It has been one year since I have accepted Jesus Christ into my life, one year since God called me to walk this path. This post is just a reflection on some of the things that have come in that past year and how I have been changed.
Before I became a Christian I liked the term “Christ Follower” and had often thought that if I ever became a Christian that’s what I would call myself. But here I am calling myself a “Christian” and the only place where I called myself a “Christ Follower” is on Facebook. Christian is easier to say and is derived from a word meaning “follower of Christ”, so essentially it’s the same thing. The term doesn’t anymore make me think of snake handling worshipers who use the Bible as an excuse to discriminate. Basically that association was born out of false understanding and second-hand knowledge. I once thought I knew more about the Bible than Christians even though I never read it.
The irony that I was thinking about what kind of Christian I would call myself before I became a believer doesn’t escape me. I often wonder if there was a seed of knowledge in me that led me to know that I would become a follower of Jesus. As a friend stated in a comment on a previous post, I feel that I was “called” to follow this path, in fact I have no doubt about it whatsoever. I feel that everyone (of ANY faith) is right where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be, as long as they are following their heart and their actions are pure. Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:16), and it was Him who called to me when He knew I was ready to see Him.
A few weeks ago I finished the New Testament (NT). I really had wanted to be finished with both the Old Testament (OT) and NT by the time I hit the one year mark, but it just didn’t work out that way. However, certain passages were meaningful to me at certain times, and had I rushed through it the significance may have been missed. My plan is to continue where I left off in the OT and to start a second reading of the NT. I am joining a Bible study group this time around. A friend has lent me her Study Bible and a really great book titled How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. It’s about how to understand the Bible, reading what it meant to those who it was originally written for, and interpreting what it means to us today.
I realized that much of what I thought I knew about the Bible were really half-truths or complete misunderstandings. As it turns out; I knew very little! It was, in part, that ignorance that had kept me separated from it for many years.
As further trying to understand the Bible I have been learning Hebrew. It’s a fascinating language. Many words are made up of 3 letter root words that give quite a bit of insight to the meaning. Once I get some basics down I would like to start learning Greek. There is another reason I wanted to start learning these, but I’m not ready to share this. A friend once posted something that spoke to me on many levels: “Don’t make major life decisions based on a summer of intense experiences”. The exact wording escapes me, but this is a truth I recognize in myself. I tend to get gung-ho about something new, only to realize later that I’m not as interested in it as I thought. I have to slowly advance, I don’t want to hold myself back, but I also don’t want to burn myself out. It’s a delicate balance.
Study is great, but it’s not all there is, knowledge is meaningless if you can’t use it. The way I live had changed significantly! As I type this entry I realize just how much my life has changed for the better. For one I am happy with where I am in life. Before all I could really focus on were my failures, or the things I didn’t like. Now, I know that it is only I who hold myself back, God has given me everything I need to succeed I just need to learn how to recognize and access it.
My marriage is stronger. I don’t know if my wife can feel it, but I feel closer to her now, here before I felt we were slipping apart. Perhaps that error lies on me as I was unhappy and pushing her away.
Prayer has become a daily routine for me. I am constantly communicating with God. I had quit praying in the past because it became a meaningless ritual that I felt hindered my actions and rational thought. There are times while in prayer I repeat things from days previous, but every time feels new. I have learned that’s it’s not what you say, it’s the meaning and feeling behind it. It’s where your thoughts are.
I read an excellent article in Christianity Today titled The Seven Levels of Lying. It really changed how I act. I never realized before how much I lie. I have cut lies out almost completely. This includes lying to myself, also known as rationalization. I’ve posted this before, but I can sit and rationalize how to make a wrong action right. I have come to realize that even the thought that I may have to rationalize an action means that it may have been wrong in the first place.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. -James 4:17 (NIV)
The problem I have with this, and why I have only almost cut it out is in part with my children; I really have no intention of pulling the car over to give someone time out, and don’t get me started on Santa. Also not being truthful to my wife (the one person who I physically cannot lie convincingly to) about having really been out getting her birthday present, etc. These “white” lies are still lies, they are still native tongue to the Devil. And as the article suggests I have no idea how to creatively tell the truth without lying a little. The best I can do is acknowledge that I am lying to keep from lying to myself. If anyone reading this has any suggestions feel free to comment.
I have learned to understand and effectively deal with any anger I have (I plan on posting more about this when I post about Matthew 5:22) . I honestly don’t remember the last time I got angry. Maybe it’s the Christian music in the car(read about this below), but I don’t really get angry at other drivers anymore either. This has led me to quit swearing, it wasn’t really a conscious choice at first it just happened. And now some people at work apologize to me if they swear in front of me. It’s odd because I never told them I stopped swearing or that they couldn’t swear in front of me. If our words are creative and we can speak blessings upon others, then I think the negative is also true. If I curse at another driver who cuts me off (which I use to do for miles after the incident occurred) then I am actually wishing him ill will and speaking curses into his life, and no good can come from that.
I have been attending Northridge Church since Easter (see: Easter Church Service) I have really come to feel at home there. My daughters go to their children’s ministry and they have a lot of fun. There is the Starting Point Ministry which I have thought about joining, it is directed to new believer or those who are rediscovering their faith.
The problems I hear about Mega Churches is that they can exhibit cult like behaviors. I honestly see none of this with Northridge. Luckily I know how to spot this behavior and I know how to not get caught up in it. I am sure there are clicks of members there who think they are better Christians than everyone else, with a church as large as Northridge it is inevitable, but as I have said I haven’t seen this behavior.
Another problem I had at that first service was worshiping with music I didn’t know. I actually started listening to the contemporary Christian radio station to familiarize myself with the music at Northridge in order to praise more comfortably, but I ended up liking a lot of the music.
One huge truth I have discovered in my journey is that I am much happier when I have faith in a higher power. When I was Pagan I was happy, but I felt alone. The god and goddess were hard for me to connect to on a personal level. Sure I could feel energies, I could feel nature, but the relationship was missing. When I was an atheist I wasn’t happy at all, and the happiness I did have was short lived. Now that I have faith in Christ Jesus I am happy again, only this time I don’t feel alone. I can feel God’s presence all around. I can communicate with Him and sometimes I can understand his method of communicating back to me. It’s not a matter of trying to recreate the intense initial experience of seeing God. Once I opened my eyes and learned how to see, I found He was everywhere. His eye is on the sparrow I know he watches me.
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). I feel uncomfortable talking about the good deeds I have done. I don’t want to come off like I am bragging. I have been more charitable than I was before, and I more willing to help people. Not because I feel I should, but because I genuinely want to! I could do more, I would like to do more, and I plan to do more. I’m working on my works. Sure I can go deep into the Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible, but it means nothing unless I put what I learn into practice.
This Blog/Journal has really helped me grow as well. It has helped me organize my thoughts (though at times it may not read that way). I find that sometimes I type something that I think, and when I read it, it makes absolutely no sense. This has led me to go back into the Bible and study verses (in multiple translations) more closely. Sometimes I post them sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I go back weeks later and add to them.
The point is that I am happy where I am and on the path I was called to. I hope to continue to learn and grow and become the person God created me to be.
- If we’re not “Christian,” what are we?? (abeautifulsurrender.wordpress.com)
- Reading the Bible is one thing. Living the Bible is another. (ptl2010.wordpress.com)