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What is your definition of a Christian?    I’m surprised by the various meanings people attach to that one word.  Some people think of a Christian as someone who attends church each Sunday, others think of it as someone whose parents were church goers and therefore they attended church their entire lives, maybe even being baptized as a young child and now going is simply part of what they do; a habit.  Others still, consider a Christian as someone who has prayed the “prayer of salvation” at some point in their life.  But what truly defines a “Christian”?

Wikipedia shares information on the etymology and states that:   The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos)—meaning “follower of Christ”—comes from Χριστός (Christos)—meaning “anointed one”[5]—with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.[6] In the Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ,messiah), meaning “[one who is] anointed.”[7] In other European languages, equivalent words to ‘Christian’ are likewise derived from the Greek, such as ‘Chrétien’ in French and ‘Cristiano’ in Spanish.  (Borrowed from Wikipedia.org)

A Christian is a follower of Christ.  What does that mean though?  What does it look like to “follow Christ”?

Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 7:21-24 –  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’   Then I will tell them plainly, ‘ I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  

Mark 8:34-38  says – “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

In 1 John 2:3-6  We’re told – We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands.  Whoever says, ” I know Him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.  

And in 1 Peter 2:21 it says – To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

There are plenty more Scriptures to show us how as a Christian we are called to become more like Jesus Christ and follow in His example each day of our lives.  Not in any effort to “work for our salvation”, because we already know we can’t “earn” that.  Instead it’s to show the world that we ARE indeed followers of Him that first loved us and died in order to pay our own debt for our sins.

James 2:14 – 19 shows us the importance of our actions in day to day life –  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep arm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.  

Let’s make it our life’s mission to be sure and follow Christ every single day, giving Him our very best in all that we do, and show the world what Christians really are!

 

Following Jesus’ Command to Make Disciples…

 

Let’s Get Practical. – Awesome blog that gives you great ideas on how you can go out and make disciples!

 

Gently Speaking has been more than “gentle” in her speaking lately…. downright silent would be a more apt description.   Shortly after the beginning of the year, I made the big decision to go back to school.  I decided to attend Luther Rice University and Seminary and get my BA in Religious Arts with a minor in biblical counseling.    I’ve always been interested in counseling, and God really just started pushing me in that direction, pushing me to take it seriously.   Being a dog trainer too, I’d like to combine the two and help people train their dogs as Service Dogs for issues such as severe Anxiety, Bipolar, Aspergers and other illnesses like them, as well as help them in terms of counseling.

In addition to getting things in line to start attending school for the summer quarter, there have been tons of other things going on at our house.  It’s been totally crazy!   Good stuff, as well as lots of bad (illnesses and injuries etc..).  Oh and I also ran (umm… actually walked…. lol) with my youngest daughter in our very first 5 k race in April!   We were so excited!   We helped to raise money for wells to be dug in Africa.   It also started a love for walking in us!  We hope to be able to turn the walking into running (for real) one day – God willing 🙂

The summer semester starts this Monday (June 3rd) so I don’t know how crazy my schedule will become, but I hope to be able to get over here more often than I’ve been able to lately!

God is doing a lot of work on my whole entire family right now, no doubt.  He’s refining us all, one by one.  What I love though, is the being closer to Him and gaining in trust through all the hard times.   He’s there for us, always.   My family and I would greatly appreciate prayers as we are going through this time of new things, old things, beginnings, endings, joy and sadness, hurt and hope.

May the Lord totally bless you and yours daily!

I saw this posted on Facebook today and simply had to share.  Please share this with others too.  So many people think that because they prayed a little prayer as a child (or even as an adult) that they are “saved” and Heaven bound, regardless of how they live.  After all, we’re all saved by Grace, right?  It’s not about our “works”, right?  Jesus did it all, didn’t He?  Therefore, don’t JUDGE!  Cause, well… that’s wrong ya know.    We’ve all heard it.

Listen folks, the Bible is clear about this and everyone should take it very seriously.  1st John 3:7-10 states clearly : Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.  The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared  was to destroy the devil’s work.  No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are; Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.  

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Quotes 089

WHY JESUS DOESN’T WANT YOU TO “ASK HIM INTO YOUR HEART”

I’ll never forget it. I was in middle school. All around me were other middle school kids crying. Hardly anyone was standing. It was a powerful moment—so much so that even now when I think about it a range of emotions come over me. Where was I? I was at a youth camp. It was the last night where everyone “asked Jesus into their heart.” Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” was playing while the camp speaker asked all the kids to bow their heads and close their eyes. He would then say, “ok whoever wants to receive Jesus repeat after me….”

Sound familiar?

Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart?

Now first let me say this—I am not arguing in this blog that Jesus doesn’t save through this method (because He clearly does). Also, John 1:12 would suggest we do need to receive Jesus in some way or another. But my question is why has it become so mechanical? So forced? So calculated? Receiving the grace of Jesus is a beautiful thing. We tell people it is free (which it is), but we forget to tell them it will cost them their life (which it will). I’m humbly submitting that this might be the main thing contributing to our lethargic, apathetic, and consumer based Christianity that’s plaguing our nation right now.

Doesn’t it haunt you that this “prayer” is never uttered in the New Testament?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

Doesn’t it haunt you that people never made a “decision” but rather gave up all they had to follow Jesus?

Why is the life we are calling people to, so different from what the original disciples called them to?

When I first became a Christian about 4 years ago, the church I went to would give an “invitation” at the end of every sermon. It was very similar to the experience above. He would have people bow their heads and close their eyes, and “accept Jesus into their heart.” He would then usually say something like “I see your hand, God sees your heart.” I think about 15 people would get saved every service. At this time they were probably a 3,000+ person church with multiple campuses in a tiny town. I remember thinking after about a year, that if 15 people were getting “saved” a service in a town of around 20,000 this city should be upside down for Jesus. But Monday through Saturday nothing seemed much different. Why? Also why do they bow their heads and close their eyes? I struggled with the fact that if someone can’t proclaim Jesus is Lord and that their heart has been changed by His grace in the safest of all places—a church full of people who already love Jesus!—then do we really think they would proclaim Him boldly out in the world, where He’s hated?

Let me clarify though before my email inbox fills up with not so happy Christians defending this method. I don’t care how you preach the gospel, as long as its the gospel that’s actually being preached. Is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the focus? Is there blood? Is there cross? Is there persecution? 2nd Timothy 3:12 says all who seek to follow Jesus will face persecution. Too many times we proclaim “your best life now”, instead of a rugged cross. If they are being called to more than a stirred heart, but called to an abandoned life, then by all means do it. But, people aren’t being called to die for the sake of God’s glory and His mission, then I’d be careful to call it the true message of Jesus.

Jesus isn’t after people “accepting Him into their hearts” He is after people boldly giving up all they have and following Him by faith, death, and suffering.

Nothing makes me tremble more at night then knowing there are millions of people (most likely in churches) who don’t know Jesus at all, and are being led to hell under the pretense that they are “good to go” because they prayed a prayer. In fact the main reason they stay distant from Jesus is that they think they’ve already “taken care of that.” The truth is, if a boulder dropped on top of you, you’d look different after the fact. Why is it then that supposedly when the most glorious, holy, amazing, and beautiful infinite God of the universe “drops” on us we don’t look any different? You are saved by grace, but real grace changes you.
Is that you? Do you actually know Him?

I’m not asking do you struggle or wrestle (you should) but I’m asking do you know Him? Do you love Him? Do you want more of Him? Even if you are struggling, if you can answer yes to those questions, you are in a safe place. But, if you are simply clinging to something you did years ago, but you have zero intimacy with your Creator, I’d tread softly.

From now on what do you say we….

Stop asking Jesus into our heart, and start asking Jesus to change our heart.

Stop receiving Jesus, and start following Jesus

Stop raising our hand for Jesus, and start raising our obedience for Jesus.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
Luke 9:24-25

Link to the original post below:

http://jeffbethke.com/why-jesus-doesnt-want-you-to-ask-him-into-your-heart/

Ran across a post on Facebook this morning that really grabbed my attention.  I’ve seen it, or those like it, many times, but this morning it just struck me as so sad.  I know it was meant to be “funny”, but often times it’s more true than we realize, and when you sit and give it some consideration… it should be very un-funny to Christ Followers.

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The ONLY one that our attitude should depend on is Jesus Christ.   Think of the power that’s handed over to people if we allow them to control our attitude!   I don’t know about you, but I feel that my attitude is more important than that and should never be handed over to just anyone.   Jesus, my Savior, should be ruler over my attitude.   I pray that the next time someone upsets me, hurts my feelings, makes me angry, annoyed, or whatever else, that my attitude stays under the control of the One I follow – my Savior, my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Future. Flying. Saucers  ( http://futureflyingsaucers.wordpress.com/  )   is one of my favorite blogs here on WordPress and I just had to share her blog post about Easter.  I love her honesty and courage in sharing her faith and pray that this post will be as much of a blessing to you and yours as it was to us.

 

I’m Sorry…My Kids Don’t Believe in the Easter Bunny..

Jesus LIVES

Happy Easter 2013!

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just love.

Having already been betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, denied by Peter, abandoned by His friends, and beaten in the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, Jesus spent part of Thursday night alone in the darkness of this pit. Take a moment and read Psalm 88 – it is the heart breaking picture of how He would have felt that night.

Early Friday morning He was pulled from the pit and put on trial in front of Pilate and Herod, mercilessly beaten repeatedly, and eventually sentenced to death. The Roman soldiers played “The Kings Game” with Him at Antonia Fortress, where you can still see traces of the rules to the game carved into the stone, and where our Savior’s DNA rests in between those rocks.

Beaten, exhausted, and because of OUR SIN, He had to carry the weight of His cross to Golgotha, where He was hung below a sign: ‘The King of…

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The Armor of God

armor of God  Put it on

There is so much out there these days on spiritual warfare and what all it entails.  Lots of practices and methods for dealing with the devil and his sneaky, evil, ways.  But let us not get side tracked from what God’s Word clearly tells us in regards to resisting the devil and dealing with him.

Paul spells it out plainly in Ephesians 6:10-18 when he says:

10 A final word:  Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so that you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  15 For shoes put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  17 Put on salvation as your helmet and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 

We need to do as Paul said in Ephesians and put on all of God’s armor, pray, pray, and pray some more, and keep our minds focused on Jesus and what He’s already done for us, which is win the battle.   We have no need in concentrating on the newest fad in spiritual warfare.  The important thing is to concentrate on doing what God’s Word says and keep our minds solidly on Him in order to resist Satan and all of his tricks and games.  God is with us when we are with Him.  He’ll never let us down.

Now, let’s do this!  Praise God!   🙂

Which one will you choose to be in life?

Which one will you choose to be in life?

Grandmother says… Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

—AUTHOR UNKNOWN —

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