It isn’t that easy.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

If you’ve been visiting my site long enough you may have seen that verse before. It’s what I call my Life Verse. I have a couple of them. If you’re a Christian you’ve probably been asked what you’re Life Verse is. Imagine if you’re in your 20s, have been a Christian for like 2 years and are asked that. Your first thought is, “No one said that I had to have one of those when I got dunked in the water!”

You have to be careful and not just throw out any old verse.

A few readers have already clicked away by now, but the rest of you will find out what I’m writing about today.

I just finished going through one of those lists things, you know like ’10 Famous People Who Eat Chalk’ or ’23 Celebrities Who Used to be Famous’.

This was one about celebrities that we didn’t know were atheists.

There were some sad revelations: 1) I didn’t know who some of the people were, 2) Some are agnostic, not atheist (It’s okay to have questions.), and 3) Some you could just see being a Christian gets in the way of what they want in life.

One of the things that sparked me to write is what one person said. It was something like “It would be great if I were a Christian, then I could do anything and ask for forgiveness and be okay.”

That’s the voice of someone who hasn’t lived as a real Christian. When I do something wrong, yeah, I ask for forgiveness, but I don’t feel okay. You see, I’ve disappointed  God and insulted Jesus’s sacrifice. (And yes, you are supposed to put an ‘s for possessive when the name ends in s, I looked it up. Although either way is socially acceptable. Thus ends the editor voice version of me.) You can let a lot of people down and feel okay, you can get over it. But when you’ve done something bad, even if you get away with it, God knows, and you know God knows. Even when you say “Sorry!” you know God still knows.

It perturbs me when I see people speaking about the ease of Christianity. If I were not a Christian I would only have to deal with myself in those moments. I could forgive myself and move on. Now, I don’t wallow in my wrong doings. I know they are there. They come back to me at times. No, God isn’t reminding me. I remind myself because I know the injustice I’ve done to the one that made it possible for me to live without having to deal with what death brings. I will stand before God and answer for what I’ve done. The gifts in Heaven God had for me will be taken from for each of my wrong doings. But I will still be in Heaven. Even if all the gifts are gone, as long as I have one tiny spot in Heaven, I’m good.

Even that, I don’t DESERVE. Christians live like anyone else, except we carry a load that others shake off at times. If any Christian says they don’t have a load to carry then I would question them a little. I am able to lighten my load through prayer, Bible study, and trying to live my daily life the way I think Jesus would have me do it. Things will still happen to me here on Earth. Problems will still be faced. Sadness will still come. But I know at the end I’ll be good.

So it saddens me when I see comments about how easy it is. It saddens me to see people not wanting to be Christian because they don’t agree with something in the Bible. There’s a lot I don’t agree with but I understand the why of it during the time of it. That mainly applies to the Old Testament. You might realize at this time I am a New Testament guy. Jesus came to fulfill what was said in the Old Testament, about all those laws and things. Christians really have one law these days, follow Jesus. If you are a follower of his then you do what he taught. And he taught pretty good stuff. He’s the one that argued with the people who misinterpreted the Old Testament. He’s the one that helped people on the Sabbath. He’s the one that ate with the undesirable people of the time.

It isn’t easy inside or even out these days. Saying you’re a Christian can make people treat you differently, make jokes happen, bring about frowns. But I take it all in stride. That’s one thing that is easy with God. With God, you can face anything with a smile and head held up.

Faith of Inclusion.

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3)

Some people don’t like the Apostle Paul. He’s too liberal, to revolutionary. Paul’s my favorite and I’m pretty conservative about a lot of things. Then again, I’m pretty common sense about a lot of things as well.

Did you know that the early Christians didn’t see themselves as a new religion? As far as they were concerned they were Jews. They were Jews who believed the Messiah had come. Honestly, you can’t get much more Jewish than believing in a Messiah. That’s not a Gentile thing.

Paul sort of forced the hand of other Apostles. He went outside the box and started in on the Gentiles, the non-Jews. He did as Jesus did and reached out and spoke to non-Jews. Surprised at that? Think about the Samaritan woman at the well, the Roman Centurion.

One thing I like about Christianity is the inclusion factor. I know, another surprise for some. For Christians who follow the Christ path and the Bible, we see how we are all sinners, we all do things way beneath deserving of Heaven, Salvation, and anything else to do with Jesus and God. Even after accepting Jesus, God knows we will still do wrong things but He still made the sacrifice.

“Oh, but He knew Jesus would be resurrected!”

Have you ever felt the sting of a whip? Let’s say you have, now magnify that by millions. Each lash of the whip carries with it the punishment of millions. Imagine the agony. Imagine what goes through the mind during all of that. I personally would be like, “Did I sign up for this?”

Paul did a wonderful thing by reaching out to us. He didn’t say that if you do this and then stop you’ll be kicked out or killed. He also didn’t say it would be an easy job. A lot of us Christians talk about how difficult it is to be a Christian. We talk about following teachings that are so not in line with the ‘cool’ way of doing things. I’m good with that, no problems. Being cool is only a thing I’m trying to be as opposed to being burning forever. What is most difficult about being a Christian is failing every day and knowing God sees it. Living with that, knowing I disappointed Him and Jesus. Lot of guilt there, not so much I’ll hide in my room and flog myself until my skin bleeds. No repeat of the Scarlett Letter here, even if I were a preacher.

I’ve learned to let go of a lot of the guilt and live a carefree life in many ways. It occurred to me, okay it occurs to me every time I start feeling guilty, that God knew even before He sent Jesus that I would fail. No, I’m not cheering when I fail, but in those dark moments, I grab hold of that thought and it pulls me up.

Inclusion. God included me in His decision making from the very beginning. I’ve been included in His thoughts from the beginning. I’m included in His plan.



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Freedom to be free.

Do you know how to lead a fearless life? Fear means you have a problem with the end results of something that is going on. One thing that most people fear the most is death. They may not realize it but they do.

I don’t fear death. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to die and if someone was aiming a gun between my eyes I would be wetting myself so much Georgia would be the new location of the Great Lakes.

No, I mean I am not afraid of the results of that final destination. If I die, I’m not afraid of being dead. A lot of people will tell you that they are just going to be worm food so why be afraid. That’s what they say. Have a conversation with a great many of those people and you’ll find the story is different.

I’m not afraid because of the whole Christian thing. You see, Jesus on the cross, resurrection, ascension and all of that gives a chance at freedom. People wonder what it means by freedom when it comes to Christianity. The freedom we have is that death has no hold over us because we know where and who we belong to.

If I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Savior, my Lord then I would fear the torture I would have to face for all the sins I’ve committed.  Instead, I try my best to do my best and will be judged and given a few less gifts in Heaven than I had to begin with. Each time I sin, I get a gift taken away. My idea is, put me at the back of Heaven against the wall and I’ll take it.

Before Jesus, before accepting him, I lived under the control of sin, and what that sin would do to me in the end. Some people don’t believe in sin. They think it’s just a point of view as to what is good and what is bad. I could give some examples and see what you say, but I’m not that sick of a person and some people are sick enough to disagree just to be jerks about it.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

What this verse is telling us is this, don’t let the things of this world control you. Alcohol, porn, any other vices, illegal activities, all of it, don’t let any of it be something you think you have to do. What control does it have on you? You’ll die without it? What are you doing with it? Are you truly living with it? You’re afraid or feeling ill with it. Let it go. Be free.

You will slowly begin to feel better. Will your life be better? Maybe not. No one can promise that. However, you will be a better person.


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In God’s Sight.

13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2)

Some might find it odd that Romans is one of my favorite books of the Bible, what with it being so controversial at times. It’s only controversial because of the way people take verses out of context and how a letter has been divided into chapters. Maybe I’m being a bit repetitive with my whole dividing books into chapters thing, but I think it’s worth saying, and saying often.

This verse is the one that came up today for me to study and I thought I would share it with you. Let’s look at all of it, and this is Paul speaking to the early church in Rome.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

A lot of people ‘hear’ the words of the Bible. Many people even sit in church two or three times a week hearing the Word of the Lord, yet walk out to the parking lot and immediately do the opposite of what they had just said Amen to.

Some of you may have heard that if a person claims to be a Christian they need to do things called works to show they are Christian. I’m not that flavor of Christian. I do believe you need to show in your way of life that a change has come over you, that you are no longer a person that things a certain way is okay to act. What I’m talking about here is living like what Jesus said we should.

A Gentile is a non-Jew. God reaches people around the world through various means, even dreams. He reaches people through their heart. When you see someone being ill treated, even in a minor way, and it tugs at your heart, that’s the goodness of God that’s written into your DNA. We all have that code to unlock.

It’s a shame when professed Christians do things completely opposite of Christ. I share from time to time good words here on my blog. I like to encourage people. I like to give hope. I like to inspire. I like to show a side of Christianity that is nonjudgmental. The only person I can judge is another Christian when I see them doing something against the Word of God, and even then it’s only to say, “Hey, brother, maybe you should take a step back and think about what you’re doing.” I’ve done lots of things in my life, thus I know I’m far from perfect. That lack of perfection gives me the ability and inclination to speak out at times to others to say, “I changed. If I did all of these things with a decision, so can you.”

The world doesn’t become a better place when you become a Christian or if you decide to simply use the words of the Bible as a guide to a good way of living. Actually you see the world with a different pair of eyes. That new world is far worse than you ever knew. You see the problems, you see answers, but you know people think your solutions are just Jesus Freak brainwashing.

A lady from another country commented on a recent post about how her own faith leads to thinking much like my own, and words much like that of the Bible. Gentiles are given God’s words and will in so many ways. Who knows, maybe He spoke to someone and said, “Put this down, tell your people this.” I am not above saying God won’t use anything good to do his will.

Do good. Do what Jesus says. You can’t go wrong. Even Gandhi loved the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 5.

Casting Crowns has a great song about how people in a church don’t really do what they are hearing.


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KEEP ON LOVING.

1Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13)

Beautiful words, aren’t they? Some may even be surprised they come from the Bible. There are people that don’t realize there are two parts of the Bible, a historical half and an application part. I always like to point to the fact the ugly parts of the historical being included as being signs of how true the Bible is. If all those who put the Bible together wanted was a positive point of view without any negative parts for people to point fingers at, they would have left the Old Testament out.

But more about those words up there. I have a friend visiting the south this week. A stranger to this country and especially this part of the world. Southern Hospitality has reined and dispelled some naysayers to how Americans are, and how Southerners might be. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t get adopted into a family here before she makes it to the airport for her trip back home.

As a Christian, living in the Bible Belt of the nation, I like to think some of the verses above seep into the culture. Even those not attending church, not reading or believing the Bible, are exposed to the behavior of Christians. Some say these characteristics are only basic polite gestures. If so, then why don’t all parts of the world do the same? I’m not saying all parts of the world don’t have nice people, every part of the world does have nice people.

What I’m saying is, here in the South we have this culture of politeness and respect for one another that even the young get eventually. They like to act a certain way in front of their friends but once away from them, they slip into the polite culture. They KNOW how to act.

Or perhaps it’s that they act that way around adults who don’t jump to a conclusion about them. Perhaps it’s to those adults that treat them with respect and pleasantries they will reciprocate. If anyone can find fault in the words above, well, it would be interesting.

Just because we have a loved one in prison does not mean they cease to exist. And as for those suffering, have you not suffered in some way that you cannot empathize?

The scripture at the beginning of this post are the first verses of Hebrews Chapter 13. As some of you who have read me long enough may know, I don’t like the chapter divisions of the Bible.

The end of Hebrews Chapter 12:

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

The above is the paragraph right before the paragraph I started off the post with. I like to show previous verses at times to show context and how one leads into the other.


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