It’s Sunday all over again.

Back in the day, which would be a couple of years ago now, I would spend Sundays on my blog sharing my thoughts about my faith. Please, don’t turn the channel yet. This particular post won’t exactly be faith sharing as one might think of it. It’s more like explaining, and that’s to Christians as well. We can all learn a little something we thought we knew already.

It’s Father’s Day here in the USA and in an article I read yesterday a celebrity of sorts was quoted as saying “It’s God first and family second.” I’ve seen and heard that phrase plenty during my years as a Christian, but when I read it this time, it occurred to me, for the first time, that many people probably misunderstand what that really means, including the Christians that say it. That brings me to my purpose for writing today.

I believe that a large majority of Christians today haven’t been taught properly about what being a Christian is, because I don’t see them being Christ like, and if you talk to them about Christianity, they can’t do what is called defending the faith. Meaning, they can’t explain why they are a Christian or why certain things are the way they are in the Bible. Even those who think they know it all continue to learn every day. And if they aren’t? They might need to be checked on by a brother or sister in Christ. No, there isn’t a Christ Cops airing on TV busting backsliding Baptists.

Christians are at various stages in their life as a Christian, ranging from Baby Christian, which is what I was at 23 when I was saved to Mature Christian, where I feel comfortable in saying I am now. Not telling you my age. But age don’t mean a thing when it comes to your walk with Christ. Here are some things any stage of a Christian’s maturity level in their walk and knowledge should think about when reading the Bible.  Or for non-believers who hear people quoting scripture to prove how evil Christians must be.

1) The Bible is a text book. More precisely, a History book. It’s not a book of fairy tales or approved by God events. If that were the case, the Bible would be a lot shorter. As with any text book, the author, God doesn’t have to, and most likely doesn’t, approve of every last fact in the Bible. God either directly told, as to Moses, what to write, or He inspired someone to write, as in the New Testament, those feelings and put them in to words that God approved of. Normally in the New Testament these are letters to either churches, mentors, or students who are helping a church.

2) The Old Testament is the history of the Jews and is included in the Bible to show us why Jesus had to come, and thus Christianity begins. That’s correct, Christians don’t follow the Old Testament. Christianity doesn’t begin until the New Testament. We don’t follow or believe in or even like the idea of the laws/rules that the Jews had to live by. There are some denominations of Christianity that do follow parts of the Old Testament, but they are in a very small minority but always seemed to get picked by media to represent all of Christianity.

3) All you really need are the words of Jesus to follow. If anything else in the New Testament disagrees with the words of Jesus then those words are incorrect and are just an opinion of whoever physically wrote those words. Usually the author will say, in some way, they are giving their own opinion.

4) If you are reading the Bible or hear a verse from scripture you need to keep these things in mind; where, when, and why (WWW). That goes for any historical text you might read.  I’ll give you an example. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” These are the words of Paul writing to the church in Corinth.

Where and When: Corinth, first century A.D.. Why is Corinth important? Because it is a Roman controlled city, under Roman law.

Why: Corinth is having problems with all sorts of members who are doing things to draw the attention of others.

Results of WWW: Roman law during this period forbade women from speaking in public gatherings and many other things. They couldn’t even own property. The house was their domain and that is where they were expected to talk and ask questions about anything from church to politics. Thus in order to keep the young Christian churches growing and spreading, it was important not to give Rome a reason to break up or give problems to a church. The use of the lowercase L in law is important here, as if Paul were referring to Jewish Law he would normally use the uppercase L, as he does earlier in the same portion of the text, not the lower which normally referred to Roman or local law.

I hope you see why the WWW is important to know when reading or interpreting something in the Bible. I’ve never really heard people outside of fellow Apologists who explain details like that. With Jews writing these letters, it is important to remember how important word selection and letter case is.

5) The Bible we have was put together by man. Man chose which letters and text to include in a unified book form. Constantine order for Bibles to be made for the Bishop of Constantinople and the churches in the area around the city. It is believed this may have been what prompted the idea of having just one version of the Bible that could be used, although some Bibles, even today, have a few extra books outside of what was finally decided upon. Some say it was divinely inspired as to what to include. Perhaps. I leave that for you to decide. I just know I stick to the words Jesus said, and I know I’m doing good. Although I still mess up in some way every day.

You are probably wondering what all of this has to do with “It’s God first and family second.” When many Christians see or say this, they really put God before the family in such a way that it interferes with family. The truth of it is, if you are following God, following Jesus, then you are not allowing what I call pollutants to contaminate your life and interfere with your relationship with your family. When you put God first you really are doing so in order to be a stronger and better person for your family. No, you won’t be perfect. No one ever will be. The whole point is for you to know that and keep trying, talk to God and ask for His help to give you strength to get through whatever might be giving you problems. Don’t confuse God and church as the same thing. I know people, like myself at one point, who thought if I am doing everything that I’m asked to do for the church then that’s what God wants me to do. But that can interfere with your family life. You can put God first everywhere you are and at any time.

It’s God, Family, then church.

Well, I hope I helped someone out there understand a little bit more about Christianity, at least how I see it. I’ve experienced a lot, learned a lot, and led a lot. I’ve fallen even more than all of those three put together. God isn’t about a building or what a preacher says to you or about a clique or club inside the church. God can’t be contained by a building. The only time God is in a church is when his followers are there to talk to Him, to worship Him, or praise Him. Because each believer/follower, has a bit of God in their heart.

I end with a New Testament verse that I live by and an Old Testament I live by that is still relevant for we Christians.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;” 46:10a This helped in my time of great confusion, distress, and fear. We all need to learn to be still. Pick our battles. Choose our moments. And let all the other insanity be. Do what we can, and let others do what they can, and be happy with what we have done while still living our life by living it not existing it.

One Master.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

A lot of people look at Christianity as a way out. Some, even preachers, would take a verse like this and say, “See, you don’t have to worry about anything. Do what you want and you’ll be fine.”

The only thing is, this verse is part of a letter to the Romans and you can’t take one line of that letter out of context. So I read the whole section it was included in even though I was given just that one verse for the day to study over.

There are basically two masters of the world, sin and righteousness, or bad and good. You are either a servant of one or the other. Sometimes you’re going to mess up and do something that falls into the camp of the other, but when it comes down to the end, you’re going to have to answer to whoever the leader you serve.

Not being under the law doesn’t mean a Christian is above the law. It’s a reference to the Old Testament laws. There were a LOT of them. Jesus fulfilled those laws with his sacrifice. By a person becoming a Christian they agree to follow the one who already took the fall for us. We still have to answer to God when the time comes. Like I’ve said before, “Give me the smallest piece of Heaven and I’ll still be in Heaven.”

We each make a choice as to what master is going to be our primary leader. I’ve personally chosen God/good/righteousness and depending on the grace of God to forgive me for my failings. Some may say there is no such thing as God. I’d rather believe there is. And why not, right? There is no harm. At least not for those who are real Christians, and no harm from real Christians. We are not supposed to force our beliefs on others. As far as I am concerned we aren’t to make laws that force those beliefs either. But I will be honest and say if there is a vote for something that is against my beliefs, then I’ll vote against it. Too many people get upset when a vote doesn’t go there way. I haven’t had a vote of any kind that has harmed me in any way. But that’s where legislation gets in the way. They don’t let the people vote for things, even simple things. I think they might be surprised how a vote would turn out.

Well, I’ve rambled there a bit, but I hope you get what I’m saying, or at least get something I’ve said.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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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