A tale of two Bibles

Which Bible looks more like your Bible? Continue reading

I can do some things through Christ who strengthens me.

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Do I have to draw you a picture?

“Well, [pause] yes,” he said. [Pause again] “Sometimes you may have to.” Continue reading

Are you a Sea of Galilee or Dead Sea believer?

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“Christian” is a lousy adjective

A Jewish lady answered a knock at her door. The young man asked her if she wanted her house painted. It needed painting, so she took his card. She noticed a fish symbol on the card and asked him what it meant. “It means I’m a Christian painter,” he said.

In my opinion, calling yourself a “Christian” anything presents two problems. First, no one has ever explained to me what a Christian is in Biblical terms. Any definition fails to capture what Jesus taught us about following Him.

And second, using “Christian” to describe a “painter” does not help me learn anything about the person holding the brush and ladder. Does a “Christian painter” paint differently from a “Catholic painter” or a “Muslim painter” or, “atheist painter”? The woman wanted her house painted. All she cared about was whether or not the guy could paint.

Too many times I think folks use “Christian” to describe their business to persuade their customers they’re more honest or ethical than “non-Christian” businesses. That somehow their “Christian business” ethics or integrity or quality of work is superior to their competitors who don’t flash a “Christian” label in their front window or on their business cards.

Too often we hear stories of bad experiences some consumers have with “Christian” businesses who flash their fish symbols then act just like the world in the market place. Those “Christian” business folks drive people away from The church and away from Jesus. One bad “Christian” business deal can destroy dozens of potential good business deals with authentic followers of Jesus who take Jesus to work every day.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23

Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to flash a “Christian” label to attract more customers, or to describe one’s integrity or character. Authentic followers of Jesus don’t have to convince others of their faith. The way we love others is all we need to bear witness to our integrity and our character.

The Struggle In Today’s Church

Editor’s Note: I ran across this post on Writinggomer’s  blog and wanted to share it with my readers. Greg has some of the same issues I have expressed on this blog before about the state of the church today.  Is the church more like a harlot or the Bride of Christ?

By Writinggomer
Published on his website: Believing God Today

How would you like your eggs today, over-easy, scrambled, fried, sunny-side up, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, poached, or shirred?? How about your steak; rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, or well done?? Choice of potatoes? This sounds like questions for a meal in a restaurant right?

Can you relate the above questions to today’s Church? Depending on the meal you choose when eating in a restaurant, you, the patron, sometimes have Continue reading

What’s your WQ–Winning Quotient?

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7 ways to resolve conflicts

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It’s been one of those days

Murphy’s law on steroids.

Whatever could go wrong today went wrong. From the moment I left the house this morning until I crashed on the couch at days’s end. My soft couch was welcome respite.

I regret to say I was not a nice person today. in the throws of multiplemurphys-law setbacks I lashed out at two ladies. Both, in their respective roles were trying to help me. Both were cheerful and pleasant. I was not.

I chose to complain and become one of those antagonistic clients they practice on in  HR customer service training classes.

I sought them both out at the end of our meetings and apologized  profusely and earnestly. I resent my negative responses to people who only wanted to serve me. All I wanted to do was argue and register my dissatisfaction and disappointment. All they wanted to do was help me.

By days end I was exhausted and regreted that I responded contrary to my usually pleasant Type A, never-meet-a-stranger self. I needed relief.  I needed rest.

I came home and opened my bible and read Mathew 11:28-30 several times.  About the third or fourth time I felt His peace wash over me. I was quiet, refreshed and at rest in Jesus.

I’m so grateful that on Murphy’s law days I can always come to Jesus and let Him take away my burdens and my anxiety and give me His peace and I can rest in Him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke
is easy
and my burden is light.

Riddle: What is full when it’s empty?

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Banging on the door

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What resentment can do

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God Bless Atheists This Christmas

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What Will You Celebrate This Christmas?

“But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the tribes of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”  Micah 5:2

Even in the Old Testament we read signs of the coming of Christ. The Old Testament signs even today give us cause for Continue reading

The Day God Ran

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I’m okay. You’re okay. It’s okay. Okay?

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Go ahead! Take God for granted

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How to argue with an atheist

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Do you know another word for “never-ending supply”?

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Why didn’t God just write a “To-do” list for us to follow?

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Do humans get a pass on sin?

Is it okay for people to sin just because they’re human? What do you think?

How many times have we heard people who get caught committing sin announce, “I’m only human.” Why yes, we are. All of us are “humans”. We’re mortal. Politicians claim membership as humans with a flair of confidence after they’ve been caught in sin. Admitting they’re “human” seems to justify all manner of transgressions, to them anyway.

Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 all (all us humans) have sinned and fall sort of the glory of God.

But does admitting we’re human when we sin give us a pass? Does our human condition make it okay? Where’s the remorse? Where’s the repentance? Where’s the accountability? Does being human justify sinning? Can we justify our sins by simply admitting we’re human?

We can be justified, but not by anything we say or do.  We are justified by the precious blood of Jesus on the cross. His priceless blood supplies the only justification for our sins. Not anything from or by us. It is only Jesus and his blood on the cross that justifies the sins of us humans who have a personal relationship with Him.

Let’s replace, “I’m only human” with “It is against You, and You only, that I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so You are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. from Psalm 51.

Religion or relationship

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Some encouraging words

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“Pick up your mat and walk.”

When Jesus encountered a man who had been afflicted for 38 years, He gave him three commands: Get up; pick up your mat; and walk.

if I make a conscious, deliberate decision to get up, to obey Jesus, to do what Jesus tells me to do, my life will change. It’s a lot easier, and more comfortable sometimes, to remain where we are. To remain in the grasp of a place we don’t want to be, but don’t have the courage, or the faith, to do what Jesus tells us to do.

Like the sick man Jesus encountered, I need to make an effort to change, especially if I’m lounging on a mat of my own creation. I have to want to get well. I need to obey Jesus’ command. The man needed to take action.

Then Jesus told the man to pick up his mat. John 5:9 says, “Immediately the man became well.”

I’d be willing to wager he showed that mat to everyone he met, skipping through the streets testifying to how Jesus had healed him. His mat became his message. God used the man’s 38 years of affliction as his testimony to God’s faithfulness and powers of healing.

Finally, Jesus told the man to walk. It was finally time for him to act. Once Jesus has touched us, impacted our lives and healed us, He wants us to walk out our testimonies. To share our healing with others.

I am a victim of post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. We experienced a homicide in our home November 10, 2013. Following the murder the PTSD set in and it took several months of weekly counseling for me to work through it. When I did, I shared my story in recovery groups, church groups and with others who experienced PTSD. I walked my story out and could tell others, “I know how you feel.” Because I did. I was able to share understanding and compassion with them. And others shared their stories with me as well. We share a bond that others can’t share. But as we walk out our experience, we grow stronger and closer to the Lord. I am forever grateful for all the things God showed me as I lay on that mat.

Maybe someday I’ll write about all that.

If you missed the post, “Get up”, you can read it here.
If you missed the post, “Pick up your mat”, you can read it here.
If you’d like to read about the homicide and the source of my PTSD,  You can read the full post here.

We change our clothes, we change our minds, but . . .

we often fear
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Break the law. Oh, Please, break the law

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The day my daughter learned to trust me

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Why did you accept Christ as your Savior?

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Dear Mom, I missed you yesterday

Mom,

Yesterday in church Pastor Gearl recognized all the moms in the audience. His message was about how important a good mom is to her family and to others. I wish you could have been there with me.

I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since Jesus called you home.  I sure do miss you. I can’t count the times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I loved to call you and share some way God blessed me, or tell you about something exciting or fun I did that day. 

My conversations over the years with you and Dad created some of my most precious memories. Though we spent most of our lives living a thousand miles apart, I loved being able to pick up the phone and connect with you just to chat.

You gave me something few of my friends here share. For almost 60 years you gave me consistency. You stayed married to each other, despite some extremely difficult times. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, or not doing, I could always pick up the phone and dial 712-246-2655. You were always there. I often brag about my hometown and my wonderful growing up years in my loving family to my friends. Most of them marvel at the wonderful childhood I enjoyed in our small Iowa hometown. Many of my friends have never known the consistence and security you and Dad gave me.

I know we didn’t have a perfect life, either. I know I gave you more than my share of grief and heartaches. For all those, I am genuinely sorry.

I have to confess, Mom: the day you died, I was absolutely jubilant. Not because you died, but because I knew where you were. Your suffering from the cancer that took you from us was over. Not only was I jubilant because I knew where you were. I was jubilant because I knew that someday we would be reunited and basking in the love of Jesus in God’s Kingdom forever. We’ll never be apart again. We’ll never know pain or suffering or sorrow or dismay or any other health problems. And you’d never have to fuss at me again to pick up my clothes.

What a glorious day that will be!

Until then, Mom, please know that I love you and miss you still. I am grateful for everything you were to me, everything you gave me, everything you taught me, and everything you did for me.

I will always love you,

Your loving son, Steve

My Mom never breaks the law

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so they hid

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You might be a Pharisee if . . .

You might be a Pharisee if . . .

you catch yourself saying, “You can’t talk to me like that!”Pharisee

you think life is not always fair.

your prayers are more self-talk than talking with God.

you catch yourself mumbling, “Did you hear about…”

you believe you’re more spiritual than your friends.

you justify your anger because you know you’re in the right.

you enjoy receiving praise from other believers.

you believe you’re pleasing God by following rules.

you believe you’re humble.

you don’t think you need anybody’s help”.

outward righteousness is better than heart holiness.

you  celebrate the failures of others.

you obsess over the opinion of others.

you are convinced your opinion is the only right one.

you’re quick to criticize others when they disagree with you.

you think “Christians” who don’t agree with you are “compromisers”.

you feel good when you catch someone’s Scriptural error.

you look down on people who are not on your spiritual level.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness
and looked down on everyone else
,
Jesus told this parable:
 
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee
and the other a tax collector.
  The Pharisee stood by himself
and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not
like other people—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not
even look up to heaven, but beat his breast
and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other,
went home justified before God. For all those who
exalt themselves will be humbled, and those
who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14

If my people . . .

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Meekness is not weakness

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The Difference Between Me and Job

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“Christian” Is A Label, Not A Life

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I’m NOT okay; You’re NOT okay

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Our Faucet Works Great

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Go Forward

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Define Christmas In One Word

If someone asked you to define Christmas in one word, what would you say? Continue reading

Handling Success

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Disambiguous

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I Love My Other GPS

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The Truth About Lies

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Did You Turn On The Power?

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Jesus Was Narrow Minded And Intolerant

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“When Do We Own Scripture” Post Comment

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What’s In Your Alabaster Jar?

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A Secret Of God’s Kingdom

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Are You “A Christian” Or Are You “Christian”?

I resurrected this post from my archives. When I published it in 2012, it received some good feedback. Enjoy.

My friend Henry asked this question Saturday at our Bible Study. “Are you a Christian or are you Christian?”  It’s a question we can all ponder.Which phrase below best describes you?

___ I am a Christian.

___ I am Christian.

___ I am a good Christian.

If you answered “I am a good Christian,”  who is a better Christian than you? Who is not as good a Christian as you? God looks at each of us the same. Through the blood of Jesus God sees all of us who are born from above as forgiven, righteous and holy. In Luke Jesus answered a man who addressed him as “Good Teacher” — “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Luke 18:19) Good is a comparative adjective which means someone compares people or things by degrees, such as good ice cream, better ice cream, best ice cream. God does not compare Christians.

If we say we are “a Christian” it implies that we claim to belong to a group of people. (A Gallup poll in 2009 found that 78 percent of Americans declared themselves to be a Christian, as opposed to being a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, other groups or a non believer).

When we tell someone, “I am a Christian,” what does that mean to us? Does it mean we have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (we’re saved)?  Does it mean we go to church 50 Sundays and Wednesday nights a year? Does it mean we read the Bible? Does it mean we can quote a bunch of scripture? Does it mean we volunteer at a soup kitchen twice a month? Tithe? Visit widows and orphans? Does it mean we pray? Does it mean we attend a Bible study every Tuesday night? Does it mean we’ve been baptized?

Both the ones calling themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” do many of the same things. The difference is their motivation. Those who are “a Christian” do things for the approval of men. They link their works to their desire to follow all the rules, do all the right things, participate in all the right events, and look good to everyone around. These folks are religious. They are working to gain acceptance from God, when they are already fully accepted by God.

In Mark 10 we read about a rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to be a follower.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus is not implying that to be rich or have lots of money is bad. He’s teaching us that if we love money, or anything else more than we love Jesus, and if we are not willing to deny ourselves and forsake all our possessions, we can not be an authentic follower of Jesus.

In Matthew 23, Jesus talks to the Pharisees about their religion and the seven woes. Two of the woes address issues “a Christian” faces.  Jesus says.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, (and those who call themselves “aChristian”) hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

In his book not a fan, Kyle Idleman says, ” That’s a picture of what happens to a lot of fans (those who call themselves ‘a Christian‘)If you asked them: Are you a fan (a Christian) or a follower? they would confidently respond, ‘follower.’ It’s not a question of their effort or desire. They are following hard. Here’s the problem; it’s not Jesus they are following. Without realizing it, they are aiming at the wrong target. Instead of following Jesus they are following religious rules and rituals.”¹

The major difference between those who call themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” is their commitment to love. Christians allow Jesus to live His life in us, through us and as us. Jesus loves through Christians. Christian works come from a heart surrendered completely to God through faith. Faith in Christ to carry out God’s will through them. Faith in the Holy Spirit to lead them, help them and speak God’s will to them.

Christians love others out of their deep, abiding love for Christ.

So, are you “a Christian” or are you “Christian”? Your answer may impact your eternity. Not your salvation, but your eternal rewards.

Thanks for dropping by. Did you enjoy reading this post? I’d love to read your comments. If you enjoyed reading why not subscribe to my blog? Just go to the home page, and on the right side click Subscribe and enter your email address.  That way you’ll receive an email notification each time I publish a new post.

¹not a fan, by Kile Idleman; ©2011 by Kyle Idleman; published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49530; pg. 69