Top 5 Christian Acronyms that will Inspire You

1) ICHTHUS (Christian Fish). You see these on bumper stickers and car emblems. It was the ancient symbol Christians used to identify one another. We are called to be “fishers of men.” The Greek Letters form an acronym that speaks to Jesus as the Christ, God, only begotten son, and savior. So when you see the icthus symbol know that is represents our Lord. Early Christians would draw half the fish on the ground and then a Christian passerby would see it and complete the fish and they would connect. They did this because if they were open about their faith then they faced persecution. This symbol was a powerful one for the early church.

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I- Iesous (Jesus)

CH- Christos (Christ)

TH- Theos (God)

U- Uios (Son)

S- Sotier (Savior)

 

2) HOPE– hope is the culmination of our faith. it was what we lean all in on. Hope can serve as an acronym to remind us of what is our hope. Life becomes meaningful and fulfilling when you have strong hope.

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H- Holding

O- On to your

P- Promises

E- Each Day

 

3) FAITH– there is no salvation without faith. There is no abundant living without faith. Faith is the one action every Christian has to be about. Faith is what it is about for a Christian.

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F-Forsaking

A- All other things

I- I

T- Trust

H- Him

 

4) PRAY– if you are like me, your prayer life could uses a boost. I tend to pray quickly and ritualistically at certain times. We need to see prayer as having several functions in speaking to our God.

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P- Praise

R- Repent

A- Ask

Y- Yield

 

5) GRACE- Because of our sin God could have responded in a lot of ways. He could have wiped us out or judged without any hope. Instead He gave grace. Grace is unearned and undeserved favor. I love this acronym to remember what God has done for me.

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G- God's

R- Riches

A-  At

C- Christ's

E- Expense

 

 

 

Do You Understand The Words Coming Out of My Mouth?

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As Christians, we throw out “faith jargon,” assuming everyone knows what we mean by them. Truth is I think we sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to many… wa wa wa wa wa. The words either don’t compute or they mean something completely different to them than we intended. We are flippant in our words, not thinking about the harm we might be doing if misunderstood. I hope you have come to realize the power of words and their ability to both help and harm:

Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day. -Unknown

We need to think through very carefully how we speak our faith. People who are not of the faith won’t get what we are trying to say unless we are careful and patient to explain it well. Of course this means we must understand our own words enough to explain them. If I use words I don’t really comprehend then I probably cannot explain their meaning to others! We tend to use doctrinal terms (sanctification, saved, lost) in our conversations with those outside our faith that can be misunderstood or even offensive. Before you say the gospel offends, realize the problem is not when the gospel offends but when you do! Yes the truth can be confrontational but we often don’t present the truth clearly, but rather a mixture of words and cliches that leave people wondering what we are really trying to say. Some things we say sound plain weird to one who is not in the know (eat my body). One of the biggest challenges facing Christians today is to understand that in a postmodern world our words can be taken several different ways.

Let me give an example: Ask someone if they believe in God and most will say yes. Not everyone will but a high percentage of people still believe in some higher power. If they say yes does that really tell you anything? My professor used to say, “the worst distance between two people is miscommunication.” Someone says they believe in “God,” they might mean that tree is god, or maybe they have a generic understanding of god as some transcendent other that has no connection with his creation, or he might even believe that he is, in fact, a god. “God” can mean so many things and that has never been more true than it it today. When I say I believe in God is it a monotheistic (one god) understanding or is it a polytheistic (many gods) understanding? Do I believe God is personal or distant? Do I see him as sovereign or limited? You see, asking if someone believes in God tells you very little about what they really believe.

We need to learn to speak differently if we want to engage others in our faith. This starts first with us not speaking at all but rather being willing to listen to what they have to say. Too many times we are guilty of wanting to be heard but not showing the slightest interest in listening to them. The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We are often the opposite,  If we want to engage others in our beliefs we should be open to hearing first what they believe.

When you think about it, it is truly arrogant to come at someone using jargon they probably will not understand and to do so in a way that gives the impression what they have to say doesn’t matter; they just need to listen to the truth and buy into it!

My friends, that was not the way of Jesus. He met people where they were and instead of telling them a bunch of obscure doctrine he listened and spoke to where they were. He could only do this by observing and knowing who they were and what they were about. This meant he had to listen and care enough to find out. We could learn a lot from Jesus on how to talk to people about our faith.

Jesus listened and he cared. When he saw the people of Israel it says he had compassion. That word means to “hurt in the gut.” His care was so deep it pained Him to see their travail. If all we want is to hammer them with words, while failing to listen and to care, then we should be shunned and ignored as heartless bullies.

Jesus listened; he cared; he was also bold. I don’t think we lose our boldness to call out sin or to speak challenge to others by being sensitive to them. Jesus definitely did not hold back! He called the Samaritan woman out; he laid into the Pharisees; he showed the adulteress woman grace but told her to sin no more. Jesus did not mince words. If we are willing to listen and to care, we will find others more open to letting us speak into their lives. We need to earn the right.

Flip that around. You would be same way. If someone came at you with words you didn’t know and made it clear they didn’t want to hear what you had to say but wanted you to just listen and then they spoke strong challenges to you, you would close your ears and have none of it! How dare they!?

We need to dialogue with others about our faith but this means thinking through the jargon we use, listening better, caring more, and speaking boldly for their good and not out of frustration or judgment.

Peter said it best: “ but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

What Hurricanes Teach Us About Sin

 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:22-23

If you read the title and thought this would be an article on how hurricanes serve as a judgment against America for immorality and ungodliness, then you will be greatly disappointed. What these hurricanes, and the devestation they bring, do is remind us of an absolute truth… this world is broken. I mean the physical earth itself is dying, just like us. The world we live in is groaning, as the Bible says, in need of divine repair. Natural disasters are a sign of its brokenness. Devastating natural events are a painful reminder to us that this all started millennium ago. When sin entered the world it effected creation just as much as it did humanity. Natural disasters are not God’s “lightning bolts,” hurled down upon us but rather a symptom of the Fall, effecting both the righteous and the wicked.

By “Fall,” I refer to the disobedience and subsequent dismissal of Adam and Eve from the garden. It was not just Adam and Eve who were affected but the very ground they once tilled for food with ease would now fight back. Weeds, insects, drought and many other obstacles would become the new reality because of sin.

What has happened in last few weeks in Texas and Florida is devastating. One bright spot to all of this has been how so many people in our country are rallying to help. Rallying around those hurting is humanity at its best. The loss of life has been tragic and the destruction of infrastructure is on a massive scale. I hope the church is one of the leaders in responding and showing love  to those hurting. How can we proclaim to care if we don’t help those in need when tragedy strikes?

This is a time for Christian leaders to step up and be a voice of hope and direction.  I pray not one pastor gets on TV or writes a blog or article and personalizes this to some kind of divine act of judgment against a certain person or group. What we do need to hear is these events are a sign of a creation in pain from sin. They can happen at anytime and anywhere as a reminder that sin effects everyone and doesn’t pass over anyone.  It should remind us of the redemption to come; that one day Jesus will return to not only redeem us but creation itself. Like us, our world is broken by sin.

Sure we should work hard to do our part to be good stewards as the keepers of this earth but brokenness runs too deep for us to fix by our own efforts. Our world needs divine intervention…. our world needs divine healing… our world needs the hand of Jesus, the same as us.

So let us pray for those affected by these recent hurricanes. Let us all also give out money and time to help them. Let us remember that tragedies like this exist because our world is broken and needs redemption by the grace and goodness of Jesus.

Five Christian Sayings You Need to Think About Before Using


I like Christian sayings. I like them when they maintain their meaning and don’t become cliche or just empty words. Here are five such phrases to consider:

1) I am praying for you- when we tell someone we will pray for them, we should definitely make sure that we actually pray for them! In fact, we should pray for them right then and there if we can. I don’t want to stand before God one day and He ask me why I kept telling people I would go to Him on their behalf and never did!

2) I don’t feel led– is it possible that this more times than not ends up being an excuse for what we really mean: Idon’t want to. We should be very careful to use God as our excuse not to serve. There might be times He directs us away from a specific role but be sure it is the Lord leading you.

3) I said the sinner’s prayer- in case you were not aware, there is not a specific prayer in the Bible for salvation. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pray and ask God to save you. We need to make sure it comes from the heart and is in our own words, confessing our sin and crying out to God. When I became a Christian, I didn’t have any script to pray. In fact, I wasn’t sure what to pray! I just cried out, “Jesus.” I am confident God saved me in that moment.

4) I’m forgiven, not perfect– of course this is true but when it is used as an excuse to justify your wrong actions, it is hypocrisy.  If you have to use this phrase then be careful you are not using it to justify your actions.

5) God is in control- again, no doubt that He is in control but when we use this only when things are overwhelming and believe we are in control the rest of the time then there is an issue. Also, God is in control should not be an excuse for you not to do what is right or what you are called to do. Or when we use this when we are in agreement with God but would never utter this phrase when God is calling us to do something we don’t like, then it is hypocrisy.

Top 5 Arguments Skeptics Give Against the Christian Faith

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Whenever you find someone who believes strongly in something, there will be those who also doubt it. As Christians, healthy questioning of what we believe is needed,  as holding to a set of beliefs only because they were passed down to us makes our faith shallow and weak. I have no respect for untested faith, where someone is unwilling to let their faith be questioned out of fear or laziness.

Now that doesn’t mean everyone who questions your faith deserves a voice. Apostates lurk the blog world, looking for Christians they can attack. Jesus spoke about these kinds of people. He told the disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” if the apostles encountered someone not willing to listen. It is not my responsibility to convince a bitter and angry skeptic to believe in the faith. Because they want you to enter their arena of attack, they will guilt you with words like “the burden of proof is on you” or “if you are a Christian then you will stay loving and humble,” while they have the freedom to curse, demean and berate you. They lure Christians to enter dialogue where their fellow antagonists wait to attack. They are not our targets to evangelize. We should heed Jesus’ words and feel no guilt for their faithlessness. The Lord will be their judge.

With that said, we should still be aware of what skeptics are saying, especially in the questions they raise. Not all skeptics are close-minded and antagonistic to the faith. Here are five questions I see skeptics raising:

If God is a good God, how can He allow so much suffering and evil in the world?

shutterstock_492404062.jpg    One thing we cannot deny is evil exists in our world. Atrocious things happen to people that are seemingly undeserved. Yet, God is working in suffering; some of the most powerful testimonies have come from those who have endured great tragedy. God often raises beauty from ashes. It is God that gives us the hope that things can be better. We also need to remember that sin entered the world through disobedience and tainted all of humanity and the world. Disease, pestilence, drought, natural disasters, murders, bigotry, and all other catalyst of suffering are the result of sin. Some shake their fists at God, but it is we who brought this upon ourselves.

How could I come to church or believe in what you say when the church is full of hypocrites?

shutterstock_388569646.jpg   This is not totally false. Many hypocrites come to church every Sunday. I would argue it comes with the way a church is set up. Church welcomes all to come, including hypocrites. I wonder if anyone has been a part of any gathering, social club, or civic group where some didn’t poorly represent the greater identity? Poor examples don’t necessarily undermine the core as being strong and faithful. While the church should preach against hypocrisy and hold those accountable who practice it, people choose how they will live. There will always be those who confess Christ and live opposite of Him. The problem with this argument against the faith is it fails to acknowledge those who do live out their faith well. Not all live hypocritically, and as long as there are faithful servants of Christ, then the church is not lost. This argument is simply an excuse to justify their own unwillingness to set foot in church and to deny the faith. God transcends His followers as He is perfect and they are flawed and broken. Every Christian will make mistakes and be hypocritical in some manner.

Isn’t Christianity a crutch for people to avoid facing the realities of this world?

shutterstock_327126659.jpg    Karl Marx claimed that religion is “an opiate of society.” Skeptics argue in the same vein that faith is “pie in the sky” thinking, an unwillingness to deal with injustices in the world honestly. For a Christian, hope is found in Christ. It is not wishful thinking but the only reality that we can cling to that is consistent, loving, and pure. It is not a crutch or an escape; rather it is hope. Claiming that Christians are weak because they cannot face the harsh realities is a skeptic’s way of denying hope. What is life without hope? Faith is believing there is hope beyond what you can see. Some the most courageous people who have ever lived have been so because they clung to there faith. They faced incredible obstacles because God gave them strength to do so. They were not in denial of their sufferings but found hope in them through Christ.

How can you claim that Jesus is the only way to God?

shutterstock_218152.jpg     This is a big one. If God exists, why do Christians see their way as the only true way to God. Truth is, we don’t claim it. We do not exclude other faiths or deny their access to the true God. Jesus did. He said that He was “the way, the truth,and the life, and that no person comes to the Father but by Him” (John 14:6). Jesus made Christianity exclusive, and, as His followers, we do the same. It is through Jesus that one can be saved. It is not a popular belief, but it is the Gospel. Popularity has never been our goal. Narrow is the way and few who find it, says our sacred text. Many get tripped up by this, but we trust in the word of our Lord that says He alone is the way to God.

If God is real and Jesus is alive, then why doesn’t He do a public broadcast across the globe telling who He is and His intentions for us?

shutterstock_559280869       Silence is deafening for skeptics. They can’t get past the fact that God would be so “aloof” with His creation. At one time, God did walk among us. But through man’s disobedience, humanity was banned from His garden and presence. Now through Christ, we are reunited with Him by faith to one day see Him “face to face” again. When Thomas touched the scars after the resurrection, Jesus told him that he believed because He saw with his own eyes but “blessed are those who have not yet seen and still believe.” Skeptics are unwilling to acknowledge faith, but it is faith that saves us and brings us into right relationship with God. One day, God’s presence will be overwhelmingly evident to all. There will be no more skeptics on that day. “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord”—from the most faithful to the vilest to the most bitter atheist.

This list is far from exhaustive, but these are questions I encounter often as I talk with those who doubt our faith. We will never be able to “talk” anyone into salvation, but that should not stop us from sharing our faith and doing all we can to answer their questions. Not to do so shows a lack of care and willingness to help them see. Yet, many skeptics have one agenda: to ridicule and belittle the faith. They do this because they must. They need to justify their doubt lest they are proved wrong and condemned. Show them grace, but do not waste your time. Instead, find those willing to listen and spread the Gospel!

Five Things Every Christian Parent Should Ponder

1) God has given you charge over not only their bodies, but also their souls.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 implores us as parents to guide our children into spiritual truth. If you leave this to the “experts” at church, they may begin to see their faith as a Sunday thing and not something lived out during the week. After all, if parents don’t talk about “God-things” with them during the week, they won’t see it as important for their daily lives either.

2) Model for your children how a wife and husband should treat one another. 

My kids “gross” out when Christi and I show any PDA. You would think we were putting hot coals in their eyeballs! Yet, I know that behind their disgust are happy children who feel safe and secure having a mother and father who love each other. A young man needs to see how to treat a woman by the way his daddy treats his mom. A young woman needs to know how to respect and love a man by the way her mom respects and loves her dad. I hope my daughter will want to marry a guy one day who treats her like I try to treat Christi. There is a good chance that will be her standard and expectation.

3) Don’t just focus on their behavior, but focus on their hearts. 

Our goal as parents is not just to get our kids to act right in public. It’s not even to get them to act right at home. We want to go deeper with them. God desires for us to show them the importance of right motive behind their actions. Why do they do what they do? How does the Gospel motivate their thoughts and behaviors? If we just drill into our kids the need to do right things without teaching them the importance of proper motive then, at best, we make them legalists — at worst, hypocrites.

4) Train your children to be measured by grace and not by their performance.

In Exodus 34, God reversed Himself to His people as a God who is compassionate and slow to anger. Yet, God also punished the wicked. His approach is balanced between grace and discipline. Your children need to see you love them for who they are and not what they do. Our kids don’t need to feel we care for them less if they don’t “perform” properly. We give them grace not because they deserve it, but because God has given grace to us. If our kids think we care more for them when they are less of a bother to us then we teach them their value is earned. This flies in the face of what the Gospel teaches.

5) Teach your children to be sensitive to the effects of sin and not desensitized to them.

Everywhere we turn our eyes are filled with immorality. Whether it be commercials, shows, Internet, news, magazines, or billboards, we are inundated with sex, violence, and all kinds of debauchery. Unless we are extremely intentional, we will become desensitized to the effects of these images on our souls. The effect on our children should scare us. If our children become desensitized then sin will become commonplace, and they will live lives of compromise and justification. This is an epidemic in our world today.

Ashley Judd Represents What’s Wrong with our Culture

If you haven’t seen the crazy rant by Ashley Judd, I recommend not bothering. It was uncomfortable and sad to watch. It was shocking and purposeless. It had no value for any real cause.

Many will judge what Ashley Judd said but reality is she represents the current climate of our American culture. There is an increasing boldness and brashness to our culture’s justifications of shocking and immoral actions. The pattern is quite traceable. It starts out subtle. Decades ago, media started putting more and more sexual innuendos in their shows and commercials. Magazines start showing more and more skin in publications not called Playboy or some other adult entertainment. The line keeps getting pushed further and further. The line keeps getting blurred more and more. Our moral senses become further desensitized.  Sin gets bolder and more shocking. Homosexuality goes from taboo to the norm, a culture demanding that it be readily acceptable, all in the name of progress. Feminism becomes an excuse to be rude and crude. Rated PG today used to be rated R  years ago. It is like drowning slowly not realizing you are sinking until too late.

The attitude in our culture that is prevalent is one of tolerance. “Do whatever feels good and don’t you dare question me because it is my right,” is what Ashley Judd and millions more proclaim in this time. All the while our culture loses its moral decency and slips slowly down a slippery slope of debauchery and filth.

What will be the end result? Eventually the culture will break down under the force of its own immorality. The church will be ridiculed and God will be shunned. The people will be turned over to the gods of their making and it’s own demise will become inevitable. Those who love sin will loathe statements like this, will revile it as preachy and paranoid. They will rave against it as judgmental and close minded. Yet, anyone who takes a moment to look can see the instability of what we have witnessed in Ashley Judd’s rant. There is no hope in that message. There is only ignorance: “I am my own master and I will say and do what I want and no one has a right to tell me otherwise.” That is the message of the day and it will lead our culture to what it wishes: a godless, immoral, chaotic heap that will come crashing down.
Those who love Christ must take notice and stand firmer than ever before. No compromise must be our stance; yet not allowing our moral stand to result in isolation but rather, reaching out to the Ashley Judd’s and offering them a better way, a way of hope and purpose. We can’t join in and we can’t isolate. We must see the devastation of the moment and fight to rescue those caught up in it. We must be a voice in the darkness. We can’t be scared of it or run from it. We must engage it with light and hope.

There will be many more shocking moments like Ashley Judd’s to come. Be prepared, prayed up, and ready to engage this culture with the only hope it has, Jesus Christ.