Thinking, Talking – Witnessing, Walking

Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads



Stuart Kimber




Chapter 1 : How Jesus ‘Thought Christianly’

Chapter 2 : Talking and Witnessing Like Jesus

Chapter 3 : Witnessing and Walking Like Jesus


 “I notice that Christians are as quick and forthright in pronouncing on all the ‘trending’ topics of the moment as everybody else. Posting, re-posting and commenting on Facebook is immediate, sweeping and un-critical on such varied issues as animal welfare, Brexit, climate change, gun control, homelessness, homophobia, immigration, MP’s expenses, women’s rights in Outer Mongolia etc. etc. Sorry, did I miss out Donald Trump!

 Do Christians know better than all the other ‘know-it-alls’ out there? If so, from where exactly do we get our insights on what’s right, what’s important and what’s ‘absolutely shocking’? Is God as eager as we are to respond to all the world’s conflicting agendas – or does He have an agenda of His own?”

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Chapter 1



Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but….

It seems to me that when Jesus started thinking and talking, He didn’t start with current affairs, political agitation, social action, Brexit or even President Donald J. Trump. He started here:

“‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24.44-45)

So that’s where we should start. Not with what we think about how the world should be working, but with what God says about how He works in the world. That’s what the Bible is there to tell us – and Jesus relied upon it absolutely.

So in this chapter there are eight ‘5-minute reads’ on the eight sections of the Bible, based on my book ‘A Pathway into the Bible.’ They’ll introduce us to the ultimate source of all Jesus’ thinking.

If you don’t start with the God and Father of Jesus Christ, you’ll spend your whole life wandering around and wondering where on earth you’re going. So start with….



Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

The Five Books of Moses are sometimes called ‘The Pentateuch’, but they aren’t just the first five books of the Bible. They are the foundation on which the whole of the Old and New Testaments are built. They tell us where we come from and who we are, and they introduce us to God. But what makes them unique amongst foundational religious documents is that they speak of a God who is not only ‘The Creative Force in Control of Reality,’ but also ‘A Person Who Walks with People.’

We find the first indication that this is the kind of God He is very early in the book of Genesis, and the Five Books close, at the end of Deuteronomy, with a description of God’s remarkable relationship with Moses.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day….” (Genesis 3.8)

“Since (his death), no prophet has arisen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face….” (Deuteronomy 34.10)

Clearly, God formed Creation so He could walk with Adam and Eve – and their descendants. And despite all the bad choices and evil behaviour of humanity, He continued walking with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, with their families, and with the People and Nation they became.

The Five Books of Moses are sometimes called ‘The Law’, but they aren’t just books of rules and regulations. What makes biblical Law unique is that it is revealed and experienced as part of the faithful and loving character of the God who Walks with People. The Law isn’t the rule book of a bossy God, but a manner of life that is wise, and enables us to walk more closely with the God who made us and loves us. Moses sums this up beautifully…

“Observe (these decrees and laws) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deuteronomy 4.6-7)

The Five Books of Moses tell us that Walking with God enables us to become what He always intended us to be – His companions.


“The law, whose minister is Moses, was given to bring us into the knowledge of ourselves – that we might thereby feel and perceive who we really are by nature.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

As I’ve been thoroughly re-reading the whole Bible in order to write my book, I’ve discovered that Jesus wasted no time speaking out on world politics by criticising, attacking or assassinating the characters of political leaders, governors or even dictators. I believe this was because His thinking rested entirely on what had already been said in the Old Testament. Where His thinking started can be summed up by His words to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, as he was preparing to condemn Him to death – some of the only words I can find anywhere that He addresses to a secular politician. Correct me if I’m wrong.

“Pilate said, ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…'” (John 19.10-11)

This declaration comes out of a profound understanding of what the Old Testament says about how God is at work amongst the nations of the world. And it’s entirely in keeping with what Luke the historian tells us – no less than three times – about where Jesus told His post-Resurrection Christian disciples to start their thinking. And if Luke thought it was worth repeating, then so do I!

“Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself… ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’ … Jesus said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures…” (Luke 24.27, 32 and 44-45)

And if you’re still with me out there, if you don’t start with how God says He’s at work in national and international politics, you’ll only ever despair, get angry or spend your life ‘bashing your head against a brick wall’ as you try to make sense of the world. So start with….



Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Beware! The History Books of the Old Testament come with a very serious health warning.

They tell it like it is, they conceal nothing and they pull no punches. They ruthlessly catalogue man’s inhumanity to man, not sparing our blushes. They are a long, hard look at reality, not a handbook of how we ought to behave. They don’t paint a rosy picture of the world because we haven’t made the world a rosy place. If you want to ‘restore your faith in humanity’ don’t start here! God knows ‘what a state the world is in’ and that it hasn’t changed since before the flood!

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6.5)

And yet, despite all this, the History Books of the Old Testament show God still Walking with People and even Walking with Nations. They show God still standing between all the ‘rocks and hard places’ that human beings create. They show God still ‘up to His armpits’ in the blood that human beings spill.  They show God still taking nations ‘by the scruff of the neck’ for both protection and punishment. And they show how God is ‘hidden in plain sight’ and can be found by those who look for Him. This promise of the never-failing presence of God no matter what, begins in Genesis, ends in Revelation and figures prominently in the History Books of the Old Testament.

“Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood… The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you… the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go… May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us or forsake us… The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you… Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me… I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age… now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Genesis 9.11; Deuteronomy 31.8; Joshua 1.9; 1 Kings 8.57; 2 Chronicles 15.2; Psalm 27.10; Isaiah 41.17; Matthew 28.20; Revelation 21.3)

The History Books of the Old Testament assure us that God never gives up – even on those who insist on erecting the barriers of their sinfulness against Him, generation after generation!


“The Old Testament is a book in which is written the law of God and the deeds of those who fulfil it, and, also, of those who do not.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

Jesus doesn’t have to prove to you or me that He, God, the Bible or the Christian faith are of crucial relevance to our everyday living. He simply points us to His own Bible – our Old Testament – and particularly to the ‘filling in the sandwich’ of its three main sections, which consists of 175 pages of utterly honest, ‘no holds barred’ personal testimony. Dozens and possibly hundreds of people, who have suffered as much as us, been as cynical as many of us, been as bewildered by the events of life as often as us, and been their own worst enemies as frequently as us – they all testify to the astonishing power and peace there is to be found in ‘taking it all to God’ and ‘walking close to Him’ in every circumstance. 

Not only that, but up to this moment in the 21st Century, literally millions of people have followed their example and been able to confirm that their testimony is true. 

The Apostle Paul had this testimony – for our feminine side – about the comfort God brings. He called Him…

“….the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1.3-4)

And the Apostle James had this testimony – for our masculine side – about the gritty perseverance and overcoming power God brings…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1.2-5)

In this third ‘5 minute read’  we move to the third part of the source of all Jesus’ thinking.

And if you’re still with me out there, stop relying on your own wisdom, stop taking pride in your own independence, and take a leaf out of the book of…



Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs

The Bible isn’t just God talking at us! Much of it is people sharing their experience of Walking with God. Nowhere is this more true than in the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament. The writers of these remarkable books invite us to share their experiences, think their thoughts, feel their feelings and pray their prayers after them, as they live real lives – and Walk with God.

Undeserved suffering, bereavement, illness, joy, anger and despair; living wisely, searching for meaning and having the best possible sex; national as well as personal joys and sorrows; celebrating friendship, family and marriage; praying to God, pleading with God and shouting at God. It’s all here! And in these books you’ll meet Job, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, David, Asaph, members of the musical guild of Korah, Moses, Solomon, Heman, Ethan, various unnamed song writers, a father and mother and their sons, anonymous wise men, Agur, King Lemuel’s mother, a young girl in love and a man besotted with his wife!

There are kings, politicians, criminals, farmers, landowners, tradesmen, the poor, the wise, the foolish, the lazy, amateur theologians, professional fraudsters, husbands, wives, parents, friends, enemies and lovers. You and I are certainly in there!

By reading all this we learn what the writer of Ecclesiastes knew…

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… but… there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 3.1 and 1.9)

The Wisdom Books of the Old Testament blend both God’s truths and human wisdom, both spiritual insights and plain common sense! In other words, they show us how God speaks into our lives, but also what He has already built into His creation – further demonstrations of how He is ‘hidden in plain sight.’

Apart from the Psalms, these books are badly neglected by Christians. And they are wilfully ignored by all those who are determined to insist that Jesus, God, the Bible and Christianity are irrelevant to real life and everyday living!


“It is important to know that it is right to obey father and mother, boss, judge, prince and king and all the ordinances of the world, bodily and spiritual, by which God rules us and ministers freely his benefits to us all; and that we love them (father, mother, boss etc) for the benefits we receive by them… Yet the worldly powers and rulers are to be obeyed only so far as their commandments do not contend against the commandment of God… And by the higher law we must interpret the inferior.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

It seems to me that a huge proportion of those who think that God is distant, can’t be understood, and is impossible to get to know, have simply never bothered to read His love letters!

Granted, Jesus the Son of God had a unique relationship with His Father, but He visited us as the Son of Man. And as a human being Jesus knew and trusted in a loving God because He’d read about Him in the prophetic books of the Old Testament, in which God bares His soul – as Father, Shepherd, Servant and Husband – first to the prophets themselves, and then through them to us who He clearly loves so much.

In the seventeen books written by the sixteen prophets, God shares His feelings about the brokenness, suffering, sin, social injustice, warfare and mutual exploitation that the human race wallows in – and He wears His heart on His sleeve!  The ‘Big Hitters’ alone – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel – each particularly highlight one aspect of God’s character and tireless work on our behalf, in each of their five books. He is the Servant God of All the Earth, the Broken-Hearted God, the God Who Weeps, the God of Faithfulness, and the God of Politics and Power.

In this open-hearted sharing of Himself, His purposes, plans, feelings and love for Humanity, He is quite unlike any other god to be found in any other religion, faith or philosophy. And this is not ‘an article of faith’ or ‘a matter of religious rivalry’ or ‘a matter of opinion’ – it’s simply a fact. His love letters to us in the Bible are long, impassioned and full of poetry.

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, (Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24.27)

And the Jesus whose thinking began with God’s revelation of Himself in the Old Testament also said this…

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working… I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…. I and the Father are one.” (John 5.17,19; 10.30)

This is the Jesus whose life, character and work in the New Testament match the life, character and work of the God who first revealed Himself in the Old Testament – the God who is near, who can be understood and who we can get to know.

And if you’re still with me out there, read God’s love letters and follow the example of Jesus, and the many others before and after Him, who have tried….



The ‘Major’ Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel

The ‘Minor’ Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,

Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

The Prophetic Books of the Old Testament are God’s ‘running commentary’ on what He was doing in the most painful times in Jewish biblical history. But they’re much more than that! As His prophets walked, thought and felt with God, His love for the human race and His ultimate purposes for us begin to shine through and illuminate the future as well as their own ‘present’ times – and we get glimpses of the character of God, the Messiah, the Master Plan and even the End of the Age!

In the History Books, we’ve read about God using nations and leaders to fulfil His purposes – the ‘hidden hand’ behind world events. But we’ve also read about men (and the occasional woman) who felt that God was speaking to them directly about what was happening, and who felt compelled to speak out. Some had significant dreams or visions, but most simply felt God speaking to them, we don’t know how. Sometimes at great personal cost they ‘spoke truth to power’ or to God’s people as a whole. And some of what they said has been written down and collected together – including ‘words of prophecy’ that seem to be about things beyond their immediate situation.

And all of them came to share something of God’s broken-hearted love for sinful humanity.

But how can we know whether the prophets and their prophecies are trustworthy and therefore relevant to us? Well, long before the age of prophets, God gave Moses the test of a true prophet – and it’s disarmingly simple!

“You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously.” (Deuteronomy 18.21-22)

So if a prophet’s message comes true, he’s a true prophet – if it doesn’t, he isn’t.

Amazingly, the prophets with most to say about the further future and God’s everlasting love, ‘prove themselves’ by recording prophecies that came true in their own time so that we can rely on their prophecies that have yet to come true! Prophecies of the Messiah which have come true in the life and ministry of Jesus give us confidence in the prophets themselves, in the New Testament Gospel, and in what they say about the works of the Messiah that lie in our own future. And prophecies of world events that came true in or soon after their own time, give us confidence about what they say about the End of the Age.

“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3.7)


“To strengthen faith, God promised his Gospel in the Old Testament, through the prophets.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but….

If God wants to make Himself known, why doesn’t He just call ’round, introduce Himself and leave me with something to read, about what He stands for and what He’s done? Then perhaps I could believe in Him!

Well surprise, surprise! Being the greatest Mind in the universe, He’s already thought of that! After several thousand years of powerful hints – in creation, through people, and by His activity in world events – He took on human form and introduced Himself personally. And He’s never let His visit go unrecorded or unpublicised! According to the organisation Christian Research, “The Bible Society’s attempt to calculate the number of Bibles printed between 1816 and 1975 produced the figure of 2,458,000,000 – almost 2 and a half billion. Another survey, for the years up to 1992, put it closer to 6 billion. And the Bible is the most shop-lifted book in the world!”

The Bible is about Jesus Christ, and twenty one centuries after His birth, the meaning and the story of His life is as simple, straightforward and accessible as it has ever been. And it answers that question I still hear so many cynics ask about God : “Why doesn’t He just show Himself?”

Which planet are they on?

Of course, it’s a big thing to swallow that anyone could seriously be the incarnation of the One True God, but that’s why the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles – and indeed the whole New Testament – present themselves as a whole load of evidence that we can sit down and evaluate for ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, God expects ‘blind faith’ from nobody!

The writer of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts sums this up neatly…

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of the word… Therefore… I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning (and) it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you… so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1.1-4)

And the writer of John’s Gospel constantly recorded Jesus as offering tangible proof of who He was and what was happening – as He famously did when He appeared to Thomas, who doubted that He had risen from the dead…

“He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20.27)

So this is the fifth ‘5-minute read’ based on my book ‘A Pathway into the Bible – Walking with God, Then and Now.’ They are intended to introduce us to the thinking of Jesus and the very real opportunities we have of knowing Him, walking with Him, and meeting with the One True God.

And if you’re still with me out there, a very good place to start reading what God has written to you, is at the beginning of the New Testament, where you can join in with those who are already…



Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts

In many ways, the most obvious place to experience ‘walking with God’ is in the Gospels. The Son of God Himself, is walking through life as a human being, and as we ‘walk’ with Him in our mind’s eye, we’re as close as we can be ‘on paper’ to walking with God. At the same time we’re also ‘walking’ with the first disciples as they literally walked with Jesus. So we learn from them too.

Unlike how we usually read the Gospels, the best way is to read a whole one at one sitting – then they become a kind of ‘apprenticeship with Jesus.’ They weren’t written, first and foremost, to give us a series of incidents and bits of teaching from Jesus’ life, but to introduce us to the character and person of Jesus Himself.

John probably speaks for all the Gospel writers when he says:

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  (John 20.30-31)

The Outlines of the Gospels in ‘A Pathway into the Bible’ don’t tell you everything that’s in each Gospel because with the Gospels particularly you need to read them as a whole. To avoid repetition, I expand more on the first half of Matthew and the second half of Luke, with Mark and John getting equal treatment all the way through. I’ve also added an ‘Extra Theme’ in each Outline. The one in Mark is especially for anyone who’s recently become a Christian or is thinking about it. You can download the Outline of Mark’s Gospel from the page ‘An Apprenticeship with Jesus’ on my website:

In the other three Gospels the ‘Extra Theme’ draws out a particular emphasis or ‘thread’ typical of each.


The Book of Acts can be grouped with Paul’s letters, because those letters were written during the time covered by Acts and relate to churches mentioned in it. But here I’ve put Acts with the Gospels because they also have a close link. Both the Gospels and Acts are the story of the Good News being preached – by Jesus and then by the Apostles. 

So the Acts of the Apostles is really a continuation of our ‘walk’ with those who walked with Jesus.

We also discover what it’s like to ‘walk with the Holy Spirit,’ who is clearly guiding and directing them throughout. In the Acts Outline, the ‘Extra Theme’ highlights the twelve evangelistic speeches which crop up throughout the story, and which make the Gospel message crystal clear.


“Gospel is a Greek word that signifies good, merry, glad and joyful tidings – tidings that make a man’s heart glad and make him sing, dance, and leap for joy.”

“In the Old Testament are many promises, which are nothing other than the gospel to save those who believe them from the vengeance of the law. And in the New Testament there is frequent mention of the law to condemn those who do not believe the promises. Moreover, the law and the  gospel may never be considered as if they are separate the one from the other.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but….

Isn’t western society’s talk of Community Cohesion, Social Inclusion and Tolerance just a doomed effort at counterfeiting what God has already patented in the New Testament? Isn’t creating harmony by everyone pursuing their own individualism just not going to work? The phrases ‘building with bananas’ and ‘herding cats’ spring to mind!

What human beings actually need is not ‘Community’ but ‘Church.’ Community is supposed to arise when every person is encouraged to become what they feel. Church arises only as each person is transformed through repentance and faith in the Gospel, and begins to take on the likeness of Christ. Then Paul has the final step for building Church:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5.20)

As I’ve been thoroughly re-reading the whole Bible to write my book, I’ve found the beginnings of this remarkable idea of ‘Church’ in Jesus’ thinking as early as Mark chapter 3 – and even now, we feel for His family who first misunderstood the implications of it:

“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.'” (Mark 3.31-35)

It must have felt like it to them, but No, Jesus wasn’t ‘down-grading’ His family, He was ‘up-grading’ His followers. And that’s radical!

Jesus doesn’t ‘do away’ with family or community or friendships or any of our other relationships. But He does make possible our entry into the primary human relationship for which we were created: ‘Church.’ Praise God, Jesus’ family did ‘get it’ in the end. Mary became His follower as well as His mother, and two of His brothers, James and Jude, have contributed to building Church for centuries through their letters in the New Testament.

As we look at Paul’s letters to Christian churches, we find that he’d really ‘got it’ as well, and he expressed it best in his great letter on ‘Church Theory’:

“And God made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. … And God placed all things under (Christ’s) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1.9-10,22-23)

And if you’re still with me out there, you’re absolutely right! ‘Church’ and churches still aren’t perfect – we’re still ‘a work in progress.’ But God hasn’t finished with us yet, and in the mess of our fallen world, what Jesus is building in His Church is the best show in town.

In fact, it’s The Greatest Show on Earth!

So you’d better throw your lot in with those who are….



Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians

‘Walking with God’ is not something you do on your own. Although it does have a personal and individual dimension, all Christians ‘walk with God’ as one of God’s People. Paul’s letters to churches are windows into this corporate dimension of Christian living. They are also examples of a Christian leader ‘doing his job’ – of teaching, encouraging and correcting Christian communities. And thirdly, they are a remarkable insight into Paul’s own relationship with God as he walks through a life of joyful love, sacrificial service – and prison cells!

The corporate Christian living Paul describes could be an unpacking of these words from his letter to the Romans, which compare the church to a human body:

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12.4-5)

He unpacks the content of this ‘body life’ coolly and systematically in Romans and Ephesians; with heartfelt love and compassion in Philippians and 1 & 2 Thessalonians; with argument and tears in 1 & 2 Corinthians; and with uncompromising attacks on false teachers and false teaching in Galatians and Colossians. Church life matters to Paul because the quality of it will either prove or disprove the truth of the Gospel to those who need to hear it and see it lived out.

‘Doing his job’ and ‘walking with God’ are both bound closely together for Paul, as his words to the Philippians demonstrate:

“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus…..I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 1.7-8; 3.10-11)

Paul doesn’t only teach about Church living in these letters but he himself lives the life of belonging to God and belonging to God’s people.


“As Paul says, he was chosen to preach God’s Gospel, which God had promised beforehand by the prophets in the Scriptures that speak of his Son who was born of the seed of David.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


Jigsaw head 2



Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

As I’ve been trying to take my cue from the Bible, and particularly from the New Testament, about how to Think, Talk, Witness and Walk Christianly, I’ve been surprised and challenged by many things. But I’ve been absolutely stopped in my tracks by just one very significant matter that we fail to take seriously at our peril.

Whereas Jesus, Paul and the other New Testament writers never criticise, attack or pass judgement on secular political leaders,when they speak about leaders of God’s people who fail to communicate the Gospel of God because of their false teaching, hypocrisy or corruption, they uncompromisingly expose them and publicly condemn them.

In the life of Jesus and the letters of Paul, we’re certainly shown what good Christian leadership looks like, but we also hear bad leadership ‘called out’ and rejected.

Although He patiently met all their attacks on Him, Jesus publicly exposed the errors of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, fools, greedy, self-indulgent, white-washed tombs, a brood of vipers and unlikely to escape hell (Luke 11.37-54; Matthew 23.1-39).And He weeps over Jerusalem because of them…

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23.37-38)

When some church leaders wanted to call Christians back to the Old Testament ‘religion’ of  ‘law-keeping’, Paul condemns them in no uncertain terms (Galatians 2.16-23). When others wanted Christians to go beyond Jesus to ‘new spiritual mysteries’, Paul points them out as false teachers (Colossians 2.8). And he warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that …

“…savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” (Acts 20.29-31)

Peter, John and Jude also ‘call out’ false teachers and bad Christian leaders in their letters later in the New Testament.

All this only goes to emphasise that God regards the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and the Old Testament Gospel that prepared the ground for it – as of absolutely vital importance to every human being. Clearly, the accurate preaching and teaching of God’s Word is His first priority, it should be the first priority of the Church, and it is the solemn responsibility of all Christian leaders.

And woe betide anyone who presumes to add to it, take from it, or modify it in any way.

And if you’re still with me out there, and you’ve had a bad experience of Christian leaders – join the club! From the very start, Jesus knew that Christian leaders could go bad, but He still chose and appointed them. And He chooses and appoints them still. So I’m afraid you have no option but to start…



1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

The New Testament makes it very clear that good Christian leadership is essential if we are going to be able to ‘walk with God’ personally and as churches. The dangers and disastrous effects of bad leadership have already been stressed in Paul’s letters to churches, and false teachers will be even more roundly condemned in the letters written by Peter, John and Jude.

Leadership in the Church is a gift from Jesus Christ as Paul makes clear in Ephesians:

“It was Christ who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4.11-13)

In these letters to Christian leaders Paul teaches what good Christian leadership looks like. He encourages it in the leaders he’s writing to, and he urges them to choose other leaders very carefully. The emphasis is on a good character, a good grasp of the truth of the Gospel, and a commitment to the Scriptures as the word of God – along with an ability to recognise false teaching and to refute it.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths…   …(an elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (2 Timothy 4.3-4; Titus 1.9)

‘Walking with God’ will include choosing our leaders well!


“Seeing that there are false teachers and blind leaders in every place, and in order that you not be deceived by any man, I believed it very necessary to prepare this Pathway into the scripture for you.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

I’ve lost track of the number of times people have ‘told me/implied/obviously believed’ that I was ‘stupid/gullible/naive’ to ‘be a Christian/believe the Bible/take any of that stuff seriously’…..

And (dare I say it?), in more sexist times men would tell me that religion was just for women and children!

…..and yet, as I’ve thoroughly and critically re-examined the Bible, I’ve found it to offer a more ‘joined-up/ practical/ intellectually rigorous /realistic /down-to-earth /evidence based/ motivational/ mature and hopeful’ ‘take’ on life than anything else I know!

And in this last ‘5-minute read’ based on the eight sections of the Bible, we find that the last few books of the New Testament are ‘the icing on the cake’ in the ‘mature and hopeful’ department.

As we’ve already seen, not only does the Bible offer history, evidence, argument and personal testimony about God and His message; not only does it offer us an account of the activity of God in human experience and the visit of God in His Son; not only does it offer us the simple message of repentance, forgiveness and eternal life; but it ends with the writings of people who believed in that message, lived with its consequences for between 20 and 50 years, and still testify to its power and effectiveness in their lives.

What more can God do to convince us that there are very good grounds indeed for taking a step of faith towards Him – and then living our lives based on His Word?

Perhaps some words from the wise men of the Bible, from both the Old and New Testaments, best sum up the possibilities of where we can stand in relation to God’s Word…

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14.1 and 53.1)

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12.13)

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'” (Mark 10.14-15)

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure…. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11.25-26,28)

And if you’re still with me out there, well done! This is the last of our eight ‘5 minute reads’ introducing us to the source, overflow and ‘outcomes’ of Jesus’ thinking. I trust that your reading of the whole Bible will enable you to be…



Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, Revelation

The last eight letters in the New Testament are often called the General Letters because they seem to be intended for a wide readership. Except for the very short 2 & 3 John and Jude. But then they deal with the very important matter of dangerous false teachers, and that needs to be widely known about. Also, they are all letters by people other than Paul – mainly other apostles.

And then there’s the Book of Revelation!

Actually, I’ve come to see all these books, from Hebrews to Revelation, as the Summarising Letters. Each writer seems to gather together his well-thought-through, well digested, mature understanding of Christian Truth and presents us with a Summing-Up. Hebrews sums up the relationship between the Old and New Covenants; James sums up his understanding of practical and mature Christian living; 1 Peter is Peter’s summary of the Gospel and what it means for our life together; 2 Peter reads like his Last Will and Testament as he faces martyrdom; 1 John brings together Truth and Love, and summarises the wonderful relationship the children of God can have with their Father; 2 & 3 John and Jude summarise the great warning about false teachers….

….and Revelation is the Summing-Up to end all Summings-Up!

To sum up: they are the mature thoughts of those other Apostles, and they are inspiring invitations to live mature Christian lives ‘walking with God’ and with His People. And the visions of Revelation fill us with the sure and certain hope of the victory of Jesus Christ.

And they also assure us that all of history is His Story!!


“Now Christ stands us in double stead and serves us in two ways.

First, he is our Redeemer, Deliverer, Reconciler, Mediator, Intercessor, Advocate, Attorney, Solicitor, our Hope, Comfort, Shield, Protection, Defender, Strength, Health, Satisfaction and Salvation. His blood, his death, and all that he ever did is ours. And Christ himself, with all that he is or can do, is ours.

Secondarily, after we have been overcome with love and kindness and now seek to do the will of God, then we have Christ as an example to copy, as Christ himself says in John: ‘I have given you an example.’ And in another gospel book he says: ‘He that will be great among you shall be your servant and minister, as the Son of Man came to minister and not be ministered unto.’ And Paul says: Copy Christ! And Peter says: ‘Christ died for you, and left you an example, to follow in his steps.’ Therefore, whatever faith has received from God through Christ’s blood and deserving, the same must be given out in love – every whit – and bestowed upon our neighbours for their profit – yea, even if they are our enemies. By faith we receive of God, and by love we give out again. And this we must do freely after the example of Christ, without any other consideration except our neighbour’s welfare alone.”

A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture

William Tyndale


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So…..where does this lead us in our understanding of how to


as Christians?



Chapter 2



Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but….

I notice that Christians are as quick and forthright in pronouncing on all the ‘trending’ topics of the moment as everybody else. Posting, re-posting and commenting on Facebook is immediate, sweeping and un-critical on such varied issues as animal welfare, Brexit, climate change, gun control, homelessness, homophobia, immigration, MP’s expenses, women’s rights in Outer Mongolia etc. etc. Sorry, did I miss out Donald Trump! Do Christians know better than all the other ‘know-it-alls’ out there? If so, from where exactly do we get our insights on what’s right, what’s important and what’s ‘absolutely shocking’? Is God as eager as we are to respond to all the world’s conflicting agendas – or does He have an agenda of His own?

As I’ve been writing my book “A Pathway into the Bible” I’ve been thoroughly re-reading the whole Bible, and if it’s telling me anything it’s telling me: ‘Yes, God does have an agenda!’ Trying to Think Christianly must surely start with His agenda and not the world’s, and must surely involve working with His priorities and not ours…

Now, I like to follow the advice of the famous song from the ‘Sound of Music’ and start at the very beginning, because it’s a very good place to start. Of course, with the Book of Genesis in my hand I discover that God has been working on His Agenda since ‘the beginning to end all beginnings’! He has continually re-worked, re-arranged, re-ordered and re-scheduled that Agenda down the centuries as we have continually made bad choices, avoided Him, evaded Him, and relentlessly pursued agendas of our own. Because of God’s promise never to walk away, He continues to work out His ‘Agenda of Rescue.’ And with The Four Gospels in my hand I find that that is now focused in Jesus Christ, His Cross and His Resurrection.

So from the beginning of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, it’s clear that our first priority as Christians is to be walking with God’s ‘Agenda of Rescue.’ But I think it’s only in the Book of Exodus that we find the beginning of the agenda that God has set for humanity as a whole to follow if they are to live ‘with the grain of creation’ rather than against it. Having chosen and prepared a people to take this agenda seriously and ‘publicly live it out’, He stepped into the confusion of ‘the fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into’, raised His hand like an old-fashioned traffic policeman at a grid-locked junction, and said ‘Stop!’

And He gave Ten Commandments that could break the log jam and start to bring an end to the terrible stalemate that human sin has created.

Of course, these are only the emergency ‘Stop Signs!’ With the rest of the Five Books of Moses in my hand I find these ‘Stop Signs’ unpacked, expanded and built into the national life of God’s people. With The Four Gospels in my hand I find Jesus turning these ‘Stop Signs’ inside out, to speak of the inner attitudes that are necessary if we’re to move on from simply ‘stopping what we’re doing’ to living an abundant life with our Creator. And with Paul’s Letters in my hand I find this abundant living taught and worked out in church communities, so that there might be a truly international ‘public living-out’ of the life of God in the world.

But we should be in no doubt that the living flesh of Gospel Life itself lives upon the ‘dry bones’ of those Ten Commandments – which like real bones, aren’t ‘dry’ at all! They are living supports and core expressions of the life and character of God Himself. Even though Jesus ‘turned them inside out’ with His ‘love of God and love of neighbour,’ He made this abundantly clear…

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5.17-19)

So when we step into the confusion and argumentative log jams of Facebook, or when we stray into the ‘blogosphere’, or when we simply talk to people face-to-face (remember that?), we’d better be sure we address God’s agenda, choose God’s priorities, and speak His truths! We are, after all, His witnesses. Wherever people need rescuing, they need to hear God’s ‘Agenda of Rescue.’ And whenever we presume to speak into a fallen world, it needs to hear talk of His ‘Ten Commandments Agenda.’

You may feel that this has been a bit of a lengthy rigmarole just to commend the Ten Commandments! But in the face of the thousands of problems, injustices and atrocities that face us in our world, have you ever thought of choosing how to serve God and how to speak for God strategically – based on those Commandments? Trying to Think Christianly means asking ourselves…

What Would Jesus Blog?

But what to choose? Exactly which ‘trending’ topics should we comment on? Which passionately debated issues should we ignore because they’re simply not one of God’s priorities? Can we use the Ten Commandments to decide which are truly  ‘Commandment-level’ matters about which we must speak out, and about which we must be witnesses?

Well, I’m glad you asked that because that’s the subject of my next blog!

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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but….

I’ve noticed something very worrying about identifying myself as a Christian. I had hoped that when Jesus said…

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1.8)

…that He meant I’d have power to be a witness whenever I choose. But no! I’ve certainly received power from the Holy Spirit, but just as certainly, now I’ve got the label ‘Christian’, I’m a witness all the time whether I choose to be or not! Whatever I do and whatever I say, reflects on Christ and on the character of God.

What on earth have I got myself into?! Does this mean I’ll have to try to live more like Christ and speak more like Christ? If so, it looks as though I really am going to have to try to think like Christ first. ‘Trying to Think Christianly’ is the only way to avoid blurting out opinions of my own and having people take them for God’s priorities! Which brings us back to ‘What Would Jesus Blog?’

As I’ve been writing my book “A Pathway into the Bible” I’ve been thoroughly re-reading the whole Bible, and it’s been giving me some pointers about God’s agenda. And as we saw earlier, He has His ‘Agenda of Rescue’ and His ‘Ten Commandments Agenda.’ If I’m to avoid misrepresenting Him I’d better start to hold my tongue and take my lead from Him – as Jesus did…

“Whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12.5)

With the Book of Deuteronomy in my hand I have the Ten Commandments as repeated by Moses to God’s people as they were about to enter the Promised Land (5.6-21), and I find they begin with a reminder of God’s ‘Agenda of Rescue.’ He is the God who rescues from slavery and we are to have no other ‘gods’ but Him. Ignoring or rejecting the God of rescue is disastrous, going right against the grain of creation. This is the first Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

With the Books of Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea in my hand I find a constant connection being made between worshiping other ‘gods’ and destructive human behaviour passing down the generations. The honouring of any other ‘god’, or the misrepresentation of the One True God, goes against the grain of creation and brings inevitable grief. This is the second Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

With the Books of Joshua, Jeremiah, Amos, Obadiah and Nahum in my hand I find God to be the Sovereign Lord of all the earth and not to be messed with! To use His name for our own ends or for supporting our own agenda is positively dangerous. This is the third Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

With the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Nehemiah and Ezekiel in my hand I find that the Sabbath Day, of rest and time with God, is essential for living with our Creator. God is so central to human existence that Sabbath rest with Him is vital for me, for those who work for me, and for every living creature. This is the fourth Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

These first four Commandments are the ‘bare bones’ of what it means to have been created by the One True God – the ‘Stop Signs’ that warn us about going the wrong way. All I am, all I do, and all I say must witness to them. Jesus, thinking Christianly, ‘turns them inside out’ beautifully…

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12.29-30)

With the Books of Genesis, Ruth and Proverbs in my hand I find fathers and mothers and older generations honoured – and recognized as a source of God-given wisdom. Honouring parents, the marriage relationship they represent, and elders, will have good results in the community. This is the fifth Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

From the very earliest pages of Genesis and throughout the Bible, wrongly depriving another human being of their life is always condemned. You shall not commit murder. This is the sixth Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

From the earliest pages of Genesis and throughout the Bible, breaking the marriage bond is always condemned. You shall not commit adultery. This is the seventh Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

Also throughout the Bible, the ownership of property as God’s stewards, is assumed. You shall not steal. This is the eighth Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

Regularly throughout the Law, the Prophets and the Book of Proverbs, false testimony, slander and unjust treatment in the courts is condemned. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. This is the ninth Agenda item I must live by and witness to.

The final Agenda item is unique amongst the Commandments. Almost nowhere else in the Old Testament is covetousness mentioned. But amazingly, it sets the scene for what Jesus does with all the ‘Stop Signs’ of the Law, and ‘turns them all inside out!’ Setting our desire on what belongs to someone else is failing to think in a Godly way and must be avoided. Jesus takes these last six Agenda items, thinks Christianly, and ‘turns them inside out’ beautifully…

“Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mark 12.31)

Since we’re perpetual witnesses to everyone who sees us, hears us or reads us, all this helps not only to answer the question ‘What Would Jesus Blog?’ but also ‘How Would Jesus Blog?’

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Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

I’ve noticed something about the Ten Commandments that hasn’t occurred to me before. As I’ve been writing my book “A Pathway into the Bible” I’ve been thoroughly re-reading the whole Bible, and one of the things I’ve learnt about God’s laws, is that they’re not there because God’s a control freak – they’re there because they protect us! They’re not rules to be followed or we’ll get a slap! They’re fences on cliff tops so we don’t fall to our death!

This isn’t what’s only just occurred to me about the Ten Commandments. Christians have known this for centuries. The Law is as much an expression of God’s love as the life of Jesus. Before Jesus revealed His love, God’s Law put protective arms around us to stop us from destroying ourselves.

No, the ‘something’ that’s only just occurred to me is this: if the Ten Commandments are God’s ‘Stop Signs’ to warn of danger and save us from harm, He will have picked the ten absolutely central issues that destroy our lives. They’re not a list of the most terrible offences, they are the things He knows are within easy reach and will lead us straight to the precipice that will bring us to grief – and cause us to bring others to grief.

I think the Table of the Ten Commandments is God’s Blog to humanity. It expresses the key things that all people urgently need to hear. He gave them originally to His people, and so He began with their relationship to Him. But suppose He’d been giving them to a secular society that knew little about Him. Suppose Jesus was blogging to a world like ours. How Would Jesus Blog?

I think He’d start from the bottom of the Table – furthest from the focus on God – and then work back up to speak about the God of Rescue. Something like this….

You shall not covet. Being envious of what others have is ‘a root of all kinds of evil.’ When you covet, everyone is your victim! The ‘slippery slope’ begins here! The truth God knows about you, is that you are covetous. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue. 

You shall not give false testimony. Anything involving lying, gossiping, blackening names, making accusations, rubbishing reputations – these things destroy lives. The truth God knows about you, is that you are an expert at using lies and half-truths to destroy others. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

You shall not steal. When you steal from anybody, you cause hardship, create injustice and provoke violence. The truth God knows about you is that theft is well within arm’s reach, and with no ‘Stop Sign’ you’d be at it all the time. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

You shall not commit adultery. Breaking the marriage bond is the most serious sexual misdemeanour of all because of the damage it causes – trust, faithfulness, children’s lives, family stability and then society itself are destroyed by adultery. The truth God knows about you is that you are driven by appetites more than faithfulness, making sexual betrayal the most accessible and destructive of sins. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

You shall not murder. The truth God knows about us all is that we find killing people a lot easier than we’d like to believe. Depriving anyone of their life is widely regarded as the ultimate sin, but humanity finds new ways of doing it and justifying it in every generation. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

Honour your father and mother. This is the third Commandment that protects the marriage relationship. Honour parents, the marriage they represent, and the generation they represent, because this is a vital part of a safe and mature society. The truth God knows about you is that you are a congenital ‘know-it-all’ and you won’t even listen to human wisdom from the past. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

And then He would start focussing on God….

Observe the Sabbath day. Regardless of what you believe about the One True God, He is your Creator and you need to live ‘with the grain’ of reality. Failure to make space in your life for God, rejects Him as your Rescuer and ultimately spells disaster. Do not fail to provide yourself, and those for whom you are responsible, not just with ‘rest’ but with ‘rest for God.’ The truth God knows about you, is that you have a determination to be self-sufficient and to leave Him out of your life. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

Do not misuse the name of God. Regardless of what you believe about the One True God, to use His name with contempt, or to justify your own opinion or actions in His name, is a dangerous thing to do. The truth God knows about you, is that you will try to use anything – even God Himself – to justify yourself. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

You shall not make or worship idols. Regardless of what you believe about the One True God, you make and worship idols! The ‘grain of your created-ness’ has in it the need for God, and the truth he knows about you, is that when you reject Him you fill the gap with other ‘gods’ – whether pagan idols, or distorted images of Him, or people, or ambitions, or inanimate objects! And as the Commandment makes clear, worshiping idols seriously damages your descendants. We must live out the opposite, and witness and blog about this issue.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”(Deuteronomy 5.6-7)

God first ‘blogged’ these Commandments to His people, so He introduced Himself as their rescuer from slavery. When Jesus ‘blogs’ them to the world He does so as the one who rescues from sin. Without apology, we must live for, witness to, and blog about the God of Rescue!

And as we do all this witnessing, by word or by blog, remember….

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18.2)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…” (Ephesians 4.29) 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful… Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  (Colossians 4.2,6) 

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Chapter 3



Stuart's Thinking Christianly Heads Now I may just be talking to myself here, but…..

There’s nothing more sickening than a religious hypocrite.

Human beings have an unerring nose for hypocrisy, although they can often live quite happily with the smell of their own. And Jesus reserved all His stinging public rebukes for religious hypocrites. Whereas we should be in little doubt that the world won’t let us get away with being a hypocrite, we can be quite certain that Jesus won’t.

All this should be a sober warning for us as we fulfill our calling to be His witnesses.

In the Letter of James, we can see that Jesus’ own brother had really understood His thinking and His way of life. James gives us some of the Bible’s most useful guidelines on ‘speaking for Jesus and behaving like Jesus’ – in the blogosphere as well as anywhere else…

“Not many of you should presume to become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check…. but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3.1-2,8-10)

James’ message – learnt from his brother Jesus – is very simple. If you think you can teach others a thing or two, you’ll have God to deal with if you overstep the mark. If what you’ve got to say involves cursing or rubbishing people made in the likeness of God, stop it!

And he immediatelygoes on to be equally clear about how our personal lives must measure up to our ‘wise words’…

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom… But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3.13,17-18)

We mustn’t get the wrong idea here, and think that James is telling us simply to keep our mouths shut. Throughout his letter he has very direct and critical things to say about covetousness, about people who oppress or fail to help the poor, about people who quarrel, fight and kill one another to get what they want, about people who speak abusively or slanderously, and about people whose lives are all about pleasure-seeking and adulterous behaviour.

But it’s equally clear that he’s talking to people both inside and outside the Church – including his readers!

In the Letters of James, Peter and John,Jesus’ brother, His ‘right hand man’ and ‘the disciple whom He loved’ are all agreed that our walk must match our talk, and that we must show love and humble respect for one another, and everyone God has made…

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1.22)

“Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind… Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors…. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2.1, 2.13-15)

“The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him… This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did…. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 2.4-6, 4.7)


And so we have a great deal of guidance about how we are to Think, Talk, Witness and Walk, in order to be true reflections of the Saviour in a world that so desperately needs His rescue. From Jesus, from the Bible as a whole, and from Jesus’ closest friends and collaborators, we’re shown clearly how we are to be His witnesses, from our own ‘Jerusalem’ to every corner of the blogosphere.

If we imitate Jesus Christ as fully as we can in our speaking and living, the only barrier we place before people as we speak about God’s Agenda, is the ‘stumbling block of the Gospel’, and our servant-hood towards everyone will provide many opportunities for souls to be saved and lives transformed. We may often suffer as He suffered and sometimes be hated as He is hated. But through it all, learning to humble ourselves like Him will enable us to go on being useful in the kingdom of God.

James and Peter even quote the same Proverb about the power of humility, and they emphasise humility just as Jesus did…

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”(Proverbs 3.34, James 4.6, 1 Peter 5.5)

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”(James 4.10 and 1 Peter 5.6)

Jesus said….

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

(Matthew 18.4 and Luke 14.11)

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Matthew 23.12 and Luke 18.14)


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