When we think of the word, “Christian,” what comes to mind? How do we define this word in our minds? Most people think a Christian is someone who “goes to church” or has been baptized or tries to follow the teachings of the Bible. But I would like to suggest that most of us don’t have a full understanding of the word “Christian” because we don’t understand the root word, “Christ.”Continue Reading...
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Recently, over 40,000 people answered this poll question, “If Jesus suddenly came back to earth today, would He approve or disapprove of modern Christianity?” It might surprise you to know 87% of Americans answered that Jesus would disapprove of modern Christianity. This brings a few questions to my mind.Continue Reading...
If someone asked you, “Why are you a Christian?” how would you respond? Would you say you’re a Christian because you’ve never considered anything else? Would you say you’re a Christian because your parents were Christians? In no particular order, here are seven of my reasons:Continue Reading...
There are certainly thousands of things a Christian should never be, so this is far from an exhaustive list. But here are 7 things, from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18, a Christian should never be.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-16
(14) And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (15) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (16) Rejoice always, (17) pray without ceasing, (18) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1. A Christian Should Never be Idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Idle is defined as, “Not working or active…doing nothing.” This doesn’t mean we can never stop working momentarily and rest; but like our Lord, we need to constantly be about our Father’s business.
2. A Christian Should Never be a Discouraging (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Christians ought to be people who build up; never tear down. Paul says in Ephesians 4:29 that every word that comes from our mouth should be good for building up. Even when we have to admonish someone, it should be done in an encouraging way.
3. A Christian Should Never be too Busy to Help Others (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
If you are too busy with your own life to “help the weak,” you’re too busy (Galatians 6:10).
4. A Christian Should Never be Impatient (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Patience is indicative of love (1 Corinthians 13:4) and walking “by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-23). Therefore, no Christian should be comfortable being characterized as impatient.
5. A Christian Should Never be Vengeful (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
Pretty straight forward, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
6. A Christian Should Never be Without Joy (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
In spite of any circumstance, we can rejoice because we know that we are on our way home! And everything that happens between now and then can only make us stronger. James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
7. A Christian Should Never be Ungrateful (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
Praying without ceasing and giving thanks in every circumstance is, “the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If we realize we are saved by grace through faith, and that salvation “is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8), we ought not let a moment go by where we could be characterized as “ungrateful.” Christians should be the very personification of gratitude!
Although these are 7 things that we ought never to be, I know that I have been each of them. We are all working at becoming more and more what we should be and less what we should not be. I am thankful to be striving with you, and I’m extremely thankful for the grace of God through which I’ve been saved!
I love you and God loves you,
P.S. What other things can you think of that a Christian should never be? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Too often, technology gets a bad rap with many Christians. Unquestioningly, there are many temptations associated with technology. But technology is simply a tool. And like any tool, it can be used for good or for evil. Here are some of the ways I use technology to to learn, grow, and strengthen my faith…
Christian Tech Tips:
1. Podcasts – I absolutely love listening to podcasts. I find it to be a much better use of my time than simply listening to music on the radio. Some of the podcasts I listen to are from New Testament Christians, others are just encouraging leaders.
Although, I used to simply download podcasts from iTunes, I now use an app on my iPhone called Downcast. To me, it is well worth the $1.99. It downloads all of my podcasts when they’re published. Here are a few of the encouraging podcasts to which I subscribe:
- Chris Gallagher’s “Preacher’s Pen Podcast“
- Several shows from the Equip Network (my favorite is probably “Ministry Geek This Week“)
- “In the Loop with Andy Andrews“
- Michael Hyatt’s “This is Your Life“
2. Social Networking – I have used facebook for several years, and have just recently started to get into twitter. I find these social networks to be enormously encouraging. Of course, your experience with these tools will depend on the people with whom you connect and how you use them. Here are some suggestions:
- Follow people who encourage and strengthen you. You can decide who to follow on twitter and with whom to be friends on facebook. Choose wisely.
- Use it to be encouraged, but also to encourage others. Post positive things that will help, both your Christian and non-Christian, friends, family, and followers.
- If people are posting worldly or discouraging content, unsubscribe from them. On facebook, you don’t even have to stop being friends to unsubscribe from their updates. Simply go to the person’s profile page, hover over the “friends” button, then deselect “show in news feed” on the drop down menu. This way, they still see your encouraging updates, but you don’t have to see theirs.
- Limit your time on these sites. They can be fun, they can be encouraging, but they can also be a waste of time. Decide how much time you’ll spend on these sites and discipline yourself. If you need a little help, there is a cool plugin for the Google Chrome browser called “Stay Focused.” It will let you set how much time you want to spend on particular sites, then it will block those sites once that time has been exhausted.
3. Blogs – There are several blogs I follow regularly and love to read. I used to depend on seeing a link to a new blog post on twitter or facebook; now I use google reader to let me know when a new post has been published. These are links to blog feeds, if you start a google reader account, you can copy and paste the feed URL into the subscribe box and you’ll be able to read them all in one convenient place. These are just a sampling of the blog feeds to which I subscribe:
- Baptism365 – News about those baptized into Christ, throughout the world.
- Christian Courier – Wayne Jackson’s site.
- Daniel Howell – Great ministry tech advice.
- Forthright Magazine – Some great articles on various biblical topics.
- Sam’s Noggin – If you homeschool, you should definitely be aware of this great blog!
- Colley House – Fantastic posts about faith and family.
- Faughn Family of Four – Great posts from Adam Faughn.
- The Morning Drive – Love Scott’s Monday posts about marriage!
These are just a few of the ways I use technology tools to grow in my faith. Feel free to share some of your thoughts, tips, and advice in the comments section below.
I love you and the God who made all this technology possible loves you,
I think one of the biggest problems we have today, and I am as guilty of it as anyone, is that we study our Bible wrong. We approach the Bible with the wrong questions, therefore we leave with the wrong answers.
The Right Bible Study Questions:
If we are going to get more out of our Bible study we must ask better questions. Here are some of the questions we need to be asking ourselves when we open His book.
1. Ask, “What am I doing wrong?” Unfortunately, most of us look to the Bible for comfort, and not correction. It isn’t easy looking for sin in our lives, but that is one of the major purposes of studying God’s word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Instead of looking for proof that we are right, let’s start looking to see if we are wrong. Instead of looking at Scripture and finding everyone else’s sins, let’s start looking for our own.
2. Ask, “What am I not doing that I need to be doing?” Sin isn’t just about doing things that are wrong; it is also about not doing things that are right (James 4:17). We will never improve our service to God unless we look to God’s word to find out how we should improve. We are great at finding passages that prove what other people ought to be doing. Instead, let’s start finding the passages that tell us what we ought to be doing.
3. Ask, “What is wrong with what I believe?” Sometimes I think I’m a whole lot like Saul of Tarsus; I need to be hit upside the head, before I will change the way I think. Don’t be that way. Always be seeking a better understanding of God and His will. Never assume that you have it all figured out. Stop looking to Scripture to prove that what you already believe is right; look to find out how you might be wrong.
Remember, the only way to get better answers is to ask better questions.
I love you and the God of the Bible loves you,
It was early October 2011 and I had just had the greatest weekend ever. I had picked up fiancé, Sierra and we made the hour and a half drive to Cape Girardeau. We pulled into the parking lot of the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus and while overlooking the mighty Mississippi River I asked the love of my life to be my wife. Things could not get any better…then reality hit.
I had been working in the finance industry for a few months and was sitting in my office on a Thursday morning, and I was asked to do something that I just couldn’t reconcile with my convictions. I wish I could say that it was easy for me to hop up and say, “I can’t do this! I’m done!” But it wasn’t, and I didn’t. I went home and I was so afraid and confused. I went back the next day and informed my boss that I just couldn’t do it anymore, and he fortunately understood.
The whole event really sent me into a deep soul-search. I was blessed to have grown up in a solid, Christian home. Right and wrong were never blurry, so why was I so rattled, so upset? Undoubtedly everyone feels this way at one time or another. Sometimes we forget that “Christian” is synonymous with “Courage,” and that God created us and intended for us to be courageous.
Revelation 21:8 reads, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murders, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” [ESV]
Topping the list of what the world would say are really bad sins we find “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable.” In the original Koine Greek cowardly means roughly the same thing as unbelieving. The way the passage is written and put together “cowardly,” “faithless,” and “detestable” are linked together.
When I was in Kindergarten I ended up on the business end of a see-saw. I was wearing my favorite t-shirt; it was white and had all of the “Power Rangers” on the front. When I glanced down what was once white was crimson. I was rushed to the local hospital; my father was holding me in his arms. It was then that I knew everything was going to be okay. My dad is a big man, and I felt so safe in his arms. If I feel safe, protected, and at ease with my earthly dad, what about my heavenly Father?
The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” [ESV] We find undeniable comfort in knowing that our God cares so much for us, he loves us and is willing and able to do what is best for us.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” Psalm 27:1
[box] Special thanks to Daniel Dalp for today’s guest post. You can read some of his other other great posts on his blog, “Common Sense and Providence.” Also, make sure you follow Daniel on Twitter @D_Dalp.[/box]
If you’ve ever listened to an old vinyl record, for those of you who haven’t, the same concept applies to CD’s, you know what happens when there is a scratch. You’ll get to a certain point on a track and all the sudden it repeats. Again, and again, and again. It’s SO frustrating when it happens on a particular song that you listen to frequently. No matter how many times you reset the record, or wipe off the CD, every time you get to that scratch the error repeats.
Something I struggle with frequently is what I call “Broken Record Syndrome”. One of the easiest ways to diagnose this condition is through examination of your prayer life. If you notice any of the following are present in your life you might have a very big problem:
- Asking for forgiveness and promising to do better– only to continue living in sin
- Your prayers become repetitive-from day-to-day, you find yourself asking for forgiveness of the same sins
- You begin to form a calloused heart- sins no longer cause you to feel sorrow or shame, you don’t care
- A consistently inconsistent walk– frequently switching from the straight and narrow to the wide and broad
- You begin to blame others– blaming God for not helping you enough with sin, without taking initiative yourself.
Notice how these symptoms all involve that “broken record” mentality. BUT don’t give up hope; instead consult with the Great Physician! He will be able to do the following:
- Provide you with a way of escape
- Supply you with a caring church family to fall on
- Listen to your prayers, and answer them
- Point you in the right direction
- Prescribe a healthy dose of His Word to give hope, direction, and growth
- OFFER FORGIVENESS!
Remember, when your life and prayers become like a broken record, don’t give up hope, turn to Christ. But, keep in mind that He can only change you if you go to Him. A doctor can’t help a patient unless they seek treatment and follow the doctor’s orders. Obedience. Without it, treatment is impossible.
“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Just a thought,
The greatest truth is this, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The Son of God wrapped Himself in human flesh, suffered, bled, and died that man might be reconciled to the Father through Him. He conquered death through His resurrection, and gave man the hope of eternal life. It is truly Good News!
But how does one receive the salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus? There is too much confusion over this all important subject. So, try and forget all you’ve ever heard about how to be saved, and just listen to the Word of God:
1. Sin is the Reason Salvation is Needed – We have all committed sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is literally “missing the mark” that God has set for us. We weren’t born with sins (Ezekiel 18:20), we chose to sin. And the sin we chose to do separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The consequences of sin is death (Romans 6:23); it is what each of us deserves. We deserve to die and spend eternity in hell, separated from God. That’s the bad news.
2. Man is Saved by Grace – Man is incapable of saving himself. Since man’s problem is sin, he must be saved from his sin problem. He must be forgiven of his sins. The bottom line is this, you cannot do anything to deserve the forgiveness of sins. You cannot merit your salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that good works don’t earn salvation. You could do a million good things for others and for God, and those good works would never wash away sin. Only the blood of Jesus can wash away sins (Hebrews 9:22). That’s why salvation is by grace. Salvation is something you are given in spite of what you deserve.
3. Man is Saved through Faith – Ephesians 2:8-9 says that man is saved “by grace through faith.” We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that “without faith it is impossible to please [God].” God is spiritual, invisible, and unseen (John 4:24; Colossians 1:15). Therefore, since you cannot see God, faith is defined as being sure and convicted of things you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). God, and the salvation He offers, is unseen. You must have faith that He is real and salvation is real. Receiving the salvation of God is not a matter of seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling something. It is received “through faith.”
4. Faith Includes Belief – At the core of faith is a belief that God is who He says He is (Hebrews 11:6). Real faith believes that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and is present everywhere, because that is what Scripture says about Him. Real faith believes that Jesus is God’s Son, because that is what Scripture says about Him (Acts 8:37). Real faith believes Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), because that is what Scripture says about Him.
5. Faith Includes Trust – Belief is not the full extent of faith. After all, even the demons believe God is who He says He is (James 2:19). Faith also includes a profound trust in God. In order to receive salvation man must trust that God will do what He says He will do. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, multiple examples are given of men and women who were saved from peril when they trusted in God to keep His promises. Man cannot be saved from his sins if he does not trust God to forgive him.
6. Faith Includes Obedience – This is where some misunderstand “faith” and “grace.” Receiving grace through faith does not mean that obedience isn’t necessary. In fact, James says that without obedience, there really is no faith (James 2). As you read through the examples of faith in Hebrews 11, you will find they all obeyed whatever God told them to do in order to be saved. “By faith Noah…in reverent fear constructed an ark” (Hebrews 11:7). Therefore, if man is to receive God’s gift of salvation by faith, he must do whatever he is told to do to receive it.
Here is what God tells man to do to receive salvation:
- Hear the Gospel – Since man is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and faith comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), the first thing man must do is really listen to the Good News about Jesus Christ!
- Believe – Believing God, as already discussed is a part of having faith. In fact, it is called a “work” by Jesus (John 6:29). Man must be obedient to God by believing Him.
- Repent – Sin was the problem that God man into the situation where he need saving. In order to receive grace, man must die to sin (Romans 6:1-7). Repentance is about changing your mind, your heart, and your life from sin and turning fully toward God.
- Confess – Scripture says that man’s faith in Him must be so great that he is willing to confess that faith, even if it were to cost him his life (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10).
- Be Baptized – Baptism is not something that a Christian does in order to be obedient. Baptism is something a sinner does to become a Christian. We are told that it’s at the moment of baptism a person’s sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-7; Acts 22:16), his sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38), he is clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-28), he is saved (1 Peter 3:21), he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and he is added to the church (Acts 2:47).
Do not think that if you believe, trust, and obey what God has told you to do that you have some how earned your salvation and forgiveness. Again, man does not earn salvation, he receives it when he trusts and submits to God. Please, I beg you, take the time to search Scripture and see if these things are true (Acts 17:11). I want to leave you with one last verse:
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
I love you and the God who gives salvation loves you,
I’ve been thinking a lot about this well-known passage, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Particularly the phrase, “against such things there is no law.” What a beautiful thought! “There is no law.” There’s not a man-made law or a God-made law against these qualities. There are lots of things which God has prohibited or on which He has put limits. But on these things, there is no limit. There is no restriction. There are no boundaries! What a beautiful, beautiful concept!
1. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too loving. Don’t get angry with Christians who talk too much about, “LOVE.” There is no restrictions on love. There is no law against love. The love of Christians is to run deep and wide! There is no limit on who we can love, or the amount of love we can give and show to them. Love, as defined by God’s word (1 Corinthians 13), should be personified by every child of God!
2. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too joyful. Don’t be annoyed by those who are excited, passionate, and joyful! Don’t roll your eyes at those who are whistling a tune on Monday mornings! That’s the way we should all be! Don’t try to rain on their parade; there is no law against joy!
3. There is no such thing as a Christian who knows or makes too much peace. War is never a good thing. Sometimes it is necessary, but it is never good! God never intended for there to be wars, death, and destruction. Never glory in war. Don’t delight in the destruction of your enemies. Even when war is necessary, it should be heart wrenching. Christians are to be people of peace; people who promote peace and make peace! There is no such thing as a Christian who is too peaceful!
4. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too patient. First, realize that there is a difference between patience and tolerance. But, a Christian parent cannot be TOO patient. A Christian spouse cannot be TOO patient. A Christian cannot be TOO patient as he waits in line! A Christian cannot be TOO patient as he drives his car. Remember this the next time your patience is being tested! Don’t lose your patience, strive for more!
5. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too kind. You can never be too nice to people. You can never have your words be seasoned with too much grace. You can never be too sweet in the way you deal with people who are rude to you. There is never a time when you’ve been too kind to someone.
6. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too good. The world thinks you can go overboard with being good. They think it is extreme to want to be good all the time. I just wish I was good all the time. Let’s all acknowledge the fact that there really is no such thing as being TOO good! Even Jesus, who was PERFECT, was not TOO good! He was what all of us should be!
7. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too faithful. Similarly, there is no such thing as being TOO faithful. You can’t have too much trust in God. You can’t believe God or believe in God too much. You can’t be too loyal or obedient to God. There is no such thing as taking your faithfulness to unhealthy extreme!
8. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too gentle. Remember this when dealing with others. You can’t be TOO gentle. You can be too rough and harsh, but you can never be too gentle!
9. There is no such thing as a Christian who is too self-controlled. I think it is interesting (and sad) that so many people seem to think indulgence is a Christian virtue; it’s not! Self-control is a Christian virtue. You can never be too self-controlled. It is a guarantee that God will not say to you on the Day of Judgement, “You know, you really should have let yourself go a little more. You shouldn’t have been so self-controlled.” People in the world might encourage you to have less self-control, but God never will! You can never take self-control to an unhealthy extreme!
You can take a lot of things to an unhealthy extreme. You can be too “radical” in some things. But against love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control there is NO law! So live it up; be as loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled as you can possibly be! Don’t worry, you can’t go overboard! Just something to think about!
I love you and a wonderful God loves you,