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What is a Christian?

How do I know if someone is a Christian or not?

Christians are not strange people.  They are not radical fundamentalist, as some would have you believe.  Christians are not someone who needs a crutch to stand on.  Nor are they mentally insecure.  Christians are just like any other people trying to navigate the pitfalls of this world.  They are like anyone else, trying to love their families and do right by their friends and neighbors.

The government and their manipulation by “radical lobbyist” have tried to place any Bible believing Christian in the closet of society.  To do so, they must show the evils of being a Christian and get the public to agree with them. It doesn’t matter if it is true or not, as long as people believe it.

They do this so they can make themselves look good in the eyes of others.  To elevate yourself in the eyes of the world, you can either ascribe to greatness yourself or you can put down all others around you.  That way, when you are the last man standing, you can be the king of the mountain.

Adolph Hitler understood this when he victimized the Jews, Gypsies, Communist, Homosexuals and unfit.  In putting them down in society, he gave the perception that the individual common German was greater than the others.  He effectively changed their class by changing their perceived position in regards to the classes and races he victimized.  This is how the world is making themselves great in their own eyes today.  They victimize the common Christian, putting him in an imaginary lower class of people so that others wake up one day and imagine that they have risen a few rungs on the ladder of success.

Despite their best efforts to change the class system, people are still people.  We all have the same desires, goals and characteristics because we were all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).  Yet, there are some very big differences between a Christian and a person of the world.  These differences are “big” because they are matters of life and death (Deut. 30:15).  Yes, I know that everyone dies, but just keep reading for once.  You can learn something.

Christians are saved.  I know that this phrase has been tossed around in so many ways, with so many negative connotations that you think you know all about it; But do you really?  From the Bible’s point of view, being “saved” means that true Christians are saved from going to hell.  Not because they have earned it, but because it is a gift given to them that they don’t deserve.  Someone stood in and paid for them so they don’t have to go to hell.  That person is Jesus Christ.  He paid for everyone so they don’t have to go to hell, but not everyone will be saved from that destiny.  Everyone who does not accept what Jesus did for them will go to hell and remain there forever.  This is what true Christians mean when they say they are saved.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Christians are sinners.  They do not claim to be sinless. They know that everyone has sinned and comes short of God’s glory.[/pullquote]

Christians are sinners.  Somehow the world has conditioned its lemming like followers that Christians claim to be sinless.  Even Christians are mixed up on this very point.  From time to time they will refer to the unsaved person of the world as “sinners”, while at the same time implying that they claim to be sinless.  Real Bible believing Christians know that everyone has sinned and come short of God’s glory, including themselves.  Christians are sinners.

Christians are the children of God.  Yes!  Everyone was created in the image of God, but when sin entered the human race, God’s image in man was removed.  People get all hung up on this point.  They say, “Do you mean that people like Charles Manson was created in the image of God?”  Or they go to the other extreme and say, “I can’t believe that God would send that young angel to hell.  What kind of God would do that?”  I have spent most of my ministry explaining this over and over again to people.  It truly must be a pressure point that the Devil can use to get people all tripped up.  Here we go again:  Man was originally created in the image of God: Body, Spirit and Soul.  When man sinned, his spirit lost Gods image.  Man retained his body and soul, but his spirit no longer reflected God’s spirit.  When you get saved, God returns His spirit to you.  You then become complete.  You do this by getting born again.  Your body and soul doesn’t get born again.  You get spiritually born.  Anyone who gets born again becomes saved.  Anyone!  Why?  Because of God’s forgiveness.  He doesn’t care what you think about it.  He is only interested what He thinks about it.  Because it is a spiritual thing, you can not determine a person’s sincerity.  Only God can do that.  Therefore, the greatest and most beautiful do gooder can go straight to hell if they are not spiritually born again.  Likewise, the most wicked vile person you have ever seen can go to heaven if they get spiritually born again.  God can do this because He is the creator and He has determined that salvation will be contingent upon being born again or not.  He can freely forgive anyone who gets born again.  Likewise, He can condemn anyone who does not.  Regarding how He makes this decision, He only cares about one thing, “Did you get born again or not?”

Anyone who gets born again, He calls them his children.  They refer to Him as Father.  He rejects all others and He is completely fair in doing so.

Christians go to church.  Although many people go to church for many reasons, Christians do so because they desire fellowship with God and His children.  Even though God walks with them everywhere they go because of His omnipresence, they like to go to church because He likes to go to church.  To a Christian, church is a small taste of what heaven will be like; even with all of it’s flaws, it is the closest thing they have to heaven down here on the earth.  Other people go to church to see what they can get out of it.  Christians go to church to see what they can put into it.  It gives them an opportunity to love others in a loving and safe environment.  Christians don’t have to go to church, they get to go to church.

Christians tell people about Jesus.  Face it.  If it were not for Christians, nobody in the world today would know about Jesus at all.  If it weren’t for Christians there would be nothing for Atheist to worry about.  Oh, God would still be here, but nobody would know about Him at all.  But, is that the reason Christians tell people about Jesus; to make Him famous?  No!  Christians tell people about Jesus because they are excited about Him.  They appreciate what He has done for them; and the love that they have experienced through Him.  They want to share that wonderfully liberating experience with their friends, family and others.  They so appreciate Him that they can hardly contain themselves from telling others.  Look at it like this: If you were to win the lottery, wouldn’t you want to share that news with those closest and dearest to you?  Be true to yourself now.  Of course you would.  Well, Christians have something far better than the lottery.  They have eternal life based upon the promise of God.

Christians read the Bible.  The rest of the world doesn’t read the Bible, but Christians do.  Real Christians want to get their nose into that book and learn what it says.  They are curious about God and what He has done.  They want to know more about this love that they now have, and the person with whom it originates.

Christians are just common people with all of the same problems and struggles as everyone else.  They are not perfect, nor are they sinless.  But they do have hope.  It is a hope that allows them to take the journey of life with a much different attitude from the rest of the world.  The next time you encounter a Christian, don’t be so quick to judge them and label them as hate mongers, for in so doing, you become guilty of that which you accuse them as being.

Learn about Jesus.  You just might realize you were missing something you didn’t even know existed.

How does a Christian grow?

People who are truly saved have a desire to learn more about God.  They are drawn to anything that will teach them about the wonderful savior who died for them.  They have a desire to grow as a Christian, but how do they do that when they are surrounded by a world of sin?  How do they find light when they are engulfed in a world of darkness?

I have thought about this many times. It doesn’t seem as though any one will grow if they are not related to or surrounded by the Lord Jesus Christ. The light of Christ dwells in every true Christian, but every Christian does not know this.  Or, they know it, but do not reckon it to be true.  They live like Christ is only present when they are in church, reading their Bible, praying or when they are talking to the preacher.  To navigate this world of darkness, we need the light of Christ.  Since Christ lives in us, we all possess the light of Christ, but how do we make it work for us?

I know that it is a very big step to take but the short answer is you must surround yourself, you must saturate yourself with God’s people, God’s music, God’s television shows, God’s books, God’s paintings and God’s word. Douse yourself, emerge yourself in God. If you do it will have an effect on you life. You will grow as a Christian.  When you go out into the world, you will know how to invoke the light that lives in you.

As a pastor I am often asked, “How do I live as a Christian?  I keep failing. I don’t know how to take the things I learned and use them successfully. How do I keep my mind on Christ?”  I too had this question when I was just a new Christian.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Learn to surround yourself with Christian things.  Get rid of all things you know Christ would not like.[/pullquote]

I learned to surround myself with Christian things.  This first involved taking down all NON-Christian things.  I got rid of all things that I had that I knew Christ would not like.  For me, this involved cleaning out my liquor cabinet, flushing all of the recreational drugs and throwing away all related paraphernalia.  I burned all my bad magazines, broke all 300 of my records and threw away all clothing that had disrespectful messages and pictures. it was like a spring cleaning.  I rid myself of any worldly distractions.  It was like cleaning the slate of  my life so there was room to add the new things I so desperately needed.

After this I started reading my Bible every day. I didn’t always understand it, but I read it anyway. Then I began going to church. Here I didn’t understand everything either, but I always asked questions.  The pastor was always happy to give me an answer.  I bought Christian music, posters and books.  I put them all over my apartment.  Everywhere you turned you could see God.  I hung out with the people I met at church and it didn’t take long to see that they were not prudes like I initially thought them to be.  If it had God in it, I was involved.

This filled my mind with thoughts about God which effectively pushed out thoughts of the world.  It was “out with the old and in with the new.”  If you are going to get rid of the old man, you must replace it with the new man.  The Bible refers to this as a purging process (1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 1:9).  People don’t get this though.  They think that when they become a Christian, they can just start leading a new life.  So, they neglect the old life.  As hard as they try to live the new Christian life, the old life keeps showing through.  They have neglected to purge out the old ways to make room for the new ways.  This is essential if they are going to be successful at leading a victorious Christian life.

Christians can never grow if they do not address getting some of their old ways removed from their life.  There will never be room for the new life to take hold if they are not willing to allow the old to be “pushed out” (purged).

In summary, the way to grow as a Christian is to allow the old to be pushed out by the new.  Get rid of the things that draw you away, or distract you from God.  Then surround yourself with the things that you want in your life.  Then the purging process will successfully accomplish what it is intended to do.


Present Day Slave

I was once a slave.

I was once a slave.  Not in the sense that I was owned by any human master, but in the sense that I was a slave to vices that submitted to. The common masters of the human soul today are sex, drugs and booze. These things all draw you back to them.  When we cling to them, they gain control bit by bit.  Little by little they own us until we are completely taken in by their powerful draw.  Then, the chains of addiction bind us until we cease to have any choice in how we live. We are hooked. We are owned.

In the USA where slavery was once an issue that divided the nation, it is no wonder we are sensitive to the word. Yet, we do not think it slavery to be enslaved by terrible, and deceitful vices? People have sold themselves into bondage for a little good feeling today.  In doing so, they disregard any thoughts for the future.  They would rather feel good for the moment at the expense of others future.  Listen to the story of the present day slave and his liberation…

When I was on the auction block, naked and in chains, my thoughts ran wildly from anger to fear to humility and back again.  Angered because selling one human being to another was wrong.  But it was really no different than selling myself to a life enslaved to wicked vices.  Fear because I was totally exposed to everyone.  Being naked, there was nothing to hide behind.  Humbled because there was nothing I could do to change anything.  I was the lowest of all human beings; being bid on by the various slave owners looking for “new stock” to work their fields and breed their females.

I was poked, prodded and examined.  Fingers picked through my hair and my mouth was pried open to expose my teeth for inspection.  Finally it came time for the bidding to begin.  I dreaded this, but my fears soared when no one bid on me.  The auctioneer kept trying to persuade people to bid on me, but no one did.  Amidst all of my shame, the worst, and most humiliating thing I had ever experienced was when I came to realize that I was unwanted by anyone.  Didn’t I have any worth to anyone?  Surely I was valuable for something.  If no one bought me, what would be my end?  Would I be put out to pasture?

The thoughts were interrupted when, when to the surprise of all present, I heard a voice say, “I’ll take him.”  It was crowded, but when I looked in the direction of the sound of the voice, I saw a common man making the only bid for me.  Encouraged by the bid for me, the auctioneer was renewed with enthusiasm to increase the bid and get more people involved.  It was to no avail.  No one else wanted me.  The auctioneer had worked himself up into a sweat, but no one would make a bid for me.

“He’s yours,” the auctioneer told the man.

“Take off his chains. You can have them.  I won’t need them.”

“He might be wild and attack you.  You never can tell with these kind of people.”

I had never remembered a time in my life when I didn’t wear chains.  It was strange and liberating.  The weight of the chains literally lifted from me.  I wondered why I had been treated this way.  What was the catch?  Surely nothing good was going to come from this.  “Come with me,” my new master told me.  I got down off the block and followed the customary 3 steps behind him.  I didn’t mind being totally naked because it meant the chains I wore all of my life were gratefully gone.

We arrived at the bath house where my master told them he wanted me cleaned proper.  That meant he wanted my beard trimmed, hair cut, nails and feet cleaned and scrubbed.  I had never been cleaned this way before.  As I wondered at the four people working on me, I realized that, in fact, I had never even been clean before.  It was fresh and new.  I knew then that I wanted to stay clean forever.  “Please follow me,” my master asked more than demanded.

Out into the street once again this time brought a tingling of envy on my part.  I knew I was naked, but I was clean.  The chains were gone and I was clean.  Into the clothing store he led me where he told the clerk, “Put on him the best suit of clothes you have in the house.  Money is no object.  I want him to have the best.”

I was being measured and prodded.  Pins and needles and markers were all about me.  Finally they brought out the clothes they had made for me.  I had never had clothes like this before.  The silk ran softly across my clean cool skin.  There were no restrictions in movement anywhere.  The best thing was—the color was blue.

I appreciated the coincidence of making my first new suit of clothing out of my favorite color–blue.  This very thought was overwhelming as I had began the day as a slave, the lowest of low, being sold on an auction block where, nobody wanted me.  I was totally worthless.  Now I was standing on the street, unshackled, clean with a new suit of clothes made in my very favorite color.

All of this was new to me. I still could not comprehend it.  There was a tint of joy mixed with cautious apprehension as my appreciation for my owner grew.

“Have you eaten today?” he asked.  I had not, but I hesitated to tell him so.  He had already done so much for me and I didn’t deserve any of it.  How could I take him for granted? “Come on, you can tell me if you’ve eaten or not.” he coaxed.

As was the custom of slaves, I dare not look him in the eyes.  I safely stared at the ground when he addressed me.  I stammered, not knowing how to answer him.  His rugged hands touched me under the chin and raised my head up.  “You can look me in the eyes.”

Looking in his eyes, I could see something that I had not seen since I was a child.  I first saw it from my mother.  It was the look of deep compassion coupled with sincere concern.  It was the look of someone who cared about me as a person and not an object.  It enveloped a kind of friendship, but I could not accept that my master could ever be my friend.  Those eyes looked deep into my soul in such a way that I knew everything about me was revealed.  It was as if my whole life was laid out before Him there on that street.

My life did not have much true joy in it.  It was filled with pain and suffering; things that I did not want to share with anyone because I did not want to confront them again.  There were things that I put in a hidden compartment of my mind because the only thing I could do to overcome them was to bury them deep into the compartment of distant memory.  His gaze seemed to open up all of those hidden compartments of my life and not only see the pain, but experience it himself.  I was not really sure, but I think I saw a tear well up in the corners of his eyes as he said, “come on, lets get you a meal.”

Off we went down the street.  Because he wanted to walk with me, it was impossible to walk three steps behind him.  The slower he went, the slower I went until he beckoned me to walk with him.  I was very uncomfortable with this because I knew people were looking at Him with disgust because of the way he treated me.  their comments were not nice.  They threw at him words that contained a terrible, hateful message.  These were the kind of words I was accustomed to hearing, but he did not deserve anything like this.  He was being punished for compassion and it made me feel defensive of him.  I did not know this new master very well, but at least I knew I was His, and I didn’t like what they were doing to him.

We arrived at the boarding house with a following.  The owners were not going to let me eat in the main dining hall because I was a slave.  After some deliberation, we went into the back room where slaves could eat.  He beckoned me to sit down, which I did.  Then the biggest surprise of all was that he sat down at the table with me.  The owners were trying to get him to go out into the main dining hall, but he would have none of it.  “I eat with my friend”, he said with a tone of finality.  “Master, you don’t have to do this,” I said.  “You’ve already done too much.  There is no need to embarrass yourself so.”

“It’s okay.  I want to be here with you.”

“Master, I promise I will wait for you.  I won’t run off.”

“I know you won’t.  But I want to eat with you.  I want to know you better.  What’ll you have?”

“Whatever you want for me to eat Master.  It’s not proper for me to choose for myself.”

“Waiter!  We’ll take two of the finest steaks you have.”

When the steaks came, I looked at it without knowing what to do.  He showed me how to use the knife and fork and cut it.  I had never been allowed to hold a knife before.  It was the first time I had ever held the cool steel in my hand.  No one had ever trusted me with a knife, especially one sharp enough to cut a steak. With a little difficulty I cut the meat and put it in my mouth.  The sensations were so active I could only think they were going to collapse in a type of fatigue.

Today was a day of firsts. I had never tasted meat like this before.  It was the best meal I had ever had.  I enjoyed it so much that I almost forgot who I was. When it was time to leave, I quickly remembered my place.  As we went outside in the streets, there were people waiting to persecute my master.  They didn’t like it that he ate with the slaves.  They thought it showed a wrong message.  They didn’t want to be held to His standards.  They wanted him to digress to their standards, but my master was courageous.  He stood up to them all and did the right thing.

Following him to the end of the street, the crowd thinned.  this is where it happened.  At the end of the street, he turned to me and told me something I will never forget.  He said, “I bought you so you will never have to be in bondage again.  You are free to do as you please.  Here are your papers.  I love you and I am sorry that you ever had to be in bondage in the first place.”  I was stunned.  Was I hearing correctly?  Was I being set free?  Did he really buy me, clean me, clothe me and feed me to set me free?  I had long since lost hope of ever being free.  It was so far out of reach that I had even refused to think about it.  Now I was being set free by a master who loved me.  I didn’t really know him, and now he was setting me free.

I hardly realized he was shaking my hand in a gesture of departure.  I was trying to come to grips with my thoughts.  By the time I came to myself, he had already turned and was walking away.  Again I didn’t know what to do.  I had no where to go.  If I went back to the world, I would certainly be put in bondage again.  I knew I didn’t want that, but what could I do?  I had never been faced with making so many choices. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever.  “Whatcha gonna do boy?”, a burly man watching with amusement asked.  I was being pushed.  People were beginning to surround me.  It didn’t take long for the world to catch up to me and press in.  They were mocking, pushing and demeaning.  There was nothing I could do about it.  Hands were tearing at my new set of clothing.  They wanted it for themselves.  They wanted me to return to my hopeless, naked, enslaved position.

It came to mind suddenly.  When I had no thought of what to do, I wanted to cry out for my master, but he had gone on.  If I really wanted him to be my master, why had I not followed him?  I was so infatuated with my freedom, that I forgot Him.  Pushing through the crowd, I went after Him. After a short time, I caught up with him.  I had never wanted someone to be my master before.  I had always despised those who were proud of the title.  But this time was different.  I knew I wanted him to be my master.  “Master,” I cried.  He turned to wait for me.  “Can I come with you?”, I asked.

“You don’t need to.  You’re free now.”

“I know.  You gave me my papers.”

“You can go anywhere you want to go.”

“I know, but can I follow you?  If it’s okay with you, can I be your slave?”

“I didn’t buy you because I wanted a slave.  I bought you because I care.”

“I know that now.  But I want to be your slave.  I want to follow you.  I want you to be my master.”

This is the attitude that a sinner who has been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ should have.  There should be a deep desire for devotion to their master.  Under grace, He has put no requirements on the sinner.  The Lord bought us, cleaned us, fed us and clothed us; then He set us free.  We are free to do as we wish.  We can run off back to the world; we can follow selfish ambitions; or we can follow the master, not because He demands us to do so, but because we appreciate what He did for us.

Many Christians today have it all wrong.  They approach a relationship with Jesus because they are looking for what He can do for them.  Like those who demanded food from Jesus were disappointed when He would not give it to them (John 6:34-66), Christians today fall away when God doesn’t do exactly what they want.  They are the master of the relationship instead of allowing Jesus to be the master.  Yes, they may speak like He is the master, but their actions show a much different thing.  They go to certain churches because they are looking for a certain: children’s program, support group, bible study, activities for the family, marriage counseling, etc.  They are what is commonly know as “church shoppers.”  They are looking for the perfect place where God can give them what they demand of Him.  God may not ever give them what they want because it goes contrary to what He wants.  He wants them to freely follow HIM!

Confused Christians have their masters.  If they are not the vices of the day, they are the programs a church can offer.  It is not the Creator.  If He was their master, they would be willing to forego the programs and sit under good Godly preaching that would help them.  Preaching that would show them where they are right as well as show them where they are wrong.  They would not let personalities in the church dictate their attendance.  They would not care if someone said something bad about them or not.  They would only care about following the Saviour who rightfully bought them, cleaned them up, clothed them, fed them and set them free.  They would give up their freedom for a devoted life of following Him no matter how difficult it would be.

I would that every Christian reading this article would be able to say, “I am glad to be His happy slave.”  Why?  Because He doesn’t demand it.~



Bible Comparison

Bible ComparisonIn today’s world, when a person turns to God’s word, it is important that they find it.  The Devil is a master deceiver.  He can make you feel as though you are absolutely at peace being wrong.  He can’t change dirt into ice cream, but he can make you think you are eating the most delicious ice cream when all the time you are eating dirt.  Likewise, he can do the same with the Bible.  He can make you think, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you have the right words of God when all the time you have a counterfeit.  Martin Luther discovered this a long time ago and he was eventually killed for speaking out about it.

Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

I trust as you look on the Bible Comparison charts included, that you will get some semblance of the deception that Satan has put in place as a policy to cause God’s people to become weak and anemic.  I hope these will open your eyes.