Defining Christians – How Can You Tell A Christian From A Non-Believer?

Defining Christians – What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

Defining Christians can be a very tough thing to do with all of the seemingly conflicting definitions offered by society. The simplest definition of Christian is “christ like”. To know what that is, we need to understand who Christ is. Read: Mark 1:1-13

John baptized people in the Jordan river telling them he would baptize them in water to cleanse their sin, but when Christ would come, he would baptize them in the Holy Spirit, eternally cleansing their sins.

This commitment does not come without a cost, though. It comes with a series of new responsibilities which carry some pretty powerful titles:

Prophet – Priest – King

As John baptized Jesus, Heaven opened and a dove appeared, signaling God’s anointing of Jesus as a prophet, priest, and king.

Prophet

A prophet is defined as a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God. They are thought to convey messages from God. The message they deliver is called a prophesy.

Notable prophets in the Bible are: Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaac, and Samuel.

The prophets in the Bible were used by God to deliver his messages to his people. Sometimes they carried messages of hope and deliverance. Often, though, they carried messages of warning and destruction. Prophets were rarely well thought of and often lived in seclusion.

Priest

A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform sacred rituals, and is a mediatory agent between humans and God. Priests guide and mentor the people they take charge of. They also lead and teach them.

Priests have a higher standard of ethical and moral code placed on them. While still human, they are to live a life free from sin, modeling how to follow Jesus’ commands, and calling others to God’s message of hope and redemption.

King

A king is the male monarch (ruler) over a group of people. Kings provide protection and lead the nation. They are sought for their judgement in certain matters, and are looked to for knowledge and wisdom. Their decisions impact their nation and nations around them.

Good kings lead by keeping the best interests of the people in their nation at heart. They think about the impact to their nation, and the nations around them for every decision they make.

Kings also provide protection, building for themselves armies, walls, and defensive measures to protect his people.

God called Jesus to all of these roles. If we are to be “christ-like”, we must also assume these three roles.

Jesus then said in his ministry that Christians should be the hands and feet of Christ. God calls us to the roles of Jesus’ anointing, also, we are to tell God’s plans to the world. Finally, our calling to guide and council those we come into contact with is paramount. We are to rule over resources and people God may send our way to work for His purpose.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

As a true follower of Christ, you will take on these three roles throughout your life. I can offer you this warning, be sure in all decisions you are in His will. Working toward your will and not His is grossly mishandling His power, as a result, you will hurt others. In everything, give God the credit and acknowledge his role in your life.

Remember that the world is watching you. God does forgive your sin, but the world often will not. Do not damage your witness by letting your actions be about you and not about God.

“As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove” – Mark 1:10

God Money – Choose Your Master – There Can Be Only One

god money or God – Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

Read Mathew 6:24-34. Decide whether you will serve god money, or the one true living God.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

god money isn’t everything – but it demands everything

For as long as I can remember I have been taught by several influences, including society, that god money is the key to a comfortable life. Being raised an American, society itself has taught that hard work is required to be successful. Hard work is crucial in life, but not for love of money.

Money is greedy, once you have what you think is enough, you overspend that and need more. When you start chasing money, you race away from God. Life becomes a struggle at every junction as God scrambles to draw you back to him.

Money will require your every ounce of effort as you become a miser, hoarding everything you bring in. Money becomes your master, forsaking God and giving you a spirit of mammon.

The Greek word mammon

Mammon is the Greek word for an all encompassing greed. It could be for money, or stuff. It is the idea that he who dies with the most toys, wins.

This is in direct opposition to God’s word. Jesus says no man can serve two masters. You cannot chase after money and God’s heart. Either you will hate God and love money, or devote your life to money and despise God.

Anything that we seek to replace God with is an idol. It is idolatry. Seeking pleasure or even satisfaction in anything other than God is the worship of false idols.

God Helps Those That Help Themselves?

I hate that saying that “God helps those who help themselves.” There is no scripture that points to this maxim. God implores us to love Him and his people. He asks us to use our money to bless people, and not to worry about how we will eat, drink, or what we will clothe ourselves with. God wants to be your financial planner.

Are you working to provide your family with more than they need? Do you neglect them or God in your quest for money? God wants you to know your needs will be met if you devote yourself to Him. He will not make you rich or even wealthy. He will bless you and provide for you. Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Bridezilla of Christ – His Church is Failing Social Media

When the Bridezilla of Christ shares a meme about how sinful homosexuality is, while plugging the newest romance novel, it kills our witness.

The Bridezilla of Christ in Social Media

Since the Supreme Court decision, people professing to be Christian have clogged my news feed with offensive memes and messages, the number of which I never experienced with chain email messages.

We are called to publicize our faith in God and to go and make disciples. The incessant sharing of these insensitive posts is, in my opinion, having the opposite effect.

Actions vs. Intentions

In anything I do or have done, I try to look back and ask myself, what was the intent? What was the effect? We tend to judge others by their actions, and ourselves by our intentions. Usually my intentions and the effect of my actions do not line up. Then others see what I did and not what I intended to do.

When the Bridezilla of Christ shares a meme about how sinful homosexuality is, while plugging the newest romance novel, it kills our witness. When the Bridezilla of Christ professes faith in God in one post, and posts a photo doing immoral things, it kills our witness.

Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Quit Acting Like The Bridezilla of Christ

It is not sinful to share truth with others. It is sinful to use truth to elevate yourself above others. Paul knew this all too well. If Facebook would have been available before his conversion, he would have likely have posted memes calling Christians on their actions. He would likely have pointed out their sin and scoffed at them for sharing posts of their faith.

After his conversion, however, I doubt he would have done any of these things. He likely would have posted something that said do not post anything unless you do it in love. It would might say that you should not post anything that will destroy the character of anyone, including your enemies. Paul might encourage you to use this medium to build your brothers and sisters in Christ up.

What Would Paul Tell The Bridezilla of Christ?

Paul may say it is good to friend unbelivers and to ask them about their problems. When people lament on Facebook, I believe he would compose a prayer list and add people and their issues to his daily prayers.

In other words, he might post something like this:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; …

I love to look to Paul, because he is so much like all of us, but also so in love with God and so attuned to Christ. We could all benefit to follow his lead, as he often pointed to Christ as the one to follow.

Bridezilla, Support Your Groom

So please, for the sake of Christ, don’t be a bridezilla. Don’t share offensive memes belittling those who sin differently than you. Instead use social media as the wonderful tool it can be. Read about what your “Christian” and unbelieving friends and enemies are experiencing. Pray for them. Share your testimony, and point others to the glory of Christ. Reveal the Christian Truth and Gospel lovingly, refraining from debate or argument about God or Christianity. God can handle his own battles, he just needs you to deliver His words – in love.

Get Close: Essential For Success In Judo and The Church

After learning to fall, the next lesson I learned in Judo was how to get close. In western culture, getting close is considered rude.

Judo – Lesson number two – Learn how to get close

After learning to fall, the next lesson I learned in Judo is how to get close.

In western culture, we consider getting close as rude. We value personal space in our society. In the U.S., we value personal space very highly.

In eastern cultures, it is less important. Getting in someone’s personal space is not uncommon. This is a major psychological hurdle Judo players must overcome in Judo to begin throwing opponents.

Being effective requires getting close

The same is true of my Christian walk, as it is essential to get close to others to be effective in their lives.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

This poses a big problem for me. I have never been close to anyone. I build walls around my heart to guard it from pain and hurt. This also keeps it from growing in love and eventually hardens it against God and His message.

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13 ESV

So long as I keep everyone at arms length, I may feel safe. I am not positioned to be effective in the lives of others. Eventually, employing strength to avoid pain only ends up hurting myself .

Pride comes before a fall

One Judo class, we were practicing a throw called Uchi Mata. It is one of the more dangerous throws. It is difficult to throw me, and falling at over 250lbs really isn’t my thing. As my Judo partner began the steps for this throw, he turned fast. Instead of staying anchored as I expected, I flew around him, landing with a sickening thud. At first, it just felt like a hard fall. As I tried to stand up, I realized my ankle was in severe pain. A couple of instructors helped me off and iced my ankle. While sitting there watching Judo class, embarrassment replaced the pain. I betrayed my training because I was too proud to trust my partner to safely throw me. My ankle still hurts at times and reminds me of this pride I carried.

It is the same pride I exhibit when I forget God’s Grace has covered my sin. It is Him guiding me to who He wants me to become. This pride leads me to actions (or non-actions) that embarrass me in front of God.

Being close to others who are in Christ keeps me accountable and keeps my pride in check. Seeing others fall reminds me of my failures. Displaying God’s grace and love reminds me God loves me and has given me grace. This is why being close to others is important.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

Self Discipline – Learning To Fall as a Judoka and a Christian

I am a Judoka, which means I study Judo. This martial art means “Gentle Way”, and is heavily focused on self discipline. I didn’t think it was too gentle the first time I fell, but with time I learned that self discipline kept me safe.

Self Discipline and Falling as a Judoka and Christian

I am a Judoka, which means I study Judo. This martial art means “Gentle Way”, and is heavily focused on self discipline. I didn’t think it was too gentle the first time I fell, but with time I learned that self discipline kept me safe.

Self Control: My First Lesson As Judoka

The first lesson we had to learn as judoka was how to fall. It sounds silly to have to learn how to fall, but our own natural instincts can hurt us as we fall. Without self control, falling can dislocate wrists, crack ribs, and brake knees.

The same is true with my walk with Christ. I am a perfectionist. Either I do whatever I set out to do perfectly, or I give up. When I fall, my natural instinct is to protect myself by hiding my sin. This only causes more damage because I scramble to cover up what I did, causing me to sin again. This hampers my walk in faith because God calls me to use self control to refrain from sinning. I am a sinner by nature, though. Without the sacrifice Christ made, I cannot be free from sin.

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ESV

Judoka Learn to Fall and Get Back Up

So I have to employ self control to fall in such a manner that I can get back up to fight sin again. I have to recognize when I am falling so that I acknowledge it so it causes as little damage as possible. Judo is the Gentle Way because it softens the blows and protects all participants. Christians must cause as little damage as possible yet be as effective for the cause of Christ as we can be.

Christ displayed a gentle nature when he confronted people regarding their sin. He did so in the most gentle way possible. Even to the accusers of the adulteress in John 8, he did not reveal their sin to the crowd, but rather wrote in the sand and let them know he knew who they truly were, sinners.

“they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.'” – John 8:4-7 ESV

Using Self Control to Become a Disciplined Judoka and Christian

As a Judoka and a Christian, I am called to be gentle not only in how I handle others, but how I manage when I stumble and fall. Learning self control regarding my own behavior must come first before I can help anyone else control theirs. This is the foundation of any discipline.

Friends

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

The second lesson I took away from the movie “My Son” is to be careful who your friends are. I’ve had my share of friends who were bad influences. They have led me down dark paths and like a blind sheep, I followed.

When you accept Christ as your savior, you are no longer a blind sheep but a willing participant in sin. Your eyes become open to the sinful areas of your life and guilt and remorse follow any sinful act.

If your friends are not Christians, then they lack this discernment. It is dangerous to follow them where they go.

Even more dangerous is the friend who professes to be saved, but wallows in sin like a pig in mud. The more you follow this friend, the more muddy you get. The longer you stray from God, the harder it is for you to wash away the guilt and shame, like dried mud. You are forgiven, but you will not forget your trespasses.

Be careful who you choose to follow. The best choice is to follow God and find friends who are following God.

“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts. If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you?” – Proverbs 22:24-27

Socially Acceptable?

Read Hebrews 10:19-39

Should Christians use Social Media?

I have pondered this for a while now. I think the best answer is to use the same principles online as you would offline.

If you are careful who you socialize with, watch what you post, share, or like, and treat others with love and kindness, it can be a powerful tool to advance the cause of Christ.

If you use it to bully, push personal agendas, do anything which will bring shame to God, then stop.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

By all means, use social media to build relationships, show those you love how you love Christ and how He loves all of us. Build them up with praise and rebuke fellow Christians in love when they do wrong.

Whether you use facebook, myspace, instagram, linkedin, pinterest, etc… Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God…

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” – Hebrews 10:24-25

Salt

There are about 14,000 uses for salt according to the salt institute. It is: a cleaning agent, a seasoning agent, a preservative, it increases the temperature at which water boils and decreases the temperature at which water freezes, it removes odors. It also: deters ants, quells grease fires, repairs walls, kills poison ivy, provides traction on icy surfaces, and cleans all sorts of wounds, to name a few uses.

I believe Jesus chose his words carefully when He called his followers salt. His intent was to show them that they had many uses to God, and they were to remain pure so that they may be useful.

Everyone sins, but there is a choice to be had after the sin is committed. The sinner must either choose to continue the sin, or repent (turn away) from the sin.

Many sinners choose to live in the sin, even those who are in Christ. This causes friction or distance between them and God, thus losing any effectiveness the sinner could have for Christ.

A sinner must expose their sin, at least to one other trusted individual to create an accountability partner. Then they can call on them when thoughts or feelings arise to continue their sin. The accountability partner must remain silent regarding this sin unless their silence would cause harm to the sinner or those related to the sinner. This creates a trust bond and allows the sinner to be truthful and honest regarding their sin.

Once the sinner is free from their sin, then they have regained their saltiness. Their struggle may then be shared to further display how God has worked in their life. This allows their light to shine and their city to be placed on a hill. A highly defensible position, but a highly visible target. With Christ, however, no one can stand against them.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16

Sin

Read Matthew 12:30-32

Sin. It’s an archery term meaning to miss the mark. Jesus set the mark for us all to hit, but we are not Jesus, and even the best of us sin (Romans 3:23).

So what are we to do? Sin brings death (Romans 6:23). Are we doomed to death?

The gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). So we’re okay, right? God gave us all a gift and we can now live eternally, right?

Well, we do have to believe that Jesus was The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6).

Previously, I have stated that all sin is the same, now I tell you any sin can be forgiven, almost.

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” – Matthew 12:31

That’s it, you cannot disparage The Holy Spirit. Anything besides that can be forgiven. Yes, that means Heaven will have murderers, sex offenders, and thieves. It will also have nuns, priests, and saints. Anyone who has entered into The Body of Christ.

Would you really want it any other way? People complain all the time that the justice system is unfair. Either it is too lenient, or too strict. God’s justice is completely fair and the punishment has already been paid! You will be convicted of your sin, but if Jesus is your counselor, you get to walk scot free!

Freedom, not from tyranny or persecution, but freedom from the eternal consequences of sin.