Simply Christian

c_s_lewis_quote_poster_christianity-r94584451773241b99e5fb9ad742996e8_wv4_8byvr_512
Christianity. What does it mean? Why is it important? What is required? How do I live it? Why should I?

In my day to day experience, whether it be in daily interactions or on Social Media, I find a lot of people who declare themselves christian. That’s great but I often wonder if they truly know what that means. Let’s take a look.

First, I want to tackle a simple misconception. Often, when asked to pray for someone or maybe a family member or loved one, I will ask this question “Are you/they a christian?”. Often times the response will be something like “They are Lutheran. Is that the same thing?”. Here is the simplest of answers to this topic. In order to be a christian, you must accept a few things. First God. God is the maker of Heaven and Earth, creator of all living things. Jesus Christ, God in Human flesh, came to Earth to live as a perfect example of how to live, love and pray. He also died for our sins, the sins of the whole world, rose again and ascended to Heaven. He will come again to judge the quick and the dead. The Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, is God working among us, always present, always guiding, guarding and defending us. This is not Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, etc. This is Christianity. The denominations of Christianity, as a listed above and more, are groups of different bodies within Christianity that worship in different ways, the same God. Now this is an extremely basic explanation and barely skims the surface. I merely wanted you to see the distinction between Christianity and different denominations within it.

Why is Christianity important? C.S. Lewis once said “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Consider for a moment, everything you find important in life. How does these things compare with eternal life? How do these things compare to spending eternity with everyone here in life that you love? Your spouse, your children, your grandparents, your parents, your friends and so on. If eternal life is of any value to you, then Christianity should not only be important, it should be your number one focus.

What is required? First and foremost, your learning and acceptance of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit. You must accept that you alone, my beautiful friend, cannot do it on your own. You and I are failures. We fail daily and quite frankly, have made a mess of our lives. Sin, our failures, control our lives and we can no longer dig ourselves out of the wholes we have created. Time for help. Time to give up control and admit that we have failed. Time to allow the creator of all things to have us back and be in control. So what is the recipe for this? Where do I buy a ticket? How do I join? Simply ask. Open your heart and your mouth and ask God to take control. Talk to Him as your best friend, your Dad, your creator. Ask Jesus Christ to take over and forgive you for your sins. Tell Him what you have done and be honest. Admit that you cannot continue to make a mess of your life and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Sit back and be quiet. Listen and let go of yourself. Your old life dies. You will, if genuine and authentic, be reborn in Him. He is waiting. Always has been, always will be. Why not now? Reach out and find a group of sinners, a Church community, who will help guide you. I am an option as well. I don’t have all the answers, it’s a part of my simple nature, but I will always be here to help guide you, pray with and love you.

What’s next? God gave us the instructions. The Holy Bible is a guide book and has the answers you seek. It is not a book you just read front to back, although you could. It is the word of God given to us through the people He appointed. Read it, research it, digest what it tells you and then go out and live it. It is personal, written to speak just to you and is a help and comfort in life.

Don’t be overwhelmed and feel like it is all too much. It does not matter what age you are or where you are. What matters is that God created you and is waiting to hear from you. Yes, he already knows what you have done, how you feel, where you struggle and what you need. He merely wants you to talk to Him, admit it and then walk in His ways.

Christianity is about having a personal, one on one relationship with God who created everything. Believe two rocks banged together and through one happy accident after another here we are? Ask yourself  “who created the rocks? “. This has been a very simple explanation of what I know. There is much more. How about we walk through it together? Join me?

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

If you found this article helpful, consider who else might benefit from it. Please like and share as you never know who it might reach.

God and Marriage

maxresdefault

Marriage. What a beautiful gift from God. Skydiving. What a cool act of faith. Now, with these two acts in mind, I have a question for you. Would you skydive without a parachute? Of course not. Would you get married without God as the head of your life and your marriage. Same difference. How can either of you expect to have a successful marriage without knowing that both of you are able to love something outside of yourself? I am here to tell you, I would love that parachute with all my might as I jumped from a perfectly good airplane. The same must be true of you individually, your spouse individually, and the two of you collectively.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24–27)

There are many reasons people get married, and many more excuses to get divorced. Kids, finances, affairs, “growing apart”, just to name a few I have recently heard. No storm, none that is known to man, can destroy the house that God has built. For it is only when one or both of the people in a marriage decide not only to take control, but also, decide what plans and joy are for their life, does the marriage begin to slide and ultimately may fail. Same with our own individual lives. We do not get to decide what God has planned for our journey. We continue to grow stronger in faith and have a closer relationship throughout our entire journey. For it is only when we take back control that we decide that we don’t like God’s plan and that our life has become dull and sour.

Marriage is an amazing journey. Yes, it is full of ups and downs. This is the exercise that God puts us through, together, in order to ultimately grow closer to Him and stronger in faith. If you are not yet married, rely in peace. Rely on God’s plan. Prepare yourself for the one that God has ultimately chosen for you. Grow, stronger in faith and relationship to God, so that when the time comes, and it will, you and your designed partner will meet and build that strong house on firm ground.

If you find yourself in a marriage that was not begun with God, rely on the fact that you are growing where you were planted. Get tapped into God’s plan for your lives. Be the encourager in the relationship to start seeking his will together. Can you honestly say that God is not big enough to save what he brought together? You can grow, no matter where your relationship is, as God is waiting for you….both.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please subscribe!

Resolve To Not Resolve

change-ahead-sign

Happy New Year! I hope and pray that the new year finds you all happy, healthy and joyous.

The coming of a new calendar year is yet another reminder that all things, in God’s creation, reset and are made anew. So, as we look back at 2016, what have you decided to resolve? Weight loss? Stop drinking or smoking? Be happier?

I have one for you. Resolve to not resolve.

In May of 2015 I stopped and took a deep look at my own life. Sure, I was happily married (and still am), Had a beautiful Daughter, good job, Good ministry and so on. Times were good and life was solid or so I thought.

Who is that guy in the mirror? Woof, you put on a few pounds there champ! My Arthritis was horrible, but, I didn’t like all those dietary restrictions. I had been blessed with all the things that should be counted as a happy life, except how I had treated myself. What about those around me? Was I treating them the same?

It was at that time that I could point out so many things that were robbing my joy that I decided to make some changes. The problem was I had made a new year’s resolution for each and every one of them before and was obviously not successful.

So what worked? Along with all of those blessings I listed before, I am now free of the pains of Arthritis and dropped 120 lbs. The question I get now, right off the bat…How did you do it? Will you share your secret with me?

It took me 42 years of walking my journey of life to realize that the ultimate change that had to be made was giving up control. God was the only way that my life was going to get on track. Sure, I was “happy”, but I wasn’t full of true joy.

There is one true way to be successful in succeeding in anything that you can list as a resolution. I don’t care if it’s finances, weight, pain, smoking, drinking or just being more happy. It is God, your Heavenly Father and creator. Once you learn to start giving each and every single piece of your life back to him, you will find that all of the things you wish to change about yourself will change for the better. He wants you to be happy. He wants you to be healthy. He wants you. Want a better marriage? Give it to him. Want to lose weight? Give it to him. You get the picture. Now all you have to do is ask.

Rather than writing a new year’s resolution, write down all of the things that keep you from having joy and peace in your life. All of them. Then talk to God, today, about you and Him working together on them. Find your joy, your peace and your change all in one place. He is waiting, no matter what you have done.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please like, share and subscribe

Hope

hope

Merry Christmas.

I hope that this message today finds you happy, healthy and at peace in your world. For unto us this day a child is born. But more so I pray that, no matter what your situation is, you find in the celebration of our dear Savior’s birth, hope. Maybe it is hope for your life. Hope for your marriage that is strained. Hope for an illness that you or your loved one is suffering from. Hope for your child who is suffering from being bullied. Hope for your family that is separated due to strife. Hope for your finances. Hope for the world we live in that is so torn with violence, hatred and terrorism. Hope for our nation that is separated by so many beliefs and opinions. Hope for humanity.

It is this child, that we celebrate today, that we should look at as a reset. A new beginning. Just as a baby needs help to survive and grow, so do we. Each and every one of us is in need of assistance at some point. Look to this celebration of a new life to start anew.

Don’t wait for the new year. Today is your day. Today is a chance to start over. Live a new life given over to Him who created you. He is waiting. He has come for you and has done so in a way that shows us just how to be. Humble, frail and in need.

May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas season yet. One filled with love and hope.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Avoiding A Postage Stamp Existence

636072775135655081-1038735048_39-crowd.jpg

How’s life?

No really, how is life? Is it good? Bad? Just existing? Life is so much more than going to work, paying bills and waiting to die. You were created for a purpose, and that purpose is what you must find. How do we do this? How do we know if we find it?

When you look at some of the greatest people in history, I mean those who have lived what appears to be a successful or otherwise meaningful life, it may seem that they had it laid out right in front of them. History is flooded with great people who had monumental accomplishments. So why do our lives seem sometimes to be so bland and uneventful? Maybe it is in the way we approach our everyday lives.

Think with me for a moment about our own creation. Why are you here? Do you truly believe that it was just to exist? Do you think, in the mind of God, He decided one day just to create a life so that he could drop burden and toil on someone? Of course not. You, my dear friend, were created for joy. His and yours. So why are you so miserable?

I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. I want you to start thinking outside of yourself. What is it that makes you so downtrodden? Now, I am not telling you to sell off everything you own, give away your kids and drop your marriage. You are where you are because this is where you have been planted. God is in control but your free will choices have brought you to this moment. Right here and now. It is time to tend the garden of the world around you so that you and the others in your garden can grow and prosper, in joy, as you were created to be. God gave you and I free will, but he already knows the choices you will make. Time to let the Master Gardener take control.

First pray for God to increase your joy. Not just some whisper in the wind prayer but a true, heartfelt conversation with the Father. Let him know the things that pain you and the things that you are thankful for. Now listen. Watch. Wait.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” -James 1:6

Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be some expensive leather bound expenditure. A notebook or some folded papers will do. Jot down the things you have prayed about. Leave some room after each one. This space will be set aside to revisit the prayers. Start coming back to them and jot down how these prayers were answered. Watch how God starts to work out the heartfelt requests that you have laid out to him. Remember though, it is on his time schedule and not yours. You will be amazed how much of a difference this can make. He WILL amaze you, I promise.

Start reading scripture daily. Better yet, start Google searching some scripture on joy. Read it, mark it, digest and live it. Want some examples?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | NIV |

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 | NIV |

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Philippians 4:4 | NIV |
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12 | NIV |
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.Psalm 94:19 | NIV |
Lastly, I ask that you just be joyful. I know that life is hard and joy can seem like a distant memory or dream, but it is all around you if you really want a piece of it. Find, through constant conversation with God, what it is that He wants you to do and where he is taking your life. For it is in finding each and every day what He is calling you to do and be that you will truly find the joy that is meant for you. If you take comfort in knowing that all of us were created to bring God joy and to live a joyous life, then don’t you think it is truly worth finding and working towards. Let go and let God. It is there that you will abandon what ails you and avoid the cookie cutter, postage stamp, run of the mill life.
Be blessed,
Deacon Jason Bowden
Please feel free to like and share

 

Grief and the Holidays

imagestx2sre7q

Many of you, my friends, I know are dealing with loss this holiday season. The television and radio are filled with joyous offerings and celebratory images but all of it can make you want to scream. This is especially true if you are dealing with a loss during this season which is meant for joy. Maybe it’s not you but those you love who are dealing with sadness. So how do we as Christians deal?

Let me assure you that you are not alone. Part of living the Christian life is that you have people around you who do care even if it seems like they don’t. Often times people don’t know how to help or know what to say. It doesn’t mean they don’t care. First and foremost, know that God loves you. He knows your pain and grief and is waiting for you to give it to him. Talk to him about it. Pour out your heart in a one on one conversation with your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place, free of all distraction, and talk. Then listen. Sit still under the shadow of his wings and feel his comfort. It’s just you and the one who created you.

Next, know that your grief is different from every other person. Even those who may be grieving the same loss. It’s ok to feel more or less than the next person. Everyone was created uniquely so why shouldn’t we feel differently? Maybe it has gotten seemingly easier for the next guy but the process has taken you on a different path. Don’t feel ashamed nor shame the next person based on where they are.

Reach out when you feel you need to. Surround yourself with those who you know will lift you up. I always recommend a member of the Clergy or someone in your Church family to set aside some time with to talk about what you are going through. Find me on Facebook, I would love to help. Do not brush off the feelings you are having and try some macho squashing, that will only cause the feelings to fester. Reach out!

When you look at life, in the most basic truth, realize that this moment in time, when you are dealing with loss, is miniscule compared to eternity. Light a candle for your loved one and pray for them. Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, if you haven’t already, and take comfort in knowing that he has promised each and everyone of his believers eternal life. Eternity is what we will spend, in complete bliss, with fellow believers and our Heavenly Father. We just have to make it through this journey. We can do it together and with His help.

If you find yourself in total darkness and despair, I implore you to reach out to me or someone who can help you. God has called his chosen, who faithfully believe in Him, to walk this journey with you. You are not alone. I promise!

Find some scripture on grief. God’s word will help comfort you combined with your faith. Here are some examples:

Matthew 5:4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:2  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Psalm 18:28  “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Psalm 46:1-2  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

Revelation 21:4  “ ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Psalm 119:50  “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

Romans 8:18  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Have faith that God knows your pain and distress and wants nothing more than for you to call out to him. Let’s walk this journey together and find comfort in knowing that life doesn’t end in Him.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

If you enjoyed this post or know someone who might, please feel free to like and share.

 

Why Church?

106433-teach-our-children-to-follow-christ

“Why bother?”. “I don’t need to go to Church to love God”. “Church is just a bunch of hypocrites”. “They’re just going to ask me for money for some project”.

I have heard all of the above statements and so many more. If you have or do use any of the above statements or maybe even live by them as gospel, I implore you to just give me a moment.

I have grown up in a church family. If you know me, you probably already know that I am a cradle Anglican. I was raised in the Anglican Church and have been surrounded my entire life by some giants of the faith. The first was my Grandfather who was a Priest in the Anglican Church. I served at the altar by his side where I learned about God, the Holy Ghost, and knowing Jesus Christ on a personal level. This was an amazing foundation that my entire life has been built on. What I implore you to do, if you don’t already know, is to start now and to ensure that those in your family that you love and care for come to know truth as well. There is no better way to do this than to join a Church family.

What else can the world do to turn you and your family off to itself ? Hate, violence, broken homes and relationships, bitterness and the “Do what you gotta do to get ahead of the next guy” mentality. That is what the world is teaching our children. That is filth, garbage and is just utterly ridiculous. Sure, you can raise them to “be good”, but why not teach them the compass by which good measures against evil?

Do you have to go to Church to love God? No, you most certainly do not. Can you strengthen your knowledge of Him, be surrounded by a host of fellow believers, extended your friends and family beyond imaginable numbers and borders, be welcomed, nurtured and loved…yes you most certainly can. The only thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Every single person that has ever stepped foot into a Church on Earth is a failure. We all have a past, but praise God, we also have a future.

My wife and I attended Church when we lost our Son during pregnancy. What the world had to offer was a list of statistics that told us to seek counseling because 90% of all married couples divorced after this kind of loss. Our Church family loved us, prayed over us, grieved with us and celebrated with us when we were blessed to be pregnant again. Then the doctors told us that if my wife got pregnant again it could certainly end up in her death. Why would God do this? We had plans. We weren’t going to be stuck with just one child. Soon after, God blessed us again by asking us to take over the Youth Ministry at Church. Now, 16 years later, we have had thousands of kids in our life together.

What can a Church family do for you. I have no idea, and neither do you, but God knows.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

If you have enjoyed this or any of my other offerings, please feel free to like, share and follow.