did for the Church.

Now we have the context of the post let’s look at love. The dictionary definition is:

1. A strong feeling of affection.

2. A great interest and pleasure in something.

But that just doesn’t quite cut it for me. I have a great interest in rugby and maybe I have occasionally in the past said I loved it, but it’s not love. Not true love.

Some scientists have said that love is just a working of the emotions or an accident of evolution. It just happens. But what a mockery of love!

When you meet the person you know you are going to spend the rest of your life with, you are quite literally “head over heels” in love, you don’t think, ‘what a fantastic evolutionary mistake this is!’ No instead you say things like ‘what a reward, what a blessing!’ This is almost as though love is a gift  or something which is engrained in us. We can’t help but love.

Well let’s look what Scripture says, firstly:

1 Corinthians 13

    1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This passage is a famous wedding verse, ‘Love never fails’, it is a great verse for a wedding because this passage should remind couples of one thing, that love is an essential ingredient. You need love in your marriage because otherwise it will fail! This is seen in verse 1 as it says without love you are just a clanging cymbal. Love is important.

Though this love that we have for one another is great and in marriage it is because you have met the person you want to be with forever, what other reason does scripture give for loving?

    1 John 4:19

    19We love because he first loved us.

We should love all. We should love our partners in marriage because Jesus loved us first.

You may be sat there thinking, Jesus doesn’t love me, look at what has gone wrong for me. Well, can I say, Jesus does love you. He loves you so much that when He came to earth, He gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins which we all commit. Jesus was willing to give himself wholeheartedly to be a sacrifice for us. He died so that we may have new life in Him. When God sent Jesus, he looked at you and said “I can see how sinful that person is, and imperfect that person is, BUT I love them! I love them so much I will give my only Son for them!”

THAT’S LOVE!

So when John says we should love because Jesus loved us first, he is right. The love that we show to others, our husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, our family and our friends should be an outpouring on the unstoppable perfect love that Jesus has for us.

Please understand that Jesus loves you and came and died for you, so that you may have life.

Use that to go and love others.

God bless

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V Festival: A tired Pastor returns.

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Hello there, as some of you will have seen from my previous post (V Festival: The Challange) I recently went to V festival, not as a punter but to work there, as something that became known as a Festival Pastor. This is a great experience where we give out water to all those who are thirsty or just drunk senseless. But as well as that we have a Marquee which is set out as a place of calm where we can have the conversations that really matter. The conversations about Jesus.

We each had a shirt to wear and on our shirts we had the line of scripture:

John 4:13-14

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[a] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Which is a great line because it fit in well with what we were doing, in the giving out of free cups of water, but also because we knew they would get thirsty again and that we were also there to quench the thirst that really matters, and that is the spiritual thirst. The need for Christ in their life. A thirst that nothing can quench other than Christ. This for me was a real drive to want to use the oppurtunities to discuss with people about Jesus. By God’s Grace, I was able to have a few conversations with people, the great thing is that you get these amazing conversations sepreated by drunk conversations where you find yourself discussing the Omnipitence of God, which was sprung up by a drunk man not me. But you get the conversations where actually you find that there is more beneath the exterior that they may have walked in to the marquee with. There they find that Christ is the only way. We get to have the great starter conversations, where we discuss the questions they have, but we get the oppurtunity to tell these people the Gospel, which for some of them will be the first time they will have heard it. Then we get to pray with them, for them. Which is a great privalege especially in the enviroment of V festival. My prayer for all the people we met, and everyone who recieved a cup of water from us, that a seed was planted and that God will  by his Holy Spirit make that seed grow, so that they will know the Love of Christ.

Please if you would like to know more about what the festival Pastors do, feel free to get in touch with me.

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Thanks and God bless.

Gareth