Simply Christian

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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

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Power and Control

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Recently I was asked what it is about my life that has changed. I must admit that over the course of the past year or two I have changed. I am 43 years old and have never had so much joy in all of my life as I do now. So as a cradle Christian, how can so much change this late in the game?

It is all in how you exercise free will. Free will is a gift given to us by God at birth. No matter how long or short a life on earth is, we all have free will. Believers and non-believers have the same amount. But how do we use it?

I was in full control. If you asked me, I would freely tell you that I wasn’t. I would happily tell you that God had total control of my life. Upon doing some deep personal examination, it just wasn’t the case. Food, money, relationships and even my Ministry were all under my control and I just couldn’t see it. Sure, I have had some success during that time in life, but it is minuscule compared to now.

So what happens when you actually give control of EVRYTHING to God (not just tell yourself he does). Food no longer gave me comfort. Money no longer drove me and my mood. My marriage, which was already amazing and blessed, shot to a new level. I wake up each and every day and cannot wait to see what God has in store. I no longer rely on myself for my joy. We get in amazing ruts in life when everything depends on ourselves. With God, every day, every hour, becomes new and refreshed. I was busy, but now, I have an even fuller schedule because I do things for Him rather than myself, and I couldn’t be more excited to tackle each packed full day.

So where can you begin to have this kind of life? It starts with letting go. Admit to your Heavenly Father that you no longer want control. Realize that you, dear sinner, can’t make it on your own. Know that God wants nothing more than for you to rely on him for your joy, comfort and peace. Faith is verb. It is the action of giving in and letting go.

I find now that 10 minutes less sleep equals 10 more minutes of morning prayer. Start each and every day by giving up control and starting with your creator. If you had a watch that was broken, who better to fix it than the guy that made it?

WARNING- making this decision does not necessarily mean that everyone you come in contact with will know it. It takes time. Watch how those around you daily start to see the change. They will eventually see it and want to jump on board. This isn’t something that can be seen like a new ball cap. This is supernatural! Share it with them, but don’t stumble just because their initial excitement doesn’t match yours.

Thank you for reading, liking and sharing…

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Put That Down

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Weight. It can suck the life clean out of you. Extra body weight has stifled me for most of my entire life. I have, however with the help of God himself, changed my lifestyle and have lost some extra pounds. 120 lbs. to be exact. But there is more. It’s not fat that I want to lose now, it’s baggage.

If you are or ever have carried your mistakes around with you then you will know how carrying extra stuff can really affect your life. It hampers everything. Work, family and recreation. Let it go.

For true believers it is as easy as saying “God, here is what I am dealing with. Please take it from me.” It is often said that this is the hard part, Actually confessing that you cannot deal with whatever it is alone. Not so fast.

What I find, most of the time, is that it is what comes next that is always the most difficult. It’s letting go and actually letting God have it, whatever it is.

There were two Monks who had taken a vow of silence. Prior to the silence beginning, they had planned to walk daily through a nearby wooded area. They came upon an elderly woman who was stifled on her journey by a creek. She was too old and too frail to cross the water. One Monk walked up to her and asked “Miss, may we carry you across?” She joyfully responded “Yes”. So the Monks lifted her by the elbows and carried her across the creek. The two Monks were on their way. They had journeyed 5 miles on from the creek when the second Monk said to the first “You broke our vow of silence.” The first Monk responded “My Brother, we carried that woman 30 feet, you have carried her for 5 miles.”

My point? If you are carrying extra baggage and have asked God to truly take it from you and be in control, why do you still carry it with you? If you had to make a journey with a suitcase full of rocks and you got to a sign that said “Empty your bag here”, would it make sense to refill your bag with rocks before moving on?

We believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth. Why should we not believe that He could not handle the messes we have made?

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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See Me

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People love to hate things. Unfortunately, Christianity is not excluded.

Pull up your Facebook or Twitter accounts and scroll a little. It won’t take you long to find someone, somewhere who throws in a “Hand Grenade” of a post. You’ve seen them. A picture of a Christmas Tree with a sign that says “We sell to Christians only” or a news article on members of a cult, claiming to be Christians, holding signs and protests at a Soldier’s Funeral.

You may have heard it said that you can sleep in a garage, but that doesn’t make you a car. The same can be said for anyone who carries or raises high a flag that says they are a Christian. That is not who we are.

What we are, and what I wish the world could wrap it’s head around, are sinners. We, or better yet, I, am a failure. We all fall short of God’s call to walk in the ways of his Son Jesus Christ. Not one single one of us deserves his mercy. Yet, his promise is always to have mercy on his repentant faithful. Thank you God.

So what can we do?

First and foremost, walk in his ways with his help. Pray without ceasing. We are called to be in unending and ceaseless prayer. Make your daily life, as you interact with the world, a conversation with God. He walks with us in our homes, our work, our shopping, our worship and yes, our Social Media. Be ever mindful that your journey in life includes God no matter where you are.

Know that a reaction is sometimes what people are after, so, give them one. No I don’t mean by engaging them in a war of words. That is what they want, to see you break and become judgmental and hateful. I mean to pray for them. We show God the love that we have for others most by praying for them. Ask God to change their hearts and to forgive them.

Last, make your presence known. Be there in their joys and their pain. Celebrate with them as well as mourning with them. That is what God does, so why wouldn’t you shoot for the same?

Not a single one of us may ever be able to change the world, but, know that we do have the ability to change the world around us. In my experience I have found that sometimes it just takes time. As you present yourself to them, showing them the true love of Christ that dwells within you, a change starts to occur. Plant the seed and let God do the watering through you.

If you enjoyed this and my other posts, please like and share as well as follow me for further thoughts.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

 

 

YOU JUST NEVER KNOW

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

If you know us or have read our testimony, you know that today is a blessed day. On April 18, 1995, our baby, Jacob Michael was born and given back to God.

The next few months were filled with many ups and downs. We wanted two different things. My wife wanted to talk and I wanted to be quiet. We were in a dark place. We were both Christians but didn’t want to hear it. None of it. We supported each other in anyway possible. We even listened to the statistics, 80% of couples who lose a child divorce. God wasn’t having it.

So we prayed. Children were all we wanted. We made it through the darkness of statistics, people saying all the wrong things, and sometimes giving up. Then, we were pregnant again. It was painful, those months, as we sat and waited for the worst. Our beautiful gift from God was born. A little early, a little tense, a little girl. She was and is an amazing gift.

Due to continuing health issues, we were then faced with more bad news. No more children. We continued to pray, worship, and be involved in Church. Adoption was of course an option, but before we did, God called. We took over the Youth Ministry at our Church and have been serving since 2000. We have watched so many children grow and go on into adult life as Christians. We helped to form them into a mature spiritual life.

You never truly know how God will use you. I often wonder what a life with Jacob would be like. He would be 18 today. I have rested on the fact that God is in control. He knows where we are and where we are going. It was not easy, especially in the beginning, but we are there. I live in the confidence that we will make memories while we are apart, but will stand with him one day on the side of glory.

I also am reminded that we never know where someone may be in their journey. You never know what someone may be going through or where life’s journey has taken them. Be Christ to them. Show them the love that you feel and the confidence that you walk in. I praise God everyday for the people he brought into our life. Especially during that dark time. You may be that person to someone. You may be the only one who can lead them to Christ. Do not take your opportunities to witness for granted. Love them like Jesus.

In His Name,

Deacon Jason

HOME IS WHERE HIS HEART IS

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As I go about the business of talking to people about faith, I have found that a great number of people, for some reason or another, like to tell me that they are “spiritual” but do not attend Church. There are a number of reasons that they will give. I would like to share my thoughts on this with you and maybe we can help each other be prepared for the next time we are faced with this challenge in evangelizing (Preaching the Gospel).

Here are a couple of the comments that I most often hear. “I don’t need to go to Church, I can worship God in my heart.” or “Church is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.” If you have spent anytime in attempting to bring people to the faith, I am sure you have heard these statements and many others.

What do we do when confronted with these statements?

First and foremost, BE REAL. Remember that this kind of thinking comes from a potential lifetime of the person feeling this way. You most likely will not be able to change it with some, what I like to call, “Bumper sticker religious statement”. Here is my favorite one of these (and it is true) “Church is a hospital for sinners, not a haven for Saints”. Throwing statements like this at them will most likely not change their heart. You have to take time and truly show them how it has impacted your life. Help them see that God loves to be worshiped and God loves to be praised. If they are parents, remind them of how it feels when their children come over. They love nothing more than to see their children and grandchildren, laughing and fellow shipping with each other. It is the same with God.

There is also something to be said for recharging your spiritual batteries and strategics. Think of it as an army. If you had an army of 1000 soldiers and sent them out into the woods, they would lack training, supplies, ammo and most important they would not know the strategy of battle. They would aimlessly wander around the woods. Maybe they would stumble upon the enemy and not know what to do next. Ultimately, just as with their faith, death would come upon them.

If you cannot convince them, no matter how long you talk and listen, then you must show them. St. Francis of Assisi is attributed with saying “Preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary.” Just be there. Be ready. When they are sick or hurting, attend their needs. When they are thirsty, give them something to drink. When they are hungry, feed them. Pray for them when they won’t do it themselves. Most of all, show them the love of Jesus in any way possible. It may take time, but if you ask, God will give you the opportunity.

The enemy stands at the ready. We as Christians are called to go out into the world and draw people to a life with Jesus Christ. The enemy has already equipped his soldiers with doubt, fear, hate and lies. It is our job to ensure that we stand at the ready, equipping ourselves for the battle, converting as we go. No we cannot do it from the pew. People are no longer seeking the Church for help. It is our duty to go out and get them where they are.

I leave you with the thoughts I have today for the children’s sermon. If you were going to carry a dollar with you and you had no pockets, would it be easier to carry 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels, 100 pennies, or a dollar bill. The dollar bill is what we as Christians must become. We must stand firm and together when doing the business of the one who sent us.

In His Name,

Deacon Jason