Monday, May 9, 2011
On a recent trip I met someone who I hit it off with immediately. We were talking about churches and he mentioned about starting a church, and some of the local denominations. His next sentence caught my ears. “Why not start over? It has to be better than what we have now.”
Wow, what a statement. Starting over. That tells us a lot about how denominations are perceived. And also one other thing. Long established churches. It is not uncommon to wind up with a lot of clic’s and groups that can quickly make anyone start to feel like an outsider if they are new. I addressed this in a previous blog, so I won’t go into this again.
But I do want to address the idea of starting over. Starting over in many ways can be a path to a better life.
Christianity. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, you start a new life (hopefully), leaving behind the things that caused you to stumble in your life. Some people try to pin down exactly what actions are a sin. The bible is explicit on a few, but in a world that is rapidly changing, the list can grow quite quickly. So here is the simplest way to decide if you are in doubt.
(1) If you do something that makes other people look at you as a non-believer
(2) If you say something that makes other people look at you as a non-believer
(3) If you do something that makes you feel guilty
(4) If you do or say something that makes you wonder if it is right or wrong
Well, then it’s wrong.
Problem comes in what a lot of people do next, they listen to the words of an old popular song:
“If it feels good, do it.”
You cannot always substitute the “feel good” into the above to determine if it is the right thing to do. The only checkpoint for that is the bible. There are so many things that tell you what to do and how to do in the bible.
What? You don’t know what those are? Read the bible.
“But it’s too hard. I don’t understand it.” This day and age you can find all kinds of versions of the bible. Some versions stray from the original content, but the King James Version, New King James Version, and the New International Version are the ones who track the closest to the original document.
“But Keith, you just listed the King James as a version.” Yes, it is a translation, so it is a version. It is not the original document. Unless you are fluent in Greek and Hebrew, the documents that we have from that age would be “greek” to you. (haha, I couldn’t resist!). I personally prefer the NIV translation. The writers have gone back to the original document and they have tried to keep the translation current to the meaning of the language of today.
Find a version that you can read and start reading. Some of the items that are mentioned are hard to understand, especially in the Old Testament. My suggestion is to start with the New Testament and read one of the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the first four books that start off the New Testament. Pick one and read it, then skip to Acts and read until you get to Revelations. Stop. Go back to the Old Testament and read it carefully. If you don’t understand a term, go to Wikipedia.org or go to www.biblegateway.com and look it up. These two sites are free, and they have a ton of resources for you to read. I use both of them for my biblical studies. Plus, if you cannot afford a bible or another translation of a bible, biblegateway has many different translations for you to read. Then go back and read the rest of the gospels, and finally Revelations. Revelations can be a tricky book to read and grasp. I highly recommend a study series by Dr. David Jeremiah, “Escape The Coming Night”, which will help you understand Revelations, as well as apply it to modern times. I have attended several of his seminars, and listened to him on the radio, and he is “spot on” with his teachings and preaching.
So start over in your life.
Start over by reading the bible.
“But I’ve read it already.” Well, I don’t doubt you, but did you absorb anything that you read? Read it this time, even a chapter at a time, and then ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to learn from it.
Start over by being a “new you.”
Be someone that even you wouldn’t recognize. When you get to church and the same group gathers to start their gossip. Stand up and tell them they shouldn’t. If they still continue, walk away. Leave the room. Make a statement by doing so that you won’t be a part that does not fit with the Christian lifestyle.
Start worshipping while in church. (I’ve covered quite a bit about this in previous blogs)
Quit checking out who is doing what in the sanctuary. Shut your eyes and start your private prayer time. Start by asking God to work in your life. Ask God to help you clear your mind of everything else that is going on around you, and start praying for yourself, your family, your friends, the people who are currently in your church, the people who can’t be in your church, and the people who should be in your church.
Start to be a new employee/manager/owner
If you’re employed, go to work and be different. No gossiping. No backbiting. Start by telling someone thank you when they help, help someone when they need it, and start to be someone that others come up to you wanting to know what is different about you. PERFECT opportunity to be a witness for God in this situation.
If you do wind up in a place where you can’t be the Christian that you’re supposed to be, find a place where you can. Not all churches are Christian, though the name or denomination on the sign might indicate differently. If they need another book in addition to the bible, nope, not a Christian group. Resources that help you to understand what the bible is telling you are wonderful. But if someone wants you to study something instead of the bible, RUN FORREST RUN! Not all employers welcome a Christian environment. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion. Just be the example, and pray for God to change their hearts.
Start to be the spouse/(g)(b)friend that you need to be. If your “significant other” isn’t a Christian, rethink your relationship.
2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV) says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
I’ll go more into this in a later blog series where I tackle relationships.
Be the “S O” that you need to be. Show them that you love them. Kiss them, hold their hands, do special things that cause you to have to go out of the way for them. Guys, hold the doors for the girls. And guys and girls, initiate bible study together. Have devotional time. There are plenty of resources for different types of devotions, based on what you enjoying doing and reading.
Start over in your mind. Quit being negative. God is not negative. Start to believe in what you pray for, and in what you do in your daily life so that others can be reached for Christ.
In other words, START OVER!