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Posts Tagged ‘christian living’

(Re-Post from September 3, 2014)

We all want to have friends. Have you ever heard the phrase to make a friend you have to be a friend? Obviously, everyone wants to be liked and have friends that are likeable and easy to be around.

I think it is important to also be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you and want to be friends. I have seen people work so hard to change and be someone they normally are not just to be friends with someone they think would be fun to be around.

Friendship

My thought is if you have to change who you are why do you need that kind of friend? This applies to any and all labels we place on one another whether it is black/white, gay/straight, religious/atheist and so on. The label should not make a difference when it comes to friendship.

There is another thing that bothers me about friendship. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they just seem so friendly and interested in you? I have been through this several times. I would run into someone in the store or out for a walk and they are smiling and so interested in getting to know a little about me. I get kind of anxious to get to know them and see if a new friendship was starting. Later I get a call or an email and get asked if we could meet for coffee and talk a while.

After the second time this happened, I started realizing that each time this has happened it was someone with an ulterior motive.

They really were not interested in me, they were interested in what I could do for them. Basically, they were selling something and looking for new people to join in under them doing the same thing.

I tell you this was so disappointing each time it happened. I was thinking, wow, what a nice person. I would like to get to know them and get to be friends. Then, wham, the rug was pulled out from under me by finding out they only wanted to make a sell or add me to their sales network.

True friends are hard to find. Even among people who are not selling something and do not have ulterior motives, it is hard to find a true friend.

Friends

Often it seems most of the friends we have are friends as long as we have the same interests or involved in the same activities. If we go to the same places, work together or involved in sporting events we talk and associate but if we leave that particular activity we usually do not see each other or talk.

True friends love us and accept us as just as we are. They are not waiting until we change and become more like them. They are actually interested in us. They want to see us succeed. They feel comfortable telling us things that are not popular or what we need to hear when they know we are getting into something that is not good for us.

A true friend will be there for you even when miles apart or when we have different interests and activities. A true friend is one of the hardest things to find in this world.

Now as followers of Christ, we have the best and most true friend possible in Jesus. But let’s be real, we need a flesh and blood person right in front of us to discuss things, do things together, encourage and support each other and cry with one another.

Jesus will never leave us, he will never forsake us. He is closer than a brother and the best friend we will ever have in life. Yet in this life we need human friends. And those human friends, if you think about it, are almost like having Jesus right in front of you. Since we are now the temple of the Spirit, God living in us, we are in a sense Jesus to each other. I am not saying we are God but His Spirit lives within us and we can love and accept each other through that common truth more than anything.

So, for those shallow people who are only looking for someone to use and get things from I would rather not even start a friendship. We still love everyone through Christ but we do not have to be friends with everyone. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit to lead you to true friends in your life and see Christ in the brother and sisters he brings along.

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After being on Facebook for some time and following articles and comments on social media, it does not take long to realize everyone has an opinion. There is nothing wrong with that, it is quite normal. Yet when people start trying to force their opinion on others it becomes a problem.

FacebookOpinionsI have found it best to listen to others opinions but not to dwell on them. We all have an opinion on life issues, a way of interpreting the bible and views on living for God but very seldom do we agree on things.

We each need to follow the leading of the Spirit within us and stick with what we feel is right for us. Obviously this does not mean we are always right, but at the time it is best to go with what you feel is the correct way until the Spirit leads you to a different view.

Do not take the view of any person as gospel, do not let any person guilt you or shame you into seeing things their way. Listen to others opinions and respect them, but listen more for the soft, quiet voice of the Spirit to teach you the truth. Always be open to changing your personal views according to what the Spirit teaches.

So often we read an article that says one thing on a particular subject, then find another article that says just the opposite. It is not long until a heated argument begins in the comments and things can get ugly. Name calling and getting mad because of differences of opinion and interpretation is just not the way it should be. We need to learn to accept that we all have different views and we can all be wrong at times.

Sometimes people argue over bible doctrine or subjects that are highly controversial in our world today. We seem to think we have to defend our view and prove our point or we are not being faithful to God. I personally think God can take care of himself and we do not need to defend our interpretations. We are not called to convert people to our way of thinking, we are only called to love them.

In the christian world today, one of the major areas of arguments and differences of opinion seems to be in regard to marriage equality and gay people.

Many christian people seem so hateful toward people who are gay. I am not sure why we tend to make gay people our enemy. I know many gay people who love God and want to follow Jesus. To say they cannot be christian because they are gay is just plain wrong. Yet whether christian or not, gay or straight Jesus calls us to love all people.

Christian people will say being gay is a choice, yet I never remember making the choice to be straight. I was born that way. Is it not the same with people who are gay?

I think so often people only look at the label and do not see the human being. The fact is there is no difference between straight and gay people other than the people we are attracted too. We all want to find that one special person to love and to enjoy life together.

Rather than forcing our opinions on others whether they are gay or straight, christian or atheist, muslim or jew, black or white, republican or democrat, male or female we should be able to show the love of Christ to everyone and accept them as our fellow human beings who want the same things as everyone else. We all want to be happy, enjoy life and be accepted and loved.

It is fine to have our individual opinions, yet we need to remember that not everyone will see things the same way. We are all entitled to have our views and opinions without having love and acceptance being withheld.

BeKind

Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never said to love only certain people or only people who believes the same. We can have our different opinions yet we can love and respect each other even in those differences.

Once we can get past insisting our way is the right way and everyone else is wrong, it will be easier to accept others. When we realize none of us have it all together and we are all learning, then we can accept people with different views and opinions without the hatred and condemnation.

No matter what interpretation, opinion or view you have, we should be able to believe what we feel is right and still accept the differences of others and love one another with the love of God.

A few verses on loving one another:

Mark 12:30-32 — and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:36,37 — Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.

John 13:34 — A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Galatians 5:14 — For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

1 John 4:20 — If someone says, I love God and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

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Why is it that a lot of us who call ourselves Christians want to defend our beliefs so much? We do it not only to non-believers, but even to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We know how Jesus lived, loved others, accepted those who the religious crowd did not like. He was kind, loving, forgiving, and caring to all he came in contact (except for the ‘religious’ self-righteous leaders). Then we go out and want to argue with those who interpret the Bible differently, or who don’t believe the same as we do.

It seems to me rather than fight and argue over doctrine, interpretation and belief we would do better to love, accept and show compassion.

This certainly does not mean we have to agree with everyone, or tell others anything goes, but we do not have to fight and defend our way of thinking. Many of us think we have it all figured out and our way of faith is the only way. We think we have to persuade others to come to our way of thinking or they are doomed to hell.

I’m not sure any of us have it all figured out, in fact I know none of us do. We all have room to question, learn and change. I know my wife and I are doing more questioning than we ever did, and we are finding new truths as we walk in the Spirit daily.

When it comes down to it, I feel we should be open to accept others no matter what their way of thinking. People want to be loved and accepted, they want to be happy and get along with others. When we get all religious and defend our point of view, it does more harm and drives people apart more than anything.

Acceptance

My wife and I have been asking God for strength to accept and love everyone. No matter what they believe, what their faith or doctrine is, no matter their religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we want to see them as Jesus sees them. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us. We want to love, accept and care for people. Naturally we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas and love them in Christ. We feel this is the way that others will come to see the love of God, not through condemning and bashing them. Not in trying to prove we are right and they are wrong. Love doesn’t mean seeing eye-to-eye, it doesn’t mean we agree or even like some of the things people do, but it does mean we look past the differences and love them as Christ loves them.

Let’s try to look past the labels and see people who have feelings, who want love and friendship, people we can get to know, learn from, share thoughts and ideas with, and accept as human beings who were created in the image of God.

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Over the years of our Christian lives, my wife and I have gone through many times of new growth. It is a normal process to grow, bloom, become dormant, and then have new growth again.

If we never had new growth, our Christian life would eventually wither and die. It is not wrong to re-think and question and have times of new interpretations and new inspirations.

We grew up in the traditional church and have many good and happy memories over the years of being involved. We were taught many things over the years, most of which we never questioned. We accepted what we were taught and considered it to be the truth. As time went by, we began to let some of the questions we had in the back of our minds come forward. Some things we had always accepted just didn’t make sense.

We’ve found that so many times in church, people just take what they are told and don’t question it. Most people feel questioning is a lack of faith or a lack of trust in the pastor. After all, didn’t the pastor go to college and get all the training necessary to understand the Bible? Doesn’t the pastor have the inside track on hearing from God?

We began questioning why one person has the right to have the authority to tell everyone else what God is saying. We read that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have no need of anyone else to teach us. There were so many different views and interpretations. There were so many denominations that seemed to cause division among Christians. Yet we read we were to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. We read that everyone should have a word, a song, a praise, yet we sat in a service week after week just looking at the back of someone’s head, never getting to talk or discuss or have true fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

All of this brought us to our most recent time of dormancy and questions, which actually lasted over several years. Of course time is not something that God worries about, since a day with Him is like a thousand years. So when I say we were going through this dormant, questioning stage for nine or ten years, it was not a big thing.

Having grown up in the typical, modern day church, we had come to a place where we really questioned some of the doctrines and ways of ‘doing church’. Some things just didn’t make sense anymore, others seemed different from what we read of the believers in the New Testament.

Over the years, we continued to attend a few different churches thinking the answer was in finding the right church. After several years of that process and still having the same feelings, we realized that there was something more than finding a church.

After some time, we both started meeting people who were having the same thoughts, the same questions, and the same uneasiness. We met people at a local cafe and started talking, hearing them mention the same concerns we were going through. Many books and various websites started coming to our attention, and each were from people who were going through, or had gone through the same things we were going through.

It was amazing to us how we felt a time of new growth beginning. We are finding people who were going through the same things, and we are starting to find answers to some of our questions. We no longer feel alone, and we no longer feel guilty for the questions and feelings we are experiencing.

For us, it’s a time of new growth in the knowledge and understanding of grace. The grace we have in Christ, the freedom we have because of his grace. We no longer worry about the man-made denominations, doctrines and ways of ‘doing church’. We are free from the guilt of sin because of his grace. We are now learning to ‘be the church’, realizing we are one with Christ, and it is his spirit that lives and loves through us.

Article originally published on Faithful Bloggers ( http://www.faithfulbloggers.com/faithful-bloggers-new-growth.pdf ) on June 18, 2014.

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Do you ever have one of those days when you think, nothing changes. Everything is the same, day in, day out. We get up and go through the same routine, only to get up and do the same thing the next day. As it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, ‘That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun’.

Sometimes I go through this, and it just makes me wonder why I am feeling this way. I guess sometimes I think living for God should be some type of extra special, out of the ordinary life. A way of living that is super spiritual. Of course I know that this isn’t the norm for us. God works in us most of the time in the little things, the regular routine of daily living.

I know God has a plan and purpose for us. Although good works are certainly not a way to earn our salvation, they do bring glory to God. I think we should daily ask for the Spirit to guide us through the day, and lead us into what he has for us to do. Ask God to love others through us as we go about our regular daily routine.

By doing so, we are allowing God to do supernatural things through us when He is ready. We might touch a person in a way we don’t even realize, just by allowing the spirit of Christ to do what he wants, when he wants.

I don’t have the answer to those feelings now and then of each day being the same. I do know that being open to let Christ love through us can make a difference. It may not be us who feels any different, but someone we have contact with during our regular daily routine may receive something special from God. Something they needed, something that makes them say, wow, that was really a different day.

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I recently saw a news article about one group of christians picketing another church group. Supposedly they were picketing because they felt the church group, who allowed gays and women who had abortions into their assembly, was being soft on sin.

I can only assume that the picketers thought the gays and the abortion people were to big of sinners to be in with the religious folk.

Seems the church assembly was being more Christ-like to me, but the whole situation made me feel a little ashamed to be called a christian. In fact, I think it is a good idea to give up being called a christian. It is just another man-made religion, and I feel that I am done with religion. Rather than being called a christian, I think it makes more sense to say I am a follower of Christ. Jesus didn’t start christianity and he didn’t come to start any kind of religion.

Being a Christ follower is a daily, 24/7 lifestyle, not something to be done once a week in a building. It isn’t following a doctrine, or set of rules and regulations.

As a Christ follower, we accept all people and we love all people, like Jesus did when he walked this earth.

This doesn’t mean we agree with everyone. It doesn’t mean people can live anyway they want and have fellowship with the Father. But once they come to God, the spirit comes to live within them and he will guide them in their daily lives and actions. It is not our job to condemn others. Jesus’ command under the New Covenant is for us to love God and love others.

Like the picketers and church group mentioned above, a lot of christians today spend more time fighting and arguing amongst themselves while the world watches and laughs.

As followers of Christ, we need to keep in mind that we, the Church, are the body of Christ in our world. We may be the only “Jesus” many people see. We should keep our focus on Christ as our all in all, and forsake our personal feelings. In our lives, Christ should increase and we should decrease.

 

This post was a Guest Post at New Covenant Grace
You can view it at http://www.newcovenantgrace.com/christian-or-christ-follower/

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