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It is Katy’s big day. She is getting married to James, the third of our five children. There is only one problem. James has asked Nick and Mike, his two older brothers, to be his best men. Nick has a certain reputation as a joker. Katy knows that when Nick got married he used something he calls the ‘Pants’ Challenge’ to determine who was the best of his two best men.

The Pants’ Challenge is an icebreaker that Nick uses in youth services at his church. It involves two pairs of oversized, old-fashioned men’s underpants. Two people must put on the underpants on top of their trousers, then compete to lower the underpants to the ankles and raise them fully as many times as possible in the space of one minute! The winner usually receives a chocolate bar as a prize. I was once forced to compete myself when speaking at one of Nick’s youth services. I still hold the record of ninety-two times down and up with the underpants! It is all about technique.

DSC06522 copyKnowing about the Pants’ Challenge gave Katy somewhat of a dilemma. What would Nick do if she banned it? She took a chance and told Nick that the Pant’s Challenge was absolutely out of the question. Nick’s reaction to the ban was for him and Michael to wear the underpants throughout their comedy act of a speech. Katy must have endured the speech wondering whether the forbidden challenge would take place!

When God created Adam and Eve and dropped them into a paradise called Eden He gave them one don’t. “Don’t eat the fruit of the apple tree.” But Satan, the great deceiver, found a way to get round what God had forbidden. He planted a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, and the temptation to taste the forbidden fruit proved too much for Eve, and also for Adam.

That first act of human disobedience in God’s garden resulted in humanity falling from grace. But our ever-forgiving God of grace found a way to bring grace back into creation through Jesus Christ. The sacrificial life and death of Jesus means that we are no longer presented with a list of instructions concerning things we are not allowed to do. Instead God stands with arms wide open inviting us to love Him, and of course to love others. Not only that, but God provides a Holy Helper, His Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit everything falls into place. We just have to accept His help.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV)

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NIV)