Fatherhood rule #1: Be available

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I just watched the movie I can only Imagine, and it got me reflecting on the importance of fatherhood. The movie is about how the lead singer’s relationship with his father negatively and positively impacted not only his life but influenced his penning of one of Christian music’s greatest contemporary songs.  It shows the impact of having a father who is physically present, but emotionally distant.

Any time I reflect on stories about an absent father, I praise God that my father was always there.  The first lesson about fatherhood, I learned and Im still grateful for is that fatherhood means being present.

Being a parent is intimidating, but the great thing is that you don’t have to know everything, you don’t have to have all of the answers. There’s something about being present physically and emotionally that really impacts a child. When we were younger my dad like many fathers worked long hours and had a long commute of at least 3 hours on the road every day. At the same time despite being gone, throughout the week, I remember him devoting his time on the weekends with us. I remember him taking to my sporting events, but also I remember just riding in the car with him and asking him all kinds of questions. Its interesting as I reflect in writing this and assess how long his working days were. Because though he worked a lot, I still remember my dad as being present.  You may not have too much physical time with your children, so it is important that you make the times you have with your children  count. My dad made those times count. Fatherhood doesn’t stop. Even as an adult with my own children,  my dad has made himself available. If I have issues or need help, I know my dad is available and willing to help. Its funny because his dependability is something that I’ve been able to count on and realize is a blessing that many men do not experience. You never know what kind of scars you can leave on your children; my dad definitely did not leave any on me. So for all of us fathers, lets make sure we are available.

Part of being available is not just being a lump on the couch, but being able to emotionally engage our children. One lesson I have learned I need to improve on is how to verbally affirm my sons more. This year was one of the first  times I didn’t coach my son in basketball. It was interesting because I had practiced with him  a little bit in getting him to play and shoot on a 10 foot court. So when we signed him up for a league and  I discovered they were playing on an 8 foot court, I got a little discouraged. I didn’t want him to play with beginners, who were just learning to play. I wanted him to play with a more advanced group of kids and on a bigger court.  I remember the first two or so games I missed and my son came home telling me that he made like 16 points. He was very excited, and said “guess what dad I made like 7, 8 baskets.” His mom also was shouting his praise telling me, he did so good.  I just looked at him and was like you should have made that much, you are playing on an 8 foot court. You are one of the biggest boys out there. In my mind, I was not impressed. It was something I expected of him, so I didn’t really praise him. Its funny because the other observation I made when I went to his other games, is how every time he would score he would look for me on the sidelines. His face had a smiling expression that said Do you like that? Am I doing good? It was weird because in those moments I had my the coach hat on thinking, you need to pass the ball more and lets see you do this on a 10 ft court, while my dad head was like don’t show off, its just a basket. After the game I would tell him what he needed to work on, when he just wanted to hear he did good. This is the hard part about being a father. We know that life gets hard and gets harder and sometimes we want our young boys to not get too excited or complacent because there will be obstacles that they need to deal with. They need to be strong. They need to be smart. They need to be prepared. They need to fight. We focus on those things which are good, but sometimes we miss taking the time saying, Im proud of you you did good. I can’t close without mentioning this passage about Jesus being baptized.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,c and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,d with whom I am well pleased.”

I can do a whole sermon on this passage, but I want to highlight the most basic thought. God the father is giving Jesus, his perfect son a verbal affirmation. Its easy to think that Jesus probably didn’t need affirmation. He was perfect. He knew he was, so why did God give it? I think we miss out on the fact of the humanity of Christ. Even as a man he needed validation, to know he was doing what he was supposed to do, that he was making the right decisions.So if the son of God who was perfect needed verbal affirmation, how much do our sons need it especially when they know they are flawed. In fact the less perfect and confident the child, the more affirmation they need.

As a man, a father and husband, I have had times where I have questioned myself, my ability to lead, my effectiveness as a leader in my home. I have my insecurities. We all have our insecurities. It is in these times, that is so important to hear the words, you are my son with whom I am well pleased. You see there are two parts to that phrase, one is about performance, the other is about identity. So often we worry about performance, how well are we doing. Without neglecting that we should spend more time on the identity portion. You are my son, you are my daughter. I love you, simply because of that, because you are my child. You are mine, you belong to me. You carry my name, my seed. This is what God says to us, its what I’ve at times heard God saying to me. You are my son. I am with you. I love you. No you are not perfect, but you have me. I’m available. I’m here with you. I have all the resources you need. Now that’s emotional availability.

Guys lets be that for our children, and remember God is that for you. He’s available.

To my dad: Thanks for being there for me, and for my brothers. You are such a blessing to me and the kids. You are a model of the servant leadership of Christ. You have helped me relate to God because I have an earthly model of a good father. You are loved, and I hope you have a Happy Father’s Day.

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Quick thoughts about staying connected to Jesus

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I have been a christian for a long time, and as any christian knows, our times and closeness with God has its ups and downs. I think sometimes we confuse ourselves and see our relationships with God as linear, in two dimensions. We measure our relationship and some people their faith by how much information we know about God. If the quality of our christian relationship was measured by how much information we knew about God, on average westerners would be the greatest christians. However we know that is not true. Simply knowing information about someone is not the same as knowing someone.

We can hear and read the Bible as a textbook and still miss out on God. We can go to religious events and church services and still not find God. There are some professors in seminaries and universities that have a ton of information about God but don’t know him at all.

This is why I’m always rocked when I hear this passage in John 15:4, where Jesus asks his disciples to “abide in him”.

What does it mean to abide in Christ? This is one of the simplest commands but it has so many layers to it. This is where we get to the multidimensional model of faith. You see knowing information about God is one thing, believing and entering into a relationship is another thing. You see the Bible and the word of God is not something you simply read. It is an adventure that you enter into. It is as if God were inviting us to enter into the Word, jump into the book and let it come alive. Often times we simply remain outside. Our flesh is a barrier. We are distracted, we are hungry, we are tired, our minds racing about our problems. Jesus is inviting us to enter into his story, to step into his shoes and follow him.

The first step of abiding in Christ is to enter his story, and the way we enter into his story is by believing. When I say believing there are two steps. Biblical belief always has two elements; the first is trust, the second is obedience. One does not necessarily come before the other, but they will always eventually come together.

So when Jesus calls us, we must obey, and in obeying we believe, and grow deeper in belief. Maybe I’ll explain that later, but a verse two consider is  John 7:17

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Jesus is saying that by stepping out in faith, and in obedience, you will realize its truth. What this ultimately means is that we have to dive in. There is a risk in following Jesus. You have to die. You will feel pain, you will doubt, you will feel friction but also joy unspeakable.

You see when Jesus tells us to abide in him, he knows that there will be times we want to let go, times we will be distracted, sometimes we feel doubtful, and confused. It is only as you continue to abide in him, you will be able to echo the Psalmist when he says ” taste and see that the Lord is good”

Its like eating some foreign food. You don’t know what it tastes like, but until you eat it you won’t know if its good or not. Jesus is and will continually offer us new items to try, and some of those things won’t look good, smell good or even seem to taste good. However they will always be good.

So Jesus tells us to abide in him. To remain in him. Christianity is not some finish line you cross, and say its done. Its a starting point on a journey through the wilderness unto a new country. Jesus reminds us to stay on the narrow path. To stay in him. It may be hard, it may be difficult, but it is okay because he is with us. Jesus is with you. If you believe. If you obey, he is there. The real question we always have to ask ourselves is if we are with him. Abide in him.

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Connection Problem. Learning to see and hear Jesus when the world is so loud.

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We’ve all had the experience of trying to get a hold of a friend, and after calling, the number is wrong, the number has changed, or when you finally connect, the signal is so weak that you can barely hear what the person is trying to say. This is a great picture of how our relationship with God is. Sometimes there are attempts, but they just end up unsuccessful.

I’ve been meditating on what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Fellowship is such a christian word, and has many uses. If I’m hanging out with my friend, I’m fellowshipping. For some fellowship means singing songs, playing games, or eating together. But you can eat together and not necessarily eat together. Sometimes you can be in the same house, eating at the same time, but not really in the same room, or even looking at each other. I like to use one of my wife’s favorite words in regards to relationship, and that word is connecting. Connecting is an intentional effort to spend time and communicate despite what is going on around you.

As believers it is easy to have problems connecting with Jesus. We gather together to fellowship with Jesus but a lot of times we go to church and we forget that Jesus is there. I mean we see the pastor, we see and hear the worship team, we see the random church guy that we don’t know. Its impossible to know everyone when you have multiple services and the church is large. You just never know who you are going to sit next to. With all of the programming, announcements, and activity it is easy to get lost. Sometimes church can be so distracting. I go to a really big and an awesome church with a lot of activity however distraction is not something that  only occurs at large churches; this problem can happen anywhere.

So how do we see Jesus with all of the activity? How do we see Jesus  sometimes we go through the motions at church. We go through the motions with Jesus.

Is Jesus really always with me? That really depends on us right. Jesus promised he would never leave us or forsake us, but that doesn’t mean that we would not leave or forsake him. I want to stick on this point because the biggest problem that I have and I believe we as christians have is that we are so earthly, that we fail to see Jesus.

Often we fail to recognize Jesus when he is right in front of us because he comes in a form that we don’t expect. In one of the judgements in the book of Matthew,Jesus condemns and rewards his servants based on whether they treated him well. When they ask Jesus, ‘when did we see you?’, he answers, ‘as often as you did it to the least of these you did it unto me’. Jesus underscores that he is always there always watching and expects us to serve those who we see as burdensome or who cause us inconvenience.

Sometimes we have connection problems with Jesus because we are disconnected at church and or home.  We need to be plugged into a local church. God commands us to. There are no lone ranger christians. I know church  can sometimes be trying, and there are people who can be off putting.  This is why church is so important because even in the brokenness, pettiness and sin we find in our church, we still find Jesus is there using it to conform us unto his image. When our wives are nagging or arguing with us, we are supposed to see Jesus. When our husbands as being dry, inconsiderate, indifferent or harsh we are to see Jesus in them. When your children are being rebellious and mouthy we need to see Jesus. It is not that it’s Jesus who is harming you but rather Jesus is calling you to exercise patience, forgiveness, kindness and love to someone who doesn’t appear to deserve it. We need to see people in the divine image even when they don’t see it in themselves.

We are ambassadors of Christ who call forth the divine proclamation of reconciliation and of a new creation. Our message to the world is that “you don’t have to stay broken down and defeated but you can be born again.” If we make it our goal to focus on seeing Jesus in the mundane and unlikely people and places we will find that like those 3D brain teasers Jesus is behind the scenes in more places than we think. When we are conscious of his presence, we are able to enter a deeper worship and fellowship with him and can say,  “I see you Lord. Thank you for your presence.”

Often our connection problems with Jesus come because we are looking at the wrong things. There are sins we need to repent of in order to be connected to God.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

We cannot walk in the dark and then pretend to come in the light. We can fool people but we can’t fool God. If we confess our sins, God is able to purify us and connect with us again.

Sometimes in spiritual things we fail to see Jesus. Sometimes we focus on form but not substance, on appearance not on spirit, on noise and not the gentle whisper of the Spirit. Even when reading the Bible, we can miss Jesus. This is what Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of in John 5, reading without seeing Jesus. The same thing can more easily happen with prayer. There are times when I am praying and find my mind scattered and frantic, my body tired and drained. In those times I find it hard to see Jesus. Sometimes we just pray without even trying to hear what the Spirit has to say back to us. This futile process will cause us to miss Christ as well. We must realize that our flesh is in opposition against things of God, and that we must overcome it to see him. Connecting with Jesus is a challenge in subduing our flesh and focusing on the spirit. For where the spirit is there is liberty. There is liberty because the chains of the flesh have been broken and we are able to experience new movement with little restrictions. Here’s a passage in Luke 19 that illustrates this in an interesting way.

2And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Zacchaeus knew his own physical limitations would limit his ability to see Jesus. He anticipated the obstacles and worked around his limitations so he could get a sight of Jesus. The devil will throw as many obstacles as he can to limit our encounters with Jesus, but when we seek to overcome them and wrestle with the flesh and seek a higher plane it is then that we will hear the master’s voice, Come down for I will dine at your house today. 

Each day I must strive to connect with Jesus. I need to be able to see Jesus as he is passing by.  I must connect with him and check in with him. I should submit my plans and have him give his approval or disapproval. This is the call of the disciple following the master where ever he directs. Where Christ is not present I must seek to bring his presence, not just as a vehicle but as a command post. Remember Gods command to Joshua every where the foot shall go I shall give you possession. We are to lay hold and build the kingdom and announce to all that this belongs to the Lord. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of.

Jesus promised us that he would be with us always, which is why he gave us his Spirit. When he commands us to walk in the Spirit he is telling us to be aware, to be focused, to be vigilant in our search for him. There is a great old testament image of this found in Numbers 9. After the Israelites escaped from Pharoah they were led by a  cloud, which represented the presence of God. This is how Moses describes how the children of God moved.

15On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 16So it was always: the cloud covered it by daya and the appearance of fire by night. 17And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. 18At the command of the LORD the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the LORD they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.

Where is the Spirit leading you? Where is Jesus taking you? He who has ears, let him hear. Keep your eyes on Christ.

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Being Born Again is your only Hope

If you have seen the Matrix, you will understand why this picture relates to the message. You need to be born again. Its your only hope.

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What I learned from Coco: Family and life after death.

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I recently watched the movie Coco last weekend with my son and like every good movie, it touched my soul. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. I heard Coco was a movie about the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead, but I didn’t really know what to expect. There was something beautiful about the depiction of Dia de Los Muertos, that the movie brought to life, and it got me thinking about something in a very new way.

The bulk of this will not focus on why Coco was a great movie, because that can be summarized in a few phrases; great writing, great acting, great story. However for me the reason Coco is such a great movie is how it makes you think about family, life and immortality in a whole new way.

For those who have not seen the movie, the bare bones plot of Coco is the following. Miguel , the main character, is a young Mexican boy who is trying to escape the trappings and weights of following in his families tradition. He has a passion to be a musician, but his family expects him to follow in the traditions of his family and become the most exciting of professions; a shoemaker. His parents were shoe makers, his uncles and aunts were shoemakers, his great grand mother was a shoemaker, so it followed that Miguel must be a shoemaker, and kill his dream of becoming a musician.  His Grandmother, reminds him that is what his great great grandmother would have wanted. His great great grandmother Imelda had banned music as if it was some type of “witch craft”, so Miguel had to secretly play, but never in in the presence of his family.  Miguel could never kill his passion, but his passion for music almost killed him and would take him into the land of the dead.

The day of the dead is the one day where the spirits of the dead ancestors can come and visit those who are still alive, however in Coco the only way the dead can visit is if the family has an ofrenda; an alter with food offerings and pictures of the dead. Miguel screws things up for his ancestors as he loses the photo of the matriarch in search of his recently discovered musician grandfather. With the photo of the matriarch gone from the altar,  Miguel’s great great grandmother is left behind in the land of the dead unable to pass through. She ends up discovering Miguel is at fault, and encounters Miguel, who by magic has entered the land of the dead in search of his great grandfather, the “secret” musician.

The land of the dead is a wonderful and beautiful city, with its own outcasts, and heroes. There are spirit animals, and parties and celebrations all leading up unto the greatest party that culminates at the end of the day of the dead. Life is not eternal in the land of the dead. One only lives as long as you are memorialized by someone who is alive. This is where the importance of family comes in, and in the movie it becomes the driving theme as Hector needs to ensure that his grandmother Coco does not forget her father, who Hector finally gets to meet in the day of the dead.

Hector finally returns home, and the history of his family, and returns the photo to its proper place on the family altar, with a new addition. The movie ends in joyous celebration.

One of the big themes in Coco that relates to the gospel, is the central character Miguel’s quest to know about himself through his great grandfather. This quest in a very limited way mirrors the quest we all have to know who we are and why we are here. It is our quest to know God, the father. Miguel knew that if he could find his father, it would validate who he was inside. He knew that his families answers about who he was and where he came from was missing something. There was a truth about him that he had to find out. We all are in a quest to know who we really are, what makes us tick, what is our destiny, what are we here to do. The only real way we can find that is if we find it in Jesus, who shows us the Father.

The world says all kinds of things about why we are here. It essentially says life is accidental, and our ancestors were monkeys, and we will live our meaningless, but extremely fortunate lives and then die in insignificance. Because life is so short the world tells you to live it up and seize the day. Little do they realize that we have a father here who has been hidden, but offers us keys to find him, and in finding him we will discover not just about our life here, but the life in the forever after.  Look at what Paul writes to the church in Ephesians 2

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Bible tells us that we are living in the land of the dead now, and that earth is just a mere shadow of the world to come. The only way we enter that world is if we remember and have an encounter with Jesus, if he is on the altar of our hearts, not only does he visit us, but he stated he will take us with him in the new earth. If we deny Christ, if we place other things, success, wealth, relationships, other gods, or even saints above him, we will not enter the new world.

In Coco the dead live only as long as their memory lives, and though that works as a metaphor, in real life it is not true. We all exist and our known by God. We were made to live forever. The question is whether we live with him or we are banished away from the light and joy of the world.

Heaven is real, Hell is also real. Our lives have consequences, we must live with purpose, and the only way we can find true life, abundant life that passes beyond the grave is to find that life by looking to our father. The father God answers us in Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us we are to die to the things, the dreams and lies of the world, and when we do that in Christ, Christ promises to give us new life.

So what happens after we die. Scripture points to the fact that those who have put their trust in Christ will wake up and be with him, while those who have not believed will wake up to judgment. So there are some family we will not see again, at least not see them in the best of circumstances.

There are things that I want to incorporate from Coco, not the altar but the passing down of stories. I believe our families on earth are one of the greatest blessings we have. However I have another family, a heavenly one. Our spiritual families are of huge importance to us, and in fact are the tools God uses to help preserve our memories of Jesus. We experience God in a greater way when we worship God. When we worship together we share how God has been faithful, not just in saving our souls, but in the daily benefits, of how he gave us peace, he brought healing in our lives, he helped us overcome unforgiveness, unbelief, or blessed us with a new job or even a new child.

Underscoring all of this is our need to appreciate history, and those who went before us. This pertains to our own families, and our spiritual ones as well. Celebrate your history, share your stories and and hear the words of Jesus, and also from Hector, and our loved ones who encourage us to “Remember Me”.

 

 

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How I know God is Real

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Why are you a hater? A Look at jealousy. pt 1.

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The Word pt 2

Continuation of an expose on Bringing God’s Word into our lives.

 

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God’s Word for 2018 part 1

Lets start the year off learning to understand the Word for us.

 

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How to spot fake christians and false prophets: Separating the real from the fake

 

 

The past year I have been amazed at what and who gets called christian these days. 2017 was officially the year of “fake news”, and by extension the rise in fake christians. It is clear that many have problems distinguishing the genuine from the fake. Its ironic that in the information age, there is so much confusion. We are in an age of information however there are specializists who spread misinformation for the purposes of distorting the truth. The devil is an expert at telling half truths and misinformation. The scriptures point to us that often even the devil comes to us as an angel of light; when the truth is that he is a master of disguise. The scriptures give us clues how to discern  a true believer from one that is fake. Because God is concerned about how he and his people are percieved. Here are  a couple of ways how to spot a true christian from a fake.

A true christian will love God more than himself.

4“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The first and greatest command is to love the Lord with all of one’s heart, soul and strength. Everything about a christian will emanate from this point. When you are looking at someone, you have to ask the question? Does this person really love God. Does this person not just talk about God, does this person know God, do they want to know him. Do they have a relationship with Jesus. Do they believe that he died for their sins and are eternally grateful for the work that he did.

 A christian will display the love of God to others.

The second commandment is to Love our neighbor as ourselves.  Matthew 22:39. Jesus clarifies this statement by stating that loving our neighbor means not just loving those who look like us and think like us, but it is to love those who are different, it is to love those who are despised, and mistreated, it means to look out for their interests and to even pray for our enemies.

This is why racism, sexism, and any other prejudice is wrong. We are not to treat others worse or to disparage, and criticize certain groups just because they look, talk  or believe differently then we do.

If you have a person who is always treating or talking about an individual or others who are different in a condescending way, if they are one to cause division and hatred this is a sign that they do not walk with God. Proverbs 16:28 states A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

Again proverbs 15:18 states:

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.

Where as the mark of a believer should be this as found in Proverbs 17:9

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

The mark of a christian should be one that strives to bring others together in love and not one of division. I want to make a caveat in this because love of others doesn’t mean you will not confront or speak out against things that are wrong. For instance if I have a married friend who is cheating on his wife, my love for him will not mean I will not call him out on his cheating because it will offend him. Rather the opposite, my love for him will lead me to call him out on his sin. My friend may not like it when I call him out, however the way I approach him will emanate out of my care for him, not one of blanket condemnation. Christians should always strive to speak the truth, and make principled stands, but when they do it they must speak the truth in love.

A christian will have a love for the people of God and for the Word of God.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The author of Hebrews takes this idea and states it this way

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We have talked about the love for others. However there is a special love for the Word of God and the people of God. This means a christian will be a part and active in a larger community of worship and faith. A christian is one who longs to hear the words and commands of God and strives to put them into practice. There is no such thing as a lone christian. A biblical christian is one who is part of a larger community, in which he serves and encourages his fellow christians toward love and good works.

A true christian is one who admits their sins, and strives to correct their mistakes.

All christians sin. However scriptures tell us to confess our sins when we do fall short.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

So the two points behind these verses are the following:

As a christian you will sin, but it is important to confess your sin and not just confess to strive to correct that sin. A christian is one who is humble because he understands that he is a work in progress. Any person who does not confess to their sins, and who does not make any attempts to correct their mistakes is not walking as a believer. Also important is the fact that a believer realizes that our good works will not erase our sins, but that it is only the blood and righteousness of Jesus that cleanses ours sins. We do not rest on our own righteousness but the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So by definition a christian can not be self righteous.

We should all evaluate ourselves and those who claim to be christians by these traits. Jesus warns us that there will be many false prophets, and false teachers, and false leaders. As believers we need to make sure we aren’t duped. Even if you are not a christian, by looking at these things you will be able to tell the real from the fake.

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