I've done a lot of thinking and heard a lot of wise words on this subject. No matter if you're looking for a Christian lesson plan for your Sunday school class, or if you're simply interested in how common Christmas symbols can be related to Jesus or Christianity, keep reading!
SANTA CLAUS = GOD/THE TRINITY
God can be related to the jolly man in red mainly due to his omnipresence, or his ability to be everywhere at once. In the popular song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the singer says "He sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."
CHRISTMAS TREE W/ LIGHTS= CROSS & LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Jesus is often referred to as the "Light of the World." Basically, He brings goodness in a world of bad and brings salvation to people of all creeds and races. He was placed on a tree, much like our Christmas lights. On the day of His death, Jesus shone bright, showing humility and strength and forgiveness. Those who are drawn to the cross are likely to use their God-given gifts for Jesus' glory, laying their talent at His feet.
CANDY CANE = THE GOSPEL NARRATIVE
POINSETTIAS = THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
SNOW = PURITY
I hope you enjoyed today's post. I know that Christianity isn't everyone's thing, but I only think it is right to spend this season talking about Jesus this way. I hope you will take some time to still enjoy my Sunday posts and pass them around to your friends!
Welcome to a new series all about Christ! For the next few Sundays, the blog posts will be Jesus-themed focusing on Christmas as the time of year where Christians observe Jesus' birthday.
In today's blog, I wanted to talk a bit about the religious origins of Christmas. Grab a snack, sit back, and prepare to learn more about the day we celebrate Jesus' birth.
EARLY RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS
Several centuries prior to Jesus' birth, the winter months were always used as a time of celebration to help lift the spirits around the darkest times of year. Dark meaning the opposite of light. However, you could also say that time of year was rather dark, as many cattle were slaughtered so that farmers wouldn't have to feed them in the winter.
Winter solstice was often celebrated as long days were finally over! Celebrations also happened in Norse communities where Dec. 21 marked the first day of Yule when it was customary for fathers and sons to gather logs to burn while they enjoyed a Winter solstice feast. This is where the Yule log's name came from.
Pagans paid respects to Oden, of whom they were terrified. The pagans believed that Oden would fly through the sky and watch them at night to decide their fate. Even though the winter was freezing, most pagans would say they were staying inside to escape Oden's watchful eye.
JESUS' INTRO TO WINTER CELEBRATIONS
Unsurprisingly, Christmas wasn't the most important holiday to early Christians. Instead, Christians focused their religious celebrations on Easter Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the grave after being crucified three days earlier.
No one is 100 percent sure as to why the date was chosen, but most scholars believe that Pope Julius I was trying to have the Christian holiday around the same time as pagan holidays and holidays of the non-religious in order to take over their traditions.
Christmas spread to Egypt by 432, then to England by the end of the 6th century, according to the History Channel. People around the world all the way to Scandinavia celebrated the holiday. Of course, the tradition came to America along with the pilgrims and other early settlers.
A MISDIRECTION IN PLANS
I apologize if this blog post seemed entirely too long, but I really enjoyed doing the research! I hope you learned something new. It seems that our modern-day Christmas combines a number of old traditions and Christmas traditions.
I hope you enjoyed and I hope you enjoy this educational series!
Photo Credit: YouTube
As I sit in a dim waiting room while my mom is getting a five-hour surgery, I can’t think of a better time to write this blog.
You have probably heard the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” It is a question many Christians are asked when beloved family members are strapped into hospital beds or when a helpless child diagnosed with leukemia seems to be slowly wasting away. Suffering.
I found myself asking God this question and tossing the question around in my subconscious in my quiet time.
MY MOM'S STORY
Only a few months later, she found out she had cancer and had to have a hysterectomy to remove it. As I sit writing this, she is currently in surgery to repair her foot, which has been in a boot for the past month or two.
Because of her stroke, and undoubtedly some other health conditions she suffers from, she ended up with Charcot’s foot, a condition that causes the bones in her foot to break. Her doctor took and x-ray and explained that her foot looked like a cracked, scrambled egg. My mom, an independent and strong woman, has been chained to her bed for the last several weeks, and will no doubt be stuck there for weeks to come as she recovers.
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
As you can imagine, I’ve hated to see my mom suffer through so much in only a few years. I can tell from our talks that she’d much rather be healthier and more financially independent, but she doesn’t have that option right now.
This got me to thinking on today’s topic. My mom, by societal standards, is a good person. She is supportive, loving, kind, charismatic, and understanding. So, why are bad things happening to her?
In many instances, some would blame God. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to who claim that, if God were real, he would deliver their loved ones out of the tribulation they’ve found themselves in. But I don’t see it that way.
of control to let us choose our own path. He did this because He wants us to love him, and love isn’t love if someone makes you feel it.
So, we have the ability to choose to live in our own will or in God’s will. Man historically has lived in its own will. That’s why crime rates have skyrocketed, the ice caps are melting, men are becoming lovers of their own selves, and well, you get the picture.
BEYOND FREE WILL
The enemy loves free will because it gives him the chance to enter his own metaphorical pony in the race. He does this to make us lose our faith in God. I believe that the moment you accept Christ as your savior, you are His for eternity. I don’t believe you can lose your salvation, because you are granted eternal life which is, according to its name, eternal.
But you can lose your zeal for God. This isn’t abnormal because, as humans, we feel that some burdens are just too heavy and we don’t understand why God would saddle us with them and seemingly not help us. This aides the enemy. You stop annoying your friends about how good God is, and you stop witnessing and living a God-filled life. You stop doing God’s work. That’s why it is important to remember that evil is the absence of good. When you aren’t doing good, you’re helping evil, and that can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes.
He doesn’t want you giving to the poor, praying for the sick, or, loving your enemies. That will only draw people closer to God. If you don’t believe in God, you will likely find yourself in the devil’s trap. The devil is a hunter. He sets a trap and leaves attractive bait. For some, the bait is fame, money, drugs, alcohol, or something else that makes the flesh feel good. But, for many, when the bait is taken, he can spring the trap and make life, quite frankly, a living hell.
Honestly, if nothing bad happens to you or your family, you are either highly favored or you should check up on your relationship with Jesus. As for me and my family, I know God is in control. He added extra strength and sass to the mixing bowl when he made my mama, and I know that with His help and the help of her friends and family, my mom will kick butt and conquer anything the enemy throws her way.
LEGAL: All photos are my own or taken from Pixabay, a creative commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.
I've heard this question time and time again from atheists and non-Chrisitians. They say "if God is real, why can't he step off of his cloud and come down and introduce himself?" Others may ask for more physical proof of his existence.
This reliance on physical evidence comes from the scientific belief that only the material is real. The belief is that only the thing that can be seen with the naked eye or with the help of special tools like microscopes. I always find this funny, because many who believe this claim to be atheists when they are clearly putting their faith in science and its (hopefully) infallibility.
EVIDENCE FOR GOD & JESUS OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE
Take a moment and think about the universe. We know from extensive scientific research that the universe is large and in it are many planets and systems. When you think about the Earth in particular, you know that its location and gravitational pull must stay in balance to maintain life as we know it.
THE UNIVERSE AND ITS LAWS
As I mentioned, the universe is immensely complex, so much so that it seems to operate on pre-defined laws such as the law of gravity and others. Without these, the world would be chaotic.
Cakes have bakers, shirts have tailors, and cars have designers. You wouldn't look at these things and think that they just came into being at once. Instead, you would believe that there was a beginning to these things. A baker took out a recipe, or a tailor or car creator sketched a design.
WRITINGS FROM NON-CHRISTIANS
Many people don't believe the bible, so it can be senseless to try to start out quoting it to them. However, the bible isn't the only set of writings that Jesus appears in. In fact, there is so much evidence of Jesus' existence that hardly no historian for the past several decades has contended that Jesus didn't really live. They do, however, question his divinity.
says that Jesus practiced magic and event confirms what we know from the bible: no one came forward for Jesus, and so he was sent to be hung on the cross.
EVIDENCE FOR GOD & JESUS IN THE BIBLE
SCIENCE FACTS IN THE BIBLE
Unbeknownst to many, the bible actually contains a number of scientific facts that we now hold to be true in modern society. Even back when the bible was first circulated, people held different beliefs based on what they thought they knew and the limitations of science. However, in modern years, we
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” -Isaiah 17:1
The above verse is a good example of a present day prophesy seemingly being fulfilled.
There are thousands more you can find just by searching for a list of fulfilled biblical prophecies. What's more interesting than this, however, is the probability of these things coming true without intervention from God.
If science and math are something you look to for answers, you will find that the probability of Jesus living, being born into the family he was born in, and more is very little, yet it all came true.
I am baffled that you can look at a chart like the one to the right and still say you don't have a shred of evidence that God is real and Christianity is the way to go.
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE DOESN'T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS
Our society has become increasingly scientific. Now more than ever, we look for physical evidence that something is true, and very rarely do we take anything to be fact without physical evidence.
But, the alarming thing about this is, even our justice system doesn't always rely on physical evidence.
One of my favorite books as of late is Cold Case Christianity. The book is by a former atheist who worked cold cases and decided to investigate Jesus and Christianity like he would a case in his department.
One of the things he writes that I will always remember is this: cold cases are largely solved rather accurately via testimony rather than physical evidence.
Physical evidence can be misleading, but if several people can help piece together a story,
the case can be solved rather easily and quickly. If you're an atheist struggling with faith, I recommend reading a book like this. You should be able to click the link in the photo credit to be taken to the page you can purchase the book on at Amazon.com.
This book is full of evidentiary information, even some that I covered in this blog. It also helps you to realize that you have to think fairly across the board and not be prejudice when it comes to thinking about faith and God.
I hope that, after reading this blog, some of your questions have been answered. It is true, at least from what I can see, that God has left us plenty of evidence for His existence. Everything from a perfectly balanced world to fulfilled prophecies about Jesus and the world.
I hope you will continue to investigate for yourself!
LEGAL: All photos are my own or taken from Pixabay, a creative commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.
Buddhism is one of the world’s largest religions, with more than 520 million followers around the globe.
So, I wanted to learn more about Buddhism and compare it to my religion: Christianity. What sets it apart? It is grounded in reality? Here is what I learned about what Buddhists believe.
HISTORY OF BUDDHISM
The faith was founded by Siddhartha Guatama Buddha. He was a man born into a royal Nepal family around 600 B.C. According to scholars, Buddha lived a luxurious lifestyle. He had parents who wished to protect him from the world, so he rarely encountered actual pain and suffering.
But that all changed when Buddha saw visions of a sick man, an old man, and a corpse. He had another vision, one of a peaceful monk. This changed his life, and he decided to give up his riches to pursue enlightenment.
WHAT BUDDHISTS BELIEVE
Buddhists believe in the “Four Noble Truths,” which include 1) Life is suffering, 2) Suffering is a consequence of desire, 3) Losing desires will help eliminate suffering, and 4) Desire can be eliminated through the “Eightfold Path.” The Eightfold Path consists of attitudes and actions that can help people rid themselves of their desires.
The elements of the Eightfold Path supposedly help the Buddhist reach Nirvana, which is described as a “transcendent” state where there is no suffering, desire, sense of self, and so on. It’s the final goal of Buddhism.
The Eightfold Path includes right views, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. It is believed that, should a Buddhist follow these principals, they will reach Nirvana.
It is also important to include that Buddhists share similar views to Hinduism. These views include reincarnation, or the belief that you are reborn as someone or something else after you die; karma, or the idea that good and evil actions will yield a certain consequence; meditation; temple worship; and Nirvana.
WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE
Christians believe that God sent His son, or a part of Himself, down to Earth in the flesh to grow up, teach and preach His word, die on a cross to cover the sins of the world, rise from the dead after conquering hell, and ascend back into Heaven after appearing to more than 500 people as the risen Christ.
Christians believe that Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh, and they believe that no amount of good that you do can get you to Heaven. It is God’s sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that makes Heaven a possibility for everyone.
Christians also believe that everyone is born into sin and the world is sinful. However, thanks to the free gift of salvation, God’s spirit can change you. Although you will still mess up and sin, God forgives those who are sincere.
Christians believe that, when they die, they will go to Heaven and God will judge those who did not know Jesus righteously. Those who lived apart from God will not go to Heaven, but will spend an eternity separate from Him.
CHRISTIANITY VS. BUDDHISM
From my experience of life, no one is good. Even people who donate to the poor or volunteer can be some of the most wicked people on the face of the Earth. I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that if we all stopped feeling desire, we would achieve enlightenment.
Overall, while I respect Buddha for some of his principals, I can’t be Buddhist because I know I’m not reliable; there must be a moral law giver to define “right views;” and, probably most importantly to me, there is no joy in Buddhism. It’s all about limiting and cutting off your joy so you can be enlightened. That doesn’t sound like the type of life God wants us to live.
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” - John 16:24
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
These are a few of the almost 200 mentions of joy in the Bible. Will you have joy? Expand the details at the bottom of this page to learn how you can accept Jesus as your personal savior! Thanks for reading and I hope this clarified a bit about each religion to help you on your journey. Those who seek God will find Him!
LEGAL: All photos are my own or taken from Pixabay, a creative commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.
*THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS NO HATE TO PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS MUSLIM, BUT ONLY COMPARES
If you aren't sure about what the Christian faith is exactly, I want to give a brief summary.
Christians believe in God the father, God the son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. God is one being, but he is split into three parts of himself: the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
Christians believe that God came down in the form of a man named Jesus. While on earth, He never sinned, taught in God's name, and was crucified. It is this crucifixion that acted similarly to Old Testament sacrifices to atone for sins. He conquered death and rose from the grave, appeared to tons of people, and then ascended into Heaven.
Christians are people who have accepted Jesus'
WHAT TO MUSLIMS BELIEVE?
The faith is championed by Muhammad who is a prophet of Allah (God). Out of respect for the beliefs that some Muslims hold, I will not insert a photo depiction of Muhammad.
Muslims also believe that there is no guarantee of Heaven. You must live right, pray a certain number of times a day, give alms to the poor, take a trip to Mecca, and more.
So why do I believe in the trinity? Why am I a Christian? Here are things I believe show me that Christianity is the right way to go. As always, be sure to learn all of this for yourself. I want to make clear that I will be using sources from Muslim holy books and trusted sources.
GOD'S WARNING FULFILLED
To begin, here is God's warning:
"And if he [Muhammad] had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand; Then We would have cut form him the Aorta"
Quran, Surah 69:44-46
Quick biology lesson, your aorta, as you can see in the depiction to the right, is the main roadway to the heart. Severing it would result in death, a painful one at that.
OK, so there was the warning, plain as day. This is obviously a pretty terrible way to dye, and a really painful one at that. So where is this fulfilled?
Muhammad died from poison. A Jewish woman made him a meal and poisoned it. She did this after her family was killed by Muhammad and his men. She thought that it would be a sign that he was the true prophet of God if he lived. If he died, however, she thought it would be a clear sign that he was not.
But it is what he says after being poisoned that drove this home to me:
"The Prophet in his ailment in which he died, used to say, "O Aishah! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta is being cut from that poison." - Sahih al-Bukhari 4428
"Umm Bishar said to the Prophet during the sickness of which he died: What do you think about your illness, Apostle of Allah? I do not think about the illness of my son except the poisoned sheep of which he had eaten with you at Khaibar. The Prophet said: And I do not think about my illness except that. This is the time when it cut of my aorta." -Sunan Abu Dawud 4449
"The Messenger of God said during the illness from which he died - the mother of Bishr b. al-Bara had come in to visit him - "Umm Bishr, at this very moment I feel my aorta being severed because of the food I ate with your son at Khaybar." - At-Tabari p. 124
MUHAMMAD VS. JESUS
To begin, Jesus lived a sinless life. He abhorred violence.
"Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." - Matthew 26:52
Next, Jesus claimed to be God in humans form and performed miracles as such. Muhammad claimed to be a messenger that had God's revelation revealed to him in private.
Another stark difference is the treatment of women. It is said that Muhammad's wife Aisha was only 6 years old when he married her. But she wasn't the only one. He had three wives. Jesus, who upheld Jewish beliefs, believed in marrying one wife and loving her alone.
I think I will make this a series that highlights some of the major religions. Let me know what you think. I am open to discussion. I hope that I approached this delicately enough to be respectful while presenting the facts.
I'd like to credit Acts17Apologetics on YouTube who dug up most of this. Feel free to look up "Who Killed Muhammad?" on YouTube.
In the United States at least, a lot of emphasis is put on merit. If you do well in class, you get into a good college. If you donate a bunch of money, you can get a building named after you. If you’re really smart or do enough good, you might even be rewarded with a Nobel Peace Prize.
But scrap all of that and keep reading. I want to tell you about something that is really difficult to understand. It’s the problem of sin.
WHAT IS SIN, EXACTLY?
Some of the old hymns that we sing in church may make it out like Christians and sinners aren’t the same thing. I’m sure that the writers were more trying to communicate that we sin less when we become Christians, but that might not be true wither.
The truth is that Christians and non-Christians alike sin every day. The difference is our response to sin. As a Christian, I can tell you that I recognize my sin much more than I did when I was not a Christian or when I had drifted away from God.
For example, if I say something bad about someone, or even think something bad about someone, I feel as though I did wrong. Sometimes it takes me a while, sometimes I feel this immediately. When I wasn’t a Christian or when I drifted away from God, I said awful things about people all the time and didn’t really care.
I didn’t realize that I was effectively disrespecting God’s creation: another human.
The beauty of being a Christian is that, if you are sincere, God forgives your sins. By that I mean that you can’t just go around each and every day pushing over old ladies knowing that God “will” forgive you. In essence, you can’t take advantage of God’s forgiveness because that inherently shows that you don’t respect his authority and forgiving nature anyway.
CHRISTIANS AND SIN
When talking to a friend about Christianity, it is likely that the atrocities associated with the Crusades will come up.
If you don’t know much about the Crusades, the important things you should know for this blog is that the Crusades were, according to History.com, a “series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups.”
The other important thing you should know is that the Crusades were very bloody and resulted in the horrific deaths of many innocent men, women, and children.
As humans, we are all exposed to sin, even Christians. With God on our side and Jesus in our hearts, we are able to feed the good which in turn hopefully will outweigh the sin and badness of life. But we still mess up.
THE HARD PILL TO SWALLOW
The hard pill to swallow is that sin is sin. It’s all sin and it is all bad in God’s eyes. When you see a criminal holed up in a jail cell for assault, you may look at him and say “I am better than he is.” While you are better in merit (i.e. your naughty list is a lot shorter than his), you are still a sinner.
Until you become a Christian, you look the same to God. Even as a Christian, you still look like a sinner to God. It is because Jesus bled and died for you that you are even worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. That’s why Jesus is the key.
In the old days, sacrifices were made to God to atone for sins. The sacrifice would be something like a lamb or sometimes it would be things like fruit. Of course, faith in God was also very important. You have people like Job and Sarah who both lived on faith that God would protect them or fulfil his promise to them. They let God take the wheel in their life.
But God did something amazing. He decided that, rather than have animals be sacrificed to him, he would come down in human form as his son, Jesus, to live a sinless life, preach about God’s love and forgiveness, clarify some of the miscommunications in the church, die on a cross without having done any wrong, and rise from the dead three days later.
This sacrifice is effectively God shedding his own blood to cover the sins of everyone, should they believe on him and Jesus, who gave the sacrifice.
WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO NON-CHRISTIANS
I want to tell you that you and I, we are physically and mentally the same. We are both tempted to sin, we both commit sin, we both can feel guilty of our sin. Nowhere in the Bible does it say I am better than you. On the contrary, I am just a beggar who has found bread. Now I want to share it with you.
Apart from Christ, we are the same. But the good news is, if anything I said in the previous paragraph gives you longing, Christ wants to be with you, not apart from you. God is not willing that any should perish. But when we choose to live outside of His will and His guidance, He isn’t going to force us to spend an eternity with Him. He respects our free will too much to force anything like that on anyone. He even partially limited his will and power to give us the power to choose Him. That’s because love isn’t love if it is programmed into us like software. Love has to be a free decision.
He made that decision for us at creation and on the cross, will you make the decision to love Him?
But, for the majority of Christians, it is believed that science should be used to understand the world that God made for us. Science helps us produce medicine, find cures to diseases, understand how the world works, and so much more.
Non-Christians and atheists will always say that they don't believe in anything, or they aren't really sure what to believe. The only problem with that statement is that it's a lie.
Everyone on the face of this Earth believes in something. For Christians, we believe that Christ came down to Earth to live, teach, and die for our sins only to conquer death and rise from the grave. Crazy right? A lot of people greet the Christian belief with laughs and mockery because rising from the dead isn't necessarily an every day occurrence.
If you're not living for Christ, maybe you are living for pleasure. Maybe you're living for family and friends. Regardless, there is something that you believe in. For a lot of people, it's science.
WHY IS SCIENCE SO ALLURING?
For me, as I said, science is alluring because it helps me see and better understand God's creation. I feel like Johannes Kepler, a famous astronomer and Christian who uttered powerful words about discovering more about the world through science.
SO, WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE?
So, the philosophy of science is putting your faith in the act of science to bring about life out of nothing. In this case, people use science to answer questions about existence and why we are here.
A lot of people say it's pretty crazy to believe that an all-knowing, all-powerful being created the Earth and people and everything we see around us. But, is it all that far-fetched when compared to the philosophy of science?
The philosophy of science credits the Big Bang with creating life out of nothing, while Christianity credits a being with a mind and character with the creation of life and everything around us. Do this exercise and you'll see why I feel the philosophy of science isn't the way to go:
Say you are walking on the beach and you see John loves Jane written in the sand. Wouldn't you think I was crazy if I said the waves produced that? How often have you seen a meal come together on it's own? Isn't there a cook? Have you ever seen a hurricane pick up what it needs and build a house? The answer to that is no.
You never see a creation without a creator. It's completely unobservable in our every day lives. You never see a creation coming out of nothing, so how can we believe that life came out of nothing? Life comes from life in every instance we can observe. A child comes from his mother, a flower comes from a seed, etc. You get the picture.
THAT IS WHY I CAN'T RELY ON SCIENCE AS PHILOSOPHY
To me, using science to explain origin is irrational. I can't believe that something comes from nothing. I've never observed that. I also believe that, if my atheist and agnostic friends really looked at this scenario and thought as logically as they do when they question Christians about God and Jesus, they too would see that it is much more logical to think God created everything than it is to believe that an explosion jolted DNA into just the right place to form complex creatures.
After doing all of that leg work, one would hope that some of those visits would result in those same people we visit turning up at the church for worship services.
Taking attendance is useful for a few things. Of course, it is good to know how many people have visited the church for posterity’s sake. Also, forgive me because I am rather young and not well-versed in laws and non-profit-status rules, but churches may also need to take attendance to remain in the non-profit status.
But, for the most part, I find most churches (or people in churches keeping a mental note on who is in attendance and who is not) are keeping attendance for an entirely wrong reason. Here are three reasons I believe you should stop taking attendance at church:
IT ISN’T REALLY ABOUT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE
At this point, I want to remind everyone that salvation is a personal choice. While it is our duty to live out our lives as God intends and the way Jesus would live, we can’t bestow salvation upon someone else. All we can do is witness, live right, and pray for them.
A lot of churches may be focused on the size of the crowd because they are worried about money. But, again, if we turn to God’s word, we find an answer for that:
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
Only a month before I was set to marry my husband, he was laid off from his job. That meant he couldn’t help me pay for our wedding or any of the bills. But I knew that God wanted me to marry him. I knew that this was just a road bump put in place by the enemy. And God stretched my dollars for a few weeks until my husband found work again. He does it time and time again.
The same is true for churches. God will make a way to keep the lights on. That shouldn’t be the focus of coming together to worship. Again, we turn to God’s word for guidance on this:
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
God can convict your heart in a tent in the woods just as well as He can convict you in the pew of a church. He is all powerful and all knowing, and you can praise, worship, and learn more about him even if the light bill isn’t paid. Take comfort in knowing that.
NUMBERS COULD BECOME YOUR NEW WORSHIP
Weird, right? But think about that idol worship sermon you sat through. The pastor probably said something along the lines of “if you become obsessed with someone or something, it can easily become your God.”
Taking attendance can do this to your church because, instead of focusing on God and spreading the message of Jesus Christ, your church may begin focusing on the numbers, attendance, and who is and is not sitting in the pews.
Even if your church has a secretary or deacon who is in charge of these matters, they can also become obsessed with counting heads instead of counting their blessings. This will cause the head counter to lose interest in the sermon and miss the opportunity to learn from Christ through God’s word.
IT CAN TURN MORE PEOPLE AWAY
Let’s talk about visitors first, or people who have been coming to your church but haven’t joined yet. If they see that you are constantly approaching them with “who, what, when, where, why,” they will start to feel suffocated and might wonder why the church has to know every little thing going on in their life. If they aren’t even a Christian yet, this could be something that turns them away from your church and maybe all churches in general.
Again, this is their choice, but you can have a hand in it. Christians often talk about having a hand in someone’s journey to salvation and being used by God. Christians are still human and can still cause their fellow man to stumble. It is important to be mindful of nosiness and how it may come off to potential church members.
For people who are already part of your church, it is important to keep in mind that no one knows that person’s heart but God. Not even their family or spouse! It is also important to keep in mind that most people only “answer” to their spouses and their parents. You don’t know if they are visiting another church, visiting family, or on vacation. You don’t know if they are at home reading their bibles, listening or reading devotions every day, etc. It can be easy to judge based off of what you know, but many people’s lives are like icebergs. You only see what they want you to see.
*every hypocritical Christian who reads this title*
Oh, look at her. She's writing a blog about what Christians should stop doing. She's probably the worst Christian in the world.
I posted a blog in September of last year called "The Devil and his old tricks: Satan's tactics in the Garden and how he still uses them today." In this post, I talked about how Adam and Eve seemingly shifted blame around in an attempt to convince God that it wasn't their fault that they had eaten of the tree He told them to avoid. I discussed that the two never really wanted to take the fall for what they did. Although they were ultimately wrong for their choice, it wasn't solely their fault. The same goes for church-goers who hurt someone so badly that they don't want to go to church anymore.
Ultimately, they are making the choice and will have to answer for that choice, but that doesn't mean they weren't influenced. The devil whispers among Christians just as much if not more than the amount he whispers around non-believers.
This blog post is an attempt to expose some of the things we Christians do that turn people, Christians and non-Christians alike, away from the faith and from the church faster than greased lightning. Of course, it is in human nature to fail, but we shouldn't harm someone and neglect to address what we did wrong. In this blog, I'm just trying to show you what you can do to stop the vicious cycle. Take it for what it is for you.
In order to be transparent and fair, I want to let my readers know that I've yet to meet one Christian, including myself, who hasn't been guilty of one of these things at least once in their faith journey. This is the pot calling the kettle black. But I know my problems, and I know this is a widespread issue. So, here is the list:
Empty "I'm Praying For You's"
Telling someone "I'm praying for you" when you aren't can give them false hope and a false sense of security. Sure, they will never know that you're lying. But it is a lie after all. Also, the Bible says:
"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." - I John 2:5
Personally, when I say "I'm praying for you," it is often when tragedy strikes. Tragedies like terrorist attacks, deaths in the family, and more. But, I do admit that I still say it on occasion and, for whatever reason, don't include it in my prayers from time to time.
It is often said that the words "I love you" have lost their power because it is used when it isn't meant. We don't want "I'm praying for you" to lose its power and meaning because it is used when it isn't meant.
Approaching a situation with judgement before approaching it with compassion
But one of the most frustrating things a Christian or even a non-Christian deals with are those who come at a person's situation with judgement before compassion.
PAUSE: THE BIBLE DOESN'T SAY NOT TO JUDGE SOMEONE. GOD GIVES US THE POWER TO USE OUR JUDGEMENT TO HELP OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS. MAYBE OUR EARTHLY JUDGEMENT CAN HELP SOMEONE CHANGE BEFORE GOD JUDGES THEM. THE BIBLE DOES SAY THAT YOU SHOULD NOT JUDGE HYPOCRITICALLY.
"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." - Matthew 7:4-5
If we look at the above verses, you can tell that Jesus was very strict and hard on the Pharisees because they were hypocritical. It didn't matter to Jesus that it was Sunday and He and His disciples were picking food for the poor. Jesus approached everything with compassion. As Christians, we try to live our lives like Jesus. We will never be able to because we are human, but we should try each day to be as compassionate as Jesus.
Now, if we approach a situation with compassion several times and it is something someone could change but chooses not to, go ahead and approach the situation with sternness. But until then, be like Jesus and be compassionate.
Using the phrase "Christians are humans too."
If someone hears another Christian gossiping about them, the "I'm still human" phrase is thrown around more than beach balls at high school graduations. When something happens in a church and someone decides to leave that church to find one that may have less issues, the "I'm still human" card gets thrown on the table pretty quickly.
We are fortunate that God is forgiving thanks to His son's sacrifice. Remember this verse when you start to use the "I'm still human" line:
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." - II corinthians 5:17
Treat someone differently because of their past mistakes
But when people learn the darkness that you've put behind you that still impacts you now, they tend to put a label on you, even in the church.
Now, I don't want anyone I know to be overly offended, but I did feel a lot different as the daughter of a divorcee than the average child felt in my home church. There was something missing there. I know, too, that many people who have decided to have a child out of wedlock are treated differently as well. Like second-class Christians.
But we know from the good book that we are all sinners, we are all unworthy, no matter what we've done or where we've come from or who we've been. The reality is, when you're treated differently by Christians because of something in your past, in can affect your future as a Christian. For some, it is beneficial. It helps them to really dig in the word and find meaning that really helps them in life. For others, they fall away from the faith and turn back to their ways, yet Christians still blame them.
Having a support system in crucial. Although we rely on God, He sends us earthly people we can rely on as well. We see what the absence of a good support system can do to someone. As a Christian, you don't have to support sinful behavior to support the sinner. God says to love the sinner and hate the sin.
Insist that anger is wrong
Well, anger is a human emotion God gave us in order to process the actions of others. So many pastors and religious leaders tell those who are angered or hurt by the actions of those in their church or community that approaching it with anger isn't the right thing to do.
This can't be further from the truth, so long as the anger is righteous.
What do I mean by that? I mean that so long as your anger has Biblical roots, you have the right to be angry. For example, if you find some discrepancies with church funds that point to some sort of financial abuse, or if the church is overrun with gossip and pettiness, you have the right to be righteously angry.
But where do we find evidence that this is OK? I point to Jesus in the temple.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." - Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus, by Biblical definition, was a sinless man. By that information, we know that his anger here was righteous. He was so upset that He flipped the tables. He then gave an explanation of why He was angry. That explanation was founded in Biblical truths.
So yes, you as a Christian can be angry if it is for the right reason. You have a right to express your frustrations with issues going on within your church or with fellow Christians. However, you shouldn't let this anger consume you, and you shouldn't let it be a driving force in your decision-making process.
I didn't write this post to point fingers or to make you or anyone else feel bad (although I might argue that God is trying to tell you something if you think this is about you). As I said before, I'm just as guilty of these as the next Christian. I want to use our imperfections to shine light on what can be changed to help people in the way WE can so God can help them in the way ONLY He can.
What is your mission for 2018? My mission is to cut down on these things so I can be less of a distraction to someone in or out of the Christian community. I want to be light the way, not be a stumbling block to others.
- Admit to God that you are a sinner
(Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23).
- Repent, turning away from your sin
(Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9).
- Believe that Jesus is God's Son and accept God's gift of forgiveness from sin
(Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12; John 3:16; John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:11-13).
- Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do:
Ann Marie Ruby