Since When Did Being A Christian Become A Bad Thing?

Since When Did Being A Christian Become A Bad Thing?

"For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him. " -Philippians 1:29

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I am a Christian.

I spent a majority of my life in private Christian schools and growing up, I never thought telling people that I am a Christian would ever become hard for me to do. I was always surrounded by likeminded people so it never occurred to me that there are people out there who do not agree with my religion. I was never an evangelical but I was proud of my faith and those close to me knew I had a good understanding of it. I loved my religion so much that I once wanted wanted to become a theology professor and teach at Yale.

Needless to say, as I got older, religion became more of an afterthought to me. I never left and I still went to church but I felt disconnected in a way. I no longer dreamed of becoming a theology professor and when someone asked what my religious beliefs were, I struggled to admit that I am a Christian. Going to a public university where rarely anyone has morals or beliefs was very hard as I found out people don't like Christians in today's society.

Religious freedom has always been a topic that has spurred much debate. It is so powerful that it has even started wars and new nations. America was the envy of all countries because no matter what your faith was, you were free to practice it without fear of persecution. How amazing is that? Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus could all live in the same country in peace without fear of the government making laws that prevented them from practicing their beliefs. We are a nation that was founded by Christians who wanted to practice their religion without having the government tell them what they could and could not believe. Every religion was welcome here and now Christianity is a religion that is no longer welcome.

This country has always known the importance of religious freedom and every president since George Washington first took office has been sworn into office by placing their right hand on the Holy Bible. Knowing all of this, it never occurred to me that Christianity would become one of the most persecuted religions in America. Christians are now the brunt of the joke. No one takes our religion seriously and people criticize us because we do take it seriously. Sarah Silverman has made a name for herself for constantly bashing Christians and Christian beliefs. Apparently, if you are a Christian in Sarah Silverman's eyes, you are a person who is full of hate and an uneducated imbecile for being against abortions. The hate doesn't stop there. If you watched the Emmy's this past weekend, you probably caught co-host Michael Che saying, "The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads." I'm sorry, but I thought we were a sensitive society who did not make stereotypical remarks like this anymore. I guess the only exception to this is criticizing Christians.

We are not crazy people. Yes, there are some extreme Christians in the world, but the actions of a few do not reflect the intentions or beliefs of the entire Christian community. Extremists are in every religion, not just Christianity. Just because you don't agree with our beliefs does not give you the right to belittle our faith. If you don't want to be Christian, no one is forcing you and that is your right. If I want to be a Christian, then that is my right as well.

Being a Christian for the rest of my life will always be an uphill battle, as the Bible says, "For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him" -Philippians 1:29. It's not easy and your faith will constantly be tested because we live in a corrupt and broken world. No matter how hard it is to be a Christian in a world where no one wants you to believe in anything, have faith. Remember to pray, be kind, show compassion, love one another and never let the world turn you cold. God is always with you even when it doesn't feel like it.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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10 Types Of Questions To Ask God For Transformation

What is my abnormal normal?

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I believe one of the best ways to get to know who God is by asking Him questions about what you don't understand. God wants us to come to Him boldly (Hebrews 4:16). He wants all of you. He wants you to come to Him when you're frustrated, angry, depressed, lustful, sick, hateful, prideful, selfish and more. He wants you to bring all that to Him so that He can produce in you what you can't do yourself.

TD Jakes introduced this prayer in a sermon that is completely life-disrupting but indescribably worth it. The prayer is about our "abnormal normal". These are things that we do that we think are completely normal so much so that we wouldn't be able to identify it on our own but these things actually aren't normal.

I believe that the word normal is being used from the lens of 'healthy'. I remember TD Jakes daring his audience to pray this prayer but to be careful because you don't know what will spring up when you ask God to reveal this to you and, of course, help you with it.

Listen... when I prayed this prayer some time ago... I just remember situations springing forth revealing things to me that I was not prepared to deal with. It's almost the ballpark of when you ask God to show you who your real friends are and you get betrayed or people start acting 'funny'. But I believe this prayer is tougher because you're forced to deal with you in a way you may not be ready for.

But have no fear because you're in God's hands. He'll give you beauty for your ashes (Isaiah 61). You might experience some pain but it's indescribably worth it with God.

Dear God,

Why do I keep falling short even though I'm doing all that I know how to do to follow you?

Why should I follow you?

1. FRIENDS/RELATIONSHIPS

Giphy

Who are my real friends? Who really loves me out of my circle/s? Who can I count on for what counts in this life? Why do I keep experiencing the same things in my relationships? God, you haven't given me the authority to control people or their hearts so what am I doing that keeps me ending up at the same place with people? Am I just retaking the same test over and over again?

Do I have any patterns? What are my patterns? Where am I not holding myself accountable? How can I hold myself accountable so I won't go throw bad patterns in relationships?

2. PRIDE

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What is pride? Where am I prideful? Where does pride come from? Why does my pride keep coming back? What triggers my pride?

3. INSECURITY

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Why aren't insecurity and humility the same thing? Who do you say I am? Who do I have around me that could be perpetuating insecurity, doubt or self-consciousness? How does my insecurity affect the people around me? How can I build confidence YOUR way instead of the world's way? What does being confident in who I am in Christ look like? What does this mean?

4. RACE

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How do I love EVERYONE as my neighbor (Mark 12:30-31)? How do I have grace for and love people that hate my race? How do I have grace for and love people that spread hate? Why would you want me to have grace for people that spread hate? How do I have grace for and love people that have bullied me/ mistreated me/ persecuted me/ lied on my name/ cursed my name/ judged me?

How do I have grace for and love people that have hurt the ones that I love? How is my heart supposed to have enough capacity to love like this?

5. LBGTQ

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If you are Love (1 John 4:8), then why do my Christian friends recommend, with their actions, to express hate to our gay friend? Are they not our neighbor anymore because they're gay? Does the greatest commandment of love (Matt 22:36-40) not still stand even for gay people? Does the blood of Jesus Christ not cover them as well? Do we not all need the same grace? But how do you want me to walk in Grace AND in Truth as Jesus did before us as an example?

Because I'm not walking like you Lord completely if I don't also extend the truth of your word to my brothers and sisters in Christ, I'm asking for you to speak through me when I don't know what to say.

6. LUST

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How do I know when I've crossed over into lust? What are the differences between lust and love? What is so harmful about lust? Lust perverts things and I don't want to fall prey to this, what are things that are opening that door for me? Are there people around me that are enabling this in my life?

No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)

7. OPPORTUNTIES

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How do I stay disciplined to your will and being with you? What are the opportunities that are for me and the ones that are not? I've heard Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church talk about ambition being evil, why would ambition be an evil thing? What is the most important thing for your children to do? What is our purpose for your kingdom on earth? What have you set us here to do above all of the other favor you've given us?

(Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plan's in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails)

8. IDENTITY

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How do I learn who I am in Christ? What does it mean for me to be apart of the body of Christ? If we're all your children, does that make everyone my brothers and sisters in Christ? How should I treat all my brothers and sisters in Christ? Why is it toxic to others if I don't know who I am in Christ? Why is it harmful to the body of Christ when I don't know who I am?

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6-7)

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. (Psalm 86:9)

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)

9. ENVY/JEALOUSY

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Am I supposed to be affected if someone I don't like walks into a room? Why is it hard for me to celebrate the wins of others? Why is it hard for me to celebrate the wins of people that I know don't honor your word? Why am I coveting even the lives, experiences and things of my close friends? Why do I compare myself to people who I'm close to and wouldn't want to compete with? Why do I secretly compete with people even the ones I care about?

10. PURPOSE

Giphy

What is the purpose that you've created for my life? What did you put me on this earth to do?

*Championship Playbook Scripture:

This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives. (Proverbs 11:30)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8)

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

When I ask God questions I'm able to learn more about who He Is and I begin to experience another dimension of adventure in my relationship with Him! I would recommend always asking Him and trusting Him with what you don't understand!

These questions are for you to ask God in time of prayer and really be still and waiting on His answer. Asking God questions, even ones that I'm not sure I want the answer to, has to lead to God transforming me. I mean literally transforming me in my heart, how I love others, how I treat others, my discipline, my character, and more. It's indescribable.

Asking God questions like these also always leads to me, in addition to transforming, getting my own experiences of seeing deeper levels of His glory. And I get to see Him do it through MY life. I can't explain how awesome that is! As His children, we get the opportunity to experience the same God who used the same power to perform the miracles that we read about in the bible.

Those miracles in the bible are so mind blowing but it really does take faith for me to believe that He did them. So if I'm the child of the same God who literally says in His word that he'll be with us how he was with Moses, why wouldn't I trust Him? Why wouldn't I partake in the abundance that He wants me to experience with Him? Am I going to not experience it just because I don't 'feel' like being obedient?

Where is your kingdom mindset? Because my kingdom mindset tells me that do not experience more of Him because of how I feel is hustling backward. What do I mean by that? I mean that why would you invest in how you feel (Finite; fickle; changes all the time with no loyalty to you) over investing in the King of Kings who created the heavens and earth (infinite; omniscient; omnipresent; impossible to be defeated; impossible for Him to not love you)?

I feel selfish experiencing His glory and not sharing it. I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to know that there's always more of Him for you to learn about and experience. Be Bold! Ask the Questions! Try Him out! See what He can do through you and your family!

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