Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Living A Christian Life In an Anti-Christian World

As I shared in my article "Stability For Our Times" earlier this summer, this is not an easy time to be a Christian. Our culture is swiftly turning against so many things that were for many decades part of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  From the sanctity of marriage to the sanctity of life, we have largely turned our backs on the clear teaching of scripture.  So what are Christians to do during these increasingly anti-Christian times?

I believe that the things we are called to do today are strikingly simple but incredibly important.  Let’s look at a few of these things that we are called to do in order to be effective “salt and light” in our times.  These things may seem so obvious that it may seem silly to even spend the time writing about them.  However, I fear that the most obvious things are the things we overlook the most.  Now, God had the Ten Commandments.  I don’t rate nearly that high, so I’ll call these my Ten Suggestions:

  1. Attend church regularly - In this increasingly secular age, it is vitally important that we Christians participate in the life of the body of Christ at the local level.  Watching sermons on television, listening to Christian radio, and reading good spiritual books or articles (like this one, I hope!) may all be helpful, but nothing can substitute being part of a loving, Bible-believing, and spiritually-alive body of Christ.  If you are part of such a body, thank God every day…and then attend!  If your church meets multiple times a week, be sure to be a part of the life of the church as much as possible.  Hebrews tells us that we are not to be “forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some…(Hebrews 10: 25a NASB).  If you are not currently part of such a body, start prayerfully looking for one.  There are a lot of good churches out there!  (P.S. If you are in the Evansville, Indiana area and are looking for a home church, here is a link to the website for my church Fair Haven Christ's a great group to be a part of!)
  2. Be prompt in your attendance –  Satan loves lukewarm Christians…and nothing says “lukewarm” better than consistently showing up late to meeting.  A church with members who show up late consistently doesn’t attract very many new people…and why should it?  If a guest attends your church at the announced starting time, and many of the members show up late, what would this tell him or her about the church? He or she may not be that interested in coming back! Frankly, it is greatly discouraging to your pastor and church leaders to see members drag in late week after week   By the way, a great way to encourage your pastor and church leaders is to get there not only on time but a little early.  Bottom line…be there and be there on time!
  3. Encourage one another daily – As the second half of the scripture quoted above states “…but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25b) Being a part of the body of Christ means to encourage one another every day, not only in church but in our everyday lives.  We need each other! Here’s an idea…when was the last time you had another family from your church over for a meal?  We usually don’t get to know each other well during the short periods that we are in church.  We get to know each other better when we spend time with each other during the week.  Here’s an even better idea…How about inviting another family from your church that you don’t know very well over for a meal (or out to eat if you are more comfortable with that)?  New families will tend to stay when they make more connections.  Be one of those connections!
  4. Develop the habit of spending time in God’s word every day -  It’s been almost twenty years since I read an article by Pastor Jack Hayford that changed my life.  He stated that for decades he had made it a practice to “not turn the light off until he had turned the light on.”  In other words, he wouldn’t turn his bedroom light off at night until he had spent some time in the light of God’s word…the Bible.  Since then, I have, by God’s grace, tried diligently to put this into practice.  There have only been a handful of days in the last two decades that I haven't spent some time during that day in God's word.  Because of this, I believe I am a much more stable and mature Christian than I was then (though I know I certainly still have a long way to go!)  This is not a law but a habit.  A habit is just something that one chooses to do time after time after time until it just becomes part of you.  Make reading the Bible part of who you are!
  5. Develop a habit of daily prayer – As I shared in my series of articles on prayer earlier this year, prayer is simply talking to God in faith.  It is laying aside my agenda to find out what God’s agenda for my life is.  (If you’d like to read my suggestions on how to improve your prayer life, please follow the links at the end of this article.)
  6. Spend moments with Christ throughout your day - As important as it is to have a regular devotion time with God daily, it is equally as important to realize that God wants to hear from you throughout your busy day.  As you go about your daily activities, be aware that you can bring your petitions before God anytime…day or night!  Something troubling you? Take it to One who can take care of your trouble…then just trust Him!
  7. Listen to God! - Not only does God want to hear your prayer, but often (believe it or not!), He may have something to say to you.  He may want you speak a kind word to a co-worker, help someone in need, or just bite your tongue when someone says something that bothers you.  God still speaks today! (To read about a particular instance in my life in which I found God speaking to me, read my column, "God Can Do Things In Prayer That Are Just So Cool!".  Also, here's a short video of my pastor Mike Douglas sharing about hearing "The Voice of God."  It's good!)
  8. Be an example to your family members - My pastor often states that we men are called to be the "high priests" of our families.  I believe that's right.   As a husband, father, and grandfather, it is my
    responsibility to live a life before my family members to make them want to come to Christ.  Are you being that model for your family?  Wives have a similar charge.  Both parents are commanded to raise their children in "the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4 KJV). (Here's a link to another short video of Pastor Mike sharing about being a witness to your family..."Tell Them About God!")
  9. Read (or watch) stories of faith – One of the best ways that I know to strengthen my faith is to

    read biographies of great Christians who have lived out there faith.  Not a reader?  Well, you should be!  Seriously, there are also some great movies and documentaries out there about great men and women of faith that will strengthen your faith.  One of my favorites (both the book and the movie) is “The Hiding Place” – the story of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. If you've never read this Christian classic, I would encourage you to pick up a copy! When I read about the obstacles that these men and women had to face and they with God’s help were able to overcome, it makes my troubles seem small in comparison!
  10. Develop a winsome personality to outsiders – Scripture teaches us that we are to be a  “sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (II Cor. 2: 14b).  Do you and I carry that aroma…that fragrance of Christ...wherever we go?  The world is tired and fed up with “bible thumping” Christians (as they caricature us).  What they can’t turn away from are people who are joyful no matter what the circumstances.  Do we reflect that joyful spirit around others?  Or are we grumpy around them most of the time?  I’ve heard Jewish talk show host Dennis Prager say that the greatest advertisement for religion are those adherents to a religion who do good in their God’s name…and the greatest advertisement against religion are those who do evil in God’s name.  Which kind of advertisement are you?
As Christians, we could bemoan our status as "outs" in a society that increasingly marginalizes us and treats us with contempt.  Or we could just go with the flow and take in the secular worldview that is so prevalent today (as unfortunately so many "Christian" churches are doing).  However, we are not called to do either of these things.  The Lord calls us to be courageous.  In fact, the last words that Jesus shared with His disciples are good words to share with you as I close: 

 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33 NASB)
Want to read more?  Here are links to related articles on this blog:

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