What It Means To Be A "Christian"

What It Means To Be A "Christian"

Do you qualify?
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You go to church, but that doesn’t mean you are a Christian. You don’t go to church, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian.

What is church anyways? A sanctuary, a building, a place Christians herd through on Sundays. I like going back and searching for basic definitions, because they help me understand bigger concepts. Church can be a place where we go on Sundays, but you should think of it as a common ground for fellow believers to meet and worship God.

It’s a place that reminds us of God’s grace.

It gives us comfort, reassurance, wisdom, but more importantly, it is a place we can be with God. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I grew up going to church regularly, but it wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I made my own decision to attend. Despite the unfortunate circumstances my family was under, I developed a strong desire to go and listen to the pastor. I wanted to study the bible more, and by doing so, I developed a personal relationship with God.

The habit of going to church with my family always facilitated my learning about Jesus, but our family unit broke up towards the end of high school. No longer did I have someone taking me to church. I had to made that decision on my own. The act of deciding to go on my own represents making the decision to put my faith in Jesus. I grew up going to church, but that doesn’t mean anything.

What defines someone as a Christian is not whether they go to church every Sunday or not, it’s whether or not they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and they desire to grow closer to Him. If I have a basic understanding of the bible but I don’t follow it and try to live my life according to it, then how can I call myself a Christian? Delving deeper into this question of “What makes someone a Christian?” leads me to scripture.

Look at Matthew 19, because there’s a story about a rich man who asked Jesus how to attain eternal life in heaven. In verse 21, “Jesus said, ‘If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.’"

Should we take that literally and get rid of everything in our possession?

While as believers we tithe and be generous in our offerings to the Lord, this verse has another meaning. We should get rid of anything that stops us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. God should be the center of our lives, regardless of our circumstances.

In Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, ‘Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” I remember a Sunday morning in first grade, my sisters, my mom, and I listened to a church sermon on the TV.

After it was over, my mom asked me, “Madi, have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you for your sins?” She explained that I had to do that on my own and that she couldn’t do it for me. I felt like I was too young and I didn’t want to do something so radical, but she said I wasn’t too young and every person needs to ask Jesus that. So I did.

My question for you is this: have you asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you for your sins? Can you say that you have a personal relationship with Him? If you can boldly proclaim that you believe Jesus is the Son of God and he is your savior, then you are a Christian.

I don’t care if you go to church, I don’t care if you make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve sinned in the past, because Jesus forgives our sins. But, only if you ask Him. Romans 10:9 says, “Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”






Cover Image Credit: Yahoo

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15 Bible Verses To Calm An Anxious Mind

Finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
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Anxiety hits us from all directions. Whether it be school stress, work stress, a stressful family situation, or anything else in life that causes us to feel unsettled, tired, and afraid of the future; anxiety can feel like it's taking over our lives.

As someone who constantly struggles with anxiety, I know how hard it is to find peace in the midst of a stressful situation. When we feel anxious about something, we generally try to do all that is in our power to control the situation. When we can't control it, we become even more anxious. So how do we stop this downward spiral of anxious turmoil?

We must turn to the one who is in control of all things. God holds all of our lives in his hands and is the only one who can calm our anxious minds. When we frantically struggle to put the pieces of our life together on our own, we will fail.

The only way to gain peace in the midst of anxiety is to turn to God, trusting in His perfect will and His power to hold us in His hands. The best way to remember this truth is to look to the Bible. Here are some verses to help us remember God's provision in the midst of anxiety.

1. Philippians 4:6

We don't have to be anxious when we can freely talk with God about our needs. We can cry out to Him for help and He will hear us.

2. John 14:27

Peace is a wonderful thing. Notice how it says, "I do not give it as the world does." We have to remember that worldly peace is only temporary, but God's peace is forever.

3. Isaiah 41:10

Not only will God give us peace, but He will also strengthen us. The image of God "upholding us with His righteous right hand" is pretty powerful and very comforting.

4. Psalm 94:19

Anxiety can make us sad and upset, but knowing that God is with us can bring so much joy in the face of desolation.

5. Psalm 34:4

Freedom from fear is so empowering! Imagine God setting us free from all the fear that holds us back. Oftentimes fear can make us feel trapped, but God can set us free.

6. 1 Peter 5:7

God cares about us so much, that He allows us to cast all of our worries on His shoulders.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Human capacity is limited. We can by no means do everything, in fact, we can't do anything without the help of God.

8. Philippians 4:13

Nothing can hold us back or scare us when we have the strength of God.

9. Proverbs 3:5

We always try to lean on our own understanding, but it will never be enough. We try to control everything, but it will always fall through. It is because of this that we need to trust in the Lord for everything.

10. Matthew 6:25-34

This passage, while somewhat lengthy, is such a great reminder that God is truly in control of everything. We don't need to worry about a thing because He has it all planned out. We stress out about things that were never ours to worry about in the first place.

11. 2 Timothy 1:7

We were not created to be afraid, but to be empowered and loved by God.

12. Isaiah 26:3

If we simply keep God in the forefront of our minds, we will have perfect peace. Trust in Him brings the greatest peace.

13. Matthew 11:28-30

How comforting is this? Anxiety causes a lot of weariness but knowing that we can rest in God is amazing.

14. Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, so we don't need to worry about it. His plan is always good and always exactly what we need. His plans will always be better than anything we try to control ourselves.

15. Isaiah 41:13

When we feel anxious and afraid we can take comfort in knowing that God is reaching out His hand to us to help us trust Him and walk with Him.

While anxiety can feel overpowering or terrifying, we should not fear, but rather trust in the perfect and never-changing love and peace of God.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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I Agree With The Naturalist Perspective - Free Will Does Not Exist

Before you say anything, hear me out.

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So, this is the scene: freshman year, second semester, in a philosophy class.

Free will was the topic of discussion for only a few classes, but because of those classes this topic has never left my mind.

A question was posed by the professor:

"Can we meaningfully say that we have free will? Why or why not?"

This question was dropped towards the end of the semester, so I guess you could say I was feeling like a well-seasoned philosopher. Here's what I came up with- and still believe today... free will does not exist.

The classroom was divided up into two categories.

1. The people that believe in complete free will were considered philosophically practicing substance dualism.

2. Those that believed complete free will does not exist, were practicing naturalism.

Substance dualism is a philosophical theory coined by Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. This theory suggests that the physical world and mental world are two separate substances. For example, everything in the physical world can be measured and extended to dimensions in space. But, everything in the mental world, like our thoughts and beliefs, can never be extended, or measured. Substance dualists believe one can never measure a thought or belief. So, they concluded that the physical and mental are two separate domains of existence-in order for complete free will to be possible.

Naturalism focuses on the belief that external causes have the most control, which means we are not the only influence on our behavior. Holbach argues that free will cannot exist because when the mind and body are seen as one substance, external causes begin to have a major impact on our behaviors and decisions. External causes don't just influence you; they determine who you are, including your thoughts, feelings, choices, and actions.

So, I agree with the naturalist perspective- Free will does not exist.

Before you say anything, hear me out.

Naturalists have similar beliefs about free will to those working in the fields of neuroscience and psychology. Psychology has always assumed free will doesn't exist. For example, the early psychologists, Freud and Skinner, had separate theories of the mind. However, they both believed that external causes had an impact on our behavior.

In "Do We Have Free Will?" by Schwartz, Ph.D, he explains that Freud and Skinner agreed that human behavior was determined by influences within or outside the person. Freud believed in unconscious conflicts and Skinner believed in environmental contingencies. Regardless, both supported the idea that free will doesn't exist- not everything is in our control.

Within the field of science, there has been an overall assumption that free will does not exist; and a quiet worry of what that implies for morality.

Unfortunately, through this belief a person's level of responsibility can decrease because external causes control their behavior and they begin to believe they 'could not have done otherwise.'

That's the last thing we need in a community, or in a court system. Do you ever do something 'good' simply because you believe you have a choice in the matter? And you believe your practicing your 'free will'?

Imagine if whenever you did something bad you would say, 'I couldn't have done otherwise?!?'

Some people already do that, but still....I'm shook.

Here's what I think though.

Yes, external causes have more of an impact on our behavior than we do- which means complete free will does not exist. HOWEVER, this may seem like it diminishes responsibility but that is false. We are still responsible for our actions because we are the source of that behavior!!! A person could not have done otherwise but there will still be a form of punishment, or reward.

So after reading this piece, still act right please.

In conclusion,

Free will does not exist because in order for the physical and mental to interact, they have to be considered one substance. Naturalism makes a better argument than substance dualism because there is not a satisfying answer to the question of how two separate substances are able to interact while being in separate domains of existence. If the physical and mental are one, then they are constantly affecting each other.

Free will doesn't exist boo.

But its okay, you still have a say in the matter and your decisions are still connected to you!

lovveCS.

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