February, 2012

What is a Christian?

In a 2001 Census in Britian over 70% of those completing the form marked the box “Christian.” In the United States I would bet the percentage would be even higher. But when you looked further,  you have to wonder what “Christian” meant to those completing the form.

  • 65% of ‘census Christians’ said they were not religious
  • Only 6% of ‘census Christians’ had attended a church in the last week
  • Only 48% of ‘census Christians’ believed Jesus was a real person who was the son of god, died and came back to life.
  • Only 30% of ‘census Christians’ say they have strong religious beliefs
  • 60% of ‘census Christians’ have not read the Bible from choice in the last year
  • Only 10% of ‘census Christians’ say they seek most guidance on questions of right and wrong from religious teachings or beliefs, with over 50% preferring to draw upon their own inner moral sense
  • Only 28% of ‘census Christians’ say that it is a belief in the teachings of Christianity which makes them tick the Christian box, with over 72% saying it is because they were christened and 38% because it was their parents’ religion.

I hope I’m not a judgmental person. But in my humble opinion most of that 70% who checked the “Christian” box are not what I would call “Christian.” Maybe we need a new word. When we are concerned about the spiritual state of friends or relatives, it isn’t much consolation to hear them proclaim that they are “Christians.” When we hear that we live in a “Christian” nation, that’s nice but it really doesn’t mean that most of us are followers of Jesus.

I  hate to give up the label “Christian.” But since it no longer has the meaning I would like, I need to use something else. A few days ago I suggested “Follower of Christ.” I think I’m going to change that to “Follower of Jesus.” Jesus is more personal than Christ. I realize that calling myself that holds me to a much higher standard. It means that every step that I take needs to be in the footsteps of Jesus. I need to only walk where He would walk. It means my eyes need to be ever on Him. “Nick’s Walk” takes on a much deeper significance if I claim to be a Follower of Jesus.

What are you following? Jesus. A charasmatic leader. A church. A denomination. A belief system. Something else entirely.

This is Mardi Gras weekend. Where will your feet be walking? It may tell you who you’re following.

Be blessed.



Equipment Upgrade

For several days my daughter-in-law, Martha, was struggling with her phone. It just wasn’t working right. I took it in and found out it had water damage. (Bet there’s a good story there.)  The good news: she was eligible for an upgrade. She now has a newer model of her old phone and is communicating  with better efficiency than ever.
Sometimes I feel like I need a spiritual upgrade. The old “equipment” I have been using just is providing the same level of communication with my Lord that I would like. I may have suffered some “water” damage. Maybe I need to sharpen my word study skills or just spend more time in the word. Maybe I can’t remember the last time I prayed “in the spirit.” Maybe a need some time alone. Maybe it’s a little time in ministry I could use.

Maybe a more dramatic upgrade is needed. Am I in the right communion of saints. That sounds more impressive than it is. I just mean maybe I’m not fellow shipping with the right folks.  I just need a change. Maybe I need a new mentor or someone new to mentor.

We should never assume that we are completely equipped for the spiritual life God wants us to have now. What was good enough when our walk was new, can be painfully insufficient now. Perhaps our environment has changed or the people around us have changed and we haven’t adapted.

If everything isn’t what I would like in my spirit life, I need to check my equipment. An upgrade may be nothing than a change in attitude. It may require some study, some work and maybe a change in environment.

What about you? Is it time to consider an upgrade?

Pray and be blessed.


All Out of Love

It seemed every area of Albertson’s was given over to flowers yesterday morning. There was a Valentine’s Day panic on. I picked up my ten year old grandson and he was embarrassed that he had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day. He had put together a little box of trinkets to give to me. It was precious. My three year old great grandchild came home with an armful of Valentine’s Day stuff. Rose and I waited for an hour for a table at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate the event.

Maybe it’s just me but there was a sense of obligation or duty in the whole thing. There seemed to be a concern that no one be left out from three year’s old and up.  I had a feeling that if I failed to give a valentine to someone, it meant I didn’t love them. It brought back memories of elementary school when your parents bought a box of little valentines and instructed you to make sure everyone got one. 

I have the sense that we live in a world that is desperate to love and be loved and yet doesn’t understand true love anymore. In case you forgot, it’s not about once a  year flowers and candy and special nights out.

Love is a grind it out give everything you’ve got every day kind of thing. If you haven’t been doing that a shiny gift or expensive flowers aren’t going to cut it. 

It was good to see the great desire to love and be loved expressed yesterday. Now on the day after maybe we need to look at Jesus and see what it really means to love.  Put self behind. Put others ahead. Put Jesus first. Be the lover you were intended to be.

Oh, and in case I missed you. “Happy Valentines Day.”



Follower of Christ

So if our Christianity is not determined by our “religion” what, then is a Christian?

My favorite definition is that a Christian is a Follower of Christ.

I like the term “Follower” for several reasons.

First, we are all following something. We can call it the world or sin or fashion or some one or some thing. When we become a Christian we change direction. We stop following what we have been following and follow Christ. That’s where the term “repentance” comes from. We turn away from what we have had our faith in and put our faith in Jesus. Following is an act of faith. We determine that the one we are following knows where we need to go and can take us there.

Following is a full time job. Consider life as a deep forest. If we take our eyes off of Jesus for just a second, before we know it we have lost our way. A Follower of Christ has his eyes on Jesus full time, all the time.

Following is a step by step process. We follow one step at a time. We don’t worry about where we are headed or where we have been.  We don’t worry about where others are. We focus on the step we need to take now, today. Following is a very personal “today” focused thing.

The Great Commission is to tell others to follow Jesus and not to follow us. This is where so many get messed up. They see the benefits of following Christ so they start following someone who is following Him. That can work for a while. But there are problems with this approach. We are all still sinners. Someone following us is going to fall when we fall. He will go astray when we go astray. That’s why we focus on telling others to follow Christ.

Further, not everyone starts the journey from the same place. Not every has the same path. Only by following Jesus can each one make sure he is on the right path. The origin of the word “standard” comes from ancient battle. Each portion of the army had a flag which was held high on a pole. Battle can be very confusing. Each soldier followed the standard of his unit. Jesus is our standard. Follow Him, not other followers of him, just Him.

How can we tell who else is following. This is the great thing about being a follower. Since it’s a full time job, we don’t have time to be wondering who else is following. That’s not our job. Now you will hear some say we are not to judge, but we are to be fruit inspectors. To me that’s just an excuse for judging in a different form. Sure, if we are following Jesus there will be fruit in our lives. That’s how we know WE are on the right track. It’s not so important that we know that someone else is.

Be blessed my fellow follower.


Hating Religion, but Loving Jesus

This video has gone viral. As of yesterday it has 18,765,830 hits. Not everyone loves it. It has 309,971 likes and 47,389 dislikes.  I decided it was time to check it out.

I don’t disagree with a word of it. In fact, you can find the lyrics here. I’m not a fan of rap and I think this “white rap” is just silly. But it’s hard to argue with the words. Jesus didn’t come to establish a religion. Religion has started wars. Religion doesn’t equal Christianity.  I’m reminded of Keith Green a Christian radical from years ago who once said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to MacDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

So why has this video become so popular and why so controversial? I think it shows the dissatisfaction of much of this generation with religion and with what passes for the church. So for those who have turned away from “church” it provides a justification. For those of us who live in “church” it provides some discomfort.

Now clearly many in the church are really Christian and churches do great works. But too many identify their salvation with their church. They love their church above their Lord. Church folks may have an undeserved reputation as “haters” but the reputation still exists. Too many in church say they hate the sin but love the sinner; yet they still have their favorite sins to hate and ignore the sinfulness of their own “failings.”  Jesus hates all sin and calls all sinners to repentance.  Those of us with secret sins may feel more comfortable railing against those with public sins; but sin is sin.

Another controversy in the video is that early on it points out that Republican doesn’t equal Christian. That’s a hard message for many. Get over it. Lots of Christians voted for Obama and will vote for him again.  You can’t identify a Christian by his politics.

Lots of folks have a vested interest in “Church.” Many make their livings from religion and the whole of their “Christianity” is tied up in a church.  This video call us all to be personal about our salvation and recognize that church should be a place where Christians join together to do God’s work and not to be sealed from the world. It should be a sanctuary and hospital for the hurt, but a boot camp for the redeemed.  This video didn’t make me want to leave the church; but it did call me to re-examine my church.

So watch the video. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why. If you don’t like the musical style, I’m with you on that. But if something in the message challenges something more basic in your walk, maybe you need to pray about it. Of even better, maybe you need to do something about it.  Or maybe just watch the video again.

Be blessed.


Happy not to be an Atheist

In the early morning hours I often sift through the news apps on my IPad looking for inspiration for this blog. This morning it seems I was staring in the face of atheism and it wasn’t pretty. There seem to be article after article about atheists or written from an atheist’s point of view. It was depressing.

Perhaps I am prejudiced by my first introduction to atheists. While a clerk for Judge Tom Clark on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, we had a case in which Madelyn Murray O’Hare was a party. She showed up with a party of her atheist buddies. They were not an impressive lot. The one word that best described the group was “unhappy.” Ms. O’Hare had an engaging enough personality, but she seemed so angry. As did all of her buddies.

Maybe it was that history that worked my mind this  morning as I perused the atheist articles. There was one which was topped with a photo of an attractive woman smiling and holding a sign which read “Be happy. There is no hell.” To me the smile seemed pretty shallow. Maybe because I realized that if the woman was right and that there were no hell, there would also be no heaven. With the “truth” of no condemnation comes the ‘TRUTH” of no hope. No wonder they seem so angry and unhappy. I shouldn’t be surprised since some who claim to be Christians also carry around signs proclaiming the nonexistence of hell. 

There was another article written by a seventeen year old who related her “coming out” as an atheist after a missionary trip. Her “religious” parents had sent her on a mission trip to a third world country where she was confronted with poverty. She could not believe in a God who would allow his children to live in such conditions. Apparently, her mission trip was  not accompanied by sound teaching. I couldn’t help but wonder if her religious parents were living the kind of life that would make a teenager desirous of following their life trail. 

Yet another article was a list of quotes from scripture that “proved” how “bad” God must be. I resisted the temptation to go through each quote and write a response. I know from experience my response would fall on deaf ears.

Yet another article pointed out how the presidential candidates all claim christianity and how, in the writer’s view, their lives were very “unchristian.” There is no doubt that like Lucy in I Love Lucy, we Christians have a “lot of explaining to do.” 

My morning made me happy to be a Christian; but unhappy at the poor job we Christians do in illustrating what it means to be one. 

Ours is the way of truth, joy and fulfillmernt. We need to do so much better in proving it.

Go out and find an atheist, listen to him and love him and maybe change his life.

Be blessed.



First They Came for the Catholics

I have considered myself to be an involved person.  After all I do a blog almost every day. Until I read today that writing stuff and sending out emails isn’t enough. You know what? It isn’t.

Do you know what the Manhattan Declaration is? Are you prepared to disobey the laws  of the United States if a law violates your conscience? These are no longer hypothetical questions. In our country today some of our fellow Christians are being told they have to violate their conscience or violate the law. This kind of thing happened in Nazi Germany. It’s now happening in America. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t concern us yet. My good friend, Ron Anson, has been sounding the call for years. I haven’t taken him seriously enough. Sorry my brother.  

 Please watch this video and then go to this web site.  Read the Declaration. It isn’t short. But it is powerful. Then, if you agree with it, sign it. 

This blog is a personal blog produced solely by me. I am solely responsible for it’s content. If you’re with the government you know where I live.

It’s time to get serious.

Be blessed.


Nothing to Say

I didn’t submit a blog entry today because I had nothing to say. I so wish others would also not say anything when they have nothing to say, like politicians for example, or TV preachers, or guests of The View, or the hosts of the The View for that matter. 

My wife thinks I’m  fan of The View because sometimes she walks in the living room and I have it on. It’s just because I watch Good Morning Acadiana and forget to turn the channel or turn off the television when it’s over.

She would probably think I’m a fan of Good Morning America, because that comes on immediately after Good Morning Acadiana and the television stays on. Lucky for me she doesn’t get up early enough to see the television on that show. It would break her Fox News watching heart. In fact, I wonder why she hasn’t commented about The View being on. I have noticed her shaking her head sometimes.

Well, like I said. I really don’t have anything to say today so I’ve decided to say nothing.

I just wish others would be so wise. Pray I have a good thought to share tomorrow. I really hate keeping my mouth shut like this.

Be blessed.

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