Five Tips For Voting

Hymns,Hats, &Tattoos

[This is a guest post, as is apparent by the coherent wording and perfect grammar. I would like to thank the writer for this engaging and practical post]


The Unique selling point for this political blog post is that I can guarantee it does not mention either the word beginning with ‘T’ and rhyming with ‘Dump’, or the word beginning with ‘B’ and rhyming with ‘Exit’.

Firstly, I’m delighted to be able to post as a guest on this blog. I work in Politics, and I am passionate about it. This will hopefully be very practical, easy to understand, and useful for considering how to cast your vote in the fast-approaching Scottish Local Elections. Despite the general apathy and lack of enthusiasm for anything connected with the word ‘politics’, it is worth voting. Politics can solve issues. Democracy is good. As Christians, our faith should lead us to seek justice and mercy in your local area Some will see that being fulfilled by Labour, SNP, Conservatives, or an Independent candidate.

I will outline some things that we should consider as we approach the Local Elections, followed by a few pointers for what a candidate/councillor should strive after.

The following points are not in order of priority:

  1. Consider the issues

Think through what issues are most important to your local community. Housing? Crofting? Local Enterprise and jobs? Better run services? At the end of the day you are voting for people to be local champions for the issues that matter to your community.

  1. Engage with the candidates

If you want to know what each of your candidates stand for, get in touch with them whether by email, facebook, or a chat on the street. Don’t be scared to ask them questions, after all they are the ones who will be representing you. You are looking for someone of good character who can carry out their duties as a councillor in a respectful and caring manner, who is gracious enough to debate passionately, but to share a laugh afterwards. You want someone who is humble enough, but also wants to work quietly, honestly and consistently for the local community. If the candidate wants to rant, rave, and stage a protest in order to oust those he disagrees with, this is not a display of tolerance. Tim Keller summed it up well: Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.

  1. Pray for Wisdom

Your ability to vote is something to be thankful for – make the most of it. Voting is also a serious thing, and praying for wisdom essential. If we believe Jesus is the Lord over all aspects of our life, that should include voting. It is not in a separate compartment. You would pray for wisdom to know what job offer to accept, or what course to enrol in, or where to move to, so why would voting be any different? We are told in the Bible to be subject to governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17, Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1). This does not mean we have to just agree with everything they do, but it means we should make use of our vote as responsible Christians.

  1. Remember your chief end

Your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Your chief end in each political decision you make, should be made in light of this fact. He knows our motives, and if they are driven by a desire for personal gain, or someone else’s expense, or malice for a particular candidate/party then we should think twice before casting out vote that way.

If you have a rough idea who you are going to vote for, can you vote this way with a clear conscience?

  1. Don’t be blinded by party allegiances

Parties do serve a function, and can help summarise generally what a candidate stands for, but the candidate also has an independent mind and will sometimes disagree with their party, don’t assume they agree with everything their party does on a national level.

  • Independent candidates are free from party constraints and are generally politically unique to rural parts of Scotland such as the Highlands and Islands. This can be beneficial.
  • Independent councillors can focus more directly on the issues of local governance free from party constraints. Generally, in an age where there is a lot of political division, we are very liable to falling into the trap of adhering to the tribal politics of ‘us’ and ‘them’. It avoids the problem of angry constituents judging them prematurely, simply because of the party badge they wear.
  • Give the independents serious consideration, but finding out where they stand would be helpful.
  1. Don’t be blinded by the media
  • Be discerning with what you read, and don’t be blinded by local gossip. If you hear that ‘Candidate A’ is awful/great, ask why he/she is so awful/great. Don’t rely on others to form your own opinion of a candidate.
  • Read broadly, don’t just stick to the same news source. Reading the letters pages of the local papers can help to find out what others are saying about local and national issues.

Final Points:

We should long to overcome differences for the good of our community, and the furtherance of the gospel.

We should never allow political differences come between us as Christians. We have more important work, which is sharing the hope of the gospel in the public square.

How can councillors show a real commitment to their communities:

  1. Get involved locally and be a witness, we cannot withdraw from the public square into isolation and irrelevance – our message is too good for that. Now is not the time to withdraw.
  2. Do justly – do what is right, bear in mind this may not always be what is right in the eyes of the world.
  3. Love mercy – remember what the Lord has brought you from, remember his goodness to you which is new every morning, and be selfless. We don’t love our neighbour for affirmation, but because we have been loved first. Be spent for the Lord and for your community.
  4. Walk humbly – overcome the worldly obsessions and seek to be of real use to others, rather than simply being in charge of others. Remember whose you are and who you serve.

Happy voting.

Away with the fairies?

Post tenebras lux

The fairies & the Free Church

I had a chat about fairies with a colleague the other morning. We were walking from our cars in to work and it just . . . well, came up. My job involves a lot of conversations about the ‘otherworld’, about fairies, ghosts, witches and all manner of unchancy beings. ‘What on earth does this woman do for a living?’ you may well ask, and your best guess might be somewhere between nursery school teacher and delusional holistic healer. You’d be wrong, though. I actually teach students on Gaelic degree programmes about their own heritage – I teach folklore and I teach the history of the Highlands and Islands, because these are the things that no school ever taught us, despite the fact that these are also the things which make us who we are. Or, perhaps, because these are the things which make us who…

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My Top 5 Books For Young Christians

There is a huge selection of books available for Christians to read and to study, it’s often hard to know where to start.  The following 5 books are my own personal favourite Christian books that I’ve read (or re-read) in the last year’ish, and that are still available to buy. They are in no particular order.

I’ve tried to provide a link to the most affordable copy of each book. If you live locally let me know, and you can borrow any of the books.

1. “The Lord our Shepherd” – J. Douglas MacMillan
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This much-beloved book is one that has been on the shelf for years, but I’ve only recently actually read it.
Rev MacMillan walks us through Psalm 23, every page describing in beautiful detail the care and love of our Shepherd, as he protects and guides us.
Since the author spent many years as a shepherd, he often writes from experience. It’s a short book and an incredibly easy one to read, but that does not mean that he simplifies anything; rather as he gently walks us through the psalm he delves deep into the wonderful work of our Saviour.
Seriously if you have it read it, if not borrow or buy a copy.
LINK

2. “I AM” – Iain D. Campbell

i-amAgain, this is another short book. But it is not one to quickly skim over. Rev. Campbell looks into the seven “I am” sayings of Jesus as we find them in the Gospel of John. By taking the time to study these phrases we can learn about our saviour by seeing how He described himself.
Rev. Campbell unpacks each saying into manageable sections, he also closes each chapter by asking several study questions.
As well as for personal reading, this book would make a great book for use in a small group study. LINK

3. “The Shorter Catechism”

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Okay, so I know that many of you will have at least had a little experience with this book some point in your life – but bear with me. This little book of 107 Questions and Answers has helped countless Christians for hundreds of years. We now live in an age of 140 character tweets & soundbites. Well, this book beat that trend a few hundred years ago!
The questions range from the purpose of our creation to salvation/ election/ ten commandments/ the Lord’s prayer etc. Almost every area of essential Biblical teaching is covered in bite-size chunks.
With each Q+A you can see the related Scripture references and a short (but incredibly helpful) comment. LINK

4. “Five Points” – John Piper
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I spent years struggling with election, salvation and God’s sovereignty over all things. Questions like “If God chooses certain people to be saved, how can that be fair & right…”etc. If I had had this book during that time all my questions would have been answered. The reality is that, as we have it so wonderfully put in Psalm 115, “Our God is in the Heavens, He does all that he pleases”. Piper gently leads the reader through five different areas where he shows, again and again, that God is our Sovereign King & Loving Father. That He hates sin & loves His people. That God has a perfect plan, and that He will accomplish that plan.
Read this book. If you have not yet dealt with these types of questions you will have to soon enough, prepare yourself now. LINK [There’s a free PDF download of the book available]

5. A Biography / Autobiography

Okay so I’m cheating here slightly, but I honestly can’t think which books to specifically recommend. I’ve read two the last year, an autobiography by Martin C. Haworth “Beyond  Coral Shores”, documenting his missionary calling to work in the Philippines and then amongst the Buhid tribe. It’s a great read, and pretty exhilarating. It shows the power of the Gospel to reach and touch any people/ language and tribe.
I also read “The Life of Rabbi Duncan” by David Brown, whilst it’s a wonderful account of God shaping and forming the life of Mr Duncan etc. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for a younger or new Christian.
So just grab any book which documents the life of a Christian, and see how God worked in their life, marvel at how He works all things together for His will and the good of His people.

Just one quick word on some books to avoid, from authors which seem to be unfortunately popular with younger & new Christians. Avoid Joyce Meyer, Sarah Young (Jesus Calling) and Rob Bell.

So there we go, a quick look at my top 5 (‘ish) books for new & younger Christians. What would your must-read books be?

Do I REALLY care for the Gospel?

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“Give me Scotland, or I die.”

These were the words of John Knox, one of the most famous Christians in Scottish History. At a time when the true Gospel was obscured behind the man-made religion of the Roman Catholic Church, Knox was among those that were seeking, above all other things, to have the true Gospel heard again in Scotland [See here & here for more about the life and ministry of John Knox]

In these few short words Knox isn’t arrogantly demanding from God some piece of land or power.
What we see here is a plea from a man who wanted, above all things, to see God glorified in the spread of the Gospel in Scotland.
In other words he is saying ‘Lord, I am desperate that this nation would all come to worship you and know you’.

Knox was willing to give up comfort and his freedom to serve the God he loved.
These few simple words of Knox have really convicted me the last few days.
They’ve made me question my passion for the Gospel; can I say with a heart full of conviction:
“Give me my Lewis, or I die”
OR
“Give me my village, or I die”
OR
“Give me my family, or I die”
Do I care enough for the glory of God and the spread of the wonderful Gospel that I am willing to work relentlessly for His cause?

Not that God needs us to accomplish His work, He doesn’t! But, in His infinite wisdom, He calls us to act. To be the candles in this dark world. To share the beautiful, simple Gospel.

Knox was not just offering up some inspiring words, this simple but powerful prayer came from a man who was willing to work hard for the sake of the Gospel. His zeal & passion for serving God was matched in his actions.

That God would keep us full of love and passion for Him, and that our action would match our words.

Let’s see what Paul [a man who knew what it was to suffer for the sake of the Gospel] says concerning our daily walk as Christians (emphasis mine):
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,g serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
-Romans 12: 9-16

Infectious Christianity

It’s 111AD and Plinius Caecilius the Roman governor of Bithynia (modern-day Istanbul) has a problem on his hands. He’s been faced with a secret group of religious believers, a group he has not had to deal with before, a group that will not follow the religion of the people and the country. Looking for help he writes to the Roman Emperor Trajan:

“It is my custom, Lord emperor, to refer to you all questions whereof I am in doubt … In investigations of Christians I have never [before] taken part; hence I do not know what is the crime usually punished or investigated, or what allowances are made. ”

Whilst waiting for advice from the Emperor on how to proceed, he decides for himself on what to do for the time being:

“Meantime this is the course I have taken with those who are accused before me as Christians. I asked them at their own lips whether they were Christians, and if they confessed, I asked them a second and third time with threats of punishment. If they kept to it, I ordered them for execution”

Plinius stresses the danger of this new religion:

“The matter seemed to me worth deliberation especially on account of the number of those in danger; for many of all ages and every rank, and even of both sexes are brought into present or future danger”

But even though it’s so infectious, he is confident  it won’t last too long, that it can be stopped:

“The contagion of that superstition has penetrated not the cities only, but the villages and country: yet it seems possible to stop it and set it right.”



So, did Plinius manage to stop this evil sect from spreading even further, did he manage to “set it right”? Well, the fact that I am sitting here in Lewis writing this shows that they failed in that task.
The Romans had suppressed many other sects and religions (some who resisted violently), so why did they struggle so much with this peaceful, small group of people?

These early Christians (men and woman, boy and girls) suffered awful persecutions (which we can look at in the future). Our brothers and sisters today still face awful persecutions, so how do they endure it all? How has the Church survived and grown through all these years?

The reality is that although there have been many brave Christians throughout the centuries, people who were willing to live in poverty and die in pain for the glory of God; the spread of the Gospel and the preservation of the Church did not rely even on them.
Instead let’s see what Paul concludes when he ponders the care & love of God for his people, the Church:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:38-39

Nothing will stop the Gospel, not violence, governments, laws, false teachings or the many other religions in our world.
God knows his people, God saves his people, God keeps his people. This is as true now as it was 2000 years ago. 

[The text of the letter from Pliny to Trajan is taken from “Selections from Early Christian Writers” pp.27-31, H. M. Gwatkin]

Lacking Assurance – “I don’t feel like a real Christian”

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“There’s no way my salvation is real, I feel nothing like a real Christian.”

 

“I used to feel so close to God, but recently, it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.”

Friend, as you read these can you relate? Maybe right now you can relate with full understanding with these phrases? If so, then you are lacking some assurance in your place before God. It is not a comfortable or a happy place to be.

See, these are not just some random examples, these are quotes, quotes taken from my own diary.
Since I was first saved, around ten years ago, one of my biggest struggles has been doubting the validity of my salvation.
Not doubting God, not doubting His power to save.
But simply doubting if I have been saved at all.

Every so often, I’ll get a small nagging doubt in the back of my mind. Sometimes it may only last a few minutes. Other times this small thought can grow and grow, and stay with me for days.
I know it’s not easy to share these kinds of thoughts with our brothers and sisters. Have you shared your thoughts with other Christians, or have you kept them locked away in your mind?
Scared, scared that no one else knows what is to doubt your salvation, to lack assurance?

The reality is you are not alone. Brothers and sisters all throughout history have been where you are now, and have shared with you and with me in their doubts.
The famous Puritan Thomas Brooks, writing in 1650:
“Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah-like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions…. [However] most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell.
Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; [then] they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalence of such or such a temptation …. They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.”

Here he reminds us that assurance should be our “”Ark”, where we are to find security in the midst of the storms of life. But, for various reasons, instead we find ourselves like a “ship in a storm, tossed here and there”
We are commanded in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to make sure that our belief/ love and salvation is indeed genuine – but this should never result in a constant doubting of who we are in Christ.

So what causes our lack of assurance, and how can we fight against it?

I’ll only touch on a few possible reasons, there will  be many more, but let’s look at some of the most common reasons people have for doubting their salvation:


1- We misunderstand the nature of our salvation

 

Scripture is clear on the process of our salvation, Romans 8:28-30 clearly lays out for us five ‘steps’ in our salvation:

A- Foreknew: Before we were born, before the universe was created, God knew us. Not in a general sense, he knew us, all that we would ever say, do, and think. All that was known to God. He knew his children, before they ever saw the light of day. He knew those that he would save.
B- Predestined: He knew us, and he also chose us. He ‘set apart’ his people, those that he would save.
     [A & B occur in eternity – with no interaction by us]
C- Called: We hear the Gospel, we see ourselves as someone that needs to be transformed and changed, wee see our sin and acknowledge that we need a saviour. We listen to the Gospel, and we cry out to Christ to save us.
D- Justified: Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the punishment of our sin is placed on him. In that happening, we are made right with God (to put it simple terms)2 Corinthians 5:21
E- Glorified: This is the future hope of every Christian, that one day we will join with our saviour in eternity. And when we see him we will be made like him.

If we miss or misunderstand these steps, it usually ends up with us thinking our salvation as something that relies on us, on our actions.
If we get this wrong, then it is likely we will really struggle with our assurance – everything else we will look at has its base on this fact.

We were not saved based on our actions, we are saved because of the love and grace of holy and perfect God.
So because we were not saved by our own power, we also do not continue in our faith by our own power.

Along the same lines as this is the idea some people have that they can somehow ‘lose’ their salvation when in reality we cannot lose our salvation as it’s not ours to lose. It was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, it is established on him and not on ourselves.

If we don’t understand that our salvation is based solely on Christ, and on his unfinished work then we will be so easily swayed by any and everything that comes our way.

2- Feelings vs. Facts

 

You might now be thinking “well I know all of that, but I still find myself doubting my salvation”
One of the most common reasons for finding ourselves doubting salvation is that we place our faith in our feelings rather on the facts.
Our worship and understanding of God  and His works encompasses all that we are. We don’t just worship God through knowing all the correct points of theology and history. Our worship of God involves our emotions and our feelings – we feel humbled, we feel love etc.
The problem arises when we give an unequal place to our feelings over the facts.
The thought “I don’t feel like a Christian / don’t feel saved” is based not on Scriptural facts but instead it’s based on our emotions.

Scriptural fact is fact regardless of the situation/ place/ person. But our emotions and feelings can and do change so often, the are completely subjective. They can, and so often are, influenced by sin.

If you find yourself in the middle of a trying situation (perhaps one completely out of your control), you very well might not feel like a  Christian, but does that mean you are not?

Or what about our brothers and sisters who suffer with an illness like depression, do you think they always ‘feel’ like a Christian? Does that mean they are no longer saved?

Our feelings and emotions can change in a second, but our salvation does not rely on them. Like we saw in the first part, our salvation relies alone on the work of Jesus. Until we accept this truth, we will still find ourselves being tossed and thrown around with worries about our salvation.

In terms of practical help, I have found incredibly useful to keep a simple diary. Recording how God is dealing with me day by day. Be honest and be disciplined with it, and when you start again to doubt your salvation look through the diary, and you will see God’s faithfulness in your life. Regardless of how you have been feeling.

 

3- Sin

One of the other reasons that Christians lack assurance is because of certain sins in their life that they can’t seem to shake.
Sin in our life is never to be taken lightly, it has to be battled against every day and in its every form. But to say that we sin therefore we are not saved, well that makes no sense. The sad fact is that we will sin until we reach eternity.
The difference is that the Christian does not just simply feel remorse over their sin, they are repentant.
In other words, we don’t just feel sorry for ourselves, the Christian goes to God and says: “I can’t do this, I have no power over my sin. Help me!”

If we hate our sin, and are on our knees before God in repentance, if we understand that our sins are blatant disobedience to our  Saviour. Then these things are a mark of faith for us, a strong piece of evidence that our faith is genuine. If it  wasn’t, we’d have no desire to turn to God for forgiveness.
In terms of some practical advice, it’s not easy being honest with our brothers and sisters, especially when talking about our sins.
But in Scripture we are instructed to share our burdens with each other. I’d advise that you and perhaps two other friends become accountable to each other. Agree to meet one a week (or whatever suits) and share each others burdens. Discuss your walk that week, hold each other accountable on your sins, encourage one another. Incorporate even a short Bible study.

4- A time of testing

At times, God withdraws from us our sense of his presence and our assurance of salvation. He does this as our loving father, to test us and to help us to grow in reliance and trust in Him.
It’s an extreme case, but it still serves as example, when we look to the life of Job. God permitted him to endure a great deal of things, but in the midst of his darkness he grew in his love and understanding of the God he served.
Talk with other Christians, share with them what you are experiencing – ask them to pray with you and for you. Trust me it will encourage them just as much as it will encourage you.

 

5- Unclear Conversion

Some can pinpoint an exact time, date, and location for the moment of their conversion. Others, myself included, cannot offer a specific moment, rather it’s a slow progression.

The problem is that when it is a series of stages, if we do doubt our salvation, it can be difficult to look back and see a specific moment of seeing ourselves as saved.
This issue can be worked through relatively easily, just because you cannot look back to certain singular moment, that doesn’t mean that you cannot look back to see God working in your life. Again I think the diary idea works well, record the progress of your walk. You can then look back and see how God has been working in your life.

If you are struggling with assurance, you are not alone, and this state will not last forever. Over and above all other things, when you feel as if you are confused or concerned where you stand before God. Turn to the Word, pray, meet with the people of God.
Remember: facts over feelings, and your salvation & eternal standing with God is based on the finished and perfect work of Jesus, not on you.



Here are some other helpful resources for when you find yourself lacking assurance:

 

Rev Kenneth Macrae offers 9 marks (evidence) of God’s work in our life :
[Diary of Kenneth Macrae pp.59-60]
1- A love for God’s Word, house, and day
2- A desire for holiness
3- A longing to be able to pray
4- A mourning over a sinful heart
5- A desire to love Christ
6- A desire for fellowship with Him
7- A fear lest, these evidences being so faint in us, we lack them altogether
8- A belief that if Christ be not for us in eternity then we are lost
9- A belief, founded upon the free invitation extended in the Gospel and in virtue of His work on Calvary, that He will be for us and will be our Surety


Westminster Confession of Faith [in modern English] Chapter 18.4:
“True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, diminished, or temporarily lost in various ways: as by negligence in preserving it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or violent temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and allowing even those who reverence him to walk in darkness and have no light. Yet, true believers are never completely deprived of that seed of God and life of faith, that love for Christ and fellow believers, that sincerity of heart and conscience concerning duty, out of which – by the operation of the Spirit – this assurance may in due time be revived; and by which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.



Donald Guthrie provides three simple tests for us to apply to our lives [I have paraphrased]:
1- Do I have a present trust in Christ for my salvation? Despite my current situation, do I still trust that in Christ alone I find salvation?
2- Is there evidence of ongoing regenerating work in my life?
3- Is there evidence of a long term ‘pattern of Growth’’


Resource From Desiring God

Hymns, Hats, and Tattoos

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This will be a short one. Really it’s just a few spare thoughts from the post “Christians, Cocktails & Coll Beach“. In that post we talked about young  Christians drinking, how a Christian has the freedom to have a drink (providing it’s legal and they don’t get drunk).
The reality is that the Bible is the living word of God, not a bland rule book. In some situations, we as Christians are free to use Scripture along with our own god-given common sense to decide which way to go, and what to choose.
[See WCOF Ch.1 – VI]

As Christians, we are called to be united. But to be united does not always mean to be uniform.
We are told in a wonderful and vivid way 1 Corinthians 12 that we are one body with one ultimate purpose and one ultimate goal. But just as all our different body parts are different, yet still work together; so it is for the Church.

This won’t be a deep scriptural examination of each point.
For each topic, we can look briefly at both sides (including my own view) then see how they are different but not opposed.
They will be short and generally simplistic, they are just to get you thinking.

This is not a definitive list of all the areas where Christians have liberty, but they are some of the areas which we may face in our own normal Christian living.


When we come to look at Christian liberty and Christian living, it’s always good to have these words from Paul in our thoughts:
““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”  (1 Corinthians 10:23)


Worship

Hymns vs. Psalms
An issue which has caused so much contention in our Church.
Our sung worship of God is important, but it should never be an issue on which the family should bear ill-will or split over.
As a slightly younger Christian, this was a real strong point of mine.  To my shame, it was “Psalms only or you are deceived” level of thinking.
I still prefer the Psalms to any hymn, but I was led to realise it’s a matter of conviction and personal reasoning and certainly not a Gospel issue.
You can sing a Psalm, with all the correct harmonies, but with a stone cold heart. Just as you can sing even a modern worship song with a heart full of genuine praise.

Bible Translation
Out of all the translation that people love dearly, the KJV (or AV) has got to be #1.
And it’s understandable, it is what many of us grew up hearing and using for our memory verses!
If you use the KJV, if it’s your ‘ go to translation, then that is fine – it is well loved and by all accounts a faithful translation. But whilst it may be a good translation, it is not the only one. Almost all the commonly used translations around today are just as faithful as the KJV.
God’s Word is perfect and unchanging, it’s not only to be found in one certain translation. It is found in all faithfully translated Bibles. Personally, I use the ESV, I find it easy to read and believe it’s one of the best modern translations currently available. [One day we can look at this topic in proper detail]

Dress
Let’s bite the bullet and start off with hats (head coverings to be specific).
Should a woman wear a hat in Church or not?
Much like the Psalms vs. hymns issue, this can attract a serious amount of fire from both sides. Those who believe head coverings should be worn point to one passage in Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Those who say it’s not necessary,  dispute that the passage applies to women today (instead it applied to the certain culture of the day).
If you wear a head covering, that is fine, but make sure you understand why you do it, don’t just do it as part of the ‘culture’.

So what about the rest of our clothes, how should we dress in Church? The reality is that dressing in our  “Sunday Best” does not make sense scripturally. Yes, we are gathering to worship God, so we should dress appropriately. But ‘appropriately’ does not equal ‘formally’.
The reality is that we are meeting together as a family, so the idea of some sort of special Sunday clothes do not mix with that idea.
Our dress and head coverings are not Gospel issues, as long as we are dressed appropriately and don’t cause each other to stumble then it really shouldn’t be a majour issue.

Church Attendance
This is one area in which we have very little liberty.
This does not include special circumstances (family situations /illness etc.)
If we are able, we should all take every opportunity we can to gather with the Lords people, with our eternal family. Sundays, Wednesdays, and any other chances that may arise.
The reality is, and I speak from experience, if you purposefully neglect gathering with the Church, then your walk will suffer. It is simple as that.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching ” (Hebrews 10: 24-25)

Lifestyle

Drinking
We already looked at this in detail (click here), essentially if you are old enough to legally drink and you don’t get drunk there is no Scripture against you enjoying a drink.
All whilst bearing in mind where you are drinking and who you are drinking around – always remembering that we are lights in the darkness.
I would say, and this is purely my own thoughts (and my own personal situation), if there is a history of alcoholism in your family I would strongly advise you to just avoid it altogether.

Tattoos
Those against getting a tattoo will point to Leviticus 19:28 as a reason to not get them.
If read in context you will soon see this instruction belonged to the “civil law”, and therefore applied to the nation of Israel [We will visit this in greater detail in a future post].
Essentially this instruction, along with the dietary rules and rules on clothing & hygiene that we find in passages in Leviticus etc. were applicable to the Nation Of Israel – and were highly beneficial to them. But we are no longer bound by those two sets of laws.

So we can get a tattoo, but does that mean that we should?
We still have to ask ourselves why we are getting it?
For our glory, or for Gods?
We also have to ask the obvious question, are we sure we want this on our skin for years to come?
We also have to bear in mind that if we are to get one, it would be wise, for the sake of our witnessing and unity that we perhaps get it somewhere that is not easily seen.
I’ll have to admit I do have a horse in this race. Although we may be able to get tattooed, it’s something we should do with our witness and brotherly unity very much in mind.
[See HERE and HERE for more information on the threefold separation of the Law]

Relationships [boy/girl friend]
In terms of relationships, the Bible is clear that here again is one issue with not much liberty or room for a difference of opinion. If you are a Christian then your other half needs to be a Christian – it’s that simple.
Even if Scripture wasn’t clear on the issue, common sense alone should lead us to realise that it does not make sense any other way.
As Christians our first love must always be Christ, this won’t make sense to one that is not yet saved. We also try to seek God’s glory in all things,  especially in our relationships. That simply won’t be possible with someone that does not care about the Glory of God.


So, there we go.
Just a very brief snapshot of some areas that may to Christians. Like we said already, this is just to get you thinking of these topics. By no means is it a complete Scriptural analysis.
Different opinions on certain secondary issues are not a bad thing. In practice, if love and grace are shown, they serve to strengthen the Church.

Let me know in the comments of any other areas where the Christian will have to use their liberty to make a choice?


Further Reading:
4 Principles for the Exercise of Christian Liberty

Christian Liberty