Aside

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

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Responses from onlookers can be unrealistic, critical, misinformed and disingenuous, at best. Most people believe that the lives of those who follow Christ are lives of ignorance, conceit, self-absorption and/or delusional, holier-than-thou attitudes. People, often, consider it easy to follow our faith and live as we strive to live; they are misinformed and incorrect.

Folks also consider our faith to be one of giving up everything fun, becoming “boring” and having all things made off-limits or taboo; this too, is no so. Yes, there are certainly, portions of life which we may no longer partake of, but does that mean we have really “given up” anything valuable or of actual worth? I dare say, we have not. Not that such things are beneath us as we’ve become somehow superior or our royalty precludes us from stooping to the lows of mere paltry people, but that they are not blessed of God and are of the World. We are a “peculiar people” according to the Bible; Dr. Dan Hayden also wrote this explanation:

When the King James translators used the word “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9, identifying Christians as a “peculiar people”, this is not what they had in mind. According to A. T. Robertson, the word “peculiar” comes from the Latin word, “pecus” which means “flock”. The KJV translators were simply reflecting the idea that believers in Christ are the unique possession of God — they are His flock.

As followers, believers and children of Jesus Christ, as “Christians”, we are called to a life and held to standards which simply cannot be compromised. We are held accountable by God’s word, the commandments of God and of Jesus Christ and the convictions of the Holy Spirit. No person is excluded from these accountabilities, commandments and guidelines; many, simple decide and desire not to adhere to them. Judgment will be carried out, regardless of whether one accepts & believes or not; this is simply a fact and a rather unavoidable one at that.

What you may not understand about “Religion” is that it is not Christianity and the two have very little, if not nothing whatsoever to do with one another. According to James, this is the extent of religion and its practices and beliefs are observed as follows:

James 1:27

King James Version (KJV)

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world

One might also be misinformed as to the fact that Christians can be and do have, FUN! Often, in fact! We live a life that knows many smiles, laughs and happiness. But we also know one of constant struggles, battles and discomforts. We live a life of servitude, embellished by the constant need to decrease ourselves, so that God may increase and be glorified. We live a life that requires great humility, lacking the pleasures which others find in self-acknowledgment(s), giving all honor to our Father in Heaven.

There are both, wonderful and terrible examples of Christians all over the globe. Painted in so many lights, with countless opinions, views, concepts, disagreements and misunderstandings, Christians are portrayed as the thorn in everyone’s side. Because religion and religious people have marred, if not ruined, the very name of a great people of God. Without dismissing the additional truths, fellow Christians and those professing to be such, have done their disgrace to us, seriously causing all but irreparable damage.

Lest I continue with the chasing of rabbits, may I please submit, our faith is not an easy one to aspire to. We live difficult lives. Enduring, not only the hardships placed upon everyone else in the world (taxes, education, jobs, family life, marriage, unemployment, etc.) while then having the additional requirements of keeping the commandments given us by God. This life, it is not for the faint of heart and “those who endure to the end, shall be saved” is for sure, factual. We must endure, all things, and can, by the very grace of God.

We survive and manage to live an abundant life, if we strive to honor God, acknowledge Him in all things, keep His commandments, and act with compassion, mercy and love. If you really think it is so simple and easy to do as we do, try this requirement for a while:

King James Bible
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

King James Bible
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

You Say Following Christ Is Easy?

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Enduring Our Loss – Keeping Our Hope

So often, it’s been said of me, that I should’ve been born in another time. People often suggest a time, perhaps, like the early 1900’s; I tend to agree.

Upon reflection, my meager length of life has provided such an awe. Greatly, has our nation and its peoples changed; I do not say progressed. Once, we were a people of good cheer, kindness, morals, ethics. Consideration for others was simply a way of life; there was a natural, instinctual, respect for one another.

Such disdain, dissatisfaction…an utter reproach toward the manner in which our once, great nation, has run itself into the reef. We are taking on water and seemingly, in desperate fear of the possibilities of hopelessness.

Hard times come with realization – priorities change, understanding unfolds – what we must do now, what we have done in order to achieve this situation, etc. Eventually, it will come down to survival, hinged upon absolute necessity.

What hopelessness might await our people? Will there come a time wherein, we fully, insightfully and with humility, measure our failure before the Lord? As a nation, as a people, merely as children of our beloved Creator, we will find ourselves before Him. Either in wrath, pleading for mercy or in awe, thankful for additional grace…we will certainly come to an ends.

Gratitude affords me hope, in that, we have solemn promise from the Lord. If we seek Him with all our heart, we shall find Him. God is not hidden from us, and He has not yet turned His back upon us. God is able to have patience, for a time. Nevertheless, God awaits us to present ourselves before Him, not the other way around.

For the people that will continue to walk in God’s ways, remaining in God’s will, we shall know His grace, mercy and love. People who refuse Him, will assuredly know His wrath. Yes, believers shall see times of severe difficulty, but we shall face it with perfect clarity that God loves us and provides a means, a way and an end.

Prayer is a byproduct of faith, which comes from patience. Without faith, we cannot speak prayers to the Father; it would be completely futile and senseless. We must have the genuine faith He exists, that He is the only, true God, as well as hope that our promises shall be rewarded us for our good, faithfulness.

What I hope to convey and trust to assure, is that we shall never be completely without hope. We, His children, shall never be cut off from Him, cannot be removed from His will or cast out. Salvation is secured, hope is constant, faith is required.

Look always unto the Father, seek Him in all your way. Let there be no questions, debates or confusions about a complete certainty; God answers when we speak to Him. God ALWAYS listens and inclines His ear to us.

Testimony – Strayed and Returned to the Lord

Once, there were two families which were joyous in the Lord, my own and the family of the Pipkins. Our families became as closely-knitted as if to be one of the same. We shared fellowship, friendship, love and admirations for one another, completely.

The Pipkin family was made up of Bill & Claudia, (dad and mom) Louise (daughter) and Sammy….a most beloved son, whom the family revolved around. S…ammy was my very best and closest friend; he was a remarkable boy. Sammy was a vibrant, God-loving, energetic youth, that had a smile liken to that of an angel. Our families spent so much time together. If Sammy was somewhere, I was less than a stones-throw away and vice versa. We were absolutely inseparable. The Davis’, comprised of my mother Cheryl, brother Steve, sister Diane, and my Grandmother, Carolyn Clark were all God-loving, spiritual people and were completely intertwined with the Pipkin’s.

On one mid summer afternoon, their entire family had come to visit and pick me up to spend another countless weekend with them. It was a full house, with all their family, me, my mother, sister, grandmother and my sister’s friend. Everyone was doing their own thing. As Sammy and I waited and played in my bedroom, we passed the time as boys do. Talking and dreaming and cutting up, sharing everything we could think of and get our hands on. We loved to shoot and my mother had raised us all with STRICT gun safety and responsibility. This was a great thing which should never be talked about too much.

As I rummaged through the closet my brother Steve and I shared, I came across the brand new .22 rifle he was so happy about having received from his father. It was a semiautomatic, magazine fed rifle. First thing, I turned the weapon to its side and made sure there was no magazine, then, I pulled the bolt about a half dozen times to ensure the chamber was cleared. Just a s we were taught.

Turning to Sammy with the “cops and robbers” or “Indians and pioneers” laugh in our heads, we were joking about, the rife discharged. I knew this only because I heard an almost silent “pop” as I saw Sammy clasp his chest. I was still smiling at the thought of him acting out the silly part he was playing. Then, I realized, as he turned very starkly pale and blood ran between his fingers…it had happened. He collapsed and died, almost instantly at my feet, in my room, at my hand, in front of my face. I was not even yet a teenager nor was he.

It was not long after, at his funeral, his mother and father told me that they loved me and still welcomed and wanted me in their home. They loved ME??!! That was the moment when my heart really, truly…shattered.

I quit speaking for a long time, my friends at school called me names like “killer” “murderer” etc. Many joked that I did it purposely; kids can be very cruel, indeed. From those days, I no longer felt the love of God on my face. It went away and so did I. I resigned away to an existence (not a life) of all-consuming guilt and self-hatred beyond imagination.

His family left church, the dad became a drunk, the mother died of cancer, the sister a drug using prostitute. My family divided, all at my own hands. I could not bear it and simply just went away from everything. I joined the military to “get mine” and make certain that I would die. That I would be killed also. It never happened. I went out with the decision that I was going to hell and that I deserved nothing less and nothing better. I made a point to break every single commandment…many times over. I drank profusely, did drugs like candy and tried to find the ultimate, unforgivable sin, so I could commit it and guarantee myself an eternity in hell, where I belonged.

Now there is MUCH, MUCH more to this story as I have had a long life. But to this day, until Randall Taylor, I have never allowed myself to have a close friend. I refused to ever consider a “best friend” because I would not have their blood on my hands and deserved to suffer, all my life. I found new and creative ways to make myself suffer.

….And then came Jesus Christ, when I was so completely broken that I knew I was about to end my own life at my own hands. Enter a KING, into the life of a miserable pawn…but a pawn of heritage! I was also, His child and He, like the parents of my own and Sammy’s, told me that He loved me.

My heart surely burst, for I was given the understanding that guilt is not my own or His. I did not own it and it did NOT own me…but He did. I truly knew that this burden could be taken from me and I could, actually, mean something to someone one day. I mattered to one individual…GOD!

I wrote a song about it one day as well, and accepted both the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and that of my own. Sammy was never angry and never hated me. Jesus spoke to me and said, “In the great things you will do with the life I have given you, I will be pleased. You have survived all this to know, your very name, John. You are not here without anything else but John….John, means “God is Gracious” and He allowed you to come to this place, alive and spared you. I open your mouth, do not any longer, remain quiet.”

If you think you have issues with self-worth, esteem, value depression, etc. I TELL YOU A SOLEMN TRUTH….GOD shall overcome all things! Jesus Christ is the worker of miracles…even for someone like ME.