Why are you a Christian? Is it because your parents are Christians? Is it because of the church you attended as a child?
I began to ask myself these questions after I was confronted by a nonbeliever on a social media site. He said, “I bet you were raised by Christian parents who made you go to church.”
Actually, although my parents were raised as Christians, they had drifted away from their faith. They didn’t attend church by the time my sister and I were born. However, when my parents purchased a house in a new subdivision in Louisiana, my sister and I, alone, began to attend a small church down the block, along with other neighborhood children. Looking back as an adult, I know it was part of God’s plan. I don’t believe in coincidences.
I believe in an Almighty Creator of heaven and earth.
I’ve shared before that I drifted away from the church many times over a 40-year period. It wasn’t until I was almost 50 that I became aware of the difference between religion and relationship—a relationship with our Heavenly Father through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
So, let me ask you, “Why are you a Christian?” If I were to answer that question, I would first share the wonderful things that God has done for me, in me and through me since I answered His calling on my life.
His neon orange bathing trunks were easy to spot. I was glad. Otherwise, I would have had a difficult time keeping up with my almost 7-year-old grandson at a crowded outdoor swimming pool recently.
Sitting at poolside in a lounge chair reading, I could spot Cash anywhere within the confines of the chain link surrounding the water park area. Since he doesn’t live in this community, and was only visiting me for the week to attend VBS, he didn’t know any other children. However, he had made friends with two boys, cousins, who were also from another town and visiting relatives. During the hour and a half we were at the pool, I kept watch on Cash and his friends.
During a break from my reading, I noticed the three boys were visiting with two girls, both in wheelchairs. I sat, watching and waiting, until everyone was ordered out of the pool because of an approaching storm. Gathering up my things, I approached the boys, who were still conversing with the two handicapped girls. What I learned from the girls’ mother gladdened this grandmother’s heart.
Prejudice is a learned trait.
She posted the following, along with a photo of the three boys and her daughters, on Facebook:
“So today we went to the pool. I try very hard to help my girls feel just like all kids. To be honest, it’s so hard somedays (most days). Just to get to the pool is a lot for them. My girls have great attitudes about most things, but sometimes, when they watch kids their age play, I see that wanting and that loneliness (in them) to play with other kids. Most time, kids warm up to them. Today was just one of those days when we met some wonderful kids. These boys came up to us and wanted to buy them a snack from the snack bar, which was very thoughtful. But the best part is when we got back in the pool, they played with Grace and Dee—just played like kids, splashing them and helping them. It was wonderful to just watch for a few hours. Spina Bifida wasn’t there. Just some kids making summer memories.”
What does it mean to you to be persecuted for your faith? Most of us automatically think of those in other countries who are dying because they refuse to renounce their belief in Jesus Christ. Places like Kenya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, Uganda and Syria come to mind.
While there are other countries, most of us in America pay no heed to the stories of those who are killed for their faith. We sit in our comfortable pews on Sunday morning, participate in church activities and have no clue what it means to die for our beliefs. While there have been incidences in our country where Christians have been murdered in a church setting, they are not commonplace.
We take for granted our freedom to worship each Sunday in our chosen denomination. We read our Bibles without fear of having to conceal it. We can talk openly about our faith in the media and on the street corners, if we so choose. We aren’t afraid to share what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. The word persecution usually doesn’t enter into our vocabulary.
The ‘problem of pain,’ is atheism’s most potent weapon
against the Christian faith.
As a Christian columnist, I promote my writing worldwide via my blog and social media. While I’ve received emails from believers around the globe, I’ve also encountered hatred from non-believers as well.
Recently, I received a message in response to a tweet I’d posted on Twitter. For those who are unfamiliar with this online social networking service, users are only allowed 140-character messages to convey their thoughts. It requires creativity and abbreviations to communicate.
In a recent exchange of emails with a friend who lives in Texas, he confessed he had not attended church for years.
He added, “After being on fire when I discovered the teaching of The Word at Calvary Chapel in a converted strip center, several years down the road I watched us grow and move into a large new building and, to me, the church became a stranger to me…a victim of its success you might say. I know The Lord. I crave The Lord. But I have been absence from audience with Him, deceived I’m sure by The Enemy into thinking that I’m doing just fine by my own self-righteous indignation. Perhaps I am, but that has separated me from The Word as well. Psalm 119 tells us to hide God’s Word in our hearts so as to not sin. The characters have faded because of my absence.”
God will never forsake or abandon His children.
I can relate. I, too, drifted away from my Christian upbringing, which began in Lake Charles, La., where my sister and I grew up walking to a small church just a block away from where we lived. We attended faithfully. After leaving home, my church attendance was sporadic until my sons were born. I wanted them to have the same foundation so I returned only to leave, once again, in my late 30s.
It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I realized what was missing in my life. It wasn’t just the fellowship of Christian believers but a relationship with my Savior and Lord. So, in 2001, I recommitted my life to Him.
Injustice, chaos, violence, strife, racism and fear followed by anger, retaliation and nationwide unrest have come to define our country over the past several months. Beginning with the mass shooting in a gay night club in Orlando, FL, the shooting of a black man in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, and ending with the killing of police officers in Dallas, Texas, we are seeking answers and guidance.
Why does it take a tragedy or a series of tragedies to motivate people to speak out about the problems in our world? My thoughts, however, are, “Why are we just talking about it?”
We can give lip service to these shootings, point fingers and blame others, come up with “feel-good” slogans or we can hit our knees and begin praying.
Peace doesn’t come automatically.
Christian author Rebecca Barlow Jordan wrote on Facebook, “Praying for God’s comfort, love and compassion for those who have lost loved ones, friends, and family members in Dallas, and wherever lives have so senselessly been taken. And praying for a nation gone so far away from God. Praying that we can come back to the One who holds everything in His hand, not in a moment of silence, but through deep, deep, prayerful cries on our knees, prayers of submission, prayers of surrender, and prayers of longing to be a people who shine as lights in a dark world. How we need You, Jesus! Bring us back to You!”
Posting encouraging sayings and Bible verses on Facebook is part of my ministry. The responses I receive from others about my posts encourage and bless me too.
Recently, I posted the following: “God’s mercy is bigger than your mistakes.” I received the usual responses like “Amen” and “Praise God.” However, one response baffled me. The woman who responded is not a “friend” on Facebook but can still see my posts. She wrote, “I don’t know about that.”
When I answered with, “Yes, it’s true,” she replied with “I hope you’re right.”
Don’t let poor choices and sins define you.
I encouraged her to read the Bible. Later that day, I decided to search for scriptures to reassure her. After locating 37 different verses about God’s mercy, I posted several below her response in hopes it would help her. I wondered why she felt God’s mercy could not overcome her mistakes. I also wondered about the mistakes she had made.
We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. It’s how we learn, and if we are willing to admit we made wrong choices, we grow in wisdom.
Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23-24 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
“Be still, and know that I am God”—Psalm 46:10(NIRV).
Do you ever feel guilty about resting? I do. Maybe that’s because my mother was always “doing.” And, my sister and I became “doers” too.
It’s hard to stop and just “be” when you’re expected to be in constant motion. However, as a child, I can recall spending time outdoors doing nothing. To me, nothing meant climbing as high as possible into the branches of a Mimosa tree where I could hide behind the lacy branches and enjoy listening to nature. While I probably didn’t understand it at the time, I was just “being” with God.
I also loved lying on my back in the clover, watching the clouds and trying to assign a form to the shapes that passed overhead. Was I resting? Yes. Was I doing? Nope. I was just “being” in God’s presence.
As an adult, faced with a career, raising children and “doing” everything expected of me, I was caught up in a whirlwind of busyness. Like others, I wore it like a badge of honor.
How can we know God if we don’t take time
to just “be” in His presence?
In our “addicted to busyness” society, it’s difficult to just “be” in His presence if we don’t make it a habit—a good habit, that is. In today’s world, there are more distractions than ever before. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, we didn’t have as many choices to occupy our time. Now, it seems like everyone’s nose is glued to a tech gadget, whether it’s a smart phone, a tablet or some other electronic device.