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Christianity faith Religion

What Is A Christian?

If you were to ask people this question, what do you think would be the reply?  I expect they would answer “a person that believes in God” and they would be correct, but we must be more specific.  There are many other religions of this world who believe in a god so we must make clear who the God is that we serve.  A Christian believes in the God of the Holy Bible who is at once one, God and three, Father, Son and Spirit, otherwise known as the Trinity.  A Christian believes in the Word of God.  A Christian does not treat the Bible like a pick and mix, he does not pick the aspects that suit his lifestyle and leave those that are troublesome for him.  Of course, there are those that claim to be Christians and do this very thing.  This is not what God has asked of us. 

I have found on my journey there are two types of Christian, the Sunday Christian, and the Believing Christian.  The Sunday Christian devotes the hours of 10-11 on a Sunday morning to worship God or at least appears to worship God and on exiting the church he leaves God behind.

God demands that we identify as Christian above all else, before identifying as wife, father, nurse, teacher, female, dog lover, body builder, artist, etc. etc. we are to be Christian.  God comes first and we are to love God above all else.  John Baillie, the Scottish Theologian sums this up well “A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ, and whose whole comportment and whole activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude.”

I love this quote by Billy Graham, the North American Evangelist “The real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.”  At first glance you may think, ok so a real Christian is so free of sin that he is happy for his pet parrot to share all the goings on of his household to the whole town.  But is there in fact more to it?  Is it that no man is without sin, but the real Christian humbles himself to admit where he goes wrong?  He does not pretend to be perfect, puffing out his chest as though he were as holy as Jesus but rather, humbly shares his imperfectness with other imperfect people in the hope that together they will gravitate towards Christlikeness.

I used to feel that “Christians” were people who thought they were perfect and sinless, a people who felt superior to others and looked down upon them.  I am sure on some occasions I was right.  There are certainly some tv evangelists who would definitely fall into this category.  But when one is a true child of God, this is not how your mind works, in fact, it is the opposite.  Christians, getting to knowing God and His Word, become more aware of their sin.

When you become a Christian, you become a representative of Christ, the hands, and feet of Jesus on earth.  Therefore, one of faith must demonstrate this by his actions.  This is a mighty task, the most important task a Christian is assigned.  Note Well … You will fail.  Of that there is no doubt.  We will still sin.  Do not let this impede your walk with God, simply ask for forgiveness, apologise to anyone that you have sinned against and start again.  Every time you fall, just get back up.  There are many characters in the Bible who have fallen many times, yet they got back up.  Let us think of Peter, a disciple of Jesus.  While Jesus was being interrogated Peter denied even knowing him, not just once but three times yet it is Peter that Jesus built the Church upon, it was to Peter that Jesus handed the keys to heaven.

The true church of God consists of all Christians throughout the world joining as one family in Christ.

When joining a church, it is important to look for the good fruits of which Matthew speaks, but also look for unity and welcome, above all, look for Jesus.  If you find these, you have found a believing church!

I pray that you are thriving in a believing church or that you soon find one in order that your faith may grow in the fellowship of your brothers and sisters.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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What Happens At A Church Service

Going to church for the first time can be a very daunting experience.  You have no idea what will go on there, if people will accept you, if you will do something wrong.  Even moving from one church to another can fill many with fear.  Sadly, this is not what Jesus intended, indeed, it is something that he fought against during his time on earth.  Like a lighthouse bringing her boats into safety, so the church should be a beaming light in the darkness, where anyone can seek refuge.   

Let us have a look at what the Bible tells us about church.  Firstly, who does the Bible say is welcome? The answer is Everyone!

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free ….”

Jesus tells his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …..”, Matthew 28:19 and this sentiment is reiterated in John 10:16 when he says “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”  Up until this point, God’s sheep were the nation of Israel, here Jesus speaks of the gentiles coming to join Israel as people of God.

These passages make it clear that all are welcome within the church, whatever one’s ethnicity, financial situation, race, sexuality, gender, etc.  No one should be excluded from the house of God.  There are certain exceptions if a person continues in sin and is causing disruption etc. but this would be a blog unto itself!  It is important to understand that every single person in that church building is a sinner, including the preacher, minister or elder.   

When you walk into a church building you should be made to feel welcome.  You should feel comfortable enough to approach anyone and ask any questions you have about the service or the Scriptures.  If you are not received warmly please do not think negatively at all about yourself, I assure you this is a problem with the particular church and not you.  It is quite normal to try out a few churches sometimes even more before you find the one that fits you best so do not be at all discouraged.  Instead just check out some other ones online and try a new one the next week!!  

What should happen at a church service?

1 Corinthians 14:26 is a great description of a church service “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

James 5:14  Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

The above passages show us that a service should include musical praise which need not necessarily be old fashioned songs.  God wishes his children to worship him and he would be just as happy with praise in any form however modern or noisy!  If one looks at the Old Testament you will find the worship of God was often a noisy affair!  The service should also include teaching and instruction in the Lord and the person undertaking such work must be qualified not necessarily by degree etc. but he must be intimately familiar with the Scriptures.

However, the service is undertaken whether the praise is led by organ or drums, the instruction given by minister, pastor or elder, prayers spoken on bended knee, sitting, or standing, all must be done for the glory of God.  A teacher of the law asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, and Jesus answered “‘…. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. 

This blog may have confused many of you rather than made things clearer!  You may be wondering why, when the Bible so clearly details what a church service should look like why there are so many differences?  It confuses me too! My next blog will continue this theme and try to help you find a church that is a good fit for you, however, in the meantime, just focus on the important factors above and remember you always have the truth in the palm of your hand when you hold your Bible!!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

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Do I Need To Go To Church?

There are countless people today identifying as Christian, who read their Bible and pray daily yet never visit a church and there are those who never miss a Sunday service, yet Monday through Saturday their eyes will not as much as glimpse at the Bible and the name of the Lord will not leave their lips.

Neither of the above lifestyles fit with the biblical description of what a Christian should look like.  Luke 6:6 and Mark 1:21  show that Jesus regularly went to church.  Even when only 12 years old he remained in the temple while his parents left to journey home believing he was within their midst.  Later, when they found him, “He said to them, “Why were you searching for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s House?” Luke 2:41-52.    

Being a Christian on your own can be incredibly challenging.  I have experience of this myself.  The world is not always accepting of the faith and it can be extremely hard being singled out and labelled.  For many years I have not been quite sure where I fit in.  I have been at times very much part of the world and far from God and the next longing to be close to him and doing my best to imitate Christ.  Lately, this has changed for me.  I used to think committing myself fully to God would mean having less friends because as far I was concerned there were not many Christians of my age group around me, however, recently, I have discovered the opposite.  I have made many new friends and my walk with the Lord has turned into more of a hop, skip and jump!  I feel at home now.  I occasionally have a wobble, but I have learned this is normal.  Having people around me going through the same journey I can be encouraged at these times and be reassured.  Now I know this feeling will not last because I am firmly rooted in God’s love and I am going to meet more brothers and sisters in Christ as I journey on.  I now have the confidence not to worry what others may think about my decision to accept Christ, I know I am part of something wonderful.

In Colossians 3:16 we see what a church service should look like “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts, sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.”  It is so important to teach one another in the Scriptures, to hold each other firm when one slips away from the Lord, with gentle admonishment guide each other back and worship the Lord with instruments and voice.  This gives us the opportunity to come together as children of God in worship to him.  We are all given a different gift to be used in service to the Lord, 1 Corinthians 14:26 “What should be done then, my friends?  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.  Let all things be done for building up.”  To neglect to go to church is like living as a hand or an eye without the rest of your body, of course, impossible, and thus neither is it possible to serve God on one’s own, 1 Corinthians 12:17 “If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?  If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  Paul teaches us here that we all have something to share and give to the service of God and therefore it is necessary to find a church that one can serve in by whatever gift has been bestowed upon you.

James tells us, 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The power of the righteous is powerful and effective.”  James recognises the importance of supporting each other.  We need each other’s prayers through our struggles with sin or our difficult seasons.

Pop back to see my next post on finding the right church for you but in the meantime, have courage my brothers and sisters, reach out and get that powerful family of God network around you.  If you are let down, do not be disheartened, a true brother or sister will come alongside you, so just keep your arms open.

Love and Blessings

Louise x