Are you really a Christian?

wallpaper-of-sunset-crater-volcanoMany young men have had girlfriends. All too often, being self centered and goal oriented with the goal being getting in the bed, they act through the motions of caring just long enough for intimacy, after which they only call on the “girlfriend” when the desire for intimacy arises. Sometimes this leads to a relationship but most of the times it has very little roots in love and the brief moments of intimacy cannot pull the weight of a lasting relationship and this connection is severed.

Many people have had girl/boy-friends that start out merely as friends, after enjoying the company of each other they date and get to know one another, they are compatible and grow into a healthy relationship and fall in love. The “logical” next step is marriage. After being married a while, the honeymoon fades and life’s distractions begin to ping away on the marriage. Children come into the picture, the corvette is traded for a mini van, the money once used to travel is now used pay for insurance and a house…ping, ping, ping…the divots become craters and soon the marriage starts to fade. The couple pays more attention to life than to each other and all too often the decay creeps in and the next “logical” step is divorce.

Some people after being married grow into a relationship and bond to each other. The two become one. Life pings problems but the top priority is each other. children come into the picture and they share in the responsibilities, enjoy the years that pass and are thankful. The bills stack up and the responsibilities grow and the corvette just isn’t really that big of a deal anymore. The trips they once took every year to Tahiti are traded in for a theme park every other year and that is fine. The intimacy has to be planned now and the spontaneity of it all seems a memory but that is okay, they have each other and embrace those moments in bliss and appreciation. Time passes and they are inseparable, they know each other, favorite foods, pet peeves…the simplest of things are important to each other. This is a “relationship”…the two become one.

We are made with a hole in us. deep inside there is a longing that yearns for something. Many of us put money or sex or acceptance in that hole but the hole remains. Some of us put a person there but the hole remains a hole. That hole was put there by God…for God. Some of us kinda sorta feel that and reach out to God only long enough for Him to stick a finger in the hole and we feel good for a moment and go back to putting that thing we think we need back in. Is this person a Christian? Some of us allow God to fill the hole but as time goes by we replace Him little by little with distractions until one day we wonder where God went. Is this being a Christian? Some of us allow God to fill the hole and are consumed by His presence, we nurture the relationship and prioritize God as the most important thing in our lives and He empowers us to overcome the distractions and thrive. Is this being a Christian?

Allow me to cut to the chase and directly ask you a few questions. Do you have a relationship with Christ? I am not saying you cannot be a Christian if you only heard a message once and said a prayer and then go through life struggling or keeping God in your pocket to pull out when you need him. I am not saying if you refuse to give up those distractions or sins that hold you down, you cannot be a Christian. Drug addict? Liar? Cheater? Homosexual? Self Centered? Murderer? Drunkard? Abuser? Porn addict? Whatever Sin etc… All these can be Christian, it is not for me nor any other human to say if another person is or is not a Christian. Ask yourself that, look inside. Can you have a relationship with someone if you never talk to them? Do you pray regularly? Can you have a relationship with someone if you don’t get to know them? Do you read the bible? Can a relationship last if you put that person last in everything? Is God more important to you than the person, money or thing? Are you a Christian?

The bible is our guide. All the trials, all the ups and the downs in this life can be a journey filled with joy and purpose. Even the bad things have a silver lining when God is at the helm and your trust and faith is in Him. It is not usually an overnight process but a life long exercise building faith, growing in the Lord and learning who He is through scripture and prayer with the Holy Spirit inside connecting you to God.

http://blog.htmlinc.com/lost-alone/

To clean the bugs off…pull over…

messyWhile traveling, I enjoy the beauty of nature and the sunrise/sunset through a windshield, it is almost blissful to me. The trip always starts with me being prepared: potty, gas, fluid check, tires, playlist, sweet tea and sunflower seeds…good to go. I’m driving along enjoying Third Day, sipping on a peace tea and taking in the amazing views. A few dozen miles in a bug hits the windshield, dodge a few tire chunks and I am making good time. I few hundred miles later the bugs are really adding up and I am running on fumes and the tea needs to find a new home. I find a safe looking place that has the cheapest gas and whoop in. Tires look fine, fluids should be fine, gas is full, bladder is empty and time to roll.

It is getting late now and the sun is setting. The glare is brightly beaming in my windshield and the bugs have made a permanent resting place with my glass. I can hardly see as I slouch down in my seat to find that opening between the dragon fly and pair of love bugs and I make the decision to push the washer fluid button on the column…instantly I am blind and driving 70 mph. I hold the button down and swish, swish, smear…a gallon later and the mess on my windshield is so bad I am now driving by braille.

The sun is now going to bed for the night and the cruise control is off because I can’t see and my seat has permanent grip marks in it now from the near accident I had trying to dodge the large truck tire in the middle of the road. My stomach is in knots, I’m stressed to the max, tunes are off and I just want to get where I am going and be done with this flipping trip…

windshieldThis day just as many other days started out great with a majestic view of the sunrise, and I appreciate and marvel at the beauty of nature but as the bugs pilled on the windshield and the stress set in, the beauty and majesty of the sunset was lost in the circumstances. I have been driving for almost 30 years and after all this time you would think I would have learned to simply pull over and clean the windshield but it seems I either forget or just don’t feel like it.

Life is similar in so many ways. One constant we all share is life is going to throw bugs on our windshield, problems are going to come and it is going to get messy. Some can’t take it and do the unthinkable, some turn to substances, some sex and some just sink into a shell of seclusion (this guy). During these messy times it is easy to get into trouble or fall into the pits along the way but another constant during these travels of life is the beauty and majesty we once appreciated is still there and never changing, what changes is us and how we view it through our windshield. The life cleaner is God but He never makes us pull over and use the power He gives freely via the Holy Spirit, instead He leaves that resource up to us to tap into and sadly most of us reserve it until we can’t see past the pain or trouble we wake up into. The bugs are coming and life is going to get messy, it is up to us to pull over and allow God to change our perspective. The trip goes so much smoother that way and instead of looking forward to it just being over we can appreciate the beauty on the way.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

“The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.” -Mere Christianity

Choosing the path is not enough

forkI have learned over the years through both personal experiences and study of scripture that God will allow us to go extended periods of time waiting on Him. It seems as if He is not there and that He does not answer our prayers. He gets us through the horrible pain we land in and we cling to Him and stay close to Him but over time it feels as if He fades away or He no longer cares even though we may be doing things correctly. I don’t believe this is to test our faith or see if we will abandon Him, He already knows that. It is to show US who we are and whether or not we will stay faithful or stray off the path. He gives us the the free will to choose our own path. Perhaps He wants us to know what He knows. I have also learned there is always a consequence for straying off the path or acting without God in our decisions. In the end, what God has planned will happen with or without us kicking or helping along the way.

In Genesis God promised Abram he would have a son and he would have countless heirs yet after many years as his wife Sarai grew old and barren they doubted God and Abram slept with Hagar to have a child and so Ishmael was born. Years later God fulfilled His promise and Abram and his wife had Isaac and Abram went on to be the father of the great nation of Israel but the consequence of his lack of faith was his son out of wedlock went on the be the father of the Muslim nation and the two are at war to this day and the world suffers from a single mans act of disobedience.  Abraham did learn to trust God no matter what as God told him to go and sacrifice his only son, he acted in faith and prepared to kill his only heir but God stopped him and provided an alternate sacrifice. I believe after this Abraham knew he had the faith to trust God and that was the turning point.

Years later the nation of Israel fell to slavery in Egypt where they were killed and punished by their task masters. God said He would deliver them to the promised land and Moses lead them to freedom and they praised God but while they wait in the desert they built false idols and wished they were once again slaves and forgot the pain of the past and what God did for them as they lost faith. In the end Israel did find the promised land but not until all those who fell off the path had died, even Moses did not make it.

I have read countless stories in the bible where God made a promise, the people fell off the path, pain ensued but in the end God fulfilled His promise. I have also experienced it first hand as God saved my son from deaths clutches and I praised him and the storm passed and I fell off the path to wake up lacking in faith and filled with pain. This path may be clear at the fork but when heading down either lane it is easy to find they are both connected along the way and the journey back and forth is a short one. So what is the answer? Clearly it is to have faith in God and follow Him without hesitation or doubt, realistically that is no easy or simple task a self help book or internet outline can help with. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit we all have as a resource but we must get ourselves out of the way and submit…did you cringe at that word? Humility and submissiveness are not words we like to use in our modern American lives but they are keys to freedom and a map to stay on the path to life. There are only two paths to chose from, that is well known but both paths are connected to each other on the journey, sometimes the hard part is sticking to just one. I’m on a side road right now, if you see me come say hello.

Know God, know peace…no God, no peace…

Truth is not relative but our lives are. The old saying: “Know God, know peace…no God, no peace” sums it up perfectly. I have found that when I seek God earnestly, I don’t desire indulgences such as food, sex or stuff. The result of the time spent with God makes it easy for me to lose weight and get healthy, stay away from pornography, save money and pay bills on time. When I slip away I find myself gaining weight, addicted to porn and always broke. Just being real… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10

Dr. Phil self help plan… nah! Getting closer to God.

There is no formula, self help plan or outline to achieve what you really want. What works for me may not work for you but one thing that will work for all of us is asking the Holy Spirit (if saved) to guide, grant wisdom and control our lives and then allow and submit to Him.

For me, the best way to be closer to God is to be broken. I am stubborn and foolish and when I need Him because of my pain I draw near and see Him. My walk is learning to obey and follow close when all is fine.

Just a few suggestions:

 

  • Daily scripture reading from a bible that is simple to understand (I like the NLT)
  • Being around other believers and acting on what you have learned is crucial.
  • Going to Church and if you don’t have a church, random acts of kindness are great.
  • As old as the saying is, ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do” and try and do that all through the day.
  • Pray! When you pray, don’t feel burdened and get tired or distracted… no one said it needs to be long. Just talk to God. I pray all day every day but in a simple sentence here and there. I don’t speak old English so my mind for sure is not going to try and recite it. It can be as simple as: What up God? I love you man! Thanks for this day! Time and a relationship with Him will carry your prayer and the bible tells us even when we don’t know what to pray the Holy Spirit will pray on our behalf.

Just don’t be disheartened and know that God loves and cares for you. You don’t have some spot you are supposed to be perfectly perched on and you won’t always have a fuzzy feeling. Before converting from atheism, I had no interest in God or getting close to Him. For me there came a time when I fell in Love with God for who He is and and not what He does. My desire went from looking for truth to blessings to the blesser. I will be in prayer that you get to know Him and His wonderful mercy and grace.