Tag Archives: being a christian

Making A Trade

I’ve watched a few videos over the last couple of years where someone starts with a bobby-pin and makes a series of trades until they get a house. I think that’s both cool and interesting. There are websites and pages that are dedicated to trades. Ive heard of people going to swap meets as well to make trades. I’ve never been, but it sounds interesting. The idea that there’s someone out there who values something I have enough that they’re willing to trade something they own with me is intriguing. I’m always afraid I’m going to get the short end of the stick though. Fear keeps me from doing trades.

In Genesis 25, we read the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau was the first of the twins to be born, which was very important in those days. The first born received a double portion of their family’s inheritance because they were to become the new patriarch and would need to care for the wives and property of their father. The Bible tells us that Esau had been hunting and came home starving. His brother Jacob had made a stew. When his brother asked for some, Jacob proposed a trade. He offered a bowl of soup for Esau’s birthright. Esau accepted. He traded away his future, his monetary blessings, his material goods and spiritual blessings for a simple bowl of soup. What a terrible trade!

In Luke 14:33, Jesus proposed a trade to you and me. He said, “Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples” (TPT). The trade He offers requires us to give up everything in exchange for being a disciple. Think about that. Have you traded everything to Him or have you held some things back? Each of us probably have some things we try to hold onto, but we must surrender everything and trade it to Him. Our future, our time, our money, our talents, our family, everything is what He requires for this trade. If we want to experience what being a true disciple of His is, we have to make that trade. The good news is that when we do make the trade, we get so much more in return, but it starts with an act of faith.

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Applied Christianity

It’s starting to be that time of year with all the commercials for gyms and exercise equipment. Whether it’s the Bowflex, Mirror, Tonal or something else, they’re great at speaking to something deep within us that wants to improve. They show images of people who are very fit and strong using the equipment. They promise that we can look like that too if only we will commit to a few minutes a day. We identify with the end result of how the person on the screen looks, so we purchase them. We start out with great intentions of using it, but by a month or two in, it becomes a very expensive clothes hanger. We loved the end result, but struggle with the daily application.

One of the scariest Bible verses to me is Matthew 7:22-23. Jesus said, “On the day of judgment many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, don’t you remember us? Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we cast out demons and do many miracles for the sake of your name?’ But I will have to say to them, ‘Go away from me, you lawless rebels! I’ve never been joined to you!’” (TPT) My immediate thought when I read that is, “Lord, I don’t want that to be me.” He describes someone who acts like a Christian and does things for Jesus, but in the end, they missed something. He then goes on to tell the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders to illustrate this point, and it all comes down to application.

Jesus said in verse 24, “Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakable foundation.” just like the exercise equipment there’s a big difference between the person who identifying with the end result and the person who applies the exercise daily to their life. Those who identify with Christianity (the morals, good living, etc.) but never apply the Word of God to how they live are like the foolish builder and are the ones whom Jesus will tell that He never knew. The ones who don’t just have a form of Christianity, but have the relationship with Christ through prayer and spiritual disciplines will be like the wise builder with an unshakable foundation whom Jesus knows and recognizes. Each of us have the daily chose of identification or application. Choose wisely.

Photo by gina lin on Unsplash


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Being A Child Of God

I was in the Sixth grade when I first read, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). I remember pondering that Scripture and thinking about what it meant and how important it was to have a good name. As I thought about it, I realized that I had been given a good name from my parents. My dad had received it from his parents as well. It became important to me to not mess up a name that had been good for at least two generations. I now have a child of my own who has taken my name. I’m trying to make sure he is raised in a way that protects that name. 

In the same way, when we accept Christ into our hearts, we are reborn and adopted into God’s family. We become children of God and take on His name, CHRISTians. I believe it’s up to each one of us to protect that name and to make sure it’s a good name. To some people, you may be the only Christian they’ll meet. It’s important that we live up to the good name that He gave us as His children. We do that by living out our faith, not for our glory, but for His name’s sake.

Here are some verses on being a child of God with His name.

1. But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.

2. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:14-15 NLT

3. Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin.
1 John 3:9 GNT

4. For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above–spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.

5. And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6 NLT


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A Change In Leadership

Several years ago, I owned a childcare center. One of the conversations I had with new families to the center was about authority. I would tell them, “Once you walk through the door into my center, I am your child’s authority figure. I need you to take a back seat. No man can serve two masters including your child. They will test the boundaries to see who is in charge, and they need to know it’s me. Otherwise, I won’t have any authority over them when you walk out that door.” I learned early on that if a child thought their parents had more authority over them than I did, they would start breaking the rules the moment their parents showed up, and the rest of the class would follow.

I tell you that story because you and I have a very similar issue with our flesh. It likes to do whatever it wants, and quite often, we let it get away with it. When it’s hungry, we feed it whatever it craves. When it’s sleepy, we go to bed or hit the snooze button. Also, when it wants to satisfy its sinful desires, we give in. That’s why it’s so hard for us to stay awake when we pray and also to want to fast. Our body throws a temper tantrum because it’s not getting its way, and we appease it to get it to calm down.

When we walk through the door of salvation, we need to cede authority to Jesus. Our flesh needs to understand that you and it are not in control anymore. Inviting Jesus to be the Lord of your life means that you are giving up your authority over your flesh. In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT). Taking up your cross is about giving up authority over your flesh. It’s telling it, “I am no longer your authority. Jesus is. You have to obey Him.”

The hardest thing for any of us to do is to give up that authority. I’m sure that’s why Jesus compared it to being crucified daily. It’s a hard process, but a necessary one if we are going to follow Him. We have to let Him lead us, and our flesh, which means we have to get out of the driver’s seat of our life. Being a Christian is more than saying a prayer. It’s the transition of leadership in your life. It’s a lifestyle change that you’ll battle your flesh over ever day of your life. If you truly want to follow Jesus, give Him the authority He’s asking for in your life.

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Follow Me

My son, like most kids, loves to play chase around the house. I usually play along pretending he is faster than me, but sometimes I catch him. When he realizes that I’m going to catch him, the game changes very quickly. He says, “Just follow my footsteps!” He then goes around the living room, hopping, sliding, drumming on the couch, and other crazy movements to which I am to follow. I have to pay attention to where he went and how he went so I can follow correctly. Otherwise, I’m not following very well.

I often think about Jesus’ call of “Follow me” that He gave to the disciples and now to us. Follow me. Follow my footsteps. Do what I do. Say what I say. The disciples were so good at this that they were named Christians by others in Acts 11:26. The name “Christian” means follower of Christ. I find it interesting that it wasn’t something they labeled themselves as, but rather, based on their actions, they were called it. Are you and I self labeled Christians or do others label us that based on how we live?

I love how the Amplified Bible expounds on the meanings of words based on their original meaning. In Mark 2:14, Jesus went up to Matthew and said, “’Follow Me [as My disciple, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk].’ And he got up and followed Him [becoming His disciple, believing and trusting in Him and following His example]” (AMP). Matthew was labeled as scum by another version, yet when He accepted the invitation of “Follow me”, he changed how he lived to follow Jesus’ example. How have our lives changed since accepting Him?

The call of “Follow me” goes out to everyone, but there’s a difference in following Jesus around and being His disciple, by accepting Him as your Master and Teacher through following His example. The Pharisees followed Jesus around, but it wasn’t enough to change how they lived. We each need to examine our life to see if we are following Jesus around or if we are following His example because there’s a big difference in labeling yourself a Christian and following His example to the point that others label you one. “Follow me” is more than a geographic change – it’s a lifestyle change. 

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Being Rescued

A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, go past the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, and go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life will be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems, or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. Their perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to cast those troubles on.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength, and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

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Fully Submitted

I once had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a man who counsels kings, queens, presidents and corporate CEO’s. He said, “I want to start off our conversation with a question. ‘If you woke up tomorrow morning with $10 Million in your bank account, how would that change your life?'” That amount of money would certainly change most of our lives. You can’t come into that much money and not live differently than before. It’s the same when we give our lives to Jesus. You can’t invite him into your life and not be changed.

The message of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul was “Repent.” It wasn’t, “Say a prayer and you’re a Christian.” The word repent in its original form means “A change of mind.” God asks us to change our mind from how we were living to a new way of thinking that in turns changes how we live. You can’t change your behavior unless you change your mind. The call to repentance was and is about changing how you live.

Jesus put it another way. He said, “If any man wants to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” I love how the Amplified version takes Luke 9:23 and really explains what Jesus said there. It puts it, “If any person wills to come after me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow me [cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” When Jesus said repent and follow Him, He wasn’t asking you to say a prayer. He was asking you to give up yourself and how you want to live.

There’s a missionary in Haiti I’ve met several times. He moved there over twenty years ago and never went back to his home country. He is involved in pastor get a church, orphan care, running a school, feeding the helpless, running a bakery and water purification shop, helping deaf girls learn sign language and so many other things. When asked why he does so much and how could he never go back home, he responded with, “My life is not my own. When I said, ‘Yes’ to Jesus, I gave up my life.” Those words should challenge us in how we live.

He understands what it means to follow Jesus by taking up his cross and denying himself. You may not be called to leave your home country and live in a third world country the rest of your life, but you have been called to change how and why you live. The call to repentance is a call to change your reason for living. It’s a call to give up what you want for what God wants. Philippians 2:5-6 says we need to have the mind of Christ who gave up what He wanted for what the Father wanted. He was and is our example of daily taking up our cross. He showed us how to submit to what God wants.

If you think back to the $10 Million question earlier, just like you can’t come into that kind of money and not be changed, you can’t have a real encounter with Jesus and not be changed. When you say, “Yes” to Jesus, your whole life and way of thinking should change. I liked that question he asked, but I think the question you and I should think about today is, “If you woke up tomorrow morning and had fully surrendered your life to Jesus, how would your life change?” Think about it and then surrender your will to His. You’ll find there’s no better life to live than one that is fully submitted to Him. 

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I was talking to a guy at work the other day when I noticed his tattoo. It said, “1-1-six”. I said, “Isn’t that Lecrae’s logo? You must really like him!” He laughed and said, “It’s more of a movement than a logo. It stands for Romans 1:16, my favorite verse in the Bible.” In my head I quickly went searched through verses I had memorized and remembered it said, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation for the Jew first and also to the Greek.” I then replied, “Indeed, it is a great verse.”

The more I’ve thought about our quick conversation, the more I wanted to dig into that verse. Yes I had memorized it as a kid, but memorizing something only helps you to recall it, not to understand it. I read it in different versions and the Amplified stood out to me most. It had three main parts that I loved. It interprets that verse this way, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation, for deliverance from eternal death, to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and a firm reliance, the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The first thing that popped out at me was the phrase, “to everyone who believes with a personal trust.” The trust you have in God has to be personal. It can’t be vicariously through someone else’s faith. You have to experience God for yourself to fully trust Him. The more personal God is to you, the deeper your faith is. The way to get a personal faith is to spend time being honest with God. If your faith isn’t personal, it won’t survive hard times. It will be like the seed sown by the way side that quickly sprouted, but was burned by the sun because the soil wasn’t deep.

The next thing that I saw was the phrase, “a confident surrender”. It sounds like an oxymoron as first. How can you be confident in surrendering? God requires that we surrender our will for His. He wants us to let go of what we have for all that He is. Reading this reminded me of the cartoon you see below. We can confidently let go of what we have because He wants to give so much more. The only thing He asks is that we let go. We can confidently surrender when we have a personal trust.


The final thing that stands out is “a firm reliance”. When we’ve learned to personally trust God and have confidently surrendered, we can have a firm reliance that He will do what He said He will do. Andy Stanley defines faith as, “The confidence that God is who He says He is and that He’ll do everything He’s promised to do.” To know who God is and what He said He will do, you will need to know the Gospel of Christ. And when you know it, you will not be ashamed of it. You too will get caught up in the “1-1-six” movement that lives their lives with a personal trust, a confident surrender and a firm reliance.

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