How Do You Know You’re A Christian?

Talking about who is a Christian is a sensitive subject that sets me up for being called judgmental, Pharisee, legalistic, and a new one, “fundie.” I had to look it up because I had no idea what it meant:

fund·ie ˈfəndē/

noun

noun: fundie; plural noun: fundies

  1. Britishinformal

a fundamentalist, especially a Christian fundamentalist.

Well there you have it. Maybe you learned a new term too.

Saying You Are a Christian Is Not Good Enough!

I’ve been called many things, which I’ll be talking more about next week, but I’m distressed with how people casually call themselves a “Christian,” without really knowing what that designation means. Some believe they’re a “Christian” if they simply know about God or believe there is a God. Attend, serve in, or raised in church, attended a Christian school, have Christian parents, own a Bible, or even live in America. No heart change by personally asking Jesus into their heart and seeking forgiveness for their sins or having a relationship with Jesus and believing that salvation comes through Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross and resurrection. No casting off the old way of life for the new life in Christ, but still buying into the world’s ways. Yet, still thinking of themselves as Christians.

These in-name-only “Christians” often claim to be more “enlightened” then born-again Christians, saved by grace–who confess our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us and come into our heart. We make a commitment to live in a relationship with Him. Christians who depend on God to help us live by the principles in His Word hidden in our heart. We have the assurance our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life when our time comes to meet Jesus for eternity. We live in complete confidence and faith because Jesus is alive in our heart every day, and that’s what we celebrate next month at Easter. No question. Jesus is alive. We know that’s what it means when we say we’re a Christian!

Let me share with you four examples I encountered this week of the confusion in so many people’s minds of what it means to be a Christian. How is this happening? Why is it not clear to people? An immigrant understands the requirements to American citizenship and calling himself an American. How many have no idea how narrow the gate is into heavenly citizenship as a Christian? What does Jesus want you and me to do about this? Jesus wants none to perish.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt. 7:13-14

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

  1.  Example: I am a Christian and so is my wife, although she is much more likely to describe herself as a feminist.

I’m sure there are Christian women entrapped by the feminists movement. But if being an activist takes priority over being a Christian, that’s a crisis of faith. If a woman identifies with the feminist movement instead of Christ, she’s replaced Christianity with feminism, or perhaps never knew Christ as her personal Savior. Here are several discussion points if you know a Christian feminist:

  • Research the background of the leaders of the feminist movement. None are Christians! They belong to other “isms,” and organization, but none profess to follow Jesus so why would you follow them?
  • Would you wear the “pink knitted hats,” carry the signs made for the marches, and chant the protests in or around your church?
  • Jesus loves the little children and He does not want one to perish. The central focus of the feminists is abortion. Some women in the marches were carrying signs that said Jesus’ mother Mary should have had an abortion. You can’t pick and choose what part of their agenda you want to endorse. How can you overlook these things as a Christian?
  • Jesus made Eve to be a helpmate to Adam, not to compete with or emasculate him.
  • Look up the goals of the feminist movement and try to justify them with Scripture.
  • Research Scriptures on how Christian women are to conduct themselves, even when they don’t like someone.
  1. Example: I go to a Christian church every Sunday and during Lent I go every day. I went to religious schools and my parents are Christian.

You’ve heard the saying that standing in the garage doesn’t make you a car. Going to church, even going every day and going during Lent, Christmas or Easter, doesn’t make us a Christian. Going to Christian schools, having Christian parents, reading Christian books, even reading the Bible, or being baptized doesn’t make us a Christian. It’s a personal decision that no one else can make for us, and Jesus is clear when He says we must be born again. I wonder how many people who call themselves “Christians” have actually asked Jesus to come into their heart, experienced that change of heart, and been spiritually born again.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. John 3:3

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

  1. Example: I attend church regularly and volunteer there. I believe in separation of church and state and we should keep God out of our politics, as our forefathers intended.

Attending church and serving is wonderful, but works doesn’t make us a Christian. And we can’t keep God out of anything. God is omnipotent. He has all the power over everything. We don’t tell Him what to do or where He can go. But even many believers think: I trust God with eternity, but I make my own decisions down here.

  1. Example:As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted,” Brazile said. “Your information is totally false.” —Donna Brazile in an interview with Megyn Kelley regarding the validity of the WikiLeaks emails that Brazile gave candidate Hillary Clinton’s camp debate questions.

March 17 the headlines were Brazile Admits She Forwarded Town Hall Questions to Clinton Camp after almost a year of denying —lying—even when leaked emails were evidence that she had cheated. But even worse, she tried to evoke Jesus as her alibi! Some would say she’s now making amends by confessing. Looking closer at the “essay” she wrote for Time Magazine, she only admits to passing along “topics,” not the specific questions, which the leaked emails show she did. The focus of her Time essay is blaming the Russians and Donald Trump, so it’s back to Eve in the Garden. Never does she humbly ask for forgiveness from the American people or from God. No sign of true repentance, which one would expect from a “Christian woman.” As one reporter said, there never is any guilt assigned. Every Christian knows confession is only complete when you humbly take full responsibility for your mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and repent . . . not shift the blame.

We don’t know Brazile’s faith background, but she may have used “Christian” in the interview to get Kelley to back off because the perception is that Christians tell the truth. She also claimed “persecuted” when she was actually receiving an opportunity to admit the truth.

In a Fox News panel discussing Brazile’s Time “confession,” Meghan McCain mentioned she was disappointed because Brazile had offered to pray for Meghan if she ever needed it. Our witness is always on trial as Christians.

Perhaps political zeal was too big a temptation when so many thought Clinton would win. But as happens so often when we defy God’s ways, it backfired. As God brings Donna Brazile to mind, pray she will truly repent and not just regret she sent the emails, but seek forgiveness.

For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Matt 10:26

I suppose the litmus test for knowing that you’re a Christian is when you can confidently—no doubts—answer the question the Gideon’s asked us in church this morning: Where are you going to spend eternity?

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3

But these are written that you may believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.—John 20:31

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Should Christians Be Political?

I had little response to last week’s blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity so I don’t know if . . .

  • You didn’t read it?
  • It was too long?
  • You think purity is impossible today?
  • It was too sensitive a subject?
  • I tried to cover too much territory?

I don’t know unless I hear from you, but since none of you unsubscribed, I’ll carry on with another topic on my heart throughout the election and continues into the firestorm that has erupted since President Trump’s Inauguration.

Some say Christians shouldn’t . . .

(a) Express political views or participate in politics

(b) Speak out on politicized moral issues

Here is my discussion and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Christians Need to Run for Political Office and Get Involved in Politics

Prayer is the heartbeat of every Christian’s life. When we pray heaven hears our voices. James 4:2 tells us that we have not because we ask not. We pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, but then God expects us to be His hands and feet on this earth doing His will. We come out of our prayer closets, clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) and go into action representing God to a lost world. That might be figuratively turning over the money-changers booths like Jesus did in the temple, or calling out the “Pharisees,” or like Jesus, Paul, and the disciples confronting sinners and sharing the Gospel. Or like Paul, mentoring the churches when they fall back into old sinful ways or are easily misled by false teachers.

Stay close to God through prayer, seek His will, and then do His will.

The disciples didn’t stay in the Upper Room. They prayed and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, went out into the world.

Churches and Christians have allowed the government to politicize moral issues in our country, complaining and lamenting, but doing little to stop the takeover. Christians have an obligation to seize any opportunity to reclaim those moral issues and rights for the good of our country and generations to come. I’m speaking specifically about issues like:

  • The legalization of abortion—58 million babies murdered since Roe vs Wade—moral not political
  • Our tax dollars funding barbaric abortions through Planned Parenthood—moral not political
  • Marriage redefined by unelected Federal Judges—moral not political
  • Teachers allowed to talk about Mohammad and Gandhi, but can’t mention Jesus—moral not political
  • A football coach fired because he kneels after a game and prays—moral not political
  • Schools required to allow men to go into girls bathrooms—moral not political
  • White House lit up in gay pride colors—moral not political
  • Removing God from the public square in a country founded on Judeo Christian principles—moral not political.
  • Requiring all Americans to endorse, legitimatize, and participate in LGBT practices—moral not political
  • Calling sin, sin is “hate speech” and intimidating pastors—moral not political.

I could go on. You get the idea. If we had elected another liberal progressive Democrat, and Christians continued to remain silent, we would have had little recourse but to lament even more loss of our religious moral freedoms, as Clinton clearly said Christians would have to change our faith and beliefs.

But that didn’t happened. Evangelicals rose up and said enough is enough. We chose a candidate, who while imperfect and not the devout Christian candidate we were looking for, he heard us and promised to restore and protect our freedoms. And in his first two weeks in office, President Trump started doing exactly that:

  • Defunded Planned Parenthood in other countries
  • Nominated a Christian Conservative for Supreme Court Justice
  • Took action in Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment to restore the right of pastors to preach the Bible. They were losing the religious freedom to call sin, sin.

Tony Perkins was on the mark when he said, “The United States would look much different today if it wasn’t for the pastors throughout American history who cried out for social justice. Since the birth of our nation, pastors and churches have been at the forefront of shaping public policy and debate. That is where they need to be today. What would America look like today had the Rev. Lyman Beecher [Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father], a leading abolitionist, or Dr. Martin Luther King been muzzled by the IRS. It would have been a much, much different country than what we see today.”

Now the naysayers are still saying President Trump is not a Christian, but only he and God know where he is spiritually. I refer you to my blog Why Aren’t All Christians Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Trump. He has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of many Christians, a born-again Vice President, and here is the point of this blog . . .

The oxymoron and dichotomy I hear is that …

We want a Christian president and Christian politicians in DC and local government, but we don’t want Christians talking about or participating in politics?

We don’t think Christians should campaign or try to get people to vote because that’s too political?

We want laws that are moral, ethical, and pursue God’s values, but Christians aren’t willing to run for office?

We pray Christians are elected who will uphold God’s ways, but we don’t think Christians should be political! Say what?

If we want Christians in government, we need to pray for men and women to answer the call to take on political roles, and then we need to get behind them with prayer, campaign support, energy, finances, our voices, whatever it takes to get them elected. Not criticize them as having a profession unworthy of a Christian, but encourage them because they want to make a difference in the jungle of politics. A light in the darkness.

Maybe God is calling you to run for office!

When Franklin Graham made his Pray for America tour and went to every Capitol in the nation, he encouraged Christians to run for public office because we need believers championing Christian values at every level of government. Ironically, as government keeps touting a separation of church and state, government is invading the church. President Trump understands the original intent of the Constitution, and he is giving us back our religious freedoms. We need to make sure we never lose them again!

Satan is Dividing Christians, Not President Trump

I’ve never been a “political person,” but I am a spiritual person, and I’ve watched over the last eight years how the progressive liberal agenda has steadily worked to take God out of America by invading our government, our schools, our universities, and sadly even some of our churches. When Obama ran for President the first time, he participated in a presidential candidate debate held at Saddleback Church where Pastor Rick Warren asked him and John McCain if they believed marriage was between a man and a woman. Obama said he did. In his second term, same-sex marriage was legalized and Obama lit up the White House in LGBT colors and was working hard at forcing every American to accept transgender men in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, starting in our schools!

After writing Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I knew this last election was a spiritual battle more than a political battle. Just look at the obstruction and chaos the liberal Democrats have created in the streets and in D.C. Listen to their language, read their signs, hear the bleeps during the protests and the confusion when asked if they even know what they’re protesting.

Watching the National Prayer Breakfast last week, I heard one of the speakers say he was sure there were secretly ordained pastors in the House and Senate: “saints in Caesar’s household.” I thought how sad they had to stay secret. Probably because they would be devoured by the lions.

I see headlines, even in some Christian magazines, that say President Trump is dividing Christians. That’s not possible. Only Satan can divide Christians whether it’s in a church, a marriage, a friendship…. Christians have the same unifier: Jesus Christ. The One and Only Lord is who we all pray to, talk to, put our faith in, have residing in our heart.

He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.

President Trump said the five words that touched his heart the most on the campaign trail were, and still are, “I am praying for you.”

As a Christian, you should be praying like crazy for President Trump’s success because that’s America’s success. Pray for him to mature in his faith. He’s rough around the edges. He has a big job ahead of him, and as he said in his own words in a CBN interview I heard, “I need God and prayer now more than ever because my decisions are life and death.”

I encourage you to listen to the Annual Prayer Breakfast. It was a blessing to see Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate leading the event and praying together. They talked about a group of them—Republicans and Democrats—getting together for prayer every morning and at a weekly Bible study group. The Chiefs of Staff have a Bible study on Wednesday, and the 100 staffers meet on Fridays for Bible study. Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain who gave the Keynote, said Democrats and Republicans meet together, hold hands, and open and close those groups in prayer. They may go upstairs and oppose each other politically, but unite spiritually.

I would pray the world would see that same spiritual unity in us. Our hope isn’t built on whether we’re Democrat or Republican, black or white, whether you like President Trump or not . . . they should see that we place our faith and our hope in the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and Jesus Christ, Our Lord. We stand together as Christians One Nation Under God.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT

Please also read a blog I wrote for Crosswalk.com You Can Disagree and Still be Friends

Have you heard Reba McEntire’s New Song? Here’s the video. You’ll enjoy it. Back To God

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What is Your Apology Language?

 Sienna's graduation day from Kindergarten

“I hear you, but I don’t know what you said . . .”

That was the response from 5-year-old granddaughter Sienna after I had given her and her two older siblings three things to remember about going to the pool that day. When I asked them each to repeat back to me what I said, Sienna couldn’t remember. Finally, she cried out the above statement.

An “ah ha” moment for me.

Flashing before my eyes were all the frustrated conversations I had had with my husband when he couldn’t remember something I had said. I would say, “You don’t listen to me.” To which he would respond, “I am listening to you. I hear you.” There we would be at a standstill . . . . if he heard me, why didn’t he know what I said?

Then little Sienna put it all in perspective—I wasn’t speaking his or her “language.” I wasn’t saying things in a way that resonated with them, so they had no idea what I said.

5 Love Languages

As I’ve said in earlier posts, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestseller 5 Love Languages, was our speaker for the Love Song Couples Getaway. You are probably familiar with his conclusions that we all have a love language and we typically love others in the “language” that speaks to us. They are:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Gifts
3. Acts of service
4. Quality time
5. Physical touch

He commented that usually a husband and wife have different love languages or “dialects,” and it’s important we learn to speak the language of our spouse. My love language is acts of service, and my husband’s is physical touch. So if I hold his hand while we’re walking somewhere or when we’re sitting next to each other, he feels loved and happy. If he sees things that need fixing around the house and fixes them without me asking or reminding him, I feel loved and cherished.

Interestingly, our children and teenagers all have a love language too, and it’s vital that parents learn what makes their children feel loved. Not speaking their love language can lead to a rebellious teen.

For more information, and to take a test to determine your love language, go to Dr. Chapman’s website.

5 Apology Languages

New to me was Dr. Chapman’s discovery that people apologize five basic ways. We all have an “apology language” which makes us feel the apology is sincere. If you don’t apologize in the language that speaks to me, there’s a good chance I’ll have trouble believing that you really mean it.

Here they are:
1. Expressing regret: “I’m sorry that I . . . .” Note that just saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough. These people need to hear what you are sorry for, and for goodness sake, don’t follow it with “but . . . .”
2. Accepting responsibility: “I was wrong . . . .”
3. Offering to make restitution: “What can I do to make this right?”
4. Genuinely repenting or desire to change: “I don’t like what I just did. I don’t want it to keep happening.”
5. Requesting forgiveness: “Will you forgive me?” If you want to communicate a sincere apology that the other person receives well, you have to learn the other person’s apology language.

What is Your Apology Language?

If you don’t know what speaks to you as a sincere apology allowing you to forgive, Dr. Chapman said to ask yourself these three questions:
1. When I apologize, what do I typically say or do?
2. What hurts me most deeply about this situation? Why am I having trouble forgiving? This person needs #4, a repentance apology because they feel like someone is saying just they’re sorry, but keep on offending.
3. What could they say, or do, that would make it easier for me to forgive them?

If You’re Married . . .

Pastor Rick on couples forgivingPastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church

In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss forgiveness myths that often keep us from receiving the peace that comes from forgiving someone, whether or not they apologize.

EuodiaSyntycheCover72dpi1-200x300

 

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Forgiveness. . . . Forgiveness. . . .

Rick Warren on Twitter: “Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun. I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him.

MATTHEW 6:15″

Like us, many of you were saddened and shocked to learn of the loss of Pastor Rick Warren’s 27-year old son, Matthew, who took his own life after suffering for years with depression and mental illness.

Pastor Rick is like extended family to my husband Dave and me. Dave and I attended Saddleback Church for over 23 years, and twenty years ago, we met each other in a small group. We’ve watched Saddleback church grow from meeting in a high school gym, to the mega church the world knows today.

Pastor Rick will always be “our pastor.” Even though we have since moved to another state and are members of a church in our community . . . . we’re still all in the family of God. And so it is that Dave and I mourn and grieve with Pastor Rick and Kay and our extended Saddleback family.

The Grieving Process Can Lead To or Away from God

Matthew took his own life with a purchased gun, but someone took my father’s life with his own gun. He was a California Highway Patrolman killed in the line of duty while trying to help the very man who killed him. My father had chosen a career protecting his community. He died two weeks before his 37th birthday doing exactly what he had signed on to do.

My mother shook her fist at God and said no just God would ever allow this to happen. I watched my mother’s bitterness and anger cause her to deteriorate emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally . . . resulting in a difficult childhood for my sister and me. Praise God, two years after my father’s death, I was invited to a church youth camp where I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

But when I became an adult, mom and I were estranged for 15 years. Then one of Pastor Rick’s sermons went straight to my heart when he said, “You’ll never experience true love if there’s someone in your life you haven’t forgiven.” I had been a single mom for 17 years and realized that if I didn’t forgive my mom, I would probably never have a happy marriage relationship. I did forgive her and within months, met my wonderful godly husband Dave.

Misconceptions Stop Us from Forgiving

In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss the myths about forgiveness and the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation:

FORGIVENESS is not allowing anyone else to control your emotional life except GOD!

FORGIVENESS is VERTICAL between God and you.

RECONCILIATION is HORIZONTAL between you and the other person

If you’re struggling with forgiveness or difficult relationships, studying Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche will help you discover biblical ways of resolving conflict. Here are several of the myths that prevent us from granting unconditional forgiveness:

FORGIVENESS MYTHS I LEARNED FROM PASTOR RICK

MYTH #1:  Forgiveness must be quick like God’s forgiveness.


TRUTH: Forgiveness is a process.

MYTH #2:  If I forgive, that means that the offense was “ok.”

TRUTH: Forgiveness does not make sin into good. Sin is never “ok.”

MYTH #3:  I cannot forgive until I can forget, just like God does.

TRUTH: We are not God. When God forgives, He doesn’t need to learn anything. We do!

MYTH #4:  If I forgive, I have to reconcile with the person.

TRUTH: You do not have to be reconciled to forgive, but you do have to be able to forgive in order to reconcile.

“Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges” (Colossians 3:13 TLB).

Who do you need to forgive so you can be free from the chains of bitterness and anger? You can do it! Listen to Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness” ,which starts out…

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

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