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.

Finding God In Darkness

untitled

Mass shootings. Recorded beatings. Bombings. Whenever one of these tragedies hits the news Social Media lights up with both believers and non-believers asking “Where was God?”. Some say “Jesus, we need you now more than ever”. These are valid questions and statements, however, the perspective is skewed. Let me explain.

These acts, taken one by one, whether done by a single person or a group, regardless of whether the motive is terrorism, racism, religious, anti-religious or homophobic is a free will choice. It is the God given free will choice. What these people have chosen is darkness. What these people have chosen is hatred. What these people have chosen is to not choose love. God is love. Therefore, if they have chosen anything other than love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control, then they have not chose God. So yes, where was God? He was not chosen by this person or group of people, rather, they chose against Him.

But what about the victims? Did they not choose God? I pray that they did. Life is our one shot at finding, following and accepting God. Part of that acceptance includes peace that is found in knowing that life will include pain, suffering, sorrow and loss. None of these things are eternal. Life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity. I understand that this can be a tough concept. Think of it like this: During a Children’s Sermon I once took a large piece of white paper and put on it one single black dot. When I held it up for the children to see, I asked the “What do you see?”. The kids all responded “A tiny black dot”. This analogy was used to show how we as humans tend to focus on the little speck of dark and not the immensely larger area of white. This is also true if you use the black dot as our time in this life compared to eternity.

“Jesus we need you now more than ever”. Yes, we absolutely do, but, he is just as he was, is and always will be, waiting for us to accept him. He is waiting for all of God’s created to turn to him, follow him, live by his commandments and accept that we are failures and cannot do it on our own. The reward is eternal life. There is no other way. The pain, suffering and sorrow of this life will one day end for us all. Choose to end this life, no matter how long or short it may seem, resting in knowing that eternity in paradise with the one who created us awaits. With that said, if you know and love someone who has turned their back from the notion that there is a God, do everything you can to lead them to Him. This is not a game. It is not a fleeting thought. Just as I heard in an amazing *Sermon last night, remember that Jesus came to be an annoyance. He came to disrupt our sinful life. He came to be a pebble in our shoe and a grain of sand in the eye. He came to disrupt us from death and sin.

Where is God? If you are a believer and have accepted him, he is in you. He is waiting for you to spread his kingdom to those who walk in darkness. If you have not yet chosen him and his ways, he is waiting. He is always one breath away. Ask for him to come into your life. Ask for him to take charge of your family and those you love. Ask him to disrupt your life. Walk in his ways. Be His hands and feet. And in preparation for when he calls you home, ask him to prepare you.

This is not a game. It is not about how many “Likes” Jesus can get. It truly is the chance for every one of us to choose him and reach as many people as we can, while we are here, with his message of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

Please share.

*Notes from the Sermon referenced above were taken from the Epiphany Sermon written and delivered by Father Tom Janikowski on January 6, 2017 at Trinity Anglican Church, Rock Island, IL.

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

Raccoons and Sin

I am currently dealing with a Raccoon.

Yes, you read that correctly. This is no ordinary rascal that you might see while driving at night. This particular varmint doesn’t go for the warmth of sewer drains like his buddies. No, this particular coon has decided that my attic makes a better hiding place.

Why not? Our Attic gives him warmth and a nice place to lay his head at night. But now it is time for him to leave.

You see this little fellow (or rather large fellow) has, on one occasion, made his way down our Attic stairs and to the bedroom door. Close enough to us, pal!

So what’s a guy to do when this occurs. I have found myself with a couple of options. The first is to “Man Up” and handle this creature from Hell myself or two, call in an expert to help exercise this demon. I chose the latter(not the ladder). I got on the phone with my buddy who referred a qualified professional. Yes, I asked for help.

This is how we deal with life as Christians. When a sin is starting to take over, and we realize it through self examination, we call in an expert. Just like how this Raccoon has gotten too close to the main floor and my family, a sin can do the same. First you see it. Then it finds a way in. Then, if allowed to stay, starts to creep ever closer to your heart, just like this Raccoon has made his way closer to my family. It starts to take over and it’s time to leave. I once heard sin is like a potato chip, you can’t eat just one.

So how do we deal with it? Call in the expert. Get rid of it. If a sin has started to dominate your life, come closer to effecting your family, taking your time away from joy, pulling you farther away from your relationships (including, and most importantly, your relationship with God), then it is high time to talk to an expert.

Phone number please? Easy…hit your knees. Pray, with all desire to let go in your heart, and ask God to forgive you for what you have done and rid your life of sin. It’s as easy as having a one on one conversation. Your Heavenly Father knows what you’ve done and knows the struggles you are having with it. Let him have it and get up and walk away from it. I have no idea how people go through life having heard of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the Cross yet still just sit and live miserably. He knows and wants to hear from you.

If the struggle you are having seems to big for you then find a Priest. Sit, and talk with him, pray with him, and head his advice. A Priest will not only be judged for his sin but the sins of those he is charged to lead. He is there for you. Call, sit, listen, pray and form a battle plan.

I do these things daily as I struggle as a sinful being. Through daily self examination I spot the sins that have made their way in and are creeping ever closer to my heart. Then I send a “Knee-mail” to my creator, to the one who took on human flesh and died on the cross so that I may have eternal life. Then I call upon the Holy Spirit to cover me as spiritual armor tomorrow as I walk back out into the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Be blessed,

Deacon Jason Bowden

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.